The Company That Cuts Both Ways

The Santa Barbara Independent:

As Vector Marketing braces for a pending $13 million California class action settlement that will be finalized in the next few weeks, the company is making a national push to shed its negative image. Meanwhile, the Santa Barbara community remains divided on the company. While some workers and customers praise Vector for offering valuable work experience to students right out of high school, others accuse the company of using overly aggressive recruiting tactics and preying on desperate, naive students.

Vector reps — who are technically independent contractors, not employees — first undergo a three-day unpaid training process in which they learn and practice demonstrations with the knives they will be selling. After completing training, sales representatives are instructed to call friends and family — who must be over 25 and working full time — to set an hour-long appointment to come to their homes and demonstrate Cutco products. From this initial appointment, the company hopes that sales representatives can build a client base from a network of referrals.

According to the company, new sales representatives make a sale in approximately 60 percent of appointments, while more experienced workers can make a sale up to 70 percent of the time. Sales representatives set their own appointments, and can work as frequently or infrequently as they wish.

But up until February of this year, there was a catch. New sales representatives were required to make a $135 safety deposit before they were given a demonstration kit to use during appointments. For newly hired students — many of whom had never held a real job before — the deposit marked a significant financial burden. Although Vector guarantees a refund of the safety deposit for sales representatives who leave the company, the required upfront payment has contributed to its dubious reputation.

Logo from Vector Marketing

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