Oh poor Monday, how it was wasted drinking lemon tea and gushing about yoga across the table from a Grade A Pyramid Schemer. Real job interview for a “customer service position” at a “health and wellness center”? I think not.
What should have been a totally rad introduction to a blossoming, awesome chapter in my life where I get paid to drink gallons of tea all day, talk about yoga (and maybe do some of it), help people pick vitamins and stuff and generally contribute to a better way of stumbling through existence ended up being a complete waste of my day as a sadly enthusiastic salesman tried to recruit me to Herbalife.
Let me warn you right now, if you happen to respond to a job that sounds awesome and show up to a “wellness center” (that even has a website, albeit a pretty crappy one) with, suspiciously, one singular logo plastered around the office – you guessed it, Herbalife – stop right there, don’t talk to anybody or look anybody in their Pyramid Scheming eyes and scoot your booty back into your car or bike or rollerblades and turn around, go home and continue watching 30 Rock in your pajamas while eating mango ice cream. 30 Rock world is a much better world than Herbalife Bullshit World.
I’ve been privy to a scheme or two in my day (ever been heckled by Vector marketing?) and this seemed fairly legitimate. Real looking website with brick and mortar location, YouTube video of the business’s grand opening, NO mention of Herbalife ANYWHERE and no “get rick quick” phrasing in the job posting, and pay scale listed as hourly (which it definitely is not).
Oh, wait a minute. All I had to do to get an interview was list why I wanted to work in health and wellness. (“Because, like, health is so im-por-tant, and wellness is about mind and body and soul and stuff.”) And I got an email for a job interview within 24 hours. Yeah, maybe this was how it worked in 1913, but not 99 years later in the midst of the worst recession since the country’s last actual depression.
So, I should have suspected something at that point, but I guess it just goes to show my true nature – a gullibly inflated sense of self that’s usually buried under layers upon layers of self-doubt, surfacing only to lure me into Herbalife traps: “Yeah, I really AM that awesome! See how easy it is for me to get a really awesome paid job I love!”
The second clue that something was not “professional” about this “job interview” was the fact that my interviewer showed up 7 and a half minutes late to our scheduled meeting, and the “office” was locked and empty. He arrived finally, a middle-aged dreadlocked African-American dude with crooked teeth wearing sweatpants and a sports jersey who was waving and shouting enthusiastic apologies for being late.
Okay, so I go into the office and then, BAM – RED FLAG – large empty room with a few tables, a counter full of Herbalife products, shelves full of Herbalife products and Herbalife banners all around the room. And not much else. I should have started smelling something at this point. And then, I did.
In close proximity to my “interviewer,” it became embarrassingly clear that he smelled. This is not something I would want someone posting about me on the Internet, but he smelled. Like unwashed human. Not just B.O., but like living-in-someone’s-basement-and-verging-on-homeless smell.
And the worst part about it? He was so nice. He was enthusiastic, personable, smiley, encouraging – I perhaps am sometimes too giving in my judgments of people (see: creepy stalkers, backstabbing best friends, regrettable boyfriends) so I stuck it out. I sat down (in very nice interview get-up, I should add), told him about myself, drank his lemon tea (delicious, to their credit, those wily ones) and gave him my resume, plus two writing samples I had on vitamin supplements that I thought would be impressive to a health and wellness center, all neatly packaged in a presentation folder. I think it totally would have been at least nod-worthy – to a real health and wellness center.
Blah, blah, blah – I put on the impressive act, raving about how much I love yoga, and how health is so important to me, and how I really, really want to do a spring detox cleanse. He LOVED my passion for yoga (in fact, maybe I’d like to teach a class?), he kept confirming how well I was getting “it” and he refilled my tea (biggest bonus points for this one). He ate it up, and that repressed ego we talked about earlier surfaced up to offer commentary on the event, “Heck yeah, I AM actually pretty fucking rad, huh? It’s in the bag.” Too bad this was mostly his expert sales coddling bringing it out in me.
And you know, at first the job did sound like something I could be interested in, when he explained it like I would be a motivational fitness coach to help severely overweight people get healthier, run and organize fitness classes, manage the office and track clients’ progress to their goals. Then he showed me a cheesy Powerpoint on Herbalife, the vitamin line they sell. So it’s not really a wellness center, but a hub for Herbalife sales reps, huh? (The classes and nutrition counseling are all just to sell more Herbalife and no one gets paid for any of it.)
And finally, he got to the pay scale.
Yep, you guessed it – 100% commission. And once you train two people, who each train two people, who each train two people…. that’s when you get $4,000 a month for doing nothing. Un-huh. That sounds like bona fide pyramid scheme to me, buddy.
At this point, I had all “impress interviewer” signals go into sleepy, angry mode and kind of slumped there waiting for him to finish, trying to be “nice” but planning my exit. Just to finalize the no-deal, he showed me their “activities board,” on which are weekly (unpaid) training meetings, weekly (unpaid) conference calls, monthly (unpaid) longer training meetings and annual (unpaid) training conferences. Oh yeah, and the fitness classes they teach for free are all unpaid and all climax with a refreshing Herbalife free sample.
Also, to get in on this fantastic career, all you have to do is start by buying a $68 training kit, which supposedly includes some sort of “nutrition certification” and samples of Herbalife shakes. Un-huh. Plus, it’s highly recommended you test out the products yourself in order to sell them to people – oh, but you have to actually buy them.
Okay, so when we were wrapping up and he asked me if I had any questions, I looked him straight in his friendly little eyes and asked, “This isn’t a pyramid scheme, is it?” to which he subtly looked away, got a little quieter and assured me it was not. Oh, okay then. Problem solved. …Not. (Did he forget that at least three times throughout our “interview” he had jovially expressed to me how much he loved being paid to tell stories to people?)
After I asked this question, I started heading for the door and he said he’d follow up with me around Wednesday. I haven’t heard from him since, so I hope he’s astute enough to have gathered I won’t be playing. I just wonder: he said he was a divorced father of two kids who was a stay-at-home dad for seven years, but is he really? Does he really believe in what he’s saying and is just a poor fool getting duped? Is the economy so bad real jobs don’t exist anymore? Or is he an expert con artist, lying and scheming his way up to the theoretical top? Did he really lose 40 pounds in 4 months? Is Herbalife REALLY all natural (judging from their list of 35 different ingredients with chemical-sounding names on every package, I highly doubt it)? Is everything he said to me a lie?? Do I even exist???
Okay, yes I do exist, and so do pyramid scheme catchers (PSCs) – apparently, Herbalife actually is truly a 5 billion dollar industry with claws in countries all over the world. They’re technically what is defended as a multi-level marketing business model rather than a pyramid scheme, since they sell actual products, but I think it’s just a fancy way of saying shitty fucking company. Though a quick search on Google reveals this type of network marketing is not in fact illegal because there is a product at its core (think Tupperware parties or Avon ladies), it might as well be called a pyramid scheme. As shown in the European settlement case linked above, the commission made from retail sales is nothing compared to the incentive for building a solid base of bodies beneath you to climb and piss on as you Herba-strangle your way to a Caribbean vacation.
Not sure I’m right? Here’s how the guy broke it down: I’d get 25% commission starting off then 50% later on for anything I sell. A single product goes for about $15, so whoop-dee-do, I sell one vial of lab food to some beef-eating sucker and I reap a whole $4. However, if I train 2 x 2 x 2 (14 more minions on the bottom), I will get a comfy little reward of $4,000 per month. And a “full-time” worker supposedly makes $118,000 a year for having successfully weaved a thick bloodrug made out of the mushed brains of Herbalife zombies for people to wipe their feet on.
So, anyone who has been unwittingly lured into a fake store that is full of Herbalife salespeople, tuck your tush in and head out the door before they can stick their vitamins in it.
Now go out and get a real job, whydontcha.