I won’t say the name of the company, but it’s an energy company up here in Michigan. (It is neither Consumers Energy nor DTE). We live in a sue-happy society, so rather than risk the wrath of this company, I’ll just give other details.
Earlier this year, when I was laid off from a newspaper job, I was desperate for anything to pay the bills. Walmart. Meijer. Telemarketing. Clerical work. So, I came across this ad in the newspaper.
“$25 an hour! No experience necessary. We’ll train!”
If I remember right, the job title was “gas installer.” So, I thought that $25 an hour with no experience required was worth checking out. A long shot, but worth checking out.
So, I called, got set up for an interview and then drove up to Saginaw. Once I got there, I could see around 50 other applicants. I filled out an application and then gave the receptionist my resume and references.
Then a man in a suit got up and told us about de-regulation in Michigan and how this particular company was trying to get into the market. He talked about the cost of energy, which I knew a little about since I’d previously spent six months working in the oil and gas exploration business. He talked about leaving a job and getting into this one and how he and his wife now were making loads of money a year. He was trying to decide whether to accept a transfer to either New York State or to Texas. My life can easily be yours, he said. The funny thing was, they never gave us any specifics of what exactly we’d do–outside of talking about “expanding the company”.
It came my turn to be called and I spoke with him. He asked me a question about why I wanted to work for the company as he scanned my resume. I told him.
“That’s a great answer, Richard,” he said. “Your resume looks great. You’re on my short list and we’ll be calling later today if we’re interested.”
No call that night, and being one who tries to be persistent, I called back a few times and received no response. No response over e-mails, either.
The job ad kept running week after week after week, leaving me with the feeling that those they did hire quit shortly afterwards or were dismissed for lack of performance.
I applied again a few weeks later and went through the same routine but with a different man. Almost exact same response to my answer. Said they’d be calling later that night if interested (it was already around 6 p.m.). During his speech, the man said something that was disconcerting: he worked 16 hour days, but it was worth it since he’d be able to retire in 10 years. Again, no specifics about what exactly it was we’d be doing.
As far as his claim of retirement, let’s see…$25 an hour for 16 hours a day, five days a week for 50 months out of the year (two weeks for vacation) and for 10 years, that grosses at $1 million, or $100,000 annually. That’s before taxes, of course. And that’s assuming investments go well, IRAs mature and you’re living considerably within your means.
I got other jobs and recently chatted with a co-worker regarding this company. She told me her brother had worked there briefly.
“What was it like?” I asked.
“It was door-to-door sales, and his job was to convince people to leave Consumers Energy for this company. He quit after a week.”
“Why did he quit?”
“He made only one sale, and he didn’t make enough money to make it worthwhile.”
And then I asked a final question. “Was it commission only?”
“Yes,” she said.
That $25 an hour must be what you make if you’re a gifted salesman who could sell an oven to the devil, or a new cell phone plan to someone who’s absolutely thrilled with their current plan.
I count myself lucky I didn’t get this job. It probably would’ve made much more broke than I already was.
Richard Zowie operates several blogs and also blogs at Bleacher Report. Contact Richard at email@example.com.