My Interview With a Pyramid Scheme

Today I had an inteview for a pryamid scheme.

How did this happen?  Let me start.

I’m looking for work.  My resume’s on monster.  Wednesday I called back a company (to be referred to as Real Company) who had contacted me, with me saying I was interested in talking to them.  They said great, and wanted to interview me on Thursday at 4pm.  I work 3rd shift, so that’s when I’m usually waking up, but I can get up early and get there.  They emailed me some mapquest directions and forms they wanted me to mail out.

I wasn’t able to open their attachments (I suspect I know why, the problem is solved), but I emailed them that I was able to google their offices, and I was willing to come early to fill out paperwork.  This email, of course, was sent at 4 AM, so I wouldn’t be hearing back from them before I went to bed.

I got a call at noon, from so and so at such and such a company.  Note that I was dead asleep, and I do not make my best decisions at noon.  Something about an interview.  Something about where they were located- no they didn’t have offices, it was a full or part time position and they worked out of their homes (hmmm- maybe this woman worked for Real Company and was using her work email domain?  I don’t know what I was thinking), and I should meet her at a local restaurant.  On Friday.  At 4.  “Huh?”  I asked.  Not today?  “No, I can’t make it today, I have something else scheduled.”  I figured it was fine, reset my alarm for later.

(Wierd tidbit:  when companies come to you through Monster, they don’t seem to want to talk about specifics of what the job actually is until you’re there in person.  This has been my experience even with the reputable companies!)

When I woke up, I realized what happened, and called Real Company.  Awkward question:  “So, uh, did you call me earlier today?”  I explained what happened apologized, and the recruiter laughed, said it was ok, and we rescheduled for Monday.

(Also, I didn’t realize it at the time, but the recruiter from Real Company is named Mary Short Middle Name, Two Syllable Last Name, and it’s all said fast like one word.  the recruiter from Pyramid Scheme is named Mary Short Middle Name, Two Syllable Last Name, and says it the exact same way.  No wonder I thought it was the same person!)

So that’s how I got scheduled for an interview at Pyramid Scheme.

So I was talking about it the night before with a friend, about how I was interviewing with a pyramid scheme, but in a ‘lower case’ sense of the word- you know, where you are a commission-based salesperson out of the home, and someone else makes the real money.  How little did I know.

I met with Mary at the Local Restaurant, and we did a little bit of chatting with one of the staff people- I used to do assissted living in the neighborhood, so I’d come by almost weekly with two disabled adults, and Mary comes by often too.

Mary tells me a little bit about the company; essentially it’s commission based marketing/sales something for telecommunications networks, and makes some boasts about how its really done well on the coasts and is ready to catch on in the Midwest (where I live.)  She’s met the guy who started the Madison branch of the company, and he’s a “really honest guy.”  The parent company is based in Kentucky, it was founded in 2001, and there’s a profit graph with only one number on it and absolutely no context.  (She has a laptop with a powerpoint presentation.)

The first five-ten minutes are so are pretty much pure rhetoric about self-empowerment, go-getting, setting your own pace, word of mouth advertising, 5% of the people owning 95% of the wealth and how we should try to be one of those 5%, and “unlimited income potential”.  (She actually kind of scoffs at that phrase, which is a little bit to her credit.)

After that, there’s a graph where it says “Recruiter/Trainer $598, Manager $298, Salesperson $75,” with some confusing context.  I’m trying to parse the information on the screen, when she says

“I wasn’t sure if I could start out as a Trainer, but I figured I could risk $300.”

That makes me snap to attention.

“I’m not interested in a company where I have to pay for employment.”

That took the wind out of her sails.  I was ready to leave right then and there.  Then she said this “I respect that, but hear me out- I need people to manage my staff- and I’m willing to pay your $300.”

Ok, I don’t get up to leave, but my bullshit detectors are now on overdrive.

Now, if it was me, and I was working for Pyramid Scheme, I would gloss over the whole pryamid-scheme aspects of the company at that point and focus on the whole fake-income method cover-story.  But no.

Thus far, I was still thinking that this was just a sales scam.  Then I saw the next few slides, and was explained how I earned money by getting people to sign up, and when they got others to sign up, and how after a certain number, that ammount increased.

It wasn’t just a Pyramid Scheme.  It was a blatant, blatant Pyramid Scheme.  It was an insult to my intelligence.

So I said, flat out “This is a pyramid scheme.  I’m not going to have anything to do with it.”

She said she respected my decision… but that I should mention them if I knew anyone who was looking for money.  I could tell that she was really desperate for me to sign up.

I have her business card… I’m thinking of contacting the BBB and some of the companies she claimed that they partnered with and letting them know what happened.


One thought on “My Interview With a Pyramid Scheme

  1. Tim says:


    Well, if you aren’t afraid of physical labor and can handle long, repetitive hours in the cold, you could apply at Oscar Mayer….

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