On March 22, I responded to an ad in the classifieds for work. $800-1000 per week, apply between 1-6p. Upon arriving at 1p, I filled out an app, talked to the MGR/OWNER Craig Walker. He gave a brief synopsis of the company - the product they sold was gourmet premier meat, restaurant quality, and explained that business was booming in the residentail market because the they had just been authorized to accept EBT (food stamps) for payment of their product. I was told to come back the next day (and to dress "down" from my casual business attire that I showed up in) at 10:30a, and would run a sales route along with the leading salesperson/trainer for the company. I showed up the following day, and was told a copy of my driver's license and social security # was required for insurance purposes, then was paired with a 22y/o who introduced himself as "Jacob". As soon as we pulled out of the warehouse (I was driving, because come to find out Jacob had no driver's license), he told me to pull in to a dilapidated, rat-infested motel right next door. He claimed he was staying there with his girlfriend and 1 1/2mo. Old child, that they were moving from Columbus, OH. After about 5 minutes he came back out, and I informed him that the gas tank was on empty. He directed me to pull into the gas station next door, and then proceeded to ask me if I wanted to "throw down for gas" (ie pitch in for the gas). I said no. After we fueled up, he asked me if I knew anybody or had any family that was interested in buying meat today. Mind you - this was all in the first 10 minutes of being in the van with him. I said no one I know is home at this time.
After a couple hours of door-to-door sales attempts and getting chased out of a couple buisinesses, I was reflecting on the job "opportunity" at hand. On the one hand, I had no doubt about the depths of the shady character who was "training" me. (come to find out later, the kid's name was really Kobe). He was a transparent smooth talker, who told me obvious lies all day long, lied to consumers, and had what I consider to be the worst sales pitch I have ever seen (but what later would be discovered to be the line the company teaches their salesmen to say - "my father is the VP of the company. We're overstocked on inventory and need to unload our truck. Selling everything at half price. Yada yada yada), dressed very poorly, smoked cigarettes while going up and talking to people at their doors, and later in the day confided in me that he had swapped out some meat for prescription pain medication at one house where he had told me to wait in the van, because he was just exchanging one package of meat for a different one that the customer had wanted.
He was, however, very knowledgeable about the meat - or so it appeared. Claimed all the beef and chicken were 100% natural and real meat, no preservatives or maltodextrin solution whatsoever. Reeled off without hesitation where the meat was raised and prepared, and presented the packages well, once he got that opportunity. So I'm thinking okay. Meat is quality stuff, I can sell this - as long as I use my own technique and approach to talk to people. At this point, I had no idea of the low-grade quality of the meat this company sold.
Sometime in the mid-afternoon, I received a call from my mother. Told her what I was doing, mentioned what side of town I was on, and she says "well your grandmother likes steaks, maybe you should pop in and see her, since your close". So we do, and Kobe/Jacob proceeds to hammer her in a sales pitch. My grandma - who was receptive to this sales pitch only because of my involvement - ended up buying 3x as much as what she wanted to begin with, as Kobe/Jacob said small quantities could not be sold ("we sell by the case, not by the pack. 6 packs to a case".. This turned out to be a lie, as he later sold 2 different consumers 1 individual pack of meat). He did, however, act like he was doing her a favor by splitting a case of both beef and seafood, and giving her 1/2 case of each. After we left however, he told me that I was on the hook for the rest of the split cases, as he would "get in trouble" if he came back to the warehouse with broken up cases. Not to worry, I said - my mom would probably help out, since she was the one who referred me over to my grandmother's, and she & my step-dad both enjoy steaks & seafood as well.
So, we go over to my mom's - and he proceeds to sell her not only the 2 split cases, but another whole case of beef, and tries to get her to buy chicken as well! (Total of which he said he could do for $550). My mom asked point-blank about the chicken, as some of the cuts were flavored & breaded, did they contain any of these things (preservatives/maltodextrin/solutions) because she couldn't eat that due to medication she was on. Oh no, Kobe/Jacob assured her — 100% natural, no worries! As he continued to talk to her (and as I was feeling a bit uncomfortable with the size of her investment), I happened to notice a small label on the side of the chicken box, listing ingredients. It said it contained a slew of preservatives, and up to a 20 or 25% solution (memory fails me on exact # now) of rib meat/maltodextrin. So, not even close to 100% chicken. After pointing this out to Kobe/Jacob, he apologized profusely, said they must have "made a change" in sourcing because it never used to be like that, and rapidly changed the subject, saying without the chicken then everything would be $399, how did she want to pay? My mom says, well I'll pay by check. Great, came the reply. Make that out to the company, and there will be a 7% surcharge for processing - almost another $28! When asked why, he said this was company policy, since he didn't have a checking account (just moving here, remember) she couldn't just make it out to him because he had no way to cash it - BUT, she could make it out to me, if I had a checking account and could cash it today? That way, it would save her the surcharge. Of course, wanting to save my mom some money, I said sure. After we left, we went straight to the bank and cashed her check.
After that, the other things unfolded. The admission that he had made a drug transaction earlier. The sales of individual meat packs that he told my family earlier couldn't be done. It was at this point that I decided I wanted nothing to do with the company. When I asked him what my portion of the commission was today, he initially told me $50. I stopped the van and looked at him, questioning his forthcomingness in an honest split of the day's work and pay. He then said "Okay man, I'll give you $75, but only because I want you to come back tomorrow. I like you, you're pretty good."
The following morning, I hopped online to investigate the company a little further. And was AMAZED to find how many complaints this company - and this New Haven location specifically - had lodged against it. Unbelievable. At this point, I called my mom and told her to return all of the meat, get her money back. We attempted to call the company numerous times, never getting a live body to speak with, only recorded messages. We called every number for the company we could find. Corporate number. Other branch numbers. No message was ever returned. Finally, Craig Walker returned my call. When I told him my mother wanted her money back, he quite belligerently said no, it was a done deal, I had been paid for my efforts that day, and there was nothing he could do. (I also asked for the copy of my application, DL & SS # back - he replied that they had been shredded, which I highly doubt).
Three days after the sale (within the 3-day door-to-door solicitation act), my mother and I went out to the company, meat in tow, and knocked on the door of the business. A guy I'd never seen before answered, said he was in charge. I said we're here for a refund on the meat. He said "not with me your not, now get the #&*! Off my property" and flinched towards me, as if he was attempting to physically harm me. I walked away, and dialed 911. Police came out, took a report, documented the incident - and ultimately told me there was nothing they could do here, this was a civil matter.
Later that day, Craig called me back. After yelling and cussing up a storm ("You called the cops to my business, I don't give a #&*! Man - I'll go to jail to defend my livelihood!"), he reversed course and said my mom would be taken care of, he would come out personally on Monday, March 29, take inventory of the product, and she would receive a check 7-10 business days later. This was company policy, he assured me.
Monday came - and Kobe/Jacob showed up at my mom's house instead. I couldn't be there, but he apparently somehow talked my mom into keeping the seafood, and then said the $75 he paid me was going to come out of her refund, leaving her with a credit of $194 - which she would receive in the 7-10 business days. My mom didn't fight this, just wanted to be rid of the situation. Why she was conned into keeping the seafood is left unexplained. The guy apparently was that smooth.
Whether she will even receive that amount back, is highly in doubt at this point.
This is an unbelievable situation, and one that I now find myself crusading against, due to the sheer outlandishness of these shyster con's racket. We have filed a complaint with the Indiana Attorney General's office, as well as Code Enforcement in New Haven (I suspect these chaps do not have a selling permit - and if they do, it needs to be revoked).
Potential buyers & applicants - BEWARE, AND RUN FAR AWAY!
Feel free to contact me via this website for additional information, or questions regarding those involved.