chimichanga: (Default)
chimichanga ([personal profile] chimichanga) wrote2013-06-17 07:52 pm

TODAY I KNOCKED ON DOORS AND RIPPED OFF GRANNIES*

or rather, i followed around a bloke who did.

which is a bit odd, really, because i went in today for an interview, not a day on the job**, but a day on the job is what i got anyway. it was certainly an adventure, if nothing else!

(* no grannies were harmed in this process, although a poodle did get a cuddle)
(** not a job i even wanted tbh)

so on friday i did some job applications because that’s how i roll and apparently while i was doing them i applied for a “sales and marketing/customer service” role at a company that shall remain nameless because i don’t want to be sued or get angry e-mails or anything. we’ll call them motto marketing. i actually have no recollection of applying for this job at all, so when i got a phone call the same day, around half six, saying my CV had been shortlisted and i had made it through to the interview stage i was pretty pleased with myself! patted myself on the back and ordered in a pair of new shoes to celebrate.

and then i looked at their website and i went ‘oh’. because it became very obvious to me thatthe role of sales & marketing slash customer service would probably not be what i thought it was. (this was the point where i decided i would not be telling facebook about my achievement.) later that weekend my suspicions were confirmed when i showed my mate Chemistry Matt the site and he instantly went pyramid scheme.

he was right. well, sort of.

when i turned up to motto’s office (a ridiculous half-hour early, so i went for a walk and waited outside their door like a bit of a mong) i was buzzed in and had to walk up a long flight of stairs to the top floor, where it sounded like a bit of a party was going on. i was greeted by a nice lady in a nice dress who told me to sit down in their waiting area (four black pleather sofas in a square with a tv playing a slideshow of the office doing their thing, all laughing lady with salad except mostly men and no salads… with clubby r&b blaring out from two wall-mounted speakers) before giving me a form on a clipboard and asking me to fill it in.

the form was a questionnaire, really, six or seven questions starting with “so why do you want to go into sales and marketing?”, ending in “tell us about some of your hobbies and why you follow them” (exact wording there), and going via wonderful stops such as “if you could have any job, what would it be?”, “are you comfortable giving presentations?” and “do you want to manage your own business?”. riveting, insightful stuff, and a fair few things i’d already written on my CV so that was nice. once i had finished it i was made to sit around for ten minutes while the nice lady did important nice lady things, before being ushered into a big square room that had nothing in it except a desk with a chair on either side of it and a weird pulp fiction canvas graffiti print thing hanging on the wall.

the actual interview was ok, though, to be fair. i think i actually did pretty well at it and i felt quite good doing it? we talked a bit about what sort of role i wanted to play to a business and what my skills were, and we established that something where i could either be creative or use my numeracy skills or both would be good. i was told the company was doing a newspaper and i would be perfect to help out! and that the role was what i made of it and was very adaptable and i could be put anywhere from the front lines to the back end so the world was my oyster. she said if i took a seat for ten minutes she could give me over to another colleague of hers who could show me around a bit while he or she did their job so i could get a good idea of just what they did at motto marketing.

it was about quarter past twelve at that point, and i foolishly said yeah alright because it could only be another hour or so right and then i could get lunch yeah? so i went back outside and sat down again and fiddled with my phone and watched all the other people and talked to kevin who was a manager or something and told him all about my weekend and discovered a mutual love of doctor who. but i mostly just sat there. for an hour. until some bloke comes out, calls out my name and that of another girl. and we follow him into the pulp fiction room where we get introduced to two young gentlemen i shall call gary and dean.

“they’ll be taking you out,” we were told. “just follow them.”

so we did. into the foyer. and as gary ran off to get his car, dean told us just what we’d be doing.

ripping off grannies.

to be fair to him, he said “we’re not going to be ripping off grannies,” and to be fair to him, no grannies were ripped off while i was there. but what motto marketing did was residential marketing, which, to you or i, really means knocking on people’s door and asking for money on behalf of a charity. this was a far cry from what i had been foolishly led to believe, although Chemistry Matt saw the signs.

i thought about ducking out because trekking around for two and a half hours (it was about quarter past one at this point and the bloke who had called us in had told our two gents to have us back by four) on an empty stomach in my chelseas had not been on the agenda for that afternoon, but then i thought about what a great chapter this would be for my autobiography (or, OKAY, MY BLOG) and decided why the hell not. after all, this was definitely going to be the last time i ever unwittingly applied for a role in sales & marketing.

so i piled into the car with the other girl (who was nice but not very talkative) and gary drove us and dean over to a nice little suburb of bristol that i hadn’t ever been to before but might actually not mind living in one day, hint hint mum & dad i know you’re looking for houses look there. when we got there he dropped dean and the other girl off by the side of the road and we went to another bit and parked and started walking around. he had a bit of paper where he wrote down what house numbers he’d visited and whether they were in, wanted him to come back, or said no, which was obviously a very sophisticated system. there were a lot of sophisticated systems in play here.

i was told motto marketing operated differently to their competitors because they worked well into the evening (8pm!) and thus got a hold of all the people who had just come back from work! ingenious. people who were at home during the afternoon were probably not going to yield much, being mostly pensioners, students, unemployed, and so on. but they went around during the day to eliminate those people so they could target every single house in a certain area. really, it was a waste of two hours.

nothing exciting happened. we knocked on about sixty doors, maybe a third of which got answered, if that. most of them were pensioners who already donated to at least one or two charities. one of them had a very cute poodle who i gave a massive cuddle. a few of them had been living there for over twenty years. there was a teenage boy whose parents were at work and a middle-aged man who was in sales, but the rest of them were old ladies or men. and none of them decided they wanted to donate money to the very well-known charity we were raising money for.

which is odd, because that was in spite of being told everybody on the street was chipping in a couple of quid for a short period of time, when in fact they were aiming to get donations of either £8.50 or £10 a month off people for three to five years on average.

this is because, as i discovered, if they got someone to sign up for £8.50 a month they were given £21, and similarly, for each person who they got to donate £10 a month, they were given £25. their entire salary is commission-based. it’s only a tiny fraction of the value of the donation (because they’re aiming to get people to donate for three to five years) but there were about 30 people working in the office and they were all being paid like this. i was told for every hundred homes they would get about three to five sign-ups. they hit at least a hundred homes a day, aiming for a hundred and twenty. assuming 110 homes hit a day with 4 sign-ups per day, that’s 22 sign-ups in a five-day week. and with an average of £23 commission per sign-up, that’s one single person making £506 a week. in reality it’s probably less than that; probably half that amount. so we’ll say £250 a week, on average. 30 people in the office. £7500 spent per week financing people who spend two hours faffing around with pensioners. more, actually, because top level people get money for recruiting people like me onto their teams, and i’m sure the top bosses get a cut of everyone’s commission. because it’s a flipping pyramid scheme.

idk about you, but i’d rather that money go to, you know, charity.

gary was a nice guy. he had a four-year old son and his wife had just had twins. he was very cheerful, friendly and approachable, and i liked him a lot. but he lied to old people. he said he wasn’t trying to persuade anybody to sign up to anything, and i believe that he believed that, but he lied to pensioners. he spoke to vulnerable old ladies and tried to get them to part with a significant sum of money a month and even if he wasn’t forceful or mean it was dishonest and calculating.

two things really stuck out for me. first: we picked up another one of his colleagues as he was completing a sign-up (only an £8.50!!! “sometimes,” his bro said, “you just have to take them.”) and drove around the corner because he didn’t want the pensioner they had gotten to give them money see his nice car. “some people don’t like it,” he said. why is that? because they’re paying for it??

and second, we spoke to a nice lady who had a nice cat and she said she was already supporting four charities and off-handedly mentioned that they were all to do with animals. understandably, she declined our offer of letting her part with a tenner a month, we left, and as we walked back up her drive gary turned to me and went “if we’d been getting donations for our other charity (one for an animal rescue charity), i am confident she would have signed up for sure.”

it left such a bad taste in my mouth. you can’t monetise people’s goodwill. it’s awful and soulless. maybe i’m being naive, but i wanted no part of it, and when they took us back i told that to the nice lady who had interviewed me that morning and we parted ways forever.

and then i went and ate something because by then it was gone half four and i was starving and all that we had talked about in the car back was food.