Business as Cult

You know you are walking into a bad situation when the all of the workers are in the midst of singing the store anthem.

This mode of business brainwashing is largely taken on in America by large chain stores (Wal-Mart, Best Buy, etc), and scam/pyramid companies (Equinox). Many scams come under the guise of Direct Sales or Direct Marketing.

Direct Sales/Marketing:

Come work for yourself and get rich in the process are what the ads usually say. What the mean is work on selling their product and the catch…well it is to get more people underneath you so you don’t have to sell yourself. Also known as pyramid schemes these companies usually make you pay a fee, buy their product and try to recruit others. Some times you don’t have to pay anything for a “training day”, where they weed out unsatisfactory candidates. They have group meetings with icebreakers, songs and propaganda such as videos, pamphlets and books…usually things you have to buy as well. On top of that you are expected to go to conventions and trainings, which you also have to pay for.

Selling tactics usually range from word of mouth, to door to door. I met one group that actually went to supermarkets and stood there claiming to help missing children. They fingerprinted kids for free on a sheet of paper (gotten from a handy graphics program and their printer) with ink from the supermarket. Then they asked the parents to buy something from their “gift bag” claiming that the proceeds went to a missing children’s fund. The gifts were gotten from a wholesaler for about $.50-$1.00 a piece and sold for $5-$20 a piece. The seller got roughly $6-$7 out of every sale of $10, the rest went to those above the seller who broke it out like so: take out the amount of the toy, say $1.00, then 75% of the rest went to first person in the chain and on down. If there were two dollars left then that would leave $.50. That, I was told, went to the missing persons fund. The fund was called Missing Children of Chicago. I could not find an existing fund called that. Besides why Chicago? They were doing this in Colorado.

You can spot one of these one of two ways, as a consumer and while looking for a job. From a consumer stand point it is the hardest.

As a consumer:
Whether you decide to give money to this people it is up to you. There are plenty of traditional salespersons out there that work on a commission. The most reputable are by appointment only. You get a card in the mail with some contest, and if you send it in you’re asked to sit through a presentation.
Either way you will be pressured into make a decision in the now. Use your
best judgement. If it has to do with fire or police protection is there an officer present or some “retired” jockey? Can you try it out? Do they have a store or a location that you can get the product at a later date? Mail order?

In the Job Market:
Ads in the paper usually run as advertising firms, people looking for hard workers, or happy motivated people. If you go into the interview, is it in an established office or some thing that looks very bare, just rented etc? Are there a lot of people there are the same time? Usually it will be a group interview. One of the biggest clues is the magazine. Companies such of this have a lot of magazines lying around all about the company of course. They contain pictures of “the gold group members trip to Hawaii” for example. If they actually have a “secretary”, does she do anything? I’ve been to a few such as Equinox and 79th Street who have secretaries that sign you in and do NOTHING else.

Corporate Brainwashing:
Various corporations have found ways to make their underpaid workers “belong”. From mandatory meetings, special in-house produced television shows, and store anthems, to games, and various ways of humiliation if you are under par.

My own experience of this was Best Buy. In our mandatory monthly meetings we were supposed to yell “Kill”(in Latin) when the store manager announced something good (i.e. stock going up, sales up etc). Though you were always given a choice not too, you were also made to feel “left out”, and not up to par. Same with warranty sales. Best Buy really didn’t seem to care about the product but rather the warranty sales that you made. All training was focused on that rather than knowledge of the product. Then there was the odd thing was the no sitting policy. There were no chairs, not even in the break room. I really needed the job but was forced to quit when I suffered from a leg injury, because of this rule.

It’s a strange world out there. Though sometimes a job is a job, especially in this economy, I wonder if it is worth it. Here are some other brainwashing companies and information.

Amway Brainwashing
WalMart Petition
Wal-Mart Tactics
Ex-Cult Resource Center
Cult Status

© Michelle Norton

Don’t leave. Don’t abandon. Don’t censor. Engage.John Stewart






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