‘Sucked in’ to job

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By AN­DREA O’NEIL

Bul­ly­ing and un­eth­i­cal be­hav­iour af­fects staff of a con­tro­ver­sial vac­uum cleaner com­pany as well as its cus­tomers, says a dis­grun­tled for­mer em­ployee.

Kapi-Mana News re­ported in June that an el­derly Ranui woman was sub­jected to a three-hour sales pitch and felt pres­sured into buy­ing a $3050 vac­uum cleaner.

Now a Lower Hutt man who sold the vac­uum clean­ers has come for­ward with claims he felt pres­sured to ac­cept com­mis­sion sales work rather than be­ing paid a re­tainer, and was given al­co­hol at work de­spite be­ing un­der the legal drink­ing age.

Lower Hutt cleaner Greg Ioane, 17, worked for Liv­ing Longer NZ for a week in June but left the job af­ter mak­ing no money on sales and feel­ing un­com­fort­able about pres­sur­ing peo­ple into sales.

Sales staff can elect to be paid $300 for each sale made or through a weekly re­tainer of about $690, Mr Ioane says. But man­age­ment at Liv­ing Longer NZ pres­sured him into opt­ing for com­mis­sion, he says.

‘‘They al­ways try to suck you into com­mis­sion. That’s the way I got sucked into it.’’

Af­ter four days’ train­ing he be­gan giv­ing vac­uum cleaner demon­stra­tions in Lower Hutt, tar­get­ing four houses a day for the six days he worked for the com­pany.

He made no sales and ended up out of pocket as the com­pany does not pay staff for petrol.

‘‘You don’t make money out of there. I didn’t even last a week,’’ Mr Ioane says.

‘‘I knew I was go­ing to strug­gle to make money and I knew it was a waste of time.’’

The ag­gres­sive sales tac­tics he was taught made Mr Ioane feel un­com­fort­able.

‘‘I don’t like go­ing into some­one’s home and forc­ing them to buy vac­uum clean­ers,’’ he says. ‘‘I wouldn’t rec­om­mend any­body to sell those ma­chines. They try to suck them in to buy­ing a ma­chine that’s not worth three grand.’’

He also felt un­easy about the com­pany giv­ing staff free beer on Wed­nes­day evenings, which was drunk on the job, he says. ‘‘I’m 17 and they’re giv­ing me free al­co­hol.’’ When staff make a sale they are re­warded with free beer and pizza, Mr Ioane says.

Mr Ioane was able to give in­sights into the way Liv­ing Longer tar­gets its vic­tims. Sales man­agers cold call their tar­gets un­der the guise of con­duct­ing a sur­vey, ask­ing whether the tar­get smokes or is an asth­matic, he said.

The next day the tar­get is told they have won a prize that needs to be de­liv­ered per­son­ally, which is how they en­ter peo­ple’s homes for a sales demon­stra­tion.

Tar­gets have no idea they are go­ing to be sold a vac­uum cleaner un­til the sales­man is in their home.

The prizes Mr Ioane dis­trib­uted in­cluded a chop­ping board, con­tain­ers and a photo frame, all from $2 shops. An­other way of con­tact­ing tar­gets is to leave a sticker on their door say­ing they missed a par­cel de­liv­ery, and ask­ing them to call Liv­ing Longer.

There are around 10 sales staff tar­get­ing Lower Hutt and up to 15 tar­get­ing Porirua, Mr Ioane says.

Kapi-Mana News has been told Porirua staff are cur­rently tar­get­ing homes in Ti­tahi Bay.

There is at least one per­son prof­it­ing out of the vac­uum sales scheme, Mr Ioane says: Liv­ing Longer owner David Lord.

‘‘He was a wealthy man, drives a nice Jaguar. He’s mak­ing a lot of money out of that.’’

David Lord de­nied Mr Iaone’s claims when ques­tioned by Kapi-Mana News.

Liv­ing Longer sales staff are in­de­pen­dent con­trac­tors, not em­ploy­ees, and are of­fered a ‘‘per demon­stra­tion’’ wage or a per­cent­age from each sale made.

‘‘The com­pany of­fers both op­tion[s] and the in­de­pen­dent con­trac­tor gets to make a choice.’’ He de­nies mi­nors are given al­co­hol. ‘‘Un­der age con­trac­tors are 100 per cent not given al­co­hol in any way at all.’’

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