A di­rect prob­lem?

The Saratogian (Saratoga, NY) - - YOUR DAILY BREAK -

DEAR HELOISE >> My daugh­ter was look­ing for an op­por­tu­nity to earn ex­tra money. She was in­vited to join a DI­RECT SALES com­pany, some­times called mul­ti­level mar­ket­ing, pyra­mid sell­ing, a home-based busi­ness or net­work mar­ket­ing. I would ad­vise your read­ers: Be wary.

This type of busi­ness touts it­self as a won­der­ful chance to host par­ties, meet peo­ple and sell prod­ucts you use and love. So what’s the prob­lem?

She was a sales­per­son, which is fine, but she pur­chased the prod­ucts from the com­pany, then turned around and tried to sell them, ei­ther on­line or at home par­ties. This re­quired a large out­lay of cash. Stor­ing the mer­chan­dise and par­tic­i­pat­ing in train­ing also were prob­lem­atic and time-con­sum­ing.

In ad­di­tion, a huge part of the job is re­cruit­ing oth­ers to join her team, or “down­line.” She then earned money from their sales; it is not easy.

— He­len M. in Michi­gan

DEAR HE­LEN M. >> He­len, many peo­ple who try this come up short and are left with mer­chan­dise they can’t sell. Read­ers, check out the Fed­eral Trade Com­mis­sion at www.ftc.gov for more in­for­ma­tion.

DEAR READ­ERS >> Have you ever needed cus­tomer ser­vice on a com­pany’s web­site? You may end up in­ter­act­ing with a chat­bot un­der the “Con­tact Us” tab.

A chat­bot is a form of ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence that “in­ter­acts” with you, some­what like a per­son would. What’s re­ally go­ing on? The soft­ware is scan­ning the text you typed in, look­ing for key­words that match. For ex­am­ple, you might type in: “re­call,” “pay­ment,” “registry” or “cor­po­rate.” The chat­bot will then pull up matches for your in­quiry.

DEAR HELOISE >> I make de­posits early in the morn­ing for my em­ployer at my bank’s night drop. It’s still dark out, so I am su­per-aware of my sur­round­ings. The night drop has a cam­era, but I carry my phone with me, make the de­posit, en­sure it gets into the build­ing and get back in my car quickly.

— Heidi W. in Cincin­nati

DEAR HEIDI W. >> High-five, Heidi! Read­ers, also be aware of your sur­round­ings when tak­ing cash out of the ATM.

DEAR HELOISE >> I have a brother, sis­ter and six nieces and neph­ews ages 25 to 73, all who live far away. On their birth­days, each gets an on­line gift card in the amount of twice their age.

This way, ev­ery­one is treated fairly and can get what they re­ally want. And they look for­ward to my gift!

— Aunt Til­lie in Con­necti­cut

DEAR HELOISE >> Ku­dos to tele­mar­keters who are ek­ing out a liv­ing at an hon­est but ex­tremely dif­fi­cult job! I re­spect them for that. They de­serve our cour­tesy, not our ru­de­ness, re­gard­less of our an­noy­ance.

If you an­swer the call, it takes no more time to say, “Please re­move me from your list” than to cuss them out. Also, you’ll be in a bet­ter mood af­ter mak­ing some­one’s un­pleas­ant job a lit­tle eas­ier.

— Bunny B., Lan­caster, Calif.

DEAR BUNNY B. >> Bunny, how right you are! Read­ers, kind­ness is con­ta­gious — these folks are work­ing for a liv­ing. Don’t feel pres­sured to buy what they are sell­ing; just say no nicely and then say good­bye.

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