Preying on students seems widely accepted yet is totally unacceptable
By Greg Waldock, Staff Writer
If you’ve been to a Douglas College campus during job fairs or booth days, you might have seen flashy, stylish-looking companies offering “immediate income,” “money from home,” or “tiered advancement opportunities.” They show up from time to time, seemingly authorized by the college to be there. They are known as “multi-level marketing,” “network marketing,” or, to some, as pyramid schemes. I think they are completely amoral, almost never result in monetary gain for those who are sucked into them, and yet they seem to be supported by the school by being allowed to advertise to the young and vulnerable. I believe that Douglas College and other institutions should not support them and should work to educate students better on the dangers they present.
Multi-level marketing companies can be distinguished by their payment model. In most cases, nobody is salaried or has a steady wage—everyone makes straight commission and pays into the company. The more you sell, the more you make. You ascend the ranks in the company by recruiting new people for you to supply with your own products. The higher up you are, the more product you’re allowed to sell or give to those under you. This means that everyone on the bottom makes pennies and are strongly encouraged to recruit aggressively, while those on top make almost all the money. The result is a company that encourages its employees to exploit friends and family to get higher in the company, with those at the top being able to leave at any time. These companies skirt the justice system and often barely avoid legal action, despite the fact that the majority of the “employees” involved end up losing money.
They often show up on college campuses in Vancouver. Students are desperate and broke—essentially vulnerable, which is why scammers target the elderly as well. Students also tend to have large social circles of equally desperate and broke people, making us uniquely perfect targets for this kind of scam.
These scams are identifiable, though, if you know what you’re looking for. They sound too good to be true—offering thousands of dollars with minimal effort, but never unbelievably so. Their spokespeople are lower-level employees still optimistic about their opportunities and looking to move up from their own position in the company. Their posters and advertising generally have bright and simple colours with big, impactful fonts and almost no description of what the company actually does to make money.
Trust your instincts. There is no such thing as a miracle job, and anyone who promises a miracle job is preying on you, whether they know it or not.