ask DNA ☕

I Worked Three Scam Jobs in One Year - Part I: Commission Scam


When I was 19, I moved to Edmonton. My hometown felt like a deadend and the city seemed like a big, exciting opportunity. I moved in with family and in between partying, figured I should probably get a job. Vodka wasn’t cheap!

The modern world was shifting to online, so I went from dropping off resumes door-to-door to faxing to emailing!

Naturally, I blanketed everything with a resume, since it’d increase my chances. I sent hundreds over the weeks. My work experience listed babysitting and working at a sub sandwhich shop for most of one summer. Who could afford not to hire me? Under Interests, I included a hobby: working with HTML / making websites. Maybe this is why I got a call back from the first of several scam jobs I ended up working.

I wore my nicest clothes to the interview: black dress pants, cheap dress shoes that only came out for weddings and funerals, one of the two button-up, collared shirts I owned, and maybe even a tie. No wonder they hired me on the spot and wanted me to start on Monday! This was a company that made websites for other companies – essential in the modern internet age! I was pumped to be in on the ground floor of this little startup whose office was located in a small two-story office building, not far outside of downtown. I was also interested to learn more about the massage parlour in the next suite, which took walk-ins, offered discounts, was in no way marked on the building, and about which I wasn’t supposed to talk, outside the building.

Naturally, I’d agreed to work commission instead of Alberta’s meager minimum wage, with my pay based on sales from leads I’d bring back to the office. I’d start at the office, pick up a stack of my new boss’ business cards, then hit the road, going into every little mom & pop shop leaving a card and taking one of theirs. When the lead turned into a sale, I’d get a percentage. Pretty sweet right?

There was little training – mostly body language tricks for salespeople. Did you know that nodding your head can get people to agree with you? Cool!

I did this for a week, then convinced my cousin to come in and apply. Soon the two of us were on the road, door-to-door, waiting for that sweet sweet comission to kick in. On the morning of my cousin’s third day, we sat at a coffee shop, waiting for strip malls and everything else to open up for the day. I was pretty bummed none of the hundreds of leads I’d brought back had turned into sales. My cousin was a little sharper. He realized that this job was bogus and I’d just spent a week and a half working for no pay.

We grumbled and decided to cut our losses. We’d finish our coffee and just start looking again.

But what great luck! There was a cute, sharp-dressed girl, barely older than I was, who overheard us and came over to ask if we’d be interested in joining her booming new business!

My smart cousin declined.

Read Part II: Pyramid Scheme.