I nearly spit my coffee out this morning while listening to a CBC report investigating the hiring of teenagers to sell chocolate bars door-to-door. Apparently, this company is paying the teenagers a commission, teaching them aggressive sales techniques (including how to handle objections; e.g. If the adult says they have diabetes, suggest they buy some for a friend, and put two chocolate bars in their hand.) The story came to light because a teenager was actually fired for not making his quota.
Each sales instruction, as shown on the company’s website, ends with “and put two chocolate bars in their hand.” As all adults know, when presented with the fresh, hopeful face of a teenager trying to do her best, handing back the chocolate bars would feel churlish. This is manipulation marketing at its best and worst. They are exploiting teenagers, making a profit (no one would return calls to the CBC, but the recipient charity receives only 10% of proceeds, and the website acknowledges that teenagers get $1 per sale) and corrupting an entire process that has been embedded in our society for generations. Not only that, but the small 10% goes to an organization which helps autistic and disadvantaged children, making the exaggerated claim of “charitable” even more onerous.
This came just days after a visit to my niece and nephew – they, too, were selling chocolate bars. When I asked my 5 year-old niece what she was collecting for (a field trip? an educational outing?), she said proudly that it was for supplies and equipment for her school. Apparently, school budget cut-backs mean that the kids can be used as corporate fund-raisers. Really?
Moments later, the doorbell rang, and it was another child in the same neighbourhood selling chocolate bars. I politely refused, saying that I had already made a purchase. That poor kid looked very unhappy as I closed the door in his face. Are we supposed to give inclusively and indiscriminately? I guess that’s what all these opportunists are hoping.
As Halloween and the accepted time of charitable-asking draws near, may I suggest that you THINK TWICE before you hand over your hard-earned money. And as a parent, you might want to start asking some relevant questions to the providers.
I know it’s a tired, old lament, but …. what is the world coming to?