Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Horrific Scam Javelin - Cobra Marketing


Allow me to begin my first blog by introducing myself. I am Euan McBride. That could suffice but allow me to indulge by providing some further colour. I am 25 years old, an avid fan of music, film, literature and all that lovely stuff. I have a wonderful family and a collection of beautiful and talented people I am fortunate enough to call my friends and therefore feel relatively blessed by the cosmic superbeing from space legends.

Though one cannot have it all so in regard to this what am I lacking? One of the most fundamental and essential requirements for any contemporary mid twenties yadult (youthful adult, take a big swatch at that lingo Diablo Cody). Something that all enjoyment and sense of fulfillment in daily life tends to grow from. A job.

Like 7.7% of the UK I am currently unemployed and have been for the last month. One of the harshest and most barren environments to be found on our green isles is the job market in mid January, it is a desolate and unrelentingly bleak place. I can say with some pride that I have never been unemployed for any great spans of time and have happily taken the lowliest of the low service jobs to ensure the rent is covered and I can provide my body with the alcoholic tonics it so desperately requires. That being said the periods without employment if you are anything like me and have been in a similar position can be the most stressful and spirit  draining experiences to be had on par with forced viewings of vampire love stories by ex girlfriends. There seems to be nothing on the horizon at the moment. I cannot emphasise enough the sheer financial stress and night terrors this can bring on. I myself am a victim to panic attacks and I am surprised I can even type without leaving a trail of blood all over my keyboard from the nail-less stubs I call fingers at the moment due to how much I have gnawed on them with anxiety.

There are two options available it seems at the moment to those looking for work without taking the benefits route and these are the soul destroying street pounding with a newspaper bag full of CV's, entering every business, cafe, bar, shoeshine booth with a massive, plasticy smile on your face attempting to hide the haunting desperation in your eyes, OR, the information superhighway, where dreams come true, love blossoms, news is shared and cats wear hats. More and more business's, particularly office based vacancies will only be available to applicants through internet communications adding the faceless and inhumane process of CV submission and online application form completion. After checking the spelling and phrasing of your covering letter six hundred and three times you send it off with a "CV attached for your consideration" and the waiting game begins. And often never ends.

I have refreshed my email so often my left ring finger (return key chief operative) now resembles a bicep. Very often no response will ever be received from online applications and I found myself applying for absolutely anything I could find on various job sites, I then uploaded my details to S1jobs and this leads me to the main subject of this blogrant (totally killing it Cody, Jennifers Body was naff).

After a few days of having my CV uploaded to the site I received an email from Paul Pickering at SLS Recruitment informing me that my CV had been received by "Modo Marketing" and to contact them directly to fast track my application. God bless you Paul, you sir are some kind of Superjesus and I bet you have lovely hair and a Ryan Gosling torso. What a guy. Immediately sweeping the telephone up in my hand I had to compose myself due to fear of squeezing it to death like Lenny and his mouse with excitement. Finally, a response. I spoke with Karly at Modo who invited me to an "friendly chat" the following afternoon, swallowing the proposal of marriage rising in my throat I gleefully accepted on the promise she would text me the details later that afternoon. When said response arrived my phone may have well as played a fire alarm or klaxon for the red flag it presented. Karly, my future wife, had seemingly had her phone stolen by an excitable teenage girl with crab hands who had proceeded to send me a barely decipherable mash up of words and symbols punctuated with smiley faces. She hadn't even spelt my name correctly. Striking me as incredibly unprofessional (it's spelt with a "U", it's on my CV that you informed me you had right in front of you Karly) I decided to do a little web research on this Modo so called Marketing because I'm such a savvy and James Bond like sort. It proved fruitful.

The first few Google hits were incredibly vague descriptions of the company on free blog and social networking sites, it seemed strange that a company boasting such progression and growth over the last few years would not have their own website in this current climate of online communications, they're a marketing company for crying out loud. After gleaning no tangible information from their own mouths/fingers I came across an absolute horror of an account from a 19 year old girls experience with the company on ripoffreport.com to which I will provide a link for at the end, It's worth a read. It was obvious that this company was shady and seemingly part of a pyramid sales group called Cobra (G.I. Joe must have missed their UK offices). These people offer promising and rewarding marketing jobs with titles such as "Customer Sales Representative" and "Trainee Sales Executive", huge pay benefits for those with the right attitude and a scope for progression up the corporate ladder. This really all translates on the accounts I found online to be door to door sales people on a commission based salary that is often not paid out but stored in ridiculously sketchy sounding "company bonds". These companies lure in people with misleading job descriptions and completely take advantage of them for as long as it takes for the penny to drop. Not being registered as employees of the company these staff are overworked, lied to and do not receive the money they have worked hard to raise.

With this poor girls words still resonating it crossed my mind that I couldn't actually remember applying for this job. That's because I hadn't. On further though who the hell was Paul Pickering? I wasn't even registered with SLS Recruitment. These folk at Modo send out nets online like a big dirty, sleazy trawler catching all the poor fish and reeling them in. Cantona inspired metaphor there, apologies. I declined to attend this interview on the back of the information I had found and returned to my computer in search of more legitimate prospects. Then came the boom. They called me again the following day from the same address under the moniker "Celica Marketing" offering me as before a chat in their office. I had to get a look at this place and see these pirates up close, I was intrigued and therefore accepted the offer. Today, February the 5th 2013, I attended my interview/friendly chat with Celica Marketing.

Imagine if you will any of the interior sets from Hollyoaks. Low budget, tacky, hollow and lifeless. Cheap laminate wood effect flooring, PVC sofas and plastic plants. Also a radio blaring at a dangerous volume the torrid chart offerings of todays pop tartlets. Welcome to the offices of Celica Marketing. On arrival I was buzzed in and informed to come to the fifth floor. On my ascent I passed a door on the third floor with a pricey printout taped on that read "Modo Marketing", satisfied I was in the correct place I climbed on. At the top I was greeted enthusiastically by a young lady who took my coat and guided me to the holding pen where there were around ten other applicants who had not applied for a job here waiting, all with the same look of suspicion and confusion across their faces and provided me with a brief form to fill out. I sat myself down and said hello to the young chap beside me. I inquired if he had applied for this job online too and he responded that he wasn't sure. This seems to be another arrow in these charlatans quiver, with the sheer amount of applications people make online it can be very easy to lose track of where you have provided details, then jump at any reply you receive. Ten minutes passed and from the larger of the two offices at the rear of the small office a woman with a clipboard made herself present and called out a few names, everyone bar me and a mid thirties, nervous looking chap proceeded into this mysterious room shrouded by blinds to potentially enter a mass suicide pact. Soon after a clean cut Geordie fellow in a nifty suit exited the smaller of the offices and introduced himself as (insert males name here, let's say Gregg) the "Managing Director". He disappeared into his office with my interview rival and this left me to sit for twenty minutes to soak up the atmosphere of first class business conduct surrounding me. Where most people would spend this time mentally preparing and answering potential questions in their head I let mine wander as I was here purely on a curiosity mission. I fixated on how ugly the chair beside me was and on a set of expensive looking golf clubs sitting outside Gregg's office. Soon enough with a flourish of enthusiastic hand shaking Gregg bade farewell to my predecessor and invited me into his office.

There were many odd aspects to my chat with Gregg but oddest thing of all were the contents of his office, or lack thereof. You would assume the Managing Director of a successful marketing company would have a computer, shelves and cabinets of paperwork or even some stationary. Poor Gregg had nothing but two sad looking chairs and a very dusty glass table with nothing on it, not even a funny animal calender. It struck me that he should probably store his golf clubs in here. The lasses outside were having to step round them to get to their coats.

What proceeded was the strangest, most confusing and hilarious interview I have ever been a party to. In summation I still don't really have any idea what Gregg was on about and I consider myself to be fairly receptive to new information. It was peppered with buzz words such as "drive, passion and attitude", it was all utter trouser biscuits and may have well as been read from an autocue by the robotic way it was transmitted. Gregg had the form I had filled out in front of him and went through it with me, intensive screening process of ensuring that I could stick to my story by confirming verbally what I had just written twenty minutes ago. Clever Gregg, taking no prisoners. During his confirmation of the information in front of him he fastidiously circled things and drew a lot of arrows all over the paper, whatever code this was I imagine even the Enigma would struggle with it. On the other hand I think it might have been just to give him something to do in his office. I hope he leaves his work and the pen he used in the office. Might brighten the place up a bit.

Moving on Gregg then posed the grand question "What gets Euan out off bed in the morning?" I assumed he was talking about me, being spoken about in the third person while present is slightly disconcerting. Resisting the correct answer of "breakfast" I launched into a description of a fictional side to my personality, I shall dub him Business Euan. Gregg fell in love with Business Euan. After ten minutes of improvised interest in the position Gregg had to admit he was so impressed he wanted Business Euan back the following day for a hands on training experience and second interview I was to arrive at 11 am and work in the field until 4 pm (all unpaid of course) to get some hands on experience culminating in a follow review with Gregg in the evening. Business Euan shook his hand firmly and accepted with delight.

 I shall not be in attendance.

These companies are dangerous. They lead people to believe that they are attending an interview for a job within office based sales with big rewards and training to progress up the corporate ladder. What they are in fact is an act. Their office resembles a cheap film set because that is exactly what it is. It is a facade and a mask for their lie, they offer everything to desperate people and take advantage financially of those who require real jobs the most. In these offices the money runs up, all present employees are a show, a 2D cut out to convince applicants it is in fact a functioning business with real employees. Cobra Marketing pulls in the young, desperate and impressionable and sends them back out into the wild with delusions of making high commission profits for themselves while offering nothing but deceitful and empty promises. Further accounts of those who have experienced working under these pirates go on to say that days in the "field" are spent in low market shopping centers if not door to door canvassing, travel is paid out of their own pocket and some state that after working 50 plus hour weeks come away with as little as £60. These people are apparently "self employed" state the executives of the companies under the Cobra pyramid, only provided with the tools to create a successful job for themselves and reap the rewards for the efforts they put in. I find this hard to digest as it is poisonous, people in entry level jobs attending interviews on the promise of consistant financial rewards and some even leaving other jobs based on these lies require at least a minimum wage. A job is a job. Yes, some people are happy to join at the lowest rung of the ladder within large companies and organisations and work hard to progress up through the ranks and make a name for themselves but the most basic requirements of any job is the money and security it provides and any potential position offered by these tricksters has neither.


I implore anyone registered on any UK job site to be incredibly wary of these scams and to look into the company offering you something that seems to good to be true, because it probably is. Money is tight, unemployement is difficult and harrowing but keep your head held high and with dignity do not allow yourself to be taken advantage of by these heartless bastards. Good luck out there in the wilderness, we'll make it back inside eventually.



The Glasgow based office for Modo/Celica is the following, please do not waste your time visiting:

34 St Enoch Square
Station House
G1 4DF

.Accounts of those who have smelled the flowers:
http://zainabusman.wordpress.com/2011/10/26/how-i-fell-victim-to-a-recruitment-scam-in-the-uk/

http://www.ripoffreport.com/sales-people/modo-marketine-celic/modo-marketing-celica-marketin-8y468.htm

Article from the Mirror concerning these Companies:
http://blogs.mirror.co.uk/investigations/2010/08/cobra-group-makes-a-mint-while.html

31 comments:

  1. man did you know caleb got scammed by one of these companies? he worked selling makeup in a shopping center for a few days before finding out he was not getting payed and left. likeing the blog.

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  2. I would just like to say thanks for taking the time to write this because if i hadn't read it I would have went for an interview tommorrow afternoon and ended up in the exact same position. Would just like to say it was very well written so well done for that also!

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  3. I have an interview with them tomorrow...should I go to the police and inform them so that they can...accidentally show up?!

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  4. Thanks for the post! The Cobra Marketing Scheme is actually really widespread throughout the globe, with thousands involved.

    I'm compiling a list of all these companies - feel free to add any: http://doortodoortruth.wordpress.com/companies/

    And beware of: Global Net ( www.globalnet.org ), Blue Ocean Outsource Ltd, Corner Rock Ltd and Rainbow Mark Limited at Unit 8, Cumbrian House, 217 Marsh Wall, Poplar, London E14 9FJ

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  5. I have a interview with them tomorrow. Or did have. Thanks for the heads up. I kinda want to go and turn the interview around on him for my own pleasure

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  6. I spent a week with Celica in 2012. The interview was exactly as you described except the charming manager urged me to buy some books on marketing to learn more about this mysterious role I did not know I had applied for in the first place. In one of my more stupid moves, I ran to Waterstones and wasted food money on a book on marketing only to turn up the next day to have the cold reality of door-to-door sales sprung on me out of nowhere. You should have stayed on until they lead you into the next room, a barely decorated open space with a whiteboard and a shitty stereo. The meetings held there are cult-like; exhausted mopes ringing bells to celebrate scamming some old people, cheering over the daily fresh recruits, singalongs, dead-eyed slaps on the back from the badly suited men.

    On the field I was taught to drop all my morals, blame myself for all the shortcomings of the job, continue to push the sale even when the person at the door is elderly or vulnerable, fight on through torrential rain without an umbrella ("they look unprofessional") and watch the girls seduce lonely men at their doors just so they sign up for a British Red Cross direct debit scheme. They kept a full-blown nutcase on staff. He was fresh out of the military with an incomprehensible Welsh accent, gammy bullet riddled leg, PTSD, and constant trouble from the police from driving like a maniac (he once took time from driving to turn around and slap me in the face after I fell asleep in the car ride home, threatening it would be worse if I did it again), yet he was kept on despite all this blatant insanity simply because he had a car the managers could exploit. He certainly wasn't making any sales.

    I came to Glasgow in the dead of summer thinking this would be a steady job, took on accommodation before I needed it thinking rent would be okay thanks to all the lies the managers sold me and barely slept or ate for a solid week of 8am-11pm shifts. By the end of the week I had a panic attack right before going out on the field because I realised that all these people were brainwashed and I had made a horrible mistake. Any chance of saving some rent or food money was dwindling away. The next day I turn up to work to find a meeting of all the staff and managers but, curiously, I was not allowed to attend. Following that I was ushered into the room with the manager who had lied to my face only a week ago listed off a ream of private conversations I'd had with fellow employees concerning my doubts about the job. He quoted verbatim private text messages I had sent to others. I realised that Celica had held a company-wide meeting just to bitch about me and all my so-called co-workers had given up private conversations or text message I had sent while "on the field" as if they were outing a Soviet spy. As the manager rattled off example after example of treasonous statements I had made with the guilt tripping tone I had heard all week, as if having doubts about his line of work was a grave injustice, I realised I was about to be fired and felt some relief that my plan to disappear over the weekend was being spared me.

    I met some interesting people while I worked at Celica, most of them desperate young guys who had never been given a chance at employment before or who had come from troubled backgrounds in drug dealing or early fatherhood leading them to try their luck on people's doorsteps. I hope they all left like I did and landed on their feet somewhere stable. Celica Marketing is only one example of a sleazy worldwide epidemic of pyramid scheme scam artists sapping all the savings from a generation of suffering young people to line the pockets of a few at the very top. There's a reason most of the "veterans" were holed up in shitty flats together in order to keep the job going and why they desperately try to get you out for a few drinks on your few nights off. They don't want you to have a long enough break to realise everyone is haemorrhaging money while pursuing a pointless dream.

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  7. Firstly just to say your first few paragraphs made me laugh so much as I am experiencing the exact same thing. I am applying for absolutely everything!! I have come to a point where Ill do anything.
    I currently use cv-library.co.uk, as a friend told me about it, as he has got a very good job through it. He also told me it takes a few days/weeks for applications to be seen.
    Anyway I have only recently started using this and have heard nothing from anyone. Except from 2 marketing companies (I am sure I didn't apply for one). The first company rang me and I had no idea what he was on about he said I applied for a company called S3 anyway I never heard anything from him since (probably would have been my dream job) . Anyway the other day I came home a bit drunk and stressed so I decided to apply for any job I could see on this website. So I sent my CV to SLS recruitment as they had a job ad which was "Bored of admin or retail roles" it sounded pretty good. But within 24 hours I got an email from Lucy saying to ring a number and talk to Razina (On a landline number) to book an appointment which would speed my application up, however they should get back to me soon even if I don't ring. In my desperate state I went straight to my phone then luckily I remembered that I applied when I was a bit pissed and it had been less then 24 hours since sending my CV. So today I have decided to do a bit of research and it appears there are many people in my position which have had very similar experiences. I don't think I will ring them and if they do ring me ill be asking many questions.
    Man I really want a job.

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  8. I worked there for just under a year. I was put in a crappy caravan on a 'roadtrip' and made to share a bed with a boy. I was an 18 year old girl with a boyfriend. It goes without saying my relationship very nearly broke down, I was miserable the whole time I was there, never saw my family even though I lived in the same house as them and since leaving the MD has been sending me vile tacky messages which he thinks would somehow get me to sleep with him. Avoid Appco at all costs, not only will it leave you will less money than you started with, it could very nearly ruin all your close relationships as well.

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  9. The company that I was involved with, Global Net, has changed their name to ‘Kreative Client Solutions’. They are still associated with the same company: Blue Ocean Outsource Ltd. Company Reg no: 08437993, and trade under the address: Kreative Client Solutions, Angel House, 3rd Floor, 225 Marsh Wall, South Quay, London, E14 9FW
    Avoid them!
    Here's a list of other companies to avoid: http://doortodoortruth.wordpress.com/companies/

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  10. Thanks for posting this. I came here after running a search for Paul Puckering. Lets just say I will not be pursuing employment with Paul or SLS Recruitment.
    This reminds me of another company called HMGT who offered me a friendly chat. They phoned me and offered me an interview or "friendly chat" with the Manager but gave me only a phone number and post code which I thought was suspicious. When I looked for a web site for HMGT there was none and yet they advertised in every major British town. So when discovering there was no way of learning anything about the company or what it is they sell I decided not to go.
    Two months later I was phoned by a young woman who asked the same and when I pushy as to what the company did she said "we'll just end your application here.
    Thanks for the information.

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  11. The Appco Group AKA Cobra is just one tentacle of the global direct sales cult known to some as Devilcorp.

    The BBC, The Mirror, The Daily/Sunday Telegraph and the New Zealand Herald have written numerous articles about this organization. They are about to be investigated by the Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing in N.S.W..

    If you go to thedevilcorp.wordpress.com you will find a plethora of links to new reports, government rulings, lawsuits and video footage showing how these people do business

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  12. Easily the funniest post about these 'pirates' that I've ever read. Love your work.

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  13. Eugh these companies are soooo depressing. I had an odd call yesterday as I am, again on the job hunt, I suspect it was from one of these these types. The caller was on a withheld number and seemed very keen for me to get back to him during the same day, however the promised email with further information never arrived, so I have no idea who they are. I was taken in by one when I was 18 (the name has long been burned from my memory). There was an odd sleazy manager who seemed to need to know whether I had a boyfriend as part of the interview, and also seemed to think he was some expert in body language, so strange. There was an even odder collection of staff a couple of which I had to follow around all day going door to door trying to get people to switch their energy suppliers. I noticed that one lady I had to follow even poached some custom from the other woman's 'patch' but then lied about it to her face (lovely). This was all in the worst housing areas as well, we had to get the bus, I paid for my own food...there was no up side and I received ZERO money for this experience and left after the first week (if I even lasted that long, I can't remember). I just found it bizarre how everyone seemed so brainwashed. It was really sad actually, the manager kept dangling the carrot of making loads of money one day and a company trip for those who did well. However, I didn't see anyone doing particularly well and didn't really want to stick around to find out! I was terrified of the thought of knocking on strange doors alone in rough areas, anything could happen! and I'm sure it has. One lady had a young daughter and while she was pounding the streets all day 6 days a week she wasn't getting to spend any time with her, what a life!. Anyway, no one called to see why I never returned to work, I noticed some people had disappeared during the time I was there. These individuals were regarded as losers, when I inquired after one young guy who had seemed nice he was just disregarded "Oh he's gone, he obviously isn't bothered about making money" hmmm yeah....So I put it down to experience and have forever avoided those vague 'BORED with your current position??!!' ads that pop up across the country. Yes perhaps I am bored and unemployed, but I will NEVER ever be that bored :-)

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  14. Hey guys
    I have interview next week with celica marketing 34 st enough
    U saying is no worth to go there?

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  15. You know I love your post right? http://entryleveljobscam.blogspot.com/

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  16. You know I love your post right? http://entryleveljobscam.blogspot.com/

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  17. Just to update this. I had an interview with them today and they changed the interview process but it still seems like a shady company. Like you I received an email congratulating me for having been accepted to an interview with a company that wasn't named. I assumed it was a response to an application I submitted for a sales and CS job on SLS and the client remained Anonymous.
    The office is indeed a bit weird. It looks too modern to be real and they have 3 young and attractive administrative assistants that seem to be here to decorate the room. I mean seriously, why 3 assistants for such a small office?

    So Nick is apparently the director and he conducts group interviews now. He is very charismatic and good at selling you his company. So good that after an hour I still didn't know what kind of product they were selling but I was still in the room listening to this guy. He then admitted that it was a commission base saling job but that 55% of the employeed made around 250 to 450 a week, and top salers made twice or three times that. Frankly those seem like random numbers to me.
    The all thing looked like an episode of a realty tv show with lots of spark and not a lot of content.
    I'm surprised this "scam" is still running after 3 years.

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    1. I have an interview tomorrow should I not bother

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  18. i previously worked for ROK marketing which is part of APPCO group and thats where modo is it isnt a scam company they are a legit fundraising, insulation, events organisation the only thing close to a scam is that they are 100% commission based pay (you dont get clients you dont get payed) but i have worked with modo and the owner (gemma) is a lovely woman and no one in the company is a scammer sorry guys but youve been wrongly informed

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    1. Gemma...you know it's a bit tacky to refer to your own company pretending to be an employee?

      I have heard of horror stories about people who interviewed with your company when they were desperate. One started at 8am and left at 8:15 when you told them they had to pay the driver (a company employee) for petrol money to get to a shopping centre to work. Before you've even started earning money you're out of pocket. Another left after being promised all the training in the world...then subsequently dumped into a housing scheme to knock on doors for 10 hours. You are the lowest of the low.

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    2. JUICE! U ABSOLUTE DOOR KNOCKING LEGEND

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  19. Good lad for having the sense. I had an "interview" with one of these companies a few years back. EVERYTHING about it seemed off. The offices with nothing in them, the bizarre interview where we went in as pairs. I found nothing on the actual company as is often the case but continuous digging led me to Cobra. Chris Niarchos (Cobra Commander) should consider changing it to Hydra in my view. Cut off one head and you get two to replace it!

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  20. I've also been contacted for an interview with Celica Marketing, the interview is tomorrow at ten and the address they gave me is 34 St Enoch Square Station House G1 4DF. Is there no point in me going to it? When I tried to go on a website which appeared for be related to it my computer flagged the website as having malware on it so that also seems sketchy.

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  21. I wish we had blogs like this 15 years ago. I worked for a company in Glasgow called Free Enterprise, part of the Cobra group...I was over worked, under paid...forced to adopt the gung ho overly enthusiastic salesman attitude..(S.E.X) Smile, Eye contact, EXcitement. This was serious stuff and I was skint..it sucked me in hook, line and sinker. 40% of my commission was taken from me before I saw a "wage" it was for bonds AKA cancellations at a later point. I chapped doors and signed people up to Atlantic telecom, some of the others punted Npower contracts or toys and gifts for "charity" I lasted 6 months before hunger and low morale forced me to move back to my parents home and seek a proper job. I witnessed quite a few decent people turn into coke heads in order to keep up the S.E.X attitude. I don't know if the company is still trading but it was based in Miller Street(3rd floor). Lesson learned.

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  22. Can I just say thank you so much for writing this! I got a call from Celica Marketing this morning and I was over the moon I had an interview (I need a job desperately). Now I know it's a scam I'm gutted but I'm glad I didn't waste my time later on so thank you!!

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  23. Euan, great post and information. Thanks for sharing.

    If anyone wants to help raise awareness of these co's, please seach Facebook for 'NAME AND SHAME RECRUITMENT & JOB SCAMS'.

    Happy job hunting all.

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  24. Smart Circle's Ashley Martin strikes again. http://entryleveljobscam.blogspot.com/

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  25. I've worked for them and I can confirm it's commission only, travel expenses are not covered and theres a "sausage factory" mentality when it comes to staff. I was told it was "commission based" which I interpreted as meaning most of the salary was commission based (I thought there was a minimum wage in this country?)or, in the worst case scenario one could work hard and make at least £200 pounds a week (as it was told to me), well I managed to make about £50 in two weeks despite walking for miles and miles, paying my own bus fairs and generally working my arse off. I can confirm the general "alternative facts" atmosophere and largely, young and naive workforce with an incredible level of income inequality (the narcissistic boss, Nicky makes at least £20k *a month* while junior employees can literally lose money doing this "job).

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