Monday, February 4, 2013

Star Tribune, Increasingly Desperate?

A couple of Sundays ago, I found this piece of paper stuffed in among my Star Tribune coupons and sale flyers:

Letter-size sheet of paper headlined Do you want to own your own business?
I thought at first it was some kind of "work from home, make a million dollars" scam, but then I saw the Star Tribune logo.

Here's some of the text in case you don't want to click to enlarge:

As an Independent Distribution Agent, you will:
  • Own your own business
  • See potential gross annual revenue of $500,000-$1.5 million under a delivery fee model
  • Focus on providing leadership and managing distribution of Star Tribune and other print products within a select geographic territory
  • Recruit and manage carriers who distribute the product
For a modest entry cost depending on size, you can step into a turnkey operation that gives you solid earning potential from day one!
Basically what this means is that instead of employing people directly, however part-time, the newspaper is going to outsource delivery through a piece-work system (a "delivery fee model"), so that the entrepreneurs who contract with them can squeeze the people they employ, and the newspaper will not be responsible.

Have I got that right?

That's bad enough, but the thing that is even more reprehensible is the way phrases like "$1MM+" and "$500,000-$1.5 million" are thrown around. Note that it says gross annual revenue -- that means the entrepreneur is paying all expenses out of that, from the "modest entry cost" to the payments to the carriers who will actually be doing the distribution work.

And did you notice the hedging language in there about how much money the suckers might earn? "Potential gross revenue" -- "solid earning potential from day one."

The amount of money netted by the entrepreneur depends on how much they can stiff the carriers out of their earnings. But is that clear in any way from this flyer? If you showed it to 10 people, how many of them would think it was an offer to make a million dollars a year?

Does a flyer like this actually recruit anyone with entrepreneurial drive and business smarts, or does it just attract people too gullible to know what it means?

1 comment:

Ms Sparrow said...

My weekend delivery had become awful. The paper was always late and tossed carelessly in front of the building--by the neighbor's garage, in a snowbank or in the driveway. (My daily paper is on time and dropped inside the building in front of my door.) After several complaints, I was told the delivery person is a private contractor and can basically deliver the paper however he chooses. So, I have to wait for the paper to arrive and go outside to look for it on weekends. Nice customer service, Strib!