CW / TW: Recount of Sexual Assault, Recount of finding a dead body.
Isabelle is a former Credico Team Leader from Florida, who was removed from her position after questioning how her owner was managing official payroll documents.
She shared with us her experiences with cult-like manipulation, being coerced into living with coworkers as a means of being kept in the business, and her most harrowing door to door sales stories.
HOW DID YOU APPLY FOR THE ROLE?
I applied via either Indeed or some other job-finding platform, possibly LinkedIn, to be honest I don’t quite remember.
WHAT WERE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE COMPANY YOU APPLIED TO BEFORE YOU ATTENDED THE INTERVIEW?
Truthfully, I had no thoughts. I was applying for any job I could in mass amounts daily, looking for a position that would hire me as soon as possible.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR INTERVIEW AND OBSERVATION EXPERIENCE?
It was intense, the man who interviewed me was a true blue psychopath who later went on to become my manager. I had blinders on throughout the initial process, just excited to see someone had taken an interest in hiring me. I was 18 at the time and incredibly vulnerable, I was living alone & already well isolated from my family and friends- this was most likely easily perceived.
HOW DID YOU FEEL HAVING SUCCESSFULLY BEEN GIVEN THE ROLE?
Thrilled, all I wanted at that point was reliable work.
WHAT WAS YOUR DAILY ROUTINE AS A REP, IN OFFICE AND IN THE FIELD?
I didn’t have a car, so I woke up every morning at 5 to catch 2 separate buses south into town. We had a 1 hour morning “meeting” in the office, a “30 minute” lunch, then from noon to 5 pm we were expected to be in the field. We would canvass neighborhoods that had been given to us by the client AT&T & DirecTV, I still resent both companies to this day for feeding into that kind of slave labor. I live in Florida so the days were hot and humid, you expected each day to be gruelling, but kept that to yourself out of fear of rejection from the group.
HOW DID YOU DESCRIBE YOUR ROLE TO YOUR FRIENDS AND FAMILY?
I told them I did door-to-door for AT&T. For the most part I was pretty transparent, I didn’t see a reason to hide it because work is work after all, right? That was the only real clarity I gave them though. I skipped over the shitty details like no base pay or any semblance of benefits. I bolstered how much money I made to them so they wouldn’t worry, when in reality I was stressed about money *all* of the time. I told them all I loved my job & felt fortunate to do what I did, this confused everyone to say the least; however it wasn’t actually a lie. There was an initial pink cloud of excitement, feeling like I could actually enjoy work and the people I worked with, not realizing it was part of the indoctrination process. Once that all faded, I kept up the same attitude to save face.
WHAT WAS THE MOST DIFFICULT SITUATION YOU FOUND YOURSELF IN WHEN WORKING DOOR TO DOOR?
It’s hard to say, some of it wasn’t even at the door; sometimes it was around or behind it. I was aggressively hit on, followed by vans on 2 separate occasions…etc. It all came to a boil about 4 months in when I found a dead body, a 2-3 week old decomposing corpse. It took me weeks to be able to eat soft food again, I couldn’t get the image out of my head. The screen door had been left open & the amount of flies instantly triggered a red flag in my head. After I called the police, I called my “owner” who told me that regardless I had to stay in the field. I drank a whole bottle of wine that day before 5.
DID YOU OBSERVE ANY EXAMPLES OF CULT LIKE CONDITIONING OR MANIPULATION?
Of course, down to every detail; and I was the perfect candidate. I had just hit a rock bottom of sorts and was estranged from my family for a variety of reasons, I completely glazed over the manipulation as I was a scared 18 year old girl who needed a tribe of her own. They make you associate with your coworkers as much as possible. It’s a lot harder to leave a job than it is to leave a friend. The rejection of any negativity and gaslighting was everywhere. Even telling your fellow coworkers you had a rough day could have resulted in you being called “cancer” and ousted from the group until you proved yourself once again. And that was the beginning of everything, every day you had to prove yourself. The best salesmen were rewarded, the lesser salesmen were abused beyond belief. There was no ebb and flow.
WHAT DO YOU FEEL WAS THE BIGGEST LIE YOU WAS TOLD?
That ownership would result in *my* own company. This is excluding the hundreds of lies we were told daily.
WHICH TEAM NIGHTS STAND OUT AS THE MOST MEMORABLE TO YOU?
The team nights I had away from the pack, once I established a friend group, it was actually a lot of fun. There weren’t many of the higher-ups lingering around to police the conversations & it actually just felt like a normal group of friends hanging out.
HOW DID BEING A TEAM LEADER COMPARE TO BEING A SALES REP, IN TERMS OF RESPONSIBILITY, INCOME, AND OVERALL DIFFICULTY?
Being a “leader” meant more responsibility, and you were held more accountable.
HOW DID YOU THE WAY YOU UTILIZED AND MANAGED YOUR TEAM COMPARE TO THE TEAM LEADER YOU ORIGINALLY WORKED UNDER?
I tried to foster an environment of compassion, I was hell bent on becoming everything my leader and owner weren’t. I wanted to create a job that could empower women, like I had initially felt empowered. I genuinely thought this was possible. My leader and owner were both mid-20s, barely educated if educated at all & narcissists. Some days it felt nearly impossible to mask the hatred I had for the two of them, so I attempted to channel that anger as fuel to create something better.
DID YOU INTEND TO TRANSITION INTO BECOMING AN OWNER?
Of course, that was the dream. And then I found the website. I don’t remember exactly how or what it was called, but something to the tune of Devilcorp. I remember someone joking about our work being a cult, leading to their ostracization, and decided to *finally* do some research. I truly just thought my work was niche, but work like everyone else had. I found a page with bullet points of questions to ask yourself, that could “determine if you were in a Devilcorp situation”. I mentally answered yes to all of them. I called out of work that day. I sent the link to some of my friends also in the business. After that, any hope of becoming an owner felt far fetched. This page made too many points and I knew I had to create a plan to get out.
WHAT WAS YOUR LIVING SITUATION AT THE TIME?
For almost the entire time I was in the business, I had my own apartment…that laid empty 24/7. I lived far away from work and did not have my own car, so my owner & coworker offered to let me stay with them most nights to carpool on in. I kept my clothes and living essentials there and I crashed on the couch almost every night. We were all “friends” so other coworkers would come drink after work and hang out. At one point in time I was the only woman in an office of 30 men, most who had made passes at me.
The running joke was that everyone in the business screws each other, only it’s not a joke at all. I was still hung up on my ex-boyfriend at the time and brutally uninterested in any of the men I worked with, not that that really matters to a bunch of sweaty 20-somethings who think they are all going to be billionaires one day. So nights after work I would drink… a lot. It was an easier and somehow less risky way to vet my depression and anxiety, rather than risking it all by telling a coworker how I truly felt. My boss would have guys I worked with come over to socialize, which was finally the prime time if they wanted to make a move. On 3 different accounts I still to this day do not remember having sex with some of the people I did. I would find out during a morning meeting because someone decided to brag, or by waking up on the couch next to them naked. And this was a regular thing, my living situation was one of shame and instilled a sense of fear that my owner really could control everyone around me, and how they all saw me or had access to me.
They try to get you to live together, to sign leases together & befriend each other, to cement the reality. Quit the business? Fine. But how are you going to move out? Find new roommates? My manager at one point in time suggested it was better to try and convince new hires to live with us because we “knew what was best” for them. Knowing what I went home to everyday there was no way in HELL I was going to try and convince any coworker of mine to live with us. The cycle droned on day after day, a shitty red couch, shitty black coffee, a shitty day all curtsied with enough vodka to take out a charging buffalo. And that’s the dream, right? It would all be worth it once I had made something for myself.
HOW DID YOU LEAVE CREDICO?
I was fired, actually. I had a plan to call my boss out on how our payroll was presented to us in the form of an easily-edited excel sheet. I had just moved from my hometown to a different town 7 hours away. I crafted the plan and told too many people, it got back around to the owner & I was finally the cancer they needed to cut out. The morning they fired me 3 people walked out. I ended up staying in that town for a year, I remember feeling initially so lost & confused. Those feelings faded in under a week. I was free, finally. I remember at one point I broke down crying once I realized that no longer had to be my reality.
WERE YOU INTERESTED IN LEAVING CREDICO BEFORE YOU WERE OUSTED?
Of course, but I was living with coworkers and so intertwined, the idea of leaving felt like such a distant possibility. I had no escape plan, this was like my family at that point in time.
DID YOU KEEP IN TOUCH WITH ANYONE ONCE YOU HAD LEFT?
A couple people, mostly the ones who were never fully indoctrinated to begin with. I only maintain contact with one person who was as hell-bent on ownership as I was, and we both had a similar fall from grace once I found that website. We were secret co-conspirators, who still had no idea if or how we could leave. I don’t know if he quit or was fired, but to this day we still send each other memes about how shitty MLMs are, and poke fun at Credico in general. It feels sad but validating to know other people went through this too, just under one of many different masks.
DO YOU REGRET YOUR TIME IN THE BUSINESS? WHAT DID YOU LEARN?
I don’t regret it. If anything, the worst of it is just some of the cringe memories. I was so young & vulnerable, the way I see it now there’s no point in beating myself up. I had a badass work ethic and tried my hardest. My takeaway is just to try and help educate other people on how insidious ALL MLMs are, regardless of the face they may carry. It was an interesting look at part of the human condition I never knew existed- a gnawing need for companionship and inclusion. The things people would do for the sake of having friends or feeling loved and important.
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