Direct sales offices mentioned in this interview:
- Flux Marketing Cooperation (Linthicum Heights, MD)
- RDU Executives (Cary, NC)
- RDU Executives Jax (Jacksonville, FL)
- Hill-City Executives (Cary, NC)
- The Carolina Executive (Cary, NC)
Cheyenne is a former Credico Corporate Trainer from North Carolina. Her office (FLUX MARKETING COOPERATION INC.) was tasked with selling Assurance Wireless phones which should have been provided for free to those who qualified.
She shared with us her experiences with business trips, her toughest days in the field, and her reasons for finally leaving.
HOW DID YOU FIRST APPLY FOR THE ROLE?
I applied on indeed.com. They posted for an “Entry Level Customer Services” position.
HOW DID THE JOB COMPARE TO HOW IT WAS ADVERTISED? DID YOU FEEL MISLED AT ALL?
I felt really misled. Their posting made it seem like it was going to teach you more about marketing, and that you would be put on a team for one client and learn how to market with them, when in reality you would be doing door-to-door or event based “sales”. They never once said it was going to be like that, and they didn’t even give me a warning for the first day, which I thought was weird. I would think that you would tell someone in March in a northern city; “Hey, you will need comfortable shoes and a heavy jacket as we will be outside and not in the office”.
They also said it was paid training. I wasn’t ever paid for my training, just the sales I did. During the interview they kept pushing that this was a once and a lifetime chance, and that not going forward with it would be a mistake.
AT WHAT POINT DID YOU REALISE WHAT THE JOB ACTUALLY INVOLVED?
It was my first day actually, but at that point nothing was really “shady” for me. I really just thought they lied about the job because they had lots of turnover and couldn’t bring people in, so they had to stretch the truth, which isn’t unheard of. It wasn’t until we’d had 2 months of Zoom calls and gotten back into the field that I started making money. It was then that we heard they were shutting down the Assurance Wireless campaign. So it was a free-for-all, and a lot of things clicked.
HAS YOUR TIME IN THE INDUSTRY MADE YOU RETHINK YOUR INITIAL INTERVIEW?
Oh definitely. When I got to “leadership” and learned that they had a whole script they had to follow, it made me a little sad about the second round interview I had with my leader. She was someone I thought I could be friends with because we clicked. It seemed easy to talk to her, but she’d really just had so much practice with her speech. The first and third round interviews were rushed because they had so many people in the waiting room. I think together they were about 20 minutes long. To see how fake their kindness was, and knowing what I know now about them as people, and about the business, it makes sense that they’d gotten so far, and have now probably gotten even further.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR OWNER?
The owner I worked for was Mezo Cooper. He started in Rhode Island then opened his first office in Maryland. That office closed and he moved to North Carolina. Then they got evicted out of that office and he went to Florida. So he’s clearly not a good owner considering that he had 3 offices in less than 2 years.
I actually didn’t meet him until my second week there. My first impression was he seemed too nice. He wanted to promote an overly positive environment for his employees, but I felt something more was there and I was definitely right. I got the same feeling from a few other people in the office who definitely put on fake personalities, but Mezo Cooper is something else.
He has this “I’m better than you” aura he puts out. He is very condescending, and even downright rude sometimes. He made a big deal out of paying us during the time we were in quarantine, but had us doing all these Zoom calls and team nights and team meetings, so I felt like we should have been paid for that anyway.
He was very money driven because we weren’t paid as much as other offices for our sales, but multiple times our office was ranked in the ”Limitless” magazine. He had ridiculous expectations for people too. He would tell you what you were doing wrong and if you hadn’t fixed it that second he would get snippy with you.
I vividly remember that during the night before I quit, myself and a few others were sitting in the courtyard of the hotel we were staying at, and he came up to us while we were talking about our sales for the day. Someone who was the best sales rep for the week said his number of closes and I said mine, and Mezo tore into the number one guy and said he should have done better because I managed to get 2 double plays and he didn’t. But even though I hit doubles he still beat me in closes, so there wasn’t a reason to lay into him like that.
That same night my leader finally quarantined herself for COVID-19 (which is who I got it from) and he not only didn’t let her leave to go home because we needed her car, but also made her pay for her own hotel room, which I know for a fact wasn’t cheap. I feel as though if you drag a person out of state in a pandemic and they get sick, you should either send them home or pay for the hotel room. I mean after all, you claim to make all this money as an owner, so it should be nothing.
But what really takes the cake with this man is that he owes me and two others our paychecks. I called the labor board and he actually lied to them. He told them that he paid me (which he never did), he refused to answer their calls, and then he ran off to Florida because they got evicted from their NC office, meaning I won’t get the check for my sales.
He is a smooth talker capable of getting unassuming people to believe the BS that he is pushing, but he can’t talk you into circles if you know what you’re talking about, in those cases he will just push you out. I have also heard he forged pay stubs for an employee so they could all live in the same apartment complex together, but as she had a child she needed her own apartment. At this point I don’t think I could say something positive about him.
WHAT WAS THE SOCIAL DYNAMIC IN YOUR OFFICE BETWEEN REPS AND MANAGEMENT?
The owner was living with not only the assistant manager, but also with the admin, and I want to say 2-3 other girls. The rest either lived on their own or with family. So obviously the people you live and work with would be closer than the others, and at one point 2 people from my office lived with 3 others from another office that was in DC. There were definitely differences in how Mezo acted with people who had been there for a while and with new people. I didn’t really get a lot of Mezo time in MD.
It was in NC when he was in the field with me for like 20 minutes. That was the longest I had spent with him outside of one Zoom call between me and him that lasted for like 30-45 minutes. But he made lots of time for the older leaders. As long as you made sales and produced he would make time for you. My leader was directly under Mezo so she got a lot of time with him.
But apparently lots of them were hooking up with one another because they were all single and only interacted with people they worked with or family. Only 2 people in my office were married, and one got fired and the other got divorced. From my understanding Mezo never talked with him (the divorcee) about it, or let him take a few days to get himself back together. It was just ”roll into another Zoom call or go to the office”. They definitely pushed for the mentality that it’s all or nothing with the business, and that you’re wrong if you chose otherwise.
DID YOU TAKE PART IN ANY ATMOSPHERE MEETINGS?
In my office we didn’t have atmosphere calls during lockdown, and it was a few weeks before team nights were held again, so they always played it off as if they were on other calls. But I think that in reality they had so much turnover that they didn’t really know who was still working with them or not.
As I was only in the office for about a week before lockdown, I was always asking someone in “leadership” to help me with the packet they give us that says that you have been taught certain things. They have to sign off on it, and then you have to teach it back a few days later to show that you understand it to have it signed off, so that was a lot of the morning meetings.
Once we started doing field work again they got a bit more technical, and they used windows and mirrors in the hotels, basically making us copy a bunch of stuff that we learned in the Zoom calls and passing it off as new information. I remember very vividly the time they had at least 20 people in a double room, with most of them being leadership, when me and a few others had just been promoted. This was the day that Mezo interrupted the current topic and quizzed us (the people just promoted) about all the stuff in the training book. He put us on the spot and got really mad when some people froze under pressure or responded with the wrong answers.
They also always had music blasting, which would always be rap or EDM, and if you didn’t like it you were told ‘oh well’. You would have to yell over the music while trying to learn the packet or when teaching it back, which I found really annoying, and if you didn’t say the words in the same way they did then you wouldn’t get it signed off. So person A could teach you a topic and you teach it back to person B, but sometimes person A and B wouldn’t teach it the same way, so person B wouldn’t sign off on it, and would instead act mad and “re-teach” you the topic. For me they just drilled in word choices again and again.
HOW WAS YOUR FIRST DAY IN THE FIELD?
It started with me getting to the office at around 8-9am. I wasn’t told to bring comfortable shoes or a heavier jacket, so I had on flats and a light jacket with it misting outside. We spent some time in the morning meeting and my leader went over the day-to-day stuff. Also, note that when I walked in that day they were still doing interviews, so there were a few people in the front waiting.
I remember being told that we were going to be hitting the field, and that today I was going to be with my leader. I didn’t really know where to stand or what to do while they were getting things ready for the day like phones, tables and other stuff that was needed. My office didn’t bother getting cards for the phones or proper table cloths for the tables. I was also told I would get a badge soon to say who I was. I Never got it.
So we got in my leader’s car and left for the field. She told me that she was going to be by my side the whole day and that we would work on one system then the other. We actually set up right outside of another office believe it or not, and right next to social services. She was with me for maybe 2 hours. It could have been a little longer, but no more than 3 hours, as I picked both up pretty quick. She ended up getting calls from others who either didn’t have enough phones or had to move territories, so she took care of that and left me alone with all of these phones in an area I have never been in before, but apparently they sit up there all the time so people were going easy on me.
I think I made 2 sales on my first day. I’m not 100% sure on the numbers. When she finally came back she was pretty impressed with me, so we cut the day a little early and went back to the office. There my day was broken down by someone else and she asked me to get a drink with her, her treat. So we talked over my first day and she said had big hopes for me, and she continued trying to make sure that I understood it was a once in a lifetime chance.
WHAT SHADY SALES TACTICS WERE REPS IN YOUR OFFICE TAUGHT TO USE?
Fear of loss definitely. We were told to never let out where we were going to be, and to lie about how long we were going to be there to get them to impulse buy something.
For the last 2 weeks of the Assurance Wireless campaign we were in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. They had us do our normal routine; we would get a table, set up, and pull people in to qualify. But because they had so many phones in storage, they wanted them gone so they didn’t have to pay for them, so if the person we pulled in qualified but didn’t wanna pay for the phone, we were still supposed to activate a phone and tell them that a free one was going to be sent to them. Which it was not. Even though the phone itself was supposed to be free, we were charging money for it.
So we would put the activated phone off to the side and sell it. Sometimes people would walk by and be like “dang I need a phone but I don’t qualify for it” and that’s when we would be like “oh we have a phone that is already sent to us pre-activated”. Meaning the phone would be connected to another person‘s information.
We had two different phone types: one phone you had to give $20 to Mezo, and the other phone you had to give $15, so anything over that you got to keep. If you sold a $20 phone for $40 then you got $20 to put in your pocket, and because the phones were connected to other people’s information they could now no longer get the Assurance Wireless phone. That was part of the reason why the program got pulled, because we were abusing the system.
I’m not gonna lie and say I did not do that. I do regret it, but it also helped me pay my bills. I made over $400 in two weeks plus the “commission check” for phones I actually sold legally.
We were also told to set prices higher, so if they paid then we got more money, and if they couldn’t afford it we could lower it to make it seem like we were their friends.
WHAT WAS THE MOST DIFFICULT DAY YOU SPENT IN THE FIELD?
I have 2 days.
One was when we were on a business trip in Philadelphia. I was with the most popular person in the office, he was super positive and definitely a top salesman. The first location we were at kicked us out so we moved across the street to this section 8 housing apartment building. We were doing terrible on the back side of the building so we moved to the front and that’s where issues started. Stuff got thrown out of windows. Multiple things. Someone threw a sandwich out the window and it landed 3 feet in front of us. Someone threw a water bottle full of PEE in our general direction. I’m not sure if this was on purpose or if they just threw things out the window like that.
Then, because I’m on the shorter side, I had a few people come up and try to intimidate me into giving them a phone, which didn’t work. We had the normal people yelling about how we weren’t supposed to charge for those phones. (Which we weren’t and that’s why the program got shut down and a bunch of other complaints). I saw a guy beat up a woman at the bus stop across the street, then the cops came and arrested him. It was a wild day for some other reasons, and being with such a positive person pushed the bad feelings back for a while, but I was honestly almost in tears at the end of the day, and to top it off I was told to NEVER tell any new people about it. Now that I’m thinking about it, that’s the same night I was crying in the stairwell because I didn’t hit my personal goals, and it was a “Throwdown Thursday” so I lost out on extra money.
The second day would have to be the Pittsburgh trip. It was the last few days of the Assurance Wireless campaign being active, and I was with someone who came into the business a little after I did. We were both “leaders”, and everything was great until later that afternoon we had had a few people get upset. It was nothing crazy until the girl I was working with couldn’t get this person qualified because her stuff was expired.
We initially told her what we could take and moved on. She then came back and again nothing went through. She then left again, and this time her daughter came up to us and started yelling at the girl I was with. As calmly as she could, she told the daughter that her mom’s stuff had expired and we couldn’t take it. Then she pulled out the non-expired stuff for her mom and sat through the whole process. It got approved, but this was where things went downhill.
We told the woman that she had to pay for the phone, and the daughter went crazy. She started yelling at the girl I was with, saying she wanted to talk to the person in charge of her, which I said was me. I texted the person in charge of the trip to see what we were supposed to do and waited for a response. I then walked over to the 2 women and explained how the program had changed, and the daughter turned back to the girl I’m with and started yelling into our faces. Bear in mind that this woman is like 5’8, my coworker is about 5’0, and I’m 5’3.
It looked like she could start swinging any second, so we took a step or two back, but she kept following us. Things were getting really tense between me and the daughter to the point where I was yelling back, and I thought we were going to get into a physical altercation. When she finally stepped back she said she’d call the police, so we told her to do it, and that we would be waiting right here for them. I got a message from the person in charge to just give her the phone (that her mom was holding that still needed to be activated). At that point the woman kept yelling how she was going to steal it anyway, so we told her that she could take it, but that it was useless because it wasn’t activated.
The cops finally showed up and spoke to them, and we were told by the person in charge of the trip to pack up and wait for our ride. While we were explaining our side of the story to the police she kept yelling over us, saying we were lying and that our story had changed, and that the cops only believed us because of our skin tones. (The girl I was with is Hispanic and I’m Native American so I doubt that).
That whole situation took maybe an hour, and by that point we were just done for the day. We didn’t want to sell anymore so we went to another team’s territory and stayed with them until it was time to go back to the hotel.
HOW DID YOU PROGRESS WITHIN THE COMPANY?
When I started I spent a bit over a week with the in person activity. The day before things got shut down in Maryland my car actually got towed, so I had to spend time getting that back, meaning I had to call out of work. That probably saved me from getting COVID because my leader, who I would have been with if I had been there, got it. We were then told to stay out of the office for 2 weeks, and no one reached out to me or told me anything.
I think that 2 weeks to almost a month passed before they changed to Zoom meetings, which we were told to either join or be fired, and these meetings were the same thing over and over again. We did that from April to June-ish, then they sent 2 teams to learn the new campaign and the rest of us had to go to the office to earn our checks and learn the pitch for the campaign. At this point I was a “Leader” so I was also studying the leadership packet and learning how to interview. Then 2 weeks later we were in NC and I ended up quitting before I could interview anyone.
DID YOU ASPIRE TO OPEN YOUR OWN OFFICE?
I did. I wanted to be racking in the money that Mezo Cooper made it seem like he had. He had a nice car (to be fair mine was pretty nice too) and the house he lived in was also nice, but he lived with others in the office. I didn’t take into account where all that money would have come from, and I was so sure that I would pay off all my debts and that it would be the end of my money problems. But I realized that I was basically living on my credit cards, just adding more debt, and it made me start to think about it. I honestly think Mezo just had family money, and that’s how he got his cars and suits.
HOW WERE BUSINESS TRIPS WITH YOUR TEAM SOLD TO YOU?
They were sold as this once in a blue moon type thing, and if you were chosen then it meant you were doing great and they saw potential in you. Never once did they say you would be crammed with 5 other people into a small double room in a nasty motel. There is a difference between a hotel and a motel, and they made it we’d be staying at a hotel. Nothing wrong with motels, don’t get me wrong, but as someone who worked in the hospitality industry the motels they had us at weren’t clean.
So you have 6 plus people in a small room with double beds. No space to spread out. You can’t leave things lying around because people will take them. You can’t leave your toiletries in the bathroom because people will take them or use them. You have to line up to take a shower, and there aren’t any dry towels because they’ve all been used. Plus, just because you’re all in a room together doesn’t mean it’s all guys or all girls. I swear some of them were sleeping with one another too.
Next let’s talk about food. Most companies when they send you away give you a Per Diem for food. We didn’t get that. Everything was paid for on one’s own dime. They would have a “room leader”, and a good room leader would stop at a store and everyone would pitch in money wise for dinner and breakfast stuff. That way at the end of the day you could eat real food and not just snacks from a gas station or junk food. On a couple trips it was tacos, which isn’t bad, but every other night was pasta, pasta, pasta, and if you ordered something else people would literally pester/beg for your food.
On what were known as ‘Throwdown Thursdays’ they would do challenges which ranged from an apology for not doing well in the field, to loser buys dinner, and they made everyone challenge everyone. You couldn’t get out of it. So I challenged one of my friends for something small like a dinner because I didn’t want to embarrass her into a public apology or dancing when she wasn’t comfortable. I ended up winning by a few dollars, and told her in private to just forget about it because we were all broke.
HOW WERE YOU MANAGED AS A TEAM DURING THE TRIPS?
There wasn’t really a lot of management. I mean they said there was a method to the rooming, and the pairing in the field, but I really didn’t see it. Especially considering that for the second trip they had me paired with the same guy like 3 times over 5 days, with me and him in the same room. We were given ridiculously high sales expectations, and if we didn’t hit them it was our fault for not working hard enough.
HOW WAS YOUR OFFICE AFFECTED BY COVID? HOW DID IT AFFECT YOUR PLACE IN THE INDUSTRY?
We spent about a month doing nothing, then moved to Zoom calls that ranged from working topics to mandatory team nights. I can’t really say it affected my place because all it did was slow my promotion down.
WHAT WAS THE FINAL STRAW FOR YOU TO ULTIMATELY LEAVE?
I was unhappy, and emotionally exhausted to the point I was crying in the shower because I was scared I was going to fail. They had us in the south in summer time from the middle of the day to evenings. All of us in suits, with no water, and with no way to use the restroom. It was over 100° everyday, and NC is very humid so it’s even worse. Their solution to the ‘no water and no bathroom’ problem was to ask the people we were trying to sell to to give it to us. So all of that, and the fact that my best friend of almost a decade was begging me to quit and go back to Maryland. So because I’m from NC I just called my mom and had her come and get me.
HOW WAS YOUR OFFICE AFFECTED BY YOU LEAVING?
For my final day I was in the field by myself in a housing development. It was roughly 200+ houses and I was supposed to split it over two days, but I had already done three loops the day before so I moved my territory one street over to give me some more to work with. It was probably over 100° too. I had a bottle of water with me from the hotel that was gone within 20 minutes.By about 10 or 11am and I had already done two loops because nobody was answering the door that day. I felt really sick all of a sudden and felt like throwing up, so I thought “OK, I’m going to take some time to sit down”. I knew I would get crap for it if anyone else found out so thank god I was alone.
I sat under a tree in someone’s yard for shade and thought about if I was happy doing this. Could I actually do this all summer? It was only June, and North Carolina summers are so hot, and get even worse in July. I was thinking about my options, and I considered calling my leader who was actually isolating because we were exposed to COVID-19, but I didn’t want to bother her.
I texted my former friend and asked her opinion on everything, because she had been begging me for weeks to quit the job. Then I was like “this is it I’m done”. I called my mom and had her drive an hour to come and get me. Then she took me back to the hotel room, and I got my stuff together. Someone was supposed to actually bring me the rest of my stuff because it was in another person‘s car but they never did, so I’m missing things I will never get back. I made sure I had everything that was in the hotel room that was mine, and I put the tablet they gave me back on the bed. I then took a picture of it and sent it to Mezo. I explained to him that this job was not a good fit for me. I was not happy but I wished him the best and said thanks for the opportunity. Then I texted my team leader and told her that this wasn’t for me, and that was really about it. She called me on my way back to my parents’ house, and I could tell she was pretty mad because I had made her a “core leader”, which meant that she had a leader on her team. With me leaving she would’ve had to start over, so she was pretty upset.
The next day I actually got a phone call from another person in the group chat. She was asking me why I left and where I was, basically checking up on me. I explained to her that I was getting the feeling that this wasn’t something we should be doing, and she explained to me that they didn’t even talk about me leaving. Apparently they came back to the hotel room, saw my stuff had gone, and assumed I’d left. It was kept very hush-hush. They didn’t say why I left, they didn’t say whether it was a family emergency, just that I was gone. I think they then tried to remove me out of the group chats, but I had already left the day before.
So she told me that she was going to be quitting when she got back to the hotel room as well, and I offered to come and get her, but she already had her boyfriend coming to pick her up. A few weeks later we got talking again, and she brought in a third person who told us that they (being Mezo) were happy that we left because they were “weeding out the weakness“ and we couldn’t handle it.
So I wasn’t really missed. I do remember a few weeks later getting a message from a friend that was still working there, and he said that he missed me and hoped I was doing well, and I told him the same thing. But my former leader never messaged me again, even after I repeatedly asked her where my checks were. To them it’s like we never actually existed. We still have yet to receive our W-2s.
HOW HAVE ‘FLUX MARKETING COOPERATION INC.’ REBRANDED THEMSELVES SINCE YOUR TIME THERE?
They have rebranded in the sense that Flux Marketing doesn’t exist anymore. It does not have a social media presence or a physical office. It doesn’t even have a website anymore. They actually took the Instagram page and Facebook for Flux Marketing and changed it to RDU Executives. Their website is the same, their social media is the same, they kept everything just changed the names.
Around the time that they were making all of these changes I got in contact with the labor board, who had been in contact with Mezo Cooper. I encouraged others to go to the labor board as well because he owes us money. Maybe he started feeling the pressure, because they then started taking business trips down to Florida and Georgia. I guess they decided Florida was the better location, so they quit paying their rent in the North Carolina office, were evicted, and moved down to Jacksonville, Florida. Their current office is now under the name RDU Executives Jax.
They make it seem like the original RDU Executives office is still around, but it’s not. They have again completely rebranded and changed all of their social media to add ‘Jax’, and changed the address on their website to their office in Florida. There is almost no proof that the original RDU Executives office existed.
I do know that when they first got to North Carolina they were using a shell corporation called Hill-City executives with Mezo Cooper as the president. They have also opened TCE which is The Carolina Executive. The Carolina Executive is in the same office in Cary, NC as Tri-City Executives, which is owned by Mezo Cooper’s assistant manager who he promoted to owner, so he gets a part of that office’s income. Pani Verma is also a part of TCE as well as Fernando Campos. All 3 of them put TCE together and then each opened their own office with TCE as their recruiter, so when they post job ads they use the name of The Carolina Executive. When people apply they pick and choose who they want for which office.
WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO ANYONE UNSURE ABOUT WHETHER TO LEAVE THE BUSINESS?
Do it. It’s not worth the crazy hours you are putting in. For business trips you put in double time and aren’t even compensated for it. You will never make as much as they promised you. It’s not worth the lost friendships or strained relationships.
UPDATE: After threatening to go to the IRS, Mezo Cooper has since provided Cheyenne’s W-2, but she is unaware if any other employees who left around the same time she did have received theirs.
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