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Southwestern CompanyGrosly Misleading European College students

1 Review updated:

Long story I am going to make short! NOT!

We had a young lady from a foreign Eastern Block country knock on our door trying to sell us educational books and also looking for a place to live. Now I have been in the business of coordinating high school exchange students for over a decade, so when this gal came to my door with her very broken English my heart went out to her.

When she began her sales pitch--broken English attempting to sell me American text books--I had to make her stop...it was painful to listen to. I knew immediately that she had really no idea what she had gotten herself into. So I began to explain that in America, our public school students received their books free from the schools---she had no idea about this...I asked her if people in HER country liked door-to-door sales people, and she said--"NO NO, BUT THE RECRUITERS TOLD ME THAT AMERICANS WERE DIFFERENT AND DIDN'T MIND THIS TYPE OF SALES." I asked her if she thought that was true...I must have hit a nerve because she let it all out! She told me about the lies she had been fed by the recruiter as well as the 6 day cult like MLM training she had received with hundreds of other foreign students in Nashville.

She told me about the schedule that these kids were told they MUST adhere to. Wake up at exactly 5:59, take a ONE MINUTE COLD SHOWER, out the door and sell until 9:00 pm. EVERY day except Sundays. On Sundays they were all told by their student managers that they must go to a meeting, which was held at a different location every week. At these meetings they performed what was called execs. These are cult like chants---running in circles, rhythmic hand clapping...below is an excerpt taken from this site which details this bizarre activity: "Executive Exercises.

In the morning, we will do execs at our breakfast spots out in the parking lot or in a nearby open area. We will do them in front of roads or highways, we will do them in front of the restaurant's patrons, and on Sundays when we are at a hotel we will do them in the hotel parking lot.

What are these 'execs?'

Well, they start with someone mentioning execs. That person will usually then raise his hand up in the air shout "ohhhhhhh...hhhhh... Ohhhhhh...!" indefinately while running around in a large circle. Everyone else follows this person doing the same exact thing until everyone is present in the circle.

At that point we will start skipping and singing a song. The song goes --
It's a great day to be a bookman.
It's a great day I know.
It's a great day to be a bookman everywhere I go.
Goodbye no-nevers, goodbye doubts and fears
It's a great day to be a bookman -- be of good cheer.
I feel happy. I feel terrific. I feel GREAT!

Then someone will yell out loud "UH-OH!" and we all will chime in "Book Time!" We all sing/chant this in unison four times while doing a very specific rythmic clap that took me a few tries to get down. (I still mess it up on the really sleepy mornings.) After chanting that four to five times someone makes the conductor's sign for stop and everyone goes silent.

After about three beats another iniative-taking individual will jump or dance into the center of the circle and yell/scream out, "Now let me see that funky chicken!" at the top of his voice, and everyone else will yell something like, "What's that you said!?!"
This happens three times with slight variations each time based on the whims of the person in the center of the circle. At the end He will say "I said unh..." and everyone in unison will sing "Oooo, ah ah ah oooo; ah ah ah oooo; ah ah ah oooo; one more time now!! Oooo, ah ah ah oooo; ah ah ah oooo; ah ah ah oooo." Or whatever other chant, saying, or sounds that go along with the particular thing that the initiator wanted to "see."

The variations on this are numerous and growing. We come up with new stuff from time to time. I come up with new stuff all the time, because I enjoy execs and I come up with stuff that I think will be fun all the time. Most of the time the stuff I come up with doesn't really pan out, but that is fine because every once and again I'll come up with something really fun and even "classic."

After doing that there are several other execs that we do. Some we only do in a large group on Sundays, but most of the other ones are just thrown in as people remember them. If no one remembers a particular exec it's fine -- it doesn't get done.

At the end of execs we do this thing where we all gather in a circle and get fired up and then we all run off acting like birds, ostriches, video game charaters or bookmen..."

THIS IS A CULT PEOPLE!

So, after hearing this and taking the time to go over the money this gal has made --$400.00 GROSS, she gets 40% of this...she worked 80 hours a week for 4 weeks...YOU DO THE MATH! However, the worst part of this, for the unfortunate foreign students is they get here about $3000+ in debt! They pay for their own way here (round trip), they pay about $600+ for visas and then they pay for the 6 day hotel stay in Nashville to undergo an intensive brainwashing seminar...then they are made to pay for a plane ticket to go to what ever city the company decided to send them to. In this girls case it was half way across the country. She had $26.00 in her pocket when she came to live with us!

I had a mission to look this company up on the internet. So many horrible experiences... But it was just amazing to see how many people write about their wonderful experience selling with this company! This type of Brainwashing, results in an unbelievable, long term psychoses. These people actually believe that coercing individuals to buy books, using very persuasive, scripted sales tactics builds character and has helped them for their future. In my book, this is really learning the art of lying, deceiving and and making a buck on nice people who buy items they really don't need out of pity for the sales person or getting totally bamboozled by a slick salesman! Every one of the items the girl who came to my door had in her book bag were available online at a fraction of what she was selling them for! "MAKE THE SALE IN 20 MINUTES OR LEAVE!" As I read through their scripted sales "BIBLE" manual I was just disgusted at the different scripted sales PITCHES these young people were told to memorize! When this gal came to my door, her words were verbatim from page 45 of the sales manual...See Top 10 Worst Companies in Nashville, TNwell at least those that I could understand in her broken English!
To make matters worse, the Southwestern company tells these foreign kids that it doesn't matter if you can speak English well, "ALL THAT MATTERS IS YOUR ATTITUDE!" GIVE ME A BREAK! And through their 6 day, intensive brainwashing seminar, they actually cause these kids to believe this lie!
Then there is the matter of housing. Some of these foreign kids have families who have worked for the SW company host them. But this is very, VERY FEW! The girl who came to my house was asked to leave by the older man who agreed to house her and another girl. When I went to pick up her things from this man, it was a very CREEPY situation. I can't put my finger on it, but when I left his house I had terrible uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach!
Shortly after this girl came to live with us, we found her another job...even though student managers and people from SW made it very difficult for her...people who she thought were her friends were now her enemies. Within 2 days, 4 other students found their way to my house and asked for help to get out of this company and help to to secure housing and jobs.
It was hard to believe the type of life these foreign kids were living...but when I heard the EXACT SAME STORY FROM ALL FIVE, it became appalling! Oh and did I mention the white bracelets they HAD to wear, showing their commitment to this company! All of them had these white bracelets...when you took this bracelet off you were no longer a part of this company!
The kicker to all of this is that the Southwestern company makes them sign a contract--which most do not understand---that states several places that they are NOT employees or agents of this company...NOT EMPLOYEES OR AGENTS! And that they can run their company as independent owners as they see fit. But still, they have been brainwashed into a way of thinking that to be successful in this company they must adhere to the schedule! Yes the unwritten schedule! These kids are told how to micro manage their lives on a minute by minute schedule. This is pounded into their brains by the managers. All 5 of these kids have talked about "KEEPING TO THE SCHEDULE...KEEP TO THE SCHEDULE!" This schedule starts at 5:59 and doesn't stop until they get home and are schedule to contact their managers to report on the number of doors they went to, number of demos they showed (should be 30 a day) how many sales they made--$-- and what their plans are for the next day. This schedule, as precise as it is, is NOT written down by ANY manager and given to these kids. WHY? Because that would be a paper trail showing that this company controls these student's every move even though the contract they signed explicitly states that they are NOT EMPLOYEES and are free to sell these materials anyway they choose!
CULT CULT CULT!
I am getting sick and tired of reading all the canned spam... about how this job is not for everyone...builds character, long hard hours... Best experience of my life...And I made lots of money taking advantage of people by selling them materials that were obviously over priced and they didn't really need! Here is a price breakdown for books taken directly from the j1 visa agreement on the Southwestern Q&A page.
ANYONE with access to the internet can see that they are getting ripped off, buying over priced books! Then there is the letter of Endorsement that this company makes these students parents or friend or relative sign. This guarantees that if these kids don't send in the money they receive for books, the signers of this letter of credit will pay this money for them! My group of 5 student has had to spend this money to live as they were averaging less than $1.50 a hour working 80 hours a week---EVEN FOLLOWING THE SCHEDULE! Attitude is everything, who cares if you can barely speak English! I FEEL GREAT, I FEEL AWESOME, I FEEL TERRIFIC! Right? And the people who signed these contracts can not even speak or READ English, but are convinced by their students that this is such a great opportunity for them to come to America and make HUGE amounts of money...remember Americans are different, we just love to buy things from door-to-door sales people!!!
Ok folks, I really have to wonder what the motivation is behind this company. Really? Why does this company recruit these kids from Eastern block countries...students that barely speak the English language? What is the point? What is the agenda? I understand that the students that came here previously make money on the ones that they recruit to come again, but what is the big picture? I am beginning to believe that it is a conspiracy to see just how far you can warp someone's mind to make them believe an idea and to cause them (normal people) to do things they would never consider doing...like EXECS! This psychoses carries on in some for years after they have worked for this company. Look on line...it is like a mission...recruit, recruit, recruit... When I asked these kids why they actually took one minute COLD SHOWERS, they all replied, "Because they told us to!"
I sincerely hope that if one of these young foreign students comes to YOUR door, you will do everything in your power to help them escape!
Oh, and I forgot to mention one thing...the company that sponsors the j1 visa for these kids is totally OWNED by the Southwestern company! It is NOT an independent j1 visa sponsor who helps foreign students come to America to work for the summer at any j1 visa appropriate job...it is a company owned by The Southwestern created specifically to bring these foreign students to America to sell door-to-door. Can you say conflict of interest!
"IT WILL BE THE BEST EXPERIENCE OF YOUR LIFE!"...as long as you don't get raped, mugged, murdered, or commit suicide because you're scared, lonely...so far from home, in a foreign country, can't speak the language...deeply in debt, with no money!
Important financial information for ANY FOREIGN STUDENT TO KNOW BEFORE WORKING FOR SOUTHWESTERN!
According to the company, in 2006 the average first-time sales program
participant made a gross (before expenses) profit of $7944 over a
four month summer. Site
* 80 hours a week, plus Sundays=88 hrs. wk
* 15 weeks of summer
* 1, 320 work hours
* Gross profit of $7, 944.00
* Net Profit $40%=$3, 177.60
* Hourly wage=$2.40
* Minus $100 week living expensive=$1, 677.60
Your take home is $1, 677.60
Do not come to America and spend $3000+ dollars getting here only to be an indentured servant(SLAVE) to the SouthWestern Company!
The numbers above are for average English speaking students. Imagine how little you will make when you can't speak the language!

Yo

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Comments

  • Rc
      Jul 17, 2009

    I just spent half the money for two books, Will I GET my merchandise, when she comes back for the other half of the money. Have the customers been getting their books or is the scam just against hopeful college students?

    +1 Votes
  • Tr
      Jul 27, 2009

    Official Southwestern Company response: This particular post contains inaccuracies and misinformation.

    Southwestern is the nation’s oldest direct selling company, established in Nashville, TN in 1855 – www.southwesterninternship.com. The summer sales program for college students began in 1868 – 141 years ago.

    College students from nearly 300 campuses worldwide participate in an internship in which they run their own business selling educational products door-to-door to families. They obtain the products at wholesale and sell them to customers they generate at retail. This is the direct selling business model.

    (1) All International students know up-front what the expectations of the program are before coming to the US. They attend an initial information session (conducted in English), usually on the campus, followed by multiple follow-up meetings. Participation in the program is at no time binding, as the students run their own business and can terminate this business at any time – including International students over on a J-1 visa. They sign a dealer agreement stating some of the expectations they have of the company and what the company, in turn can expect from them. The parents actually endorse the students into the program, even though they are over the age of 18. Whenever possible, the parents are also met with and a parent-coffee is held in late spring. Every step of the way, the students are told this program is not for everyone and what to expect in order to be prepared mentally, physically and emotionally. Put simply: It is some of the hardest summer work around.

    (2) All students are also responsible for their travel expenses. The students sign up for a program like this to learn skills they can take back to their native country and apply to their resumes or CVs and their future careers. They also provide their visa sponsor (required) with proof their English is at a level to conduct their business in the United States. Successful students with this experience become very desirable in the work force.

    Southwestern is a charter member of the Better Business Bureau in Middle Tennessee (since 1961) with a current maintained rating of A+. We are also members of the Direct Selling Association in Washington, DC and follow their Code of Ethics, www.dsa.org/ethics/. Southwestern has more training than any other direct selling company for the students including while still on campus and for a week prior to the summer and beyond.

    This posted complaint is comparing apples to oranges. This is not an exchange program. While Southwestern does have pre-coordinated leads for housing, it is not guaranteed. This is on our website, recruiting literature and covered beforehand. Part of running a business is setting up that business. There are also measures put in place to assist the students, such as the full-time Host Family Liaison position at our company.

    Sales and entrepreneurship require long, hard hours. International students are free to discontinue with Southwestern and obtain another job as long as they are within the regulations set forth by the governing agencies or sponsor. In addition, the students are free to work whatever hours they so choose. There are not any quotas for sales. Many students choose to work their own schedule, rather than the recommended schedule.

    Focusing on something admittedly hokey as the “Executive Exercises”, a tradition from the students handed down from the 1960s, is one thing, but the grossly untrue misstatement of the profit the dealers make is libelous. The average gross profit is the student’s 40% of the sale, not their total retail sales. This is the money minus expenses they take home. Nothing about this mathematical example is even close to correct. The International students do have larger expenses because of their visa and travel. Many International students do quite well. In fact, in the summer of 2008, four of the top 5 campuses were International when ranked by student gross profit - two from Canada and two from Eastern Europe. As a matter of fact, the number one ranked school, by a landslide, was the University of Tartu in Estonia in which 103 students generated $1, 262, 366.04 in profit for themselves.

    Bottom line: students from all over the world have been able to experience entrepreneurialism in the US, make money and gain experience at the same time.

    In this digital age of the internet, essentially anyone can distribute misinformation and publish smear sites or hate blogs. Unfortunately, those gripe sites are not bound to obligations of fair reporting or even honest commentary.

    Questions? Southwestern ALWAYS has an open line of communication. Contact us anytime, [protected], trey.[protected]@southwestern.com.

    Trey Campbell, APR – Director of Communications
    Southwestern Company

    -1 Votes
  • Tr
      Jul 27, 2009

    RCH - the merchandise you ordered is guaranteed for delivery! You will get it as promised by the dealer. Since 1868, families have been delighted in the late summer/early fall when the stduents have delivered the products.
    - Trey Campbell, Southwestern Company

    0 Votes
  • De
      Aug 21, 2009

    Youbyte's posting shows no apparent commercial interest in doing so other than informing the ppl who will come into contact with future Southwestern's independent contractors. It indeed tells us a true human interest story; big companies entrapping kids to surrender their youth for corporate profits in the name of character development and sales training. This practice is off course legal, but ethical? I don't think so. It is fishy. Unless the Southwestern provides full internship to these kids that comes with benefits and legal guardianship for all liabilities, no one should allow such business plot to go on. Thanks, youbyte.

    +1 Votes
  • Ti
      Oct 13, 2009

    I would like to strongly disagree with youbyte.

    I am not personally within the organization, but I know many who are and who have done well. This company is not about manipulation or scam... I mean, look at the history! This company is over 150 years old, started out selling Bibles door to door, has over 40, 000 students worldwide apply each year- 2, 800 will actually come work for the company... certainly a 'scam' cannot stay afloat and be as successful as Southwestern has been for 150 years.

    This 'cult' like behavior you describe when mentioning 'execs' is for pure motivation. These COLLEGE kids (who very well could be spending their summers at the beach with their friends instead) give up 3.5 months of their summer- what is supposed to be down time from school- to work 80 hour weeks in order to fund college and other expenses. They need to act a little silly before a hard day's work. For some people, coffee does the trick or a morning run, for these students it's jumping around to release their nerves and stress. Shoot, cheerleaders in high school say chants and jump around... do you think they are part of a cult too?

    Secondly, every recruiter and student involved in this program has straight up told me the ins and outs of this job. They emphasize the bad parts of the job moreso just so people aren't taken by surprise if they do decide to work for Southwestern. That it is HARD work. You aren't guranteed to walk away with money in the end. But for all of them, that doesn't seem to matter because they go out and work hard everyday. They are willing to take the risk of an uncertainty and gain some real life experience you wouldn't get in an office internship where you would just file papers. So when they say it's not for everyone, they're right. It takes dedication, commitment, motivation, focus, determination, emotional stability, work ethic and so much more. Not everyone can hack it. I've met people who have quit and I'm usually able to tell why they decided to leave.

    Now, granted, the foreign student who came to you may have unfortunately been under poor leadership, but from the people I've met (the students who sell, and the customers on the receiving end) and the informationals I've attended, I have NEVER seen it as a scam. Nor has it been seen as 'sketchy' to me. You are chosen to work for them (like any job you apply for), you get the training necessary (what the educational material is/what it covers, safety precautions on the job, how to present the product & how it can help the family, etc) and you go out and work hard. These college students work harder than most people who are already in an established career.
    Every summer, for the past 3 summers, my boyfriend leaves to sell educational materials for Southwestern (as did his older brother and cousin) to fund for his college education, living expenses, automobile problems, emergencies and recreation. This past August (2009) I had the privelage to fly up to Kentucky to see exactly what it is he does and by no means is it manipulation or a scam. It is simply presenting the product (books) in a way where it can help that family's needs. If the family wants it-GREAT! if not- that's okay too... he'll eventually run into someone who cares about helping their kids out with their education. And the product IS delivered-- I was there as a witness to that.

    I've even had someone come to my house when I was in middle school to sell these books. My mother bought them because she knew it would help me out in math and foreign languages... and guess what?! I LOVED THEM!

    And not all foreign students encounter problems such as those. I have looked at the stats of these college students who commit their whole summer to this job, and there have been some folks from out of the US who have been top in the company in their organization.

    All in all, Southwestern is a great company to work for. It is unfortunate that the foreign students you encountered were mislead- but I can assure you that that isn't typical. Don't let the one bad instance be your overall opinion of the company.

    +1 Votes
  • Sh
      Mar 11, 2010

    I would like to know why I am being charged $19.95 a month for ????? what I have no clue, when I purchased these books, the young man did not tell me one thing about a monthly charge, I paid almost $500 for these books for my 2 children b/c I thought it was a good investment, but the last 5 months Southwestern has charged my checking account $19.95 a month, for what to read my own $500 books????? Since my husband does all our bills I just found this out this month. I read in a previous postinf that check are written to the student b/c the student is an independent contractor, so if thats the case how did Southwestern even get my checking account information?????????????????????????????? Anyone have any ideas??????????/

    +2 Votes
  • Kr
      Mar 12, 2010

    To Sherae: You probably signed up for the tutoring website that goes along with the books. You can call up the company at any moment and cancel that subscription. Go to www.southwesternathome.com and get the number or send an e-mail. The company has in my opinion a great customer service.

    I sold books and educational software door to door in the US for five summers until 2008. What an amazing opportunity to learn to know myself and people in general. I am from Eastern Europe, Estonia, and it was an incredible experience. (It is mainly US college kids who do this job though, European kids are a minority.)

    I am a very skeptical person by nature and very hard to convince so I was definately not brainwashed into doing this. I was going to school at the same time back home and running my own little advertising company. I also listened to Anthony Robbins who is a great motivational speaker, whose words: "More important than what you get right now is who you become." I'm paraphrasing here. :) So I closed down my business and went for a summer for more experience and I am so glad I did.

    I was really skeptical about the States in the beginning but during the summers working there and travelling extensively afterwards I really learned to love the US and it's people. I worked hard and made a lot of money. The precondition is being moderately intelligent, friendly and working hard. In this job I learned more about being sincere and honest with people than I ever would have imagined. That is the only way to really be successful at it because people can almost always tell if you're real with them or not. That experience in sales has proved invaluable in my current life. The communication skills I obtained doing this job, the skill to self-motivate and perservere - I will be eternally grateful to this company for providing such a great self-development opportunity. Plus the incredible friends for life and so much more.

    Over the summers I had about a 1000 customers and spoke to more than 10 000 people and my point behind saying this is that I saw so many families on whom Southwestern products had had a huge positive impact. That is how I sold my books - with the positive testimonials from happy customers. The Southwestern Company has been around for more than 150 years. There have been senators who have sold books for SW, supreme court judges etc. It is a pity that someone's misinformed and unverified opinion can be accessible to so many people online harming the name of an incredible company helping young people from all over the world grow and become better people.

    I would publish online the 15 testimonial books that I gathered over the summers so you could see the reality of what is out there. But I have been travelling for the last 5 months and am currently in Thailand and I don't have them with me.

    So what will I say in conclusion? A great big thanks to Southwestern for being there. Keep up the good work! Selling door to door has gotten a bad name because of pushy and sketchy people selling magazines and things people don't ever need or get. Southwestern is not like that, the delivery of all products is guaranteed and assistance just a phone call away. For an average US family to invest a little bit more into education and not into Playstation games, even just to have a handy resource to help with your kids' math homework or to teach your kids to read is almost never money wasted. I've seen the junk people buy that just gets tossed out or never used or the use of which is just pointless and brings good to no one. To buy something that is beneficial and educational to your kids and their future AND to help young people pay their way through school working in the summers... Everybody who thinks can understand what I'm trying to say.

    All the best,
    Kristjan

    -1 Votes
  • Ju
      Mar 12, 2010

    Hello Everybody!!! I would like to disagree with the author :)
    I am a foreign student, from Northen Europe, Estonia. I came to sell books with Southwestern last summer, 2009. I will be back In summer 2010 with my team. I had a broken English (maybe I still have :), no experience, no a clue about America and Americans. I am just happy I had this great opportunity to change my life. And this job is not for everyone, for sure. Some people really like their working hours mon-fri 8.00-17.00
    And especially the part about profit is crapp... Who works hard can make good ammount of money, too.

    With all the best :)))
    just me

    0 Votes
  • Je
      Mar 12, 2010

    Täitsa lõpp, mis crapp!!!
    :D :) :P ;)

    0 Votes
  • Tq
      Jul 13, 2010

    I had a young Asian man come to my door stating that if I allowed him to do a presentation for his class (college), then he would earn three credits towards graduationg. I was skeptical but my boyfriend let him in. He started off by asking if we read the bible. We made small talk and he even asked me if I was from the US. I have a country accident and he should have known from the beginning that I was from the US. So I believe that he was told to ask this question. He got onto what he was there for and he said that he needed to go get his supplies from his car for the presentation. He came in with a huge suitcase and took out a bible. Very nice, very user friendly and started his spill. After a few minutes, I realized what was going on. And I kindly stopped him. I let him know that I did not believe in using religious tactics to sell anything. His responce is that he was sent to my house to spread the word of God. and I said- how much is the bible? He replied saying that after his presentation was complete he would let me know if I wanted to purchase the bible. I continued telling him that I knew why he was here and that it had nothing to do with school. He was shocked and said- how else am I going to pay for school. I told him that I was currently in school and there were all types ways to fund schooling. He pratically begged me to buy something... and when he went out to his car to get his supplies... he had put on a thick silver chain with a cross on it. Mind you he did not have that cross on when he entered my home.

    I thanked him for his time and he thanked me for mine. And did i mention that the entire time he was talking to me he was bowing and giggling. I could tell that he was working from a script, and new exactly what to say to the questions and challenges that I oferred to him.

    Very sad. And to comment on the $100 per week living expenses, he asked for $110 for the bible alone. If I had some cash on hand I would have given it to him just for his effort. My boyfriend totaly believed him and couldnt believe that I thought it was a skam. I recalled hearing about a magazine scam like this so i looked my experience up today and found this post.


    Shame on all who use innocent people, young and old, to do their dirty work. Lets face it, books are a thing of the past with internet. I just hope that this young man is not harmed in any way and that he can find his way out of this terrible situation.

    +1 Votes
  • La
      Sep 13, 2010

    So if this Southerwestern "company" is over 141 years old, does it not have any 'official' websites, links or PDF files? Why is there nothing the Southwestern agensts have to show other that 'officail' statements...?

    We have had this European kid harrassing us for the last 6 weeks... My gilrfriend had felt for him and decided to order the book POD. When he tried to deliver, she refused the book and refused to pay. We have left him notes on our door and I've told him that we refuse the books. We will not take them and we will not give him money! Now he stops by again and tells me that he needs my girlfriends signature to verify the refusal. I asked him to show me the paper he requires her to sign and he bumbled around for nearly 10 minutes rifles through folders and showing me reciepts of payments from other people in my neighborhood. When he finally produced the excact document he needed her to sign he refused to leave it behind.

    -1 Votes
  • Se
      Sep 15, 2010

    TO LakehunCimi:

    The company's website is http://southwestern.com/ It should've been easy enough for you to find via Google search--after all, you did find this page.
    As to "this European kid harassing" you, he is just trying to get you to fulfill your end of the sales contract that your girlfriend had signed when she agreed to buy the books. The salesperson has held up his end of the bargain--he came back with the books, and you are essentially breaking your contract with him. If you didn't want the books, you should have cancelled within the 3-day cancellation period provided for in the contract. This way you would have saved the kid the expense of getting the books shipped and the time it's taking him to get your girlfriend to honor her side of the contract, and he wouldn't be "harassing" you right now. The salesperson can sue your girlfriend for breach of contract in small claims court, perhaps in that case you wouldn't feel harassed.

    -1 Votes
  • Ho
      Dec 31, 2010

    We not only purchased the books but we also fed the sales girl as we felt bad for her. After all this we were NEVER told that the "free" month of online tutoring would turn into a $19.95 monthly charge if we didn't actively cancel.

    +2 Votes
  • Pi
      Jun 21, 2011

    I have been reading up on the company as I am one of the thouands of college students to "accept the challenge" of this hellish summer internship. Mr. Trey Campbell, you can say what you want, but I know that it is a lie. None of us had any real idea of what we were getting ourselves into. My student manager and organizational leader lied to me repeatedly--whenever I spoke up, I was told I wasn't being "coachable and teachable." This company is a pyramid of manipulation. I am not angry at my leaders, I feel sorry for them that they have no idea what they're even doing each and every day and they are convinced to the point of being brain-washed that they will find success while anyone else will fail. I had a horrid experience with this company, many, mnay unfulfilled promises and guarentees. It's all a big lie. The leaders are scripted just like you are taught to be scripted. The internship is advertised to "build character in young people, " well, if becoming a pathological liar and master manipulator along with becoming a psychopath (having no emotions) is having character, then The Southwestern Company has succeeded in molding fine young people. I'd rather end up homeless, broke, with no job then to become anything like I saw demonstrated to me. 80% of what you are told in recruitment is a lie and the truths are severely downplayed. I feel awful for these kids who let themselves be manipulated, like I was, and never figure it out. Southwestern is NOT a savior, but rather a villain in my case. I ended up in many dangerous situations, where my life was in serious danger, not only did my manager tell me it was "no big deal, " but I was always told to keep working no matter what. Get real. This is not how the real world is in actuality. THAT is why they recruit college students, because we are young, a little more idiotic than most true adults, we do not have much experience in people manipulating us, and we'll do almost anything, even work 80+ hours a week, work after car accidents and physical injury, etc, to be successful. The Southwestern Company feeds on this want and molds kids to be cash cows, while never being responsible for a damn thing that happens to anyone.

    +2 Votes
  • Pi
      Jun 21, 2011

    TiffK11:

    Just because we are college students, does not mean we need to "act silly" before we go to work. The Southwestern Company controls our every movement, except of course when we actually are working, but they control when you get up, where you eat in the morning, they force ridiculous things upon you. I do not understand whats wrong with you people, but this is cult like behavior. They control through student managers who act like your parents--except they don't give a damn what happens to you, they lie to you incessantly, and they're only out for themselves, and through the mass movements of a group. That's how a cult works.

    As to all these successful people who "sold books" for the Southwestern Company, I would really love to see the real stats behind those people whose names they use, and who actually finished their summers. I will not look back for you SW cult people to attack me, as I do not care, but I promise you, you have no idea what you have gotten yourself into. You sell ### products, half of which you know do not work (CD packs), how do you sleep at night? I also guarentee all those names they use of successful people who sold books, you really think they all stayed through a summer? Get real, most people have morals and come to at some point during the summer, guarenteed those people did too. Millions have been successful without Southwestern, so stop being such a sucker for the law of small numbers, and wake up.

    +2 Votes
  • Tu
      Jul 22, 2011

    We had a girl stop by to night and while she was taking to my wife I did my research on the company. I ask her questions with the info i got out of the post. She confirmation all of it. Mr Campbell you can talk as much as you want about the 141 years eastern Europe is big and full of easy pray for your scam. The outline of this company's is the same as from a cult.
    Thanks for the original post this America land of the free this Southwest Company is a disgrace for our country

    +1 Votes
  • Jo
      Sep 09, 2011

    You're right guys, it's a scam. I just finished my first summer and I'm very pleased with it, my team was number one in the nation (among first years). You guys rip anything apart. Who here is a governer? who here is a doctor? who here is a lawyer? Did any of you remember the hard times in medschool where you STUDY 80 hours a week? didnt think so. You see, I made close to 16k my first summer. at 80 hours a week, 10 weeks... 800 hours... 16000/800? do the math, 20 dollars an hour. yea not FANTASTIC, but there are people in the US who make that much in a YEAR. 40*50 weeks. 2000 hours, 16000. yea... Execs arent a cult, I LOVE them. they make you laugh, enjoy things. Everyone in the "real" world are just negative. Because of southwestern i went from a 3.2 student to a 4.0. I ENJOY life more than ever because I don't let negative people like ya'll hit me. Oh and by the way, those europeans that are being exploited, yea they arent. They go under english tests, and they arent persuaded to come out here. Student managers purposely scare you away so you come back only if you want. The last thing we want are quitters, not because they quit, but the emotional problems it causes others. oh yea, and we had a european only make... 70, 000 this year, selling alone, and another 60, 000 in leading. 130k in 2 monthes. What about you guys? Aren't you guys making that money?

    PS I run into families all the time who let me in, thank me for coming, hug me, who say "sorry i can't buy because I already bought them" or say "I would LOVE MORE" and to look into the kids eyes and see that I am making a difference. Yea, it's worth it. I don't know about you guys, but the pain I pay only makes me grow, and the pain I pay is worth the growth of kids. And miss "Public schools give free books" bull ###, those things are crocks of ###. if you HAVE a child, look in it, they're garbage, kids don't read them. What we sell is like cliffnotes meets teachers manual, easy to read, easy to understand, speeds homework up. I bought a set for myself because I was so impressed.

    Have a great life downtalking and scaring away kids who can actually change lives.

    -1 Votes
  • Jo
      Sep 09, 2011

    Just fyi, Judge Ken starr who impeached Clinton? Sold books, full summer. Rick Perry? Sold books 3 SUMMERS. and many, many, more

    -1 Votes
  • No
      Sep 29, 2011

    I agree with the author. I bought some books because I felt bad for the girl. Now they are telling me I signed up to be charged each month. I called to cancel but she gave me a confirmation number. What is that going to do? I am mad because they took my credit card information and put it on their website. I am canceling my card because that is the only guarantee that they will not take more of my money. Avoid these people if you don't want a huge headache. Don't let them in! She came by on the first day of school of my first child and told me she was interviewing parents of the kids at my local elementary school. Talk about false pretenses.

    +1 Votes
  • De
      Jul 06, 2012

    Just got a visit from a very professional woman from Estonia. The books are great as I am educating my kids at home and far exceed the quality of the State provided K12 program. I was looking for some high school level books for my eldest and these fit the bill. I will also be reviewing a lot of the topics to get back up to speed. I will see how their Calculus program differs from my existing library of college level books.

    As far as the "cult" comment goes I don't think people really understand what a "cult" is. Besides the dictionary definition it is implied that a cult damages a person or persons either internal or external to the organization. The direct selling of a quality product will help build character, teach people to deal with rejection (this is really IMPORTANT), and give people a chance to fail (even more IMPORTANT). Our culture is taught that failure is bad, bad, bad. When in fact it is necessary for a person to grow. The result is a nation of people "playing it safe" when in fact they are risking everything.

    Quick quiz: How many times did Abraham Lincoln fail to secure political office? What if he had been taught that if you fail at something you just quit?

    So keep going direct sellers. It is hard work, it is rewarding if you have a quality product that improves people's lives, and it is necessary if freedom is to survive the next world shift.

    +1 Votes
  • So
      Jul 09, 2012

    My experience today: a girl from Estonia comes by, I allow her in and like the books. In the middle of her pitch, my wife calls and reminds me that I have a doctors appointment. I told the girl I had to go and all of a sudden, she intensified but I insisted- I HAD to leave. I told her that I'd be glad to speak with her again. She asks if I'll be home @ 8pm. I said I would be and like clockwork, she came back. I was ready to purchase and then she tells me to make the check out to HER. She went on to tell me that I could write several post-dated checks (again, to her) since I wouldn't be getting the books til September. I told her that there was no way I was writing any checks to her nor was I going to give her my CC info.

    Now here I am having read so much since. This company is ###. More than likely she was trying to get money to get the he'll out of this disgraceful mess. If she would've told me that, I would've helped her. She didn't and now I wish I knew where she was so that I could talk further with her. The levels of greed in this country never cease to amaze. I only hope that any official employees of this company will get what they're due at some point... Prison.

    +1 Votes
  • Na
      Jul 11, 2012

    I just had two very nice young men come to my door. They presented themselves as educational representatives trying to reach all of the students from my school district. I am a VERY skeptical person, so I asked many questions. I didnt invite them in my house. I let them think my barking dog was scary. I eventually sat and talked with them out on the front step. The actual salesperson seemed honest and talked about where he came from, Cailifornia. His partner, who was observing him for the day, spent a lot of time studying me. It made me wonder if he was trying to learn about people from this region but observing body language, etc. One thing this salesperson did that made me laugh to myself was "name drop". He used my neighbors names like they were old friends and referred to one neighbor using a last name I was unfamiiar with. It was comical. They also pulled a lot of information from me and actually took notes in front of me. It was a "clever" way to do sales and it was so transparent it was funny. I did actually buy the books because he showed me the math books and when my son looked at them, he thought they looked like a great resource. He was also up front about the $19.95 for using the website after the grace period ends. I still may cancel because I dont like what I hear about the company. I honestly dont have a worries for the salesperson because this is clearly a learning opportunity for him. He said so himself.

    +1 Votes
  • Ri
      Apr 19, 2013

    Josh SW, you are full of it! You no more made 16k in one summer working for this company than i did! This company is a SCAM! You have to constantly be on them to even get what you ordered, much less get the WHOLE order. I will NEVER do business with these scam artists EVER again! Trey Campbell, you are a crook! Everyone know that for the right amount of the BBB will give anybody an A rating REGARDLESS of the company's history.

    0 Votes
  • Ri
      Apr 19, 2013

    On the contrary Mr. Campbell, the post is completely true and you know it! The books you sell are grossly OVERPRICED, your company constantly has to be threatened with legal action, most if not ALL orders are incomplete, resulting in more back and forth and games. I doubt very seriously this company has been around even half the time you claim.

    0 Votes
  • Ri
      Apr 19, 2013

    Buyer beware! This company is NOT accredited by the BBB! In fact when the BBB tried to resolve a comsumer complaint, they couldnt even be located! Says alot about this company huh?

    0 Votes
  • Fo
      May 24, 2014

    I did the program for 2 summers. I wouldn't necessarily call it a cult or a scam. But I would say that the company is manipulative and shaming in its tactics to recruit and keep young people in the program. There will grant absolutely NO GOOD REASON to leave the program in the middle of the season - whether it be the death of loved ones, severe injuries, being physically attacked, running out of money, etc. This is absolutely true and I experienced it first and second hand. Here's why - when one person quits, others think about quitting. The quitters aren't demonized - but they are outwardly disrespected on a grand scale by the people who stay the course. They will provide stories of other booksellers who've faced incredible hardships and/or tragedies but stayed the summer and even came back more years, made lots of money, and have incredible futures. They will tell you that people who barely speak English become top sellers because the books “sell themselves” as long as you show them to 30 different people every day. They also will tell you that the people who quit the program have a *very* hard time emotionally – that their lives and futures are ruined – because they quit *regardless of the circumstances*.
    My first summer, my roommate was attacked in someone’s home when she was invited to wait out a rainstorm by a married couple. She had just done a book demo and they seemed like very nice people so she stayed because she had no car where she could take shelter. The mom left to go pick up the kids at the pool. The dad attacked my roommate shortly after. Her mace can was 5 feet away from her in her book bag. Fortunately, the mom and kids came home before my roommate was raped. She left immediately – even though it was still raining - and walked to a restaurant and waited until the end of the day for me to pick her up. There were no cell phones then. She did not call the police. She did not tell me what happened. She called her manager – a 21 year old 2nd year male book seller. He told her not to tell anyone what happened b/c she was okay and it would just upset everyone. Plus she couldn’t even prove to the police that anything happened. She then was told the same thing by our regional manager who was at least 30 and no longer selling books. All I knew for a week was that she wanted to be dropped in a different neighborhood the day after it happened. She finally broke down and told me. And as much as it scared the hell out of me, I went along with the Southwestern propaganda that was being fed to her as far as how to handle it. She was 19 and I was 22. I still can’t believe that either of us went along with this but that’s how manipulative this company is.
    They will also continue to try to get you to come back year after year and recruit more students to do the same even after graduating from college - especially women. It's good to have women in the program for many reasons which I won't detail. I suffered permanent repetitive stress injuries to my body from my body. I was having serious neck and shoulder injuries my first summer and saw a chiropractor when I came home. He told me not to go back a second summer - I did anyway b/c as I was told by my peers and top managers "all SW people have back problems". It was a "mind over matter" thing - they told me - "no pain no gain".
    After my second summer, I told them I would not be coming back. The top regional manager paid for me to go to a fun weekend trip of partying with other booksellers in the fall b/c he hoped I would change my mind to not leave "the SW family". This was a man in his late 30s who had a family and knew my neck and shoulder were like hamburger. *And* I wasn't even a high earning salesperson – I was about average. But he didn't want to let me go probably because I was a woman and I had recruited some people my second summer. I had graduated from college by then and since I wasn’t going to change my mind and recruit a team and sell books again a 3rd summer, they tried to recruit me to sell cancer insurance door-to-door for a new SW company. I said no.
    Here’s the thing - for many years, even as my injuries became worse, I still was very proud that I did the program - met the challenge even at the sacrifice of my health. It proved that I was tougher than most. It took me a long time to realize that this experience only taught me that I should be careful who I believe has my best interests at heart. They call themselves a "Christian company." I’ve read enough about Jesus to know that he wouldn’t pull some of the same stuff that SW people do. That's why when 2 different SW rookies have come to my door over the last 12 years, I have gently told them my story. I don't know what happened to the boy who told me he had scoliosis but chose to sell books anyway. I do know that the gorgeous blonde woman from Eastern Europe (who was already a top seller) took my words seriously when she started suffering from shoulder issues. She went to a doctor who told her the only way to prevent it from worsening was to stop selling books. She did and they did exactly what has been described in other posts - the company cut her off immediately. Her roommate was her manager moved out within the day and she had no one to share rent with. She told me she was lucky though - she got a job at Radio Shack for the time being.
    You will read that there are many examples of people who did very well doing the Southwestern experience. That is absolutely true. There are students who made tens of thousands of dollars and never experienced any kind of serious trauma while doing it. There are famous examples of former bookpeople. However, there are also *many* people who did not have great experiences. And as one of the former bookpeople said in a post “The program isn’t for everyone.” That is a classic Southwestern line because it dismisses anyone who complains about it as simply having sour grapes.
    I wouldn’t recommend the program to anyone. But if someone wanted to start the program, I would tell him/her that it’s not the end of the world if he/she has to quit for ANY reason. Seriously – there are other ways to build your resume and make some money. This one isn’t worth it.

    0 Votes
  • Su
      Jun 20, 2014

    Through the years, many young salespeople have knocked on my door. There has been times that I have listened and purchased, as well as times I have not. Recently, a young lady from Southwestern came to my door very early in the morning. I answered the door. The young lady identified herself, requesting time to show me the products. I informed her that I had been sleeping, as I work nights. Other members of my household were also sleeping, it was not a good time. She apologized, but continued with her pitch. She had been at my home the day before, spoken with my teenage son, who told her the best time to catch me at home, and also the members of our family that lived in our home. I made a mental note to discuss with him the dangers of giving out personal info to strangers, even if they are young and beautiful. :) She was persistent. Her sales pitch was mechanical, scripted. She had a very pleasant, natural, and non-confrontational response to every objection. She attempted to entice me by showing me a list of names and addresses of people in my town who supposedly purchased from her. She gave me a history of the company, praising the educational benefits of their books. She questioned the interests and ages of the children in the family after which describing how they would benefit educationally from the books. It was annoying. I was tired and wanted to sleep. It was too darn early in the morning for this. Being a New Yorker, pleasant chatter with strangers is not my forte. Be quick and to the point, I wanted to say. I did want to see if the books were as she claimed. I thought of scheduling an appointment. Since I had already heard half of the script, I decided to just finish with the presentation. I rushed her through the rest of her script and demanded to see the books.

    When I got up from my bed to answer the door that morning, my intent was to yell at whoever was there. As soon as I saw her I knew she was selling something. And I was impressed. Here is this young person, at a stranger's door, with a smile on her face, ready to take on all my objections, conquering fears or insecurities, working to reach a goal. Isn't that the spirit we would want all of our children to have? It takes courage, confidence, and self-determination to do what she was doing. She was dedicating time and effort to an endeavor that guaranteed no return. She believed in herself, in her willingness to work hard. That is admirable. Those attributes should be nurtured and encouraged, not put down. It didn't matter to me whether the company she represented was "good" or "bad", donated to democrats or republicans, or were aliens from mars. The logistics of her employment, or the amount of her earnings were her concern, not mine. I wasn't afraid of being brainwashed into buying anything. I am an informed consumer, capable of making decisions in my best interest. I could care less if the CEO of Southwestern was a millionaire, billionaire, or killionaire. At that moment, in my hands was the ability to possibly affect this person in a positive or negative way. So I opted not to be rude. I gave her the respect her presence there deserved. Why not? I've listened to worse from people less deserving. Yes, I was tired. Not the first time and it won't be the last. Perhaps this is the attitude these types of companies bank on. It may very well be the reason they recruit college students. So what? This doesn't take away from the qualities needed to pursue this endeavor. It doesn't take away from the self-discipline needed to be at my door so early in the morning, taking risks, and being proactive.

    I did purchase a set of the books for my granddaughter. I was very impressed with their format and versatility. I particularly loved the bilingual books. I'm definitely going to subscribe to the website. She spends a lot of time on her Ipad and I am sure she will enjoy it. I have verified that I can cancel anytime. It is definitely worth a try. I found the pricing to be reasonable and comparable to similar educational resources.

    Susana Cruz

    0 Votes
  • Ke
      Oct 27, 2014

    This person is way off base. It is a great company. Many young people learn a great deal about themselves and life. Learning little motivational chants is NOT brainwashing nor is it a cult. I did it. I am still a normal, functioning adult (high school teacher no less). True, some kids get in over their head and are not cut out for this kind of work. We all do that sometimes. Please, don't sit there on your couch throne and bash what you really don't know much about.
    An unsolicited response.

    0 Votes
  • Os
      Nov 30, 2015

    I sold for 7 summers to put my way through school. My family was poor and were not able to help me in school and certainly I did not want to end up with a lot of debt and in fact had zero debt when I finished college. I knew students who did well and some who did not; pretty much like life. The author has no clue what she is talking about and probably needs to retake some math courses.

    I appreciate very much the opportunity I had and when I look back on it I realize just how much I learned that would help me overcome obstacles in life. I made many friends while selling and have remained friends ever since. I believe I could write the same type of article on any company, any school in this country. I could certainly write about the high failure rate among college freshman and how the school took their money without their receiving anything in return, couldn't I. Life is not easy for most and anything that helps one prepare for life's difficulties is a worthwhile education. I worked hard for what money I did make, that is true, and I turned around and gave that money to my college. I did not hear any of my professors complaining about the salary they were getting from students and or their families. I don't hear college professors complaining about the enormous debt that student incur so that those same professors could draw large salaries working 20 hours a week.

    Thank you Southwestern for giving me the opportunity to be independent and successful. It has made a great difference in my life.

    JP

    0 Votes

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