Kelly Services — bait and switch
Incompetent, unprofessional, and out-of-this-world ridiculous are the first three things that come to mind when thinking about my experience with Anita at the Fort Collins branch of Kelly Services.
We worked with a salesperson from Denver, arrived at an agreement on a deal that seemed fairly sweet to us. We were going to be hiring one of their employees (under Temp-to-Hire), and the salesperson set us up with the local account manager, Anita.
We had a conference call on 7/13/12 with all parties involved, including 3 managers from our company. At the end of the call, they asked "Can we visit your warehouse to take a look around?". Sounded like a typical plant tour of our facility.
And, that is how it felt too. I walked them around our 3000sqft warehouse, showed them what happens where, and they were friendly pointing out the products we carry that they liked. At the end of the walk-through, I asked how we looked compared to similar businesses. The response: Average.
Any problems? They literally voiced NO concerns. Then said they would have 3 candidates for me on Monday.
When Monday came, instead, they sent an email to our main company inbox (not to the three managers that they wrote down our email addresses, and had already had email communication) an email that said that the offer for Temp-to-Hire was being retracted.
"We checked with our corporate compliance team regarding the safety assessment check we did on our visit on Friday.
Do to safety issues, we cannot allow anyone to climb on ladders or do repetitive lifting over 50 lbs.
The only way we can provide you an employee is by doing a Direct Hire placement. This means that we would find someone for you, you would review the resume & then you would interview with them. If the candidate is selected, then he would be a Debnroo employee not a Kelly employee. There would be a 20% direct hire fee based on his or her annual salary."
There had been NO mention of the visit to our warehouse being a safety inspection. None. Not in the documentation. Not in any of the meetings from February thru July, not in the last conference call. They simply arrived at a judgement that appeared to be about ladders not being safe (wtf?) and claiming our employees had to regularly lift boxes over 50 pounds. They don't.
So, we called Anita for an explanation. She THEN tells us that, in fact, the whole purpose was the "safety inspection", and that there was actually a 7-page form filled out. The ladder and box issue cited in the email wasn't the ONLY reason - there were pages of reason.
OK, then why not give us a chance to resolve whatever issues you had, and then we proceed?
Nope, you failed. Oh, and they said that I was not allowed to see the 7-page report. It was corporate policy. I asked then for her to put the concerns in her own words. She initially refused, then said "You don't have a fire alarm".
Really? A fire alarm? THAT is required before Kelly Services. Well, no, she backpedals. It's because that was an issue AND, all the other stuff. What other stuff? Well, she can't tell me. Can't fax a list. Can't verbalize the other concerns.
So, we asked Anita if she had these concerns when she was standing there with us, and if so, why she didn't verbalize them when we were face-to-face. She admitted she had her concerns, but felt the need to instead keep them to herself, then go consult "with corporate", and that resulted in her filling out a 7-page form with checkboxes. A form I'm not allowed to see.
I said that amounts to back-stabbing. You came into our place of business under the pretense that it was just a harmless walk-through to see what our business was like and about, but in reality it was about a very serious review that could interfere with our ability to gain access to services AT THE DISCOUNTED PRICES THAT WERE ALREADY AGREED UPON - IN WRITING.
I said, of the three things that she's brought up so far, none of them amount to even the slightest evidence that we actually have a work environment that is unsafe for a Kelly Services employee. It sounded to me like they didn't want to honor the original deal, and were making excuses to back out of it - CLASSIC BAIT AND SWITCH.
Oh no, she said. She would check with corporate to see if I was allowed to the the 7-page diatribe that she filled out about how unsafe our business was.
She sent an email apologizing for her first email, but failed to get the approval by the end of the day.
On Tuesday 7/17, she called me at 830am and said she got approval to send the documents by fax. It was a 133-point test about our business. She filled it out by hand, and scored it. We got 77 points out of 133. The cut-off for their business to work with ours was 80.
So, we went through the list, point by point. And, this is where the INCOMPETENCE comes in. There were so many errors, that after going through it all, it turns out we scored 111, not 77. The range of 80-107 required corporate approval. 108 and higher was literally "acceptable performance".
Among the errors:
1. The system is set up so that if a question is "N/A" or not-applicable, you get the points. They checked many of these boxes - 19 in all. But we didn't get any points for 16 of 19 them - and most were 2-pointers. Simple math error, but they amounted to demoting us from a viable candidate to be their client to being judged negatively.
2. Anita mis-scored a whole section about "powered industrial vehicles" (we don't have any), because she thought a piece of equipment that lifts pallets up and down was a forklift that you drive. She said "I could have sworn I saw exhaust". No, you didn't. It is battery operated, and it has one function - up and down.
3. There were no less than 15 questions on the 7-page form that REQUIRED that they asked us the question. Example "Will the customer provide Kelly employees with ergonomic training?" Anita checked "no". She never asked us ONE of the questions, let alone gave us notice that this was an inspection/test. Yet, she felt the need to GUESS and ASSUME over and over on this form.
At the end of the review of her work, Anita admitted her errors, apologized, but instead of responding positively to moving forward on Temp-to-Hire, she continued to push for the program where we pay them 20% of an annual salary (measured in thousands of dollars) vs. the one we SIGNED that would allow us to buy out the employee for $250.
Floored by her unwillingness to simply move forward positively after her gross incompetence, or come up with ANY resolution that would allow us to buy the services promised at the price promised, I asked if it was her final answer. She said yes. So, I said I would be taking this to her supervisor. And, that I would come by her office to speak to the supervisor face to face.
20 minutes after getting off the phone, I got a call from Leah, her supervisor. Anita immediately went to Leah to badmouth me, so that Anita had her heels dug in against me before I could even explain what had happened. She was shooing me out the door. Doesn't matter that Anita did her inspection under false pretenses. Doesn't matter that she checked the wrong boxes, made assumptions, or flat-out lied. Or that she couldn't do the math right. I was not welcome at Kelly Services. Click.
So, with that, thought we were done. But, it gets better. 30 minutes later, I get a call from the Fort Collins Police. Yep, Anita thought it would be a good idea to trump up my statement to come in to the office TO SPEAK TO HER SUPERVISOR ABOUT A LEGITIMATE COMPLAINT into a "he threatened to come in here - and I am scared for my safety."
Yep, that's right, she now wanted to go a step further, and publicly drag my name through the mud with the police. After 30 minutes on the phone explaining to officer Bill what she had done, he, of course, deemed this a "civil matter", which it is. Of course, I call it harassment via the police, and intentional intimidation, but we will save that for the judge.
I tried to have the old salesperson talk to someone sensible, but they refused to take her calls. She too was flabbergasted that her former co-workers were treating me in this way.
So, I called Kelly Services HR, and spoke with the head of that department, Juanita. While she initially gave me the time to explain, eventually she started defending what Anita and others had done. I made clear that I wanted them to simply right what they did wrong, and to send a letter of apology, to explain to the police that Anita overreacted, and to put something in writing that countered their ill-conceived email claiming our entire business was unsafe because of a ladder and the wrong-headed assumption that every product we sell is in excess of 50 pounds.
Juanita decided that since most of the interaction was verbal, "we don't know what REALLY happened", and therefore, she would get back to me about what Kelly would actually do. Not by email. Not by fax, only verbally. And, I was warned that she was in Michigan, and if I tried to record what she said, she would go after me for that. She wanted NO documentation of the response.
And, I told her that, in itself, was suspicious. I am being bait-and-switched, having ridiculous erroneous emails telling my employees that the mere presence of a ladder makes the entire business unsafe, having people "inspect" my business under false pretenses to create a report riddled with errors and outright wild guesses that turn out to be lies designed to facilitate getting out of a deal that they probably didn't like the commissions on.
So, I'm taking them to Small Claims Court in Larimer County. Look up the public records to see the outcome in a few weeks/months. It should be interesting to see how they dance around that.