Reader Lured Into 2 Different DS-MAX Interviews Via Monster.com Job Listings

Morris had an encounter with two different DS-MAX type places last December when he was looking for a job. In both instances, he was lured in through postings on Monster.com advertising entry-level marketing full-time jobs with full benefits.

As graduates are looking for their first job out of college, or high-schoolers are looking for a summer job, watch out these scammy outfits. A pretty good sign is if the company office is located in a warehouse or a rented trailer on the outskirts of town….


Morris writes:

Just wondering if you guys would be interested in drumming up a piece on these little offices that seem to pop up on every corner in almost every neighborhood around the country without getting too much notice. I’m not sure if this really applies to consumerism, but in regards to helping other people, it should be able to help deter people from ruining their lives when desperately looking for work. I’m writing in relation to the DS Max line of supposed marketing/entry level positions. More info can be found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DS-MAX

They try to pawn it off as a legitimate job until you find out that it’s really door to door sales and 100% commission. The thing is, when I was looking for a new job last December, I actually scheduled 2 interviews with 2 different DS Max offices that seemed unrelated at the time. The interviews were on the same day… and both employed similar, if not exact hiring strategies. After I left both interviews, I decided to do a little online research and lo and behold, after googling a name of an office manager, I came upon this messageboard: http://groups.msn.com/DSMAXTheAftermath

Then everything made sense and I refused the follow up interviews. However, I know for a fact that people out there still get sucked in daily. When I waited in the offices for my interviews, loud music was playing, employees were acting all rowdy even though they were poorly dressed and looked like they had been through the wringer a few times.

I actually found both places through monster.com, which continually lists these positions as full time salaried jobs with full benefits, which irks me.

The first location was in Malden, MA in a run down part of town. The office was called SJS Promotions and surprise, the office was run down too with mismatched furniture and the such. The interview was no more than 5-10 minutes. The female who interviewed me said she had just come from her own office in Denver, how she moved up the ranks so quickly, and how much fun she’s having. To be honest, I didn’t spend very much time talking about myself. I was told that they sold coupon books and tickets to local shops and the like and how big names like the Chicago White Sox and LA Dodgers wrote them great letters stating how they’ve increased ballpark attendance. I’m not even sure if those were real or not. Then she told me that they would be holding a second round of interviews and if all went well, I would receive a call that night. The second interview would entail an all day field trip with an executive or whatever. I was told to dress professionally. I smelled something fishy since when I first scheduled the first interview, I was told they were almost done with the interviews, but when I went into the office, I overheard the secretary schedule interviews for the following week. All in all, I thought something was strange, but didn’t give it too much thought. I received a call from them a few hours later stating that I had won a second interview. I accepted and then asked about the parking situation since I would have to leave my car somewhere for the entire day. She then told me that I could park behind a CVS around the block. How nice.

Then I headed off to my second interview of the day in Woburn, MA. This time, it was in a much nicer office complex. This office was called Nova Marketing. Same deal here. All young people, music blasting, everyone looking enthused. Sat down with a male interviewer, and then I noticed the same map of the country on the wall with pins showing where all the offices were located. Again, the man told me that he had just come back from some other state where he just opened up an office. Talked about how he moved up so fast and if I did the same, I could be doing the same thing as well. However, this time, he made note of the college I graduated from and said that the office manager (Kate Malone) went there as well. I didn’t really know her, but figured that I could probably dig her up online or on Myspace to see if I ever crossed paths with her. That’s when I found her on the rip off report, and then, discovered the entire underworld of DS Max. Also, this office seemed to focus on what they called “event promotions,” which basically means that they set up these tables in front of stores like Bestbuy, Target, and Walmart squeezing people donations. What’s odd is that they associated themselves with some reputable charities like Toys for Tots and D.A.R.E. The big scam I guess is that they push you to buy their crap toys to donate instead of bringing in your own toy so they make their money off those sales. A few hours later, I got a call from them telling me that I was selected for the second interview. This time I declined and would later cancel the other interview.

So I didn’t get too deep into it. At some point, I realized that graduating from Boston College meant a little more than joining this nonsense, but I’m afraid there are people out there who haven’t had that moment of enlightenment yet.

Hope this helps even though I’m my story is probably not too different than other stories out there.

Here are the emails both companies sent me:

From: “job” jobs@sjsacquisitions.com
Date: December 27, 2006 11:57:00 AM EST
To: [redacted]
Subject: Re: CareerBuilder Job Application
Reply-To: jobs@sjsacquisitions.com

SJS Acquisitions, Inc.
14 Dartmouth St. Unit A
Malden, MA 02148
781-333-3632

Hi Morris,

Thank you for your response to SJS Acquisitions’ online job posting. We are definitely interested in learning more about you and how you might fit in with our company’s expansion. We would like to sit down with you in person, tell you about ourselves and our positions, and get to know you as well. Interviews are conducted here in our Malden office please make a note of the address listed above (directions are at the bottom).

SJS Acquisitions develops and executes innovative Sports and Entertainment Marketing Campaigns for clients throughout the East Coast. Primary responsibilities of the position:

Promotional Sales and Marketing
Customer Service
Development of Marketing Plans
Campaign Management
Public Relations
Team Management
Strategic Planning

***We do NOT have any openings in graphic design***

Please take a look through our website at http://www.sjsacquisitions.com to find out more about our firm. Contact our office at 781-333-3632 as soon as possible to schedule your personal interview. Thanks again and we look forward to speaking with you soon.

Sincerely,

Danielle Larson
Personnel Director
SJS Acquisitions, Inc.

Directions:

(If coming from the Northshore)
You want to take 93 SOUTH TO EXIT 32 MEDFORD SQ. / MALDEN.

(If coming from the Southshore)
You want to take 93 NORTH TO EXIT 32 MEDFORD SQ. / MALDEN

(If coming from the Waltham area)
You want to take 95 NORTH to 93 SOUTH EXIT 32 MEDFORD SQ. / MALDEN

(If coming from the Peabody area)
You want to take 95 SOUTH to 93 NORTH EXIT 32 MEDFORD SQ. / MALDEN

Follow RT. 60 EAST off the rotary for 2 miles. When you come to a set of lights where Walgreens and Cingular Wireless are on your right and a parking garage is on your left, you want to take a LEFT at this set of lights onto MAIN ST. Proceed down the street and at the second set of lights (there will be a Citizens Bank on your right) take a LEFT onto PLEASANT ST. You then want to take your first RIGHT onto DARTMOUTH ST. Our office is located on the LEFT side of the street, we are # 14 and our Boston office name is SJS ACQUISITIONS, which is on a blue sign outside.

From: careers@novamarketingpromos.com
Date: December 27, 2006 12:09:26 PM EST
To: [redacted]
Subject: Re: Monster Job #51790726 Management Training management Monster Resume #[redacted]

Hi!

Congratulations! After considering several candidates, we would like to invite you in for a preliminary interview with one of our managers.

Thank you for your general interest in our company. After reviewing the resumes, we feel as if yours exemplifies many of the qualifications that we are looking for in our team. We would like to meet with you within the next few days to begin the formal interview process. Prior to an initial interview we recommend browsing our Boston office?s website at http://www.novamarketingpromos.com to find additional information concerning our company?s innovative marketing concepts. Below, you will find our contact information and directions to our office.

Please give Erin Donahue a call @ 781-376-1400 in order to schedule a definite time to meet with you and discuss the opportunities that are available at our firm. We look forward to hearing from you soon.

Sincerely,
The Management Team
Nova Marketing & Promotions
80 Tower Office Park
Woburn, MA 01801

Directions from 93 North and South: Exit 37C Commerce Way. Take a left onto Commerce Way. At 3rd Light take a left onto Mischawaum Ave. At 1st light take a right onto Washington Street. At the first light take a left onto Tower Office Park. Nova Marketing & Promotions is located behind the car dealership at the Office Park. We are Suite # 80.

Directions from 95 South: Exit 36- Washington Street. Come off the exit and take a right. At the first light take a right onto Washington Street. Next light, left onto Tower Office Park (behind car dealership) . Suite #80.

Directions from 95 N: Exit 36- Washington Street. Come to the light at the end of the ramp and go straight through onto Tower Office Park.

WWW.NOVAMARKETINGPROMOS.COM

— BEN POPKEN

PREVIOUSLY: DS-MAX Was A “Sales Cult,” Says Former Employee
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Comments

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  1. Trai_Dep says:

    HotJobs (Yahoo) became useless to me when I was looking because of job spammers. It’s also an issue with Monster, but not quite as bad. With Yahoo, it was well over 100 listings a day from these conmen, a good 50% of the jobs available for the category I was looking for. Of course you can’t delete or skip them since they always change their name, and you need to winnow through every freaken listing to find the real jobs.

    I think it’s because HotJobs, etc., get $$$ for each listing. So they take the money regardless if their customers are scammers.

    I strongly feel that it’s a consumer issue. If you’re looking for a job, you’re a consumer, using a job aggregator (classified ads, web boards, etc.).

    We obviously can’t outlaw these companies (tho, crazy people – instead of looking at Virginia Tech next time, test your sharpshooter skills at DS-Max?!)

    They’re evil, preying on people desperate for work. Foul. And the job boards facilitate them.

    Would shaming the companies that enable them (Yahoo, Monster, CareerBuilder…) on Consumerist be a good avenue? I think it’d be akin to draining the swamp of water, myself.

  2. alterboy says:

    This sounds like a company I almost interviewed with. I did some research the night before and just couldn’t find much about them besides they do”marketing” for the Dodgers, Angels, and some chain restaurants by selling coupon books. I also saw a recently held meeting in the downtown area where all the “regional Sales Reps” were basically motivated to keep up sales. That’s when I got worried. The entire conference was about sales not marketing. I just couldn’t dig up enough info and all the info I dug up was geared toward sales. The company was also authorized to sell Smart Cards. I looked up the company that actually produces the smart cards and couldn’t find a thing about what smart cards actually were. I canceled the interview the next day. after reading these horror stories I’m glad I did.

  3. whiplashchick says:

    I think I may have been sucked into a couple of interviews with companies like this around Dallas, TX. I bailed when they said the second interview would be an all day shadowing thing.

  4. Exek says:

    My friend ended up going to the 2nd interview (probably with the same company from the OP it was also in Malden). Which pretty much went like this she parked her car met the so called “Executive” she was going to be teaming up for the day. He told her that they were going to parking lots and door to door selling some stupid toy. She laughed at his face and got back in her car and said No this is not for me.

  5. LatherRinseRepeat says:

    Most job sites are useless. Monster is the worst. Lots of spam, pyramid schemes, and even a few 419 scams. HotJobs was pretty good prior to the Yahoo acquisition. I actually got a legitimate job from there. I’m not sure how they are now. Dice is ok, but it somehow turned into a dumping ground for temp agencies and headhunters. And the search feature doesn’t let you filter out those types of listings easily.

  6. EnderVR46 says:

    I had an interview with someone like them a few years ago. I Went for an interview for a for a job at a “speaker” company. Got the job, and when I came in the next day to start training they tried to get me into a van with speakers in the back. Teamed me up with some guy who was telling me how we were going to sell them to people in parking lots.

    I was at a loss, but had nothing better to do with my day so I went along for grins. We were in the van for 11 hours stopping at every gas station on the road where the guy would try to tell people that we were installers that had a few spare speakers that we were going to keep and a few to sell to pay for storage for the rest of the day.

    One guy fell for it and had us come to his house to install them, but when we got there his dad told him to send us away.

    I never went back and still laugh at the idea of people making a living on this type of thing.

    This was in Dallas.

  7. spanky says:

    I almost got tricked into an ‘interview’ something like that through Monster once, too.

    The phony-assed title they gave me sounded almost plausibly like what I actually do. I did get a funny feeling, though, and asked what their requirements were. They said they did on the job training. I said I had fifteen years of experience working in my field(s), and wasn’t interested in a job with NO requirements. WTF? Did they think they’d trick me? Like I wouldn’t notice or something?

    I mean, I’m a little pissed they even called me in the first place. But if I’d put on pantyhose and driven for an hour to get there only to find they were looking for door-to-door salespeople or something, I would’ve had to choke a bitch.

  8. Secularsage says:

    Back when I was a retail manager, I had these guys CONSTANTLY coming into my store trying to sell me paintings, pizza coupons, hockey tickets, and all other sorts of items. I know they were the same company because they always dressed alike and used the same style of sales pitch that is consistent with what I’ve read about DS-MAX.

    I resented them coming into my store wasting my time with customers so they could try to sell me something, and I generally would call the police and have them thrown out of the shopping center if they couldn’t produce a permit. I also forbade my associates to buy from them on the clock when one of my guys bought some Papa John’s pizza coupons, only to discover that our local location wouldn’t even ACCEPT them because they weren’t “from corporate.”

    Those guys are a nuisance, and while I realize it’s their job, I feel the same way about them that I do about people who take a telemarketing job: if you’re so hard up for a job that you have to irritate people to make a daily wage, it’s time to go back to school or find a job in a less irksome field.

  9. etinterrapax says:

    I’ve found Monster useless, too. They aren’t the best for my job category anyhow, but they consistently send me completely inappropriate job listings even on the rare occasion that the jobs sound legit. If I’d gone to pharmacy school, I almost certainly wouldn’t be trolling for jobs on Monster. I’d be working for better money than I’ll ever make in my chosen profession.

  10. BrooklynMike says:

    I remember being a struggling college graduate scouring through the monster job listings and feeling like I found a great opportunity working for a “Marketing” company based in New Jersey. After driving out there I was disappointed by the offices, and they too did the whole spiel about coming from a different state, moving up through the ranks, etc.

    I interviewed, and at the time I accepted the job because I had nothing else going on, and “trained” with a “marketer” for two days. The “marketer” was basically a door to door salesman and he was selling products to businesses by hook or by crook. I kept track of the sales he did, and the final straw for me was when he told me he made 200 dollars in commission for the day, when in actuality it was barely 70 dollars. On top of that he had to drive everywhere.

    I was also put off by the fact that the “boss” was maybe 5 years older than me, and although he claimed to make 80,000 a year he lived with a few of the workers in an apartment in Jersey.

    They also had those rowdy meetings, and all in all it seemed like a very low rent wannabe version of boiler room.

    I never returned after my second day, feeling like an idiot for being duped. I never used monster.com for a job search ever again.

  11. 75Sasha says:

    I had the same experience in Michigan, just outside of Detroit. My minor is Marketing and they acted like I would be doing ad campaigns, meeting with customers etc. First day on the job they had me park at the office, in Clarkston, and ride into Royal Oak (about 25 miles away) with 3 other reps. Only when we parked did they explain that we were going door to door selling coupon book. Their maps of the “zones” they had to hit were photocopies of the street maps you find in the Yellow Pages with sections blocked off. During the interview and on the ride out it was all network/expand the customer base/yada yada. I went to about three doors with them, then told them I was quitting. Went to a Pizza Hut and called my dad to come pick me up. Boss Advertising, for what it’s worth. They stayed in business for about 2 years at the same Clarkston location before the building was shuttered. Good riddance.

  12. urabl says:

    My friend from college got stuck interviewing with one of these places, too. After the first interview with “some marketing company” back near his hometown (Woodbury, NJ), he came back to school all excited because the people there were really cool, and it seemed liked they liked him. He went for the second interview, which again was an all-day shadowing thing. They drove him down to Wilmington, Delaware, where they went from place to place trying to get people to sign up for Verizon or something. Since it was so far from home, he was stuck there the whole day. He was NOT happy when he got back, but he fixed that the way we solved all our problems in college – drinking a lot.

  13. VeryFancyBunny says:

    Like so many others, I’d had run-ins with these people, too. Here in Atlanta a couple years ago, they advertised themselves as “Dynamic Marketing” on all the job sites. Yep, they got my resume, but fortunately I researched them in time to turn them down for the interview.

    When I worked as a receptionist (a far cushier job than door-to-door sales, IMHO), I had DS-Max salespeople coming into the front office all the time, trying to sell me coupons and such. It got to the point that I would lock the front door on some afternoons. One guy still tried to pitch his coupons to me through the window.

    A couple weeks ago, a new “marketing company” moved into the basement of the building where I work. When I saw the place, it made me think back to the research I did on Dynamic Marketing back in ’04. Now I’m almost sure it’s one of these places. I’m going to have to sneak down there in the morning and see if I can catch one of their cheers.

  14. Trai_Dep says:

    Gawd, they’re worse than Moonies.

    Seriously, is there any way to direct the heat to their feeders, HotJobs and Monster? Make it as irksome for them to take these slime’s filthy lucre as it is for us to deal w/ their snake oil charms?

    Seems like it’d smack them down pretty good if a hubub got yahoo and monster to either ban them, or make it easy to weed them out of searches. MUCH more than complaining, locking doors, etc.

  15. BostonDirtdog says:

    What I’m wondering, and a bunch of my friends have suggested this as well, how come a show like Dateline hasn’t cracked down on these groups yet? Yeah, it’s not illegal, but there is a level of deception and all around slimyness that comes with this, not to mention the cult-like tactics and preying on those who are simply looking for work. Hm… someone know Dateline’s number?

  16. Amry says:

    I threw some of these fools out of my store the other day. They yelled “bitch” at me on their way out the door. Classy!

  17. aragorn79 says:

    About 10 years ago I was looking for summer jobs during college in Albany, and I answered some ads for “Saving the Environment” , etc. Basically you load up in a bus and go door-to-door asking for Donations. It just seemed very shady and obviously those ‘donations’ cover your salary, so I never followed through. I think everyone needs to know that they can turn down a job, I ended up working at the mall for the summer, but it beats ripping people off through “sales” or “donations”

  18. Promethean says:

    I went on one such interview about 3/4 years ago.
    ight even tbe the same company, since the interview went exactly as described here, and their operation was also to setup in large retail chains, ostensibly for “charity” purposes. I bailed on the second interview, getting too many bad vibes. I hated my current job at the time, but I didn’t want a frying pan vs. fire situation.

  19. Jessica_F says:

    This website, cosumerist.com, helped me avoid having a similar situation as the people above. I had responded to a job listing that SJS Acquisitions posted on Monster.com and within an hour I received a reply :

    Hi Jessica,

    Thank you for taking the time to send us your resume for review. We understand that
    today’s job market can be very competitive and appreciate your interest in our company.We are definitely interested in learning more about you and how you might fit in withour company’s expansion. We would like to sit down with you in person, tell you aboutourselves and our positions, and get to know you as well. The initial interview is aone-on-one interview with one of our managers at our headquarters in Burlington, pleasemake note of the address listed above.

    SJS Acquisitions develops and executes innovateive Sports and Entertainment MarketingCampaigns for clients throughout the Boston area. Areas of training include:
    Promotional Sales and MarketingCustomer ServicePublic RelationsCampaign ManagementManagement Training
    Please visit us at http://www.sjsacquisitions.com for more information. To schedule an interview please give me a call at 781-270-7802 and for your convenience please note that we are located North OF Boston. Thanks again and we look forward to speakingwith you soon!

    Sincerely,

    Sarah
    SJS Acquisitions Inc

    Also, within a day of receiving that email, I received 3 phone calls in one day from them as they were trying to schedule a time for me to come in. Upon returning their calls the following morning, they urged me to rearrange my schedule to interview with them THAT afternoon. I declined and scheduled an appointment for the next day, a Friday. I tried for the following Monday but was told they would have the process finished by then and all candidates would be selected.

    That didn’t sit well with me so I did a little research. I stumbled upon this website, and after learning all of the nonsense I called an cancelled my “interview”.

    THANK YOU for saving my time!