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Anoka County, to teens: Beware of this 'important' summer job opportunity

Look how 'important' this fabulous, high-quality knife looks cutting through that tomato!

Look how 'important' this fabulous, high-quality knife looks cutting through that tomato! Youtube

If a company is recruiting new employees -- specifically: suburban teenagers -- to sell a particular product, but avoiding to name the product... or even specify what type of product it is... this seems like a troubling sign, right?

And if the recruitment was printed on official-looking letterhead, written in such a way readers could potentially mistake it for something endorsed, if not actually run, by the county government, that'd be even worse, right?

If neither of the above paragraphs gives you pause, then boy, has some shadowy group recruiting aimless youths in the northern suburbs got an exciting opportunity for you! 

On Monday, the Anoka County Sheriff's Office issued a statement warning residents there. "Many" area "teens and college students" had recently received a letter, the sheriff's office wrote, with the phrase "Anoka County Headquarters" stripped across the top.

The letter offers an "important summer break opportunity." That opportunity is... well, it's hard to make out from the letter, which describes it this way:

"Vector is an international company established in 1981. We work with thousands of students each year in the summer and during the school year. Our current summer break openings involve customer sales and service. These openings offer you several advantages."

"Openings for what?", you might be wondering, now three paragraphs into the letter.

Nevermind that! Just look at these advantages!

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"Yes, but what kind of experience?" you're still wondering. Yet the pitch moves right along to say "positions are being filled," naming a bunch of suburbs in Anoka County, and telling potential applicants they can apply online. "We look forward to meeting you and explaining the details of the positions," reads the letter, which is signed by the "Anoka County Management Team."

This euphemistic phrase, coupled with "Anoka County Headquarters" at the top, has led to some confusion. The sheriff's office is trying to clear it up. 

"In reality," reads the sheriff's notice, "this is a letter that is soliciting students to become Cutco Knives 'independent sales consultants.' Anoka County Officials have pointed out to Vector Marketing that we feel their letter is deceptively portrayed as being from the County of Anoka and have asked them to stop marketing with this letter."

The folks at Vector/Cutco ignored that request, and instead, have sent residents another vaguely worded volley. Left with no other option, the sheriff's office clarified Monday that the county "is not responsible for, nor do we condone the verbiage of this letter and feel it is deceptive in its approach." 

This is hardly the first time Vector's practices have been singled out as unethical. In 2016, the company settled a class action suit for $6.75 million, to compensate employees who hadn't been paid for time spent in mandatory company training. 

The Vector company appears to do a pretty good job protecting its reputation on Glassdoor, the employer review site. On Sunday, one person logged in to say selling Cutco knives "improves your business skills starting from the first day on the job," and, under "Cons," wrote: "It make [sic] you jump out of your conformity zone, but not a con at all." 

Others are less enthusiastic. "Pyramid scheme," writes one, complaining he or she "received my first and only check" at the end of a summer's worth of work.  That check, the writer claims, was for all of "$17," and based on "collecting $700 in sales from my friends and family who I can't even look in the eye now because I've tried to sell them knives."

We, at City Pages, find this tale of regret hard to believe. This person clearly didn't sell Cutco knives. Look at these babies: They sell themselves!