I misunderstood the schedule for my new job, former manager wants me to host a product party, and more

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. My former manager wants me to host a product party for her

My former supervisor has been extremely helpful as a reference for me numerous times and I feel indebted to her to some degree for that. Perhaps she is aware of that, too.

Apparently she is “starting a business” with Premier Jewelry. She wants me to invite my friends/family/whomever to my house and host a “party” for her to build clientele who would be willing to buy overpriced costume jewelry. She says I would get a lot of free jewelry out of it. I quickly picked up that this is one of those pyramid schemes that preys on vulnerable, low-information women. A quick internet search confirmed my suspicions. Furthermore, numerous reviews online confirmed the actual jewelry is garbage; my friend told me she bought a $99 watch from them that broke the first time she wore it.

I told her I will see if I can get any interest from people I know to come to the party and get back to her. Even if I agree to host, I am honestly not sure that I know enough people in my area period (I’m a few hours from immediate family and only have a handful of close friends around), much less with expendable income who would be interested in something like this. What do you think? Should I agree to this and try to get people in? I really don’t like the idea of making people feel pressured to buy things, particularly friends/family.

Noooooo. She’s asking you to do the marketing for her business for her, and to annoy your friends and family in the process, and to help her promote a product that you know is crappy. Under no circumstances. You don’t owe her for being a reference for you; that’s a normal part of what managers do for good employees. (I mean, sure, you owe her normal professional courtesies, like taking her calls and congratulations her on professional successes or whatever, but a good reference does not obligate you to do something that makes you uncomfortable.)

Tell her that you decided it’s not your thing and you’re not interested in hosting. And stand firm if she pushes back.

2. I misunderstood the schedule for my new job

I recently started a new job (yay!). One of the awesome perks, for me, is that the job is four 10-hour days instead of five 8-hour days. I’ve been here for almost a month, but I could not start my normal schedule (four 10’s) until this week, because I did not have full security access to the building. Previously I always needed someone to sign me in and out during the standard Monday-Friday working hours.

Well, this week my new schedule started, and I’ve already failed miserably. For starters, this job is a little less standard as far as hours go. We need people working 24/7. I agreed to working weekends, but I thought the work week started on a Monday, and assumed Monday would be my first day. Well, as it turns out, Sunday is the first day of the week as far as payroll is concerned, so I received a call Sunday asking where I was. That sucked. I arrived late and sent out an email apologizing and explaining where my confusion was, then worked as usual and didn’t think much of it.

Unfortunately, I messed up a second time. So with working weekends, I thought my days off were Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. In fact, I wrote this down and remember talking about it. But I received a call again on Tuesday asking where I was. At this point, I’m mortified. I love my new job and I was so excited to start my new schedule but I’ve already messed it up twice. How can I recover from this? I know they’re stupid mistakes but that just looks worse in my mind. I hate messing up something so simple this early on in a new job. Any advice would be appreciated as now I just can’t get rid of this pit in my stomach like I’m going to mess up something else in no time.

It sounds like they messed up, rather than you. People’s default is generally to assume that they’ll be working Monday-Friday, so if that wasn’t the case for you, they needed to tell you that up-front, and they should have clarified when your “weekend” would be. And certainly after the first mix-up, they should have made sure that you were clear on the schedule, not just assumed. (It’s also true that after that first mix-up, you should have confirmed that you had the rest of the schedule correct, but really, the burden to communicate this correctly from the start was on them.)

Anyway, at this point, I’d just let your manager know that you had misunderstood the schedule at the start but that you’re clear on it now, and show up reliably. If you do that, no one is going to think much about this.

3. Company didn’t announce a promotion for “privacy” reasons

Recently, going through an online professional website, one of my coworker found out that one of our coworkers (let’s call this person Mr. W) was identifying himself with a title above the one that the rest of us were assuming he had. The issue was brough up to HR, and less than 24 hours later, an email went out announcing that Mr. W was in fact promoted few weeks ago. The reason that was given for not disclosing his promotion at the same time as the other promotions was that Mr. W was a private person.

This just seems weird to me. Why announce some people’s promotion but not others? How come even the peers of Mr. W were not aware of the promotion? I have the feeling that the whole story is leading to a lot of gossip and is not creating an healthy environment, but maybe I am missing a point.

Yes, it’s weird. Promotions aren’t generally considered private information; they’re company business, especially if Mr. W’s job responsibilities were changing (as opposed to simply getting a title promotion). But unless there’s more to the story (like shadier reasons for deliberately hiding a promotion), I don’t see a whole lot to gossip about here. It was weird that they didn’t announce the promotion, but not really scandalous.

4. Which is more important, test or interview?

I recently had a job interview which was half interview and half task. I feel like I performed some parts much better than others. Throughout my interview I flubbed a few answers which knocked me off my game and left me feeling like I’d blown the interview. However, the I feel like I performed very well on the writing task afterwards.

When it comes to interviews, which is more important to an employer, the outcome of the one to one interview or the candidates performance on the task?

They both matter, so that’s really hard to answer. I can say that no matter how well someone does in an interview, if an actual assessment of their work skills (a test or exercise) is weak, a great interview won’t overcome that. How much “blowing the interview” matters really depends on exactly what the issues were. If you seemed nervous or gave a few rambly answers, there’s a much less big deal than not being able to cogently describe your experience or engage on substantive issues. All of which is to say, there’s no way to really answer this from the outside.

5. What laws are different for smaller companies?

I am a exempt salaried employee, I recently had a emergency and had to be out for a day. I had used all my PTO, so they paid me for four days instead of five. While I do know that normally I would have to be paid my full salary for any week I work any hours, I do know that the laws are different if the company has less than 50 employees, but I have no clue how they differ.

I know my company was recently wanting to hire another employee but the higher-ups put a stop to it because we are really close to having 50 employees, because it would put them under “a whole new set of laws.”

Laws about exempt and non-exempt employees apply to employers of all sizes, as does the rest of the Fair Labor Standards Act. Federal anti-discrimination laws apply to employers with 15+ employees (except for age discrimination, which applies at 20), although you should note that some states’ discrimination laws kick in earlier. FMLA covers employers with 50+ people. Some provisions of the Affordable Care Act differ for employers of fewer than 50 and fewer than 25 employees. And there are probably more than I’m missing, but those are the big ones.

In your particular situation, even though they’re covered under the Fair Labor Standards Act (and thus need to follow the rules for exempt employees), they may not have done anything wrong by deducting a day of pay. The law actually allows employers to dock exempt employee’s pay when they’re absent from work for a full day for “personal reasons, other than sickness or disability.” (However, they can only deduct full days, not half days. So if you were absent a day and a half, they could only deduct for the one full day.)

{ 203 comments… read them below }

  1. Nobody*

    #2 – My company has some quirks about schedules, too, and new employees occasionally get confused about when they’re supposed to work. It’s easy to forget that new employees don’t automatically know things they haven’t been told yet, and that’s probably why your employer forgot to tell you. If they’re at all reasonable, they will realize they should have given you more information about your schedule, and not hold it against you. In fact, they will probably feel bad for not being clear with you about your schedule. Don’t beat yourself up over it. Just make sure you understand your schedule now, and show up at the right times on the right days in the future. Chances are, no one will even remember this a couple of months from now.

    1. Carpe Librarium*

      Also #2, you’ve already been working there for a few weeks, during which time you’ve made most of your first impressions – particularly to your manager. If you had forgotten to show up to two of your days at work in the first week on the job, that would likely be a different story.
      A few snafus 3 weeks in that are primarily due to moving onto a non-standard schedule will be very quickly and easily forgotten – except possibly for the next time they’re on-boarding another new hire and make extra-certain to give clear information!

      1. Carpe Librarium*

        Regarding your worry that you’re going to mess up again soon: You absolutely will make at least one more mistake sometime between now and the rest of your life (if you don’t, please sell me all your secrets).
        The best you can do is try to make the time between now and your next mistake as long as possible by doing your best and asking questions when you need to. Pay attention to the culture of the new workplace to get a handle on what aspects of your role are most critical and make those your focus.
        “Trying not to screw it up” is pretty much the default setting for almost everyone ever, with the exception of a small minority of individuals who don’t think they are capable of making mistakes because they are always right and everyone else must be wrong.
        I sincerely doubt that you are one of those people.

      2. LCL*

        It is expected that new shift workers will make mistakes with their schedules. That’s why the manager/scheduler is supposed to sit down with you and show you what days you work. After reading your post, I’m still not sure what your workdays are. Is it SU-Mo-Tu-We, off Th, Fri and Sat? Or what? Does your shift ever change? Or do you have the (shudder) week that advances days, so your days off change with every schedule? Ask the scheduler/manager to go over your schedule, on paper.

    2. Meg Murry*

      I agree, don’t beat yourself up over it, just do your best not to mess it up again.

      However, one piece of Alison’s advise I suggest revising. It doesn’t sound to me like you are 100% confident in your schedule yet, instead of her advice “I’d just let your manager know that you had misunderstood the schedule at the start but that you’re clear on it now, and show up reliably.” I would suggest an email or conversation that says “I’m sorry I misunderstood the schedule originally. As I understand now, my schedule is days A, B, C and D for hours XX-YY. Is this correct? Does it change for holiday weeks or when other people take vacations? Is there a master schedule I can look up somewhere?” Someone obviously knew you were scheduled for that day – how did they know? Is there a calendar somewhere where you can look up your schedule? Most places I’ve seen with 24/7 scheduling and 4 10s or 12s have either A, B, C, D etc shifts, with a master calendar as to who works which days, or a system of “if you work Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Saturday, those are always your days, holiday or not”. And others have some kind of rotation where you get some weekends off and some on – so its worth figuring out exactly how yours works, or at least exactly how you can look it up.

      Don’t reassure someone that you are clear on something unless you really are 100% clear – because that will only make it worse. For instance, Labor Day is coming up soon (if you are in the US) on a Monday. Is that a normal working day for you? Does the schedule change for Christmas or Easter, etc? Some 24/7 facilities are open 365 days a year, and if you work Mondays, you work Mondays, period, no matter the holiday – but others have fewer people scheduled or some kind of seniority rotation, so it’s worth asking how that is handled now – don’t make any assumptions one way or another.

      But I agree with everyone else that these aren’t major screwups, and once you are 100% clear, you will be fine, especially if you show up on time for your shifts and do good work in general – so just keep going forward and it will be ok.

      1. Kyrielle*

        Agreed. And some facilities (emergency services come to mind, in particular) may have *more* people scheduled on particular holidays, or adjacent days, because they can be higher-volume.

      2. LQ*

        I agree, it doesn’t sound like there is confidence, so going over it, especially for holidays, or if you have possible changes, etc is crucial here.

      3. LBK*

        Agreed – it sounds like the OP has still mostly picked this up by messing it up and being corrected. I’d have a really clear face-to-face conversation with whoever is setting this schedule and make sure you both come out of it understanding when you’ll be expected to be there. Although I am side-eyeing the manager a little – if I had forgotten to tell my employee about the details of their schedule I’d be mortified and would’ve taken the initiative to clarify it immediately after the first mix up. Not feeling great about the fact that they seem to be putting the blame on the OP.

        1. Jennifer*

          Reading this made me suspect this is one of those jobs where you somehow end up working every day or almost every day. I don’t think I’d make plans on any day I thought I “had off” for a few days or weeks to see if they’re the sorts that call you in all the time.

          Is this some kind of shift/retail “flexible” (har) schedule sort of work?

      4. Retail Lifer*

        THIS. You can’t ever be too clear, especially when it appears that they’re not making the effort to be. And if there’s not a master schedule to look at, then try and get your schedule in writing (i.e. in an email).

      5. Ad Astra*

        I also got the feeling this OP wasn’t 100% clear on the schedule going forward, which could lead to a lot of anxiety about messing up again. You have suggested some really great, specific questions to make sure everyone’s on the same page. If this office doesn’t already have some kind of master schedule or clearly written “If… then…” policies, maybe the OP should suggest that.

      6. SystemsLady*

        Yeah, I’ve known people who work those schedules and usually you just get paid double for holidays and the other half gets to work that holiday the next year, and they can work out a swap if somebody’s willing to work for the double pay. Wonder if there’s a master yearly A/B/C/D chart somebody forgot to give the OP here.

      7. TootsNYC*

        Yeah–go in there with your datebook, and write it all down in front of them, with their sign-off.

        THEN say, “I’m clear on the schedule now and I’ll be here.”

        Now, make it a point to arrive at least 15 minutes early for the next several days. And make a little “noise” when you get there, so everyone notices that you’re there. Don’t just slip quietly into position and start working. You’re on a campaign of perception, so be certain that people perceive you as “in the office a little bit early.”

      8. Anna*

        I would also add, as a way to be somewhat easier on yourself, that if you wrote down your days off and you remember the conversation about your days off, that is wholly on them. I have doubts you had a conversation, wrote down your days off, and then completely got it wrong.

  2. Premier Jewelry*

    I actually like Premier Jewelry. Both of my sisters sold the jewelry around 9 years ago. I still have all of my pieces (around 35). Only 3 broke in that time period: one Premier replaced, and the other 2 were easy fixes. I never owned one of their watches.

    That said, if you don’t want to host a party, then don’t. I never have. I always feel weird about selling to my friends, even when I like the product.

    1. straws*

      I agree, I like a lot of their jewelry. I actually purchased mine via coworker, but she’s very low pressure about it. She let people know when she started, and she’ll put out if she’s having an open party every so often. If someone requests that she bring in a catalog, she will. I’ve never hosted for the same reasons as the OP (not near family, most of my friends are uninterested in that type of thing), but I might if I had the types of friends who would also be interested. I think the issue with these types of companies are often the people selling the product. A lot of them are pushy, flood the internet with invites, and are generally annoying. I won’t buy from that type of seller, even if I’m interested in the product.

      OP, if your former manager is the reasonable kind of seller, just let her know that you don’t have enough interested people for a party. It sounds like you don’t care for the product, but if you did you could ask to check out the catalog to possibly add-on to one of her parties or even ask if she has an open one that you could attend to check things out. If she’s not though, you’ll likely need to take a harder line.

    2. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

      So…I had jumped on here to share my horrible Premier experience, but now I am wondering if I mixed them up with someone else.

      But honestly, even the jewelry I love (like Stella & Dot) is more expensive than what you can buy in stores. And I have a Lia Sophia necklace clasp that broke and because they went out of business, I have to pay to have it repaired.

      I have just been very honest with the people I know and say, “I know too many people who have these home based business. I will look at your catalog/buy something, but if I say yes to one person’s party, I will have to say yes to them all.”

      1. Ad Astra*

        I hate the “party” element of these MLM businesses. I’ve seen plenty of Stella and Dot jewelry that I like, and there is probably something from Mary Kay or Avon that I might buy. I love Pampered Chef products and I even own a Scentsy warmer. But I do not, under any circumstances, want to go to a “party” that is actually an uncomfortable sales pitch.

        1. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

          I have a friend who will just shoot me a text that says, “Putting in a PC order. Need anything?” because she knows I don’t want to be added to any parties (online or in someone’s home).

          It’s great because I can get what I need, she can use me to boost a parties sales, and I don’t have any hassles. Also, when I respond, “not right now.” she just says okay and moves on to the next topic.

          1. OfficePrincess*

            That’s my favorite way to do it too. I know a few people who sell various things and I much prefer a heads up that they sell X and if I ever want anything or a catalog let them know and they’ll add it to the next order. No pressure, not kitchy parties, and I can get the new item I’ve been eyeing.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              Me too. I can get in touch with them if I’m interested. I hate the parties. I went to a Mary Kay one a friend hosted once, and though I won a little makeup case in a drawing (yay! I still use it!), I really couldn’t afford the products at the time. Plus the rep spammed me via email trying to get me to host my own party and I finally had to block her. That was the last party I went to.

              I do wish someone were selling Avon; I prefer their products. Or that they’d just sell them online, darn it.

              1. MegEB*

                Avon does sell online! I’m not sure about Mary Kay, though, and honestly MK kind of terrifies me. I stumbled upon the Pink Truth website some time ago and ended up spending several hours reading it, and it sounds borderline cultish.

                1. manybellsdown*

                  I went to one Mary Kay party as a favor to a friend (I’m not a big makeup-wearer) and the rep didn’t listen to any of my preferences and just slathered me in every product she could. I felt like I was wearing an inch of frosting when she was done!

        2. BananaPants*

          I’ve only been to one home sales party that was actually a “party” feel, and that was when a friend of mine sold Thirty One and held parties in her own home. It was very low pressure and I went to at least one where I didn’t buy anything and didn’t feel at all bad about it.

          I always feel like I have to buy something when I go to direct sales parties. I got burned 2-odd years ago on Lia Sophia; a dear friend was hosting and was using the hostess credit to buy jewelry for her bridal party for her upcoming wedding. So I paid $85 for some nice-looking jewelry and somehow got talked into hosting a party myself (I was 7 months pregnant). I ended up backing out of hosting the party a few weeks later because no one who I invited was willing to come (so embarrassing) since they’d all been at the first friend’s party, and after that the Lia Sophia consultant decided I was persona non grata. She cashed my check right away but said I’d get my jewelry when I rescheduled the stupid party. Then I had a newborn and it totally slipped my mind, and the Lia Sophia lady stopped selling a few months later. Convenient, no?

    3. Dinah*

      I like Premier Jewelry too. It’s expensive, but they usually have some sort of sale going on so if you buy a few pieces it cuts down the cost per piece. The parties can be fun too–I’m normally antisocial, but I find it relaxing to shop with my friends and try things on, get opinions, drink wine, etc.

      I personally have never hosted a party because most of the people I know either don’t have that level of disposable income or are allergic to metal. If someone who’s been very helpful to me wants me to have a party, I usually explain this, but as a concession I ask her to help me to pick out a piece to go with a certain outfit and I buy it. (A sale for them is not as spectacular as getting someone to host a party, but every bit counts.) And then, of course, when I get complimented on the piece I make sure to tell who I got it from and how she can be reached.

    4. LAI*

      This doesn’t at all contradict Alison’s advice but I just wanted to chip in and say that I also like the jewelry I have from Premier Jewelry. I have about 5 pieces and everything is good quality. Nothing has broken in the 2 years I’ve been wearing them. It was a lot more expensive than I would have normally spent, but I don’t buy much jewelry and figured it would be nice to have a few fancy pieces. My mom was the hostess and she provided food for everyone (because she loves throwing parties anyway) and I think she ended up getting 3 pieces of jewelry for free and a discount off everything else she bought – it would have cost her a couple of hundred dollars to buy everything she ended up with, so I think she considered it a good deal.

  3. Noah*

    #1 – Ugh, I’ve yet to find anything sold in that manner that is worthwhile. I buy Scentsy products occasionally from a coworker, but even that is generally overpriced. I think the parties put people in an uncomfortable spot because your unsure which rules apply. Normally I will flat out say “I’m not interested in buying anything” but that feels rude when it’s a friend selling stuff at a party.

    1. Danielle*

      Several of those “independent consultant”-type products are moving more towards online “parties” done through Facebook events. I’ve had to get rid of some Facebook friends because all they ever post about is whatever brand of kitsch they’re selling.

      1. SL*


        An acquaintance from college is doing sales for Chloe and Isabel and it’s so. annoying. I hide all her posts and somehow things still slip through the cracks. C+I pretends to be a new, social media-savvy version of an MLM but frankly, I don’t see much of a difference between them and every other MLM out there.

        1. Retail Lifer*

          I sold this for a minute. I wasn’t very good at it because I knew everyone was annoyed by my party invites and all of their other friends’ invites so I just stopped. I knew two people who were excellent at it and made their way up tp regional manager (or whatever the title actually was) and then they got demoted because their “team wasn’t selling enough” (i.e. their pyramid wasn’t strong enough).

          1. SL*

            My acquaintance actually posted about how she’s had people unfriend her because of her C+I posts and how those people “just don’t understand how hard it is to be a small business owner.” Oh, how close I came to unfriending her just for that…

      2. BananaPants*

        The next person from high school who friend requests me and then 30 seconds later adds me to their Younique “party” on Facebook is getting de-friended. If I have not seen or spoken to you in person in 16 years, I’m 99% sure that the only reason you’re contacting me is to sell clumpy spider MLM mascara.

        1. MsChanandlerBong*

          You are amazing. One of my FB friends is always posting two pics, side by side, to show how Younique compares to other mascaras. I ALWAYS think the other product looks better. Human eyelashes are not supposed to look like tarantula legs. It looks awful.

          1. BananaPants*

            I know, with the before/after pictures I much prefer “before”. I have no clue how people think that such awful mascara looks good, especially enough to pay a premium for it!

        2. manybellsdown*

          Ugh, yes, one of my old high school friends sent me a message, and I was delighted to hear from her – and then the message was all about how she’s selling Arbonne. Like, doubly insulting that you haven’t spoken to me in years and then make it clear you only did it to sell stuff! I’d have considered it if she actually had replied to any of my communications in the last 10 years!

          I’ve had to block a cousin as well because all her posts are about this “miracle” Plexus diet stuff.

        1. Kyrielle*

          Arrrrgh Jamberry! I love nail wraps from another company and Jamberry has some very cute designs. I tried them. I didn’t like them. None of my friends sell them directly (that I know), but a couple think they’re awesome and say so regularly. They’re so enthusiastic I just kind of said “they are pretty!” and didn’t mention that I didn’t like them. They’re a royal pain to use compared to the ones I do. (Which are not an MLM and are just, you know, produced and sold.)

          Which is a pity because I really _do_ like some of their looks. :P

            1. Kyrielle*

              Espionage Cosmetics. They’re all (deliberately) geeky tie-ins, some are plain enough to not be obvious, but I really want some more generic ones at times. They’re a basic sticker – no heat needed for application, removal is easy – and with a top coat they can last a couple weeks. (They DO tend to pull off whatever is under them, so I lay down a base coat so that’s not my nails.)

              1. Liza*

                Thanks, Kyrielle! That sounds promising (yay geeky designs). And thanks for the warning about needing a base coat, too.

                The thing I like about the Jamberries is that I can get most of the wrinkles out of them during application because of the heat–my nails are too curvy to have a flat thing lie on them without wrinkles all around the edges. But the application *is* a nuisance.

                We now return you to your regularly scheduled AAM comment thread. :-)

                1. Kyrielle*

                  I couldn’t get enough heat on my Jamberries to get them to flex. They were horrid and stiff! EC’s nail stickers are very thin and flexible and just mold on to my (definitely not flat) nails. They also stretch a little if I need them to (like if I messed up one nail and need to make an almost-big-enough-one work). That’s not exactly the ideal way to do it, but it works. :)

              2. Anna*

                Love Espionage. I have so many of their nail wraps. I supported their second Kickstarter and they will never ask you to buy from their “independent representatives.”

                I haven’t had any issues with them pulling up what’s under them. Just mostly having glue on my nails for days, even when I thought I got it all off.

          1. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

            I love Espionage Cosmetics nail wraps and have supported their kickstarter campaigns…so everyone and their mom now adds me to the jamberry parties >:(

            1. Kyrielle*

              I love EC too! I want some of their wraps in more “generic femme” styles or single colors so badly. Jamberry has some really lovely patterns and colors but they are SUCH a nuisance. The heat aspect. My hair dryer just couldn’t get them warm enough to flex right.

              1. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

                Yes! As much as I love my TMNT nails, sometimes I need something more subtle for work!

        2. AVP*

          I will admit I joined a few jamberry parties because hate-reading the threads was hilarious, but I had to block them after a few weeks. The messages are wayyy too insistent.

        3. MegEB*

          Ugh, Jamberry is ALL OVER my Facebook feed. Their designs look cute and all, but I just have no desire to support MLM-type schemes.

      3. la Contessa*

        The worst for me has been the old high school friend who added me to her Facebook group to sell *ahem* bedroom accessories. I knew that was a thing people did for bachelorette parties and such, but I am absolutely sure that I do not want to buy adult toys on Facebook from a random acquaintance. I do want to know if that is a winning marketing strategy out of pure curiosity, though.

        1. Avery*

          When I worked at a school, we had a parent who sold those products. She gave gift baskets of “sensual massage oil” with risqué names to her kids’ teachers for Christmas. Fortunately, the teacher had a sense of humor!

        2. Kelly L.*

          I had a friend bring me along to an adult toy party she’d been invited to. It wasn’t that bad for me, as I didn’t really know most of the people, but most of the other people there were co-workers. NOPE! How awkward. They tried to make the actual ordering fairly discreet, but in the meantime they wanted you to do all these rah-rah games…about sex…with your co-workers. NOPE!

        3. BananaPants*

          I got invited to one of those parties, along with my husband’s sister and two of their cousins. HELL NO, I don’t want to be in a room with my husband’s closest female relatives having a discussion that has ANYTHING to do with that sort of thing! Nope nope nope.

      4. Lady Bug*

        The ones that are killing me are the fitness, 21-day fix, change your life crap. I’m ready to respond to those “How are you going to change your life today?” posts with pics of me eating donuts.

        1. Ann*

          Wait, that’s a marketing thing?! Someone on my Facebook feed has been posting stuff like that for a month now, and I had no idea what she was talking about. Is it customary for them not to mention the name of the product or company? Because without the product name or the clear statement that she’s selling something, all of her posts have come off like a series of bizarre non-sequiturs.

          Or maybe she’s just bad at sales.

          1. Lizzie*

            It is, because then people will Google it and see it’s an MLM. They do it when they’re recruiting new “coaches” too. I still have the Jobs & Internships group from the university where I got my MSW on Facebook and it seems like every day there’s another sorority stereotype-looking girl trying to offer you “multiple paychecks a month” and a “life changing career” and whatnot … without saying anything about the name of the company.

          1. Lady Bug*

            Yes, that’s what it is! I blocked it out. And maybe Shakeology too? This person is a coach too. Ugh.

            1. Renee*

              I’m pretty sure that Shakeology is a Beachbody product so it would make sense. I hate Beachbody as the reps are always trolling fitness forums for opportunities to send out “helpful” emails.

      5. Mimmy*

        Ugh yes, I have a Facebook friend is a consultant for a company called Thirty-One, and three-quarters of her posts are about that (at least…that’s what FB wants me to see, lol).

        1. Koko*

          A family member of mine got really into Thirty-One. She made some great friends through the company and they make decent products, she gave me a few as gifts over the years, but she was pretty good about never pushing me to buy anything. Unfortunately I think they require their sales reps to buy a TON of inventory up-front with their own money and then resell it, so in the end I think she lost a bunch of money doing it. The stuff can only be sold until it’s declared out-of-season or “retired” and then you’ve just taken a loss on whatever is left unsold. She quit once she had a baby and got too busy to do it, but she still has probably thousands of dollars of Thirty-One merchandise in her attic.

        2. Justcourt*

          Ugh I had never been to an MLM party before I moved across country (Are they regional things?), so when a new friend invited me to a 31 party I had no idea what she was talking about.

          It was so uncomfortable. I do not want nylon/fake leather purses, but I ended up buying a wine holder, which is okay but overpriced. I hate being pressured into spending money, I hate the sales tactics, and I hate how the sales people put pressure on you to host parties.

    2. afiendishthingy*

      A friend recently was at the dentist and the hygienist tried to sell her some kind of skincare line. While she was cleaning my friend’s teeth. So very rude.

        1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

          I would too, and I might change dentists depending on the reaction. Getting your teeth cleaned is sort of intimate (and in my case, carries great risk of pain!) and I’m not sure I’d want someone who was mad at me doing it.

          1. Dynamic Beige*

            From experience: no, angry dental hygienists are the worst. I will never forget that woman and how she treated me. I was so relieved when I went the next time and she was gone.

            But, if she’s pitching you on sales while you’re in the chair and gets angry when you’re not thrilled to buy whatever crap she’s hawking, time to speak directly to the dentist or whoever is in charge. If she can’t put her feelings aside and remain professional, she shouldn’t be working there.

          2. Koko*

            I’m having flashbacks to the dentist I visited who used the opportunity to spout off controversial political views while I was captive.

            1. Tau*

              That reminds me of the time I went to the dentist and they asked me which way I’d be voting in the independence referendum (I was in Scotland). I was so glad we managed to clarify we were on opposite sides of this particular issue before they started mucking about in my mouth with drills.

              I also got asked about the referendum when I went to get my blood drawn and at the hairdresser’s, for that matter, so there must have been something about wielding sharp objects…

        2. afiendishthingy*

          I would too, but she didn’t. Same hygienist told my friend’s husband during his cleaning “Hey, I drive by your house all the time!”

      1. Andrea*

        I can top that. I had a new IUD inserted two months ago, and even though it was my third IUD and I had no previous issues with the other two, the third one was causing some problems. So I called my doctor and she wanted me to come in and have an ultrasound. The woman who did the ultrasound—transvaginal ultrasound, I think it’s called, where they stick the probe right up inside, so it’s extra fun—immediately started in on me about her Premier Designs jewelry company, and asked if I’d like to host a party. I was nice about it, because what else was I going to do in that position (heh, literally), but she just would not stop. I finally said I would think about it, and when I was getting dressed in the adjoining bathroom, she slid a brochure into the back pocket of my purse. The only reason I didn’t complain to the office manager was because this woman looked to be in her late 50s and she told me about how her husband had gotten laid off and he hadn’t found a job, and I thought he must be older, too; plus I know that those MLMs prey on desperate people—and she surely must be pretty desperate, and into them for a lot of money, if she is trying to sell to patients at work. I still feel conflicted about my decision not to say anything to her boss, though. (Luckily my IUD is fine and not causing any problems, but I AM going to find a new doctor.)

        1. AnonInSC*

          I understand why you didn’t complain, but dang – so far that is definitely the worst timing for an approach for a MLM company I’ve ever heard!

        2. dawbs*

          It might be kind (not at all obligatory, but kind) to tell her. Because if you tell her it’s soundly inappropriate and had you considering going to the doctor/changing practices, that gives her a chance to stop BEFORE she ends up with someone as a patient (*cough cough* me*cough*) who would rat her out in a heartbeat and possibly end up w/ her fired.
          (and you have her contact info on that brochure)

          1. Andrea*

            That’s a very kind approach, and one I had not thought of. I don’t know if she will be receptive to it—honestly, she seemed kind of oblivious, my facial expression, my attempts to change the subject, and the fact that I was wearing no jewelry (besides my wedding ring) should have clued her in that I wasn’t interested. (Plus, she kept going on and on about the mission work that Premier does, and that … is definitely not the argument that would ever convince me—and she might have been clued into that possibility by the fact that I’m childfree, but again, she wasn’t at all focused on her audience, it was all about her “pitch.”) But I remember her name and can probably find her Premier page online, and I think you are right, maybe if I kindly give her a heads up, she can make better choices. I definitely didn’t want to be the one getting her in trouble at work (even though of course I know it was her decision to try to sell to me that could have resulted in that).

            1. dawbs*

              I’d be hard-pressed to say “knock it the hell off” when in the stirrups too; a quick “hey, I didn’t appreciate it” email is much easier for me to say.

              (I do know that I lean toward ‘tell the doc’ because I rankled at it being an ultrasound; my last few have been high stres and I can’t imagine the time that those *aren’t* high stress–for mot of us that’s not as routine as donating blood. And it’s pretty vulnerable, being half naked and awkward.
              Not saying that’s an appropriate reaction but…I don’t know, I remember the US where they found a growth that they thought was cancer [spoiler: it wasn’t] and the several USs after that. I wouldn’t have had the fortitude to tell someone off but I would have really really needed a non-sales-y tech)

              1. Andrea*

                You are absolutely right. (Glad things worked out for you, health wise.) A woman dealing with cancer/possible cancer or a difficult pregnancy in that situation would be stressed out enough, and a sales pitch would make it so much worse. And maybe I can prevent something like that happening to someone else. It wasn’t so terrible for me; I was cramping pretty badly, not that she seemed to notice (but maybe she couldn’t do anything about that anyway), but the next woman might be worse off. I found her site and am sending a kind message today. Thanks for the suggestions.

          2. I'm a Little Teapot*

            That’s just what I was thinking. I’d tell her bluntly – after the exam- that her behavior was grossly inappropriate and going to get her fired. (I’d also probably explain to her how exploitative MLMs are.)

        3. Mimmy*

          I’m sorry but that’s completely inappropriate (and, in your case, downright horrible). When you’re performing any sort of test or procedure on me, I want you focused on me–THE PATIENT–not your perfect “pitch”. However, I’m a chicken and probably wouldn’t have the nerve to report it to the doctor / the person in charge.

        4. Jerzy*

          I get you not wanting to cause this obviously vulnerable woman issues, but I cannot imagine being in a position like this and having someone trying to sell me something, because, honestly, the position you were in was far more vulnerable. I’ve had to have this kind of procedure myself, and I think I would have immediately asked for a new tech.

          I’ve stopped seeing a chiropractor I like very much because his receptionist is inappropriate in terms of comments she makes about my choices in how I raise my son (i.e. I work and he’s in daycare). I regret leaving the practice because of her behavior, while I really should have reached out directly to him to complain about her behavior.

      2. Not So Sunny*

        I’ve been hit up at work for Rodin and Fields — so annoying. One of their reps knows my SO and she would not leave him alone — trying to get him to travel to hear someone “at the top” speak. Um, my husband has zero interest in selling skin care, okay? Just stop.

    3. Smelly Pirate Hooker*

      My mom used to be a Tupperware lady, and the kitchen is still full of Tupperware products years later, so I’d say that stuff is pretty worthwhile. I think Cutco knives are pretty good too, although Vector marketing is a douche that likes to pull the ol’ bait n switch with desperate college students and recent grads.

      1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

        I have inherited some of that rocking, indestructible 70s Tupperware from my mom, and I love it. I think things have changed, though, because there are so many MLM companies out there now that people feel bombarded and they know that odds are it is cheap stuff. Also, facebook keeps it in your face all the time, whereas Tupperware parties weren’t encountered several times a day.

        1. TootsNYC*

          my kids’ daycare did Tupperware as a fundraiser, and I slipped a note under everybody’s door that said, “Tupperware without the party!”

        2. schnapps*

          A friend of mine inherited all her grandmother’s tupperware. She sorted out the worn out bits and sent them back to Tupperware and they replaced them for free. Tupperware stands by its lifetime warranty. :)

      2. BananaPants*

        My parents team-sold Tupperware in the very early 80s, so my dad was a “Tupperware lady” for a while. They did it to bring in extra money so my mom could stay at home with me for my first year (for various reasons they thought I would be an only child, which didn’t end up being the case). They were doing 2 parties a weekend for a long stretch of time but never developed a big downline and when mom went back to work they stopped.

        Anyways, they still have and use a few Tupperware pieces from the time they were selling it! Obviously there was no such thing as Internet shopping 30-odd years ago, and they said it seemed like a lot of people actually liked the opportunity to buy a good-quality product that their friends liked. People weren’t overloaded on direct sales/MLM the way they are today where everyone has a friend who sells Thirty One and a cousin who sells Jamberry and a neighbor who sells Norwex and on and on…

      3. Elizabeth West*

        I find vintage Tupperware at flea markets. I’m slowly replacing my lesser storage stuff with it. :) The new stuff is EXPENSIVE, gah. They had a booth at the mall near Christmastime and I peeked and holy wow.

      4. Sarah*

        A friend of mine did Cutco in the summers during college. She actually made a lot of money doing it, but I think that’s mostly because she’s extremely driven and had a good network of parents’ friends to sell to. From what she told me her work environment was kind of strange and highly inappropriate though. I certainly wouldn’t want to work there, and personally really dislike Cutco knives (who makes a knife you can’t sharpen?)

      1. Ann Droid*

        Premiere isn’t an MLM. But in order to sell the jewelry you’ve got to hold a lot of parties, so they provide incentives to the hosts. The more that gets sold at the party means the more free jewelry for the host. I have bought a few pieces. They’ve held up well. But it’s hard to invite people to something where they feel obligated to buy.

  4. Mr Resetti*

    #3 – I’ve seen that happen a few times, and your line, “the whole story is leading to a lot of gossip and is not creating an healthy environment” makes me wonder – Is it actually a healthy environment? I’ve been promoted under the radar twice, and in hindsight it was always for reasons of dysfunctional office politics. But in my current job, a promotion from Teapot Expert to Senior Teapot Expert doesn’t come with any functional changes, so they’re not really hooted and hollered about.

    1. Olive*

      My organization does those “under the radar” promotions sometimes too, usually when the promotion is being given as a pay/title bump with no additional responsibilities. If there’s an organizational change, they announce it. I figured it was because they don’t want to stir up everyone else wanting raises too…but we always find out in the end, and as the OP says there’s usually a bit of questioning and gossip around these title changes, so it seems a bit silly not to just be upfront about it.

      1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

        Quite often these are “under the radar” because as you said, it’s a path to give a pay raise when “there’s a freeze on raises.”

        And it’s felt (very erroneously) that if it’s kept low-key it will prevent others from asking for the same.

        The “problem” comes up when someone is due for a promotion – or feels he/she has earned it but was passed over. And, in IS/IT, the guy or gal that gets the promotion is often the one who has the ability to go out and get another job – and the “promotion” is, effectively, a counter-offer.

    2. Strategies for redesigning the entire manifest universe*

      Yeah: “…my coworker found out that one of our coworkers … was identifying himself with a title above the one that the rest of us were assuming he had. The issue was brough[t] up to HR …” – I get the sense that the coworker who noticed the title change expected W to get disciplined. Which sounds like the behavioral artifact of a dysfunctional office, for sure.

      *shrug* I could be wrong.

      Something I’ve seen is that the announcement of a promotion somehow falls through the cracks and doesn’t happen. Usually the person who got the promotion raises a ruckus and the announcement eventually goes out. But if (for whatever reason) the person doesn’t feel like making an issue of it – it could for sure go unnoticed for quite awhile.

      1. Ad Astra*

        I thought going directly to HR was a strange choice. In that situation, I’d be much more likely to talk to my coworker directly and say, “Hey, did you get a promotion? I saw you were listed as a Teapot Assembly Manager but I thought you were an Associate Teapot Assembler.” It’s possible the OP’s actions weren’t in line with company culture, but it’s also possible that the company culture is one that encourages tattling.

    3. straws*

      I agree. It bugs me that the first course of action was to report it to HR. Why not just ask your coworker? Or even casually mention it to your manager if you’re not comfortable with them? Why escalate it to HR as if it’s some type of policy violation over a briefly headline you stumbled up on the internet?

      1. AnonAnalyst*

        Yeah, that stood out to me, too. Why was the first step reporting it to HR? I can think of a couple of instances in the past where something similar has happened at an office I’ve worked in, and once I asked the coworker if they had gotten a title change, and once I just assumed they had and moved on (the latter was someone I wasn’t particularly friendly with and didn’t particularly like, so I honestly didn’t really care to follow-up on it). In neither case did it occur me to go tell HR that the person was using a different title than I thought they had.

    4. Not an IT Guy*

      When I was “promoted” from warehouse worker to our IT department (and I say that loosely because I was nothing but a seatwarmer in IT for three years), it was never announced. I came to find out later that the IT manager didn’t want anyone in the company to speak to me regarding anything IT related so he tried to keep it under the radar as much as possible.

          1. Not an IT Guy*

            Well, I was presented with the opportunity to make the move with the understanding that I’d get the training along with a formal position within 90 days. So I made the move but the latter never happened. His thinking was “you have no position so no one should be talking to you”, he even went as far as monitoring my emails and yelling at both myself and the sender if I was contacted for issues. He ended up removing me from the IT department and stuck me in sales (which I struggle with) because he assumed I’d be much happier doing that.

  5. Brooke*

    Recently I got a promotion that was mainly a pay bump and title change – no real changes in responsibility, as I’d already been entrusted with some tasks that were above my original “pay grade.” But because I rose to that point fairly quickly, especially compared to some long-term complacent coworkers (who hadn’t even gotten to that level) my manager suggested there wasn’t any particularly good reason to make this change public to my peers, and I agreed. All the mangers knew, though, and gave me subtle pats on the back. :)

    1. Brooke*

      (I should mention that the title change isn’t a terribly significant one; I didn’t change my email signature/etc.)

    2. J*

      My girlfriend works at a very large retailer and does demand planning/ordering and they have level 1, level 2, senior, etc. Not sure how it works at her office but I imagine those promotions don’t get announced because you just keep doing your same job, maybe with a couple new responsibilities, but not enough change to warrant a “public” announcement.

      1. Brooke*

        In my case, there are a few folks that would have made a stink…. the sort of “I’ve been here five times longer than Brooke…” stink, nevermind that I’m five times as productive ;)

  6. super anon*

    #3 – are you sure you aren’t working for Pearson-Spectre-Litt and the employee who got a promotion that wasn’t announced was Mike Ross? ;P

  7. nerfmobile*

    At my company, pay grade promotions while you are remaining in the same position generally aren’t announced. For instance, my job category spans 7 pay grades under the same base title. In theory (though it’s never been actually done) you could go from entry level Teapot Designer (3 grades), to Senior Teapot Designer (2 grades), to Principal Teapot Designer and then Senior Principal Teapot Designer (1 grade each), all holding the “same” job with no public .

    For those who are interested in such things, I’ll note that this is a technical individual contributor track. There is a separate Teapot Design Manager track that branches off at the same pay grades as the Senior Teapot Designer levels. And a lightly populated super-senior individual contributor role (Teapot Design Architect) that has two pay grades starting at the same level as the Senior Principal Teapot Designer. Moves in level/position over to the Teapot Design Manager or Teapot Design Architect tracks would usually involve organizational changes or shifts in responsibility that would be announced.

    1. Jen RO*

      My company doesn’t announce such promotions either, though moving up is usually obvious because your title in the Active Directory (and therefore Outlook, Lync etc) changes (from Associate Teapot Maker to Teapot Maker, for example). Bigger promotions (Teapot Maker to Teapot Maker Team Lead) are usually announced only to the Teapot Making team. The only promotions announced on company-wide lists are the ones that happen at the top (3-4 levels above entry level).

      Either way, I get that it’s a bit weird for Mr. W’s promotion to be kept quiet, but I see his point of view as well – I’m not exactly a private person, but congratulations make me somewhat uncomfortable, so I would welcome a lack of conversation if my promotion was not something earth shattering.

      1. Jen RO*

        And, as a sidenote, my company also “promotes” people to team lead-type positions without any actual change in the org chart. I’ve been TL for almost a year and I’m still listed as a Senior Teapot Maker, even though I can fire/hire, etc.

        I wonder how many people thought that I am lying in my signature…

        1. Indy*

          I worked for a company like this too – everyone in my department besides managers had the same job title within the company, even though Team Leads and seniors had vastly different responsibilities than the operators. It’s hard to explain on my resume how as an operator I managed people – reviews, PIPs, scheduling, hiring, etc.

      2. Mike C.*

        At the same time, it’s really useful for a company and employee morale to say, “Jen has been working really hard, and this is how we reward that sort of effort”.

        I’ve certainly found myself willing to put in the extra effort when I knew there would actually be rewards for it.

        1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

          That’s a good point, and might explain why they didn’t announce it. If the employee in question would feel embarrassed, then it’s reasonable not to recognize him that way.

          1. Anna*

            But it’s not really a matter of whether or not it’s embarrassing to the employee. It’s in the company’s best interest to announce significant promotions, no matter how the employee feels about it. And really, that information is going to come out no matter what, so why not just announce it and have the congratulatory emails rather than have it trickle out and have the conversations about it go on that much longer?

    2. SystemsLady*

      Better than working where I work where the Teapot Design Manager is suddenly the Teapot Projecg and Sales Leader and you’ve gone from Teapot Service Provider to Teapot Project Designer to Teapot Design Specialist all in three years and always doing the same exact thing. We have trouble naming things and sticking to it…

      1. SystemsLady*


        And yes, all of those three titles are accurate in some way at different times, they just finally settled on the most generic and least misleading title for us.

  8. Lizzieb*

    I’m not clear on why Mr. W would be okay with announcing his promotion via LinkedIn but not via an office email. It’s obviously not going to stay a secret if you keep and update a social media page.

    1. LQ*

      I don’t know, you don’t have to promote or publish your changes on LinkedIn. Someone would have to go to your page to see a change. For me this makes total sense. I update my job duties (or whatever they are called) on LinkedIn now and then, but if I coworker came to my page and went OHOHOH! LQ is now doing Tea Pot budgeting too and then told HR and HR was like, yeah…that’s part of her job.

      That seems weird.

      I think part of this is the difference between making a big deal of something, being quiet about it, and keeping it a secret. It doesn’t sound like this was ever intended to be a secret, but rather than W preferred to not make a big stink over it. That seems totally reasonable to me. A prefrence to not climb to the top of the nearest building and scream it out doesn’t mean I don’t ever want anyone to find out. Just that maybe I don’t want a company wide email with 5-50 Congratulations and people stopping me in the hall and all that.

      1. Sadsack*

        It is understandable that Mr. W wanted it to be low-key, given that the people in his department are the type to get personally involved and go to HR about things like this.

        1. LQ*

          I totally agree. I’m hoping for a promotion to finally come through soon and when it does I know my supervisor won’t announce it and that’s ideal for me. Yeah, you can find out, it’s not a secret, but that doesn’t mean it has to be announced if people are going to flip their lids (which to me is what going to HR about someone’s LinkedIn profile is).

          1. Anna*

            I think, though, that people would be less likely to flip their lids if announcements are public and there’s no weirdness around it. If people are flipping their lids, or if there’s worry someone will, that’s a huge indicator of something being off with the company in general or that department specifically.

            1. Cassie*

              Yeah, I feel like the fact that it wasn’t announced makes it seem less than legit. Maybe the coworker thought the Mr. W was misrepresenting his position with the company but didn’t want to create an awkward situation by asking Mr. W directly.

  9. Bluebirds Fly*

    Concerning letter 5, are the rules the same for local government? Our exempt workers have to take time for any amount they’re away from the office and don’t get credit for overtime.

    1. Elysian*

      Getting paid for the time away is different than getting credit for the time as “worked” for purposes of overtime. In most states, unless a contract (like a union agreement) specifies otherwise, you don’t get credit for purposes of calculating overtime for the time you’re away from the office for leave. You may still have to get paid for it though. For example, if you normally work 40 hours a week, and take a half-day of leave (4 hours), and then pick up an extra shift (8 hours), you’ll need to be paid for your full 40 hours, then you can get 4 hours at “straight time” and 4 hours of overtime. All that is fine.

      Though if you’re exempt you’re not usually entitled to overtime anyway, so it doesn’t matter if you get credit for it – the company (government included) can do whatever, pursuant to the agreement you have with them and applicable state laws.

      1. Bluebirds Fly*

        Thanks. It just doesn’t seem right that our exempt staff can work over 40 hours and still lose 3 hours sick or annual leave if taken off during a regular work day when they worked the rest of the day. When it directly affected me, they said “government is different”. It doesn’t directly apply to me any longer, but it keeps tickling my brain. My position was reclassified non-exempt several years ago.

        1. Elysian*

          Yeah, that’s one of the sad things about being exempt at a company that keeps strict time. Depending on your company, it may just mean you get to work overtime hours without getting paid, making 40 hours a floor instead of the general expectation.

        2. Ask a Manager* Post author

          That’s actually not uncommon outside of government too.

          The only rule that I can think of around exempt/non-exempt that’s different for government is that they’re actually allowed to let non-exempt workers get comp time (instead of overtime pay), which is prohibited for everyone else.

  10. Oryx*

    It’s not clear if #3 OP went to HR or the co-worker who found the title change, either way it bothers me that the initial response was to go directly to HR. Why not just ask Mr. W? Or a manager? Going to HR suggests that the person doing the reporting wanted Mr. W to be reprimanded for this, which is concerning.

  11. Katie the Fed*

    #1 – I tell people flat out that I don’t support Multi-level-marketing businesses on principle. If they ask why I’ll explain that they’re predatory, that most people involved lose money, and I don’t want to alienate my friends by pushing them to buy from me.

    1. Mike C.*

      I really hate that stuff – sales is gross in general, but now it’s your friends or family doing this??

      Ugh Ugh Ugh, no! And then you get the manipulative, cult like behaviour.

    2. Christy*

      How does that work for the pushiest sellers? I suppose that they’re the ones I should be least concerned with offending, but I don’t want them to push harder.

      At my old position, the contractor in the cube next to me pushed Melaluca (sp?) on everyone. I demurred every time because I didn’t want to have a confrontation with her. (She was a confrontational person who never really did work and spent a lot of the day on the phone with debt collectors.) I was so relieved when she was fired and I didn’t have to deal with her anymore.

      1. Katie the Fed*

        Luckily, this stuff is banned at work – you can’t use government resources (time) to promote your own business. So I’d probably say something like “Oh, you know – we shouldn’t be discussing this. I wouldn’t want anyone to get in trouble with the IG (inspector general).”

        Facebook I just unfriend people if they’re pushy like that.

        1. Ad Astra*

          I think my (private) company also has a policy against using company time/resources to promote an unrelated business venture.

      2. Hlyssande*

        Pushy MLM salespeople are the worst.

        Melaleuca actually does have some really great products, but I’m pretty sure you can buy direct from their site if you really want things. Or find a non-pushy acquaintance you can just contact if you want more. That’s what my mom did.

        I have a cousin who sells Rodan + Fields products and she does post it on FB a little more often than I’d like, but it’s not even in the same boat as the Jamberry “parties” everywhere. UGH JAMBERRY.

        1. Retail Lifer*

          I have a friend who sells Shakeology but rarely promotes it on Facebook. The occassional post is fine, and because she’s not inviting me to a party every other day I might actually buy some from her.

          1. Hlyssande*

            Honestly, the no pressure low key sales tactic is the best possible way to get people to not automatically avoid everything to do with the products.

            When Jamberry first became a thing I was somewhat interested in some of the designs. But now I don’t want anything to do with it, at least in part because of very pushy facebook friends.

            1. Retail Lifer*

              I also have a friend who sells Ava Anderson, who makes nontoxic cosmetics, cleaning supplies, and some other stuff. I actually really do like the products, and her Facebook posts are more informational than sales-pitchy (and are actually based on facts). Unfortunately, I don’t think most of the products out there can be sold with facts and information, so the reps have to go the pushy, annoying route.

              1. Kelly L.*

                Part of the problem is that all of those layers of hierarchy add a ton of markup, so the products end up being way too expensive for their quality, and now customers have a lot of other options. This stuff worked back in the 60s, maybe, but it just doesn’t now, and all the real money is in recruiting.

      3. Elizabeth West*

        Oh the melaluca thing. Grr. I had a relative who was doing that once. She was in California visiting family when I lived there. She came by my work to have lunch with me and spent the entire time talking about only that. I was rather disgusted, because I wanted to catch up, and no amount of redirection could get her off it. :\

    3. NickelandDime*

      All of this Katie. Then people want to start acting funky with you when you don’t want to participate. Oh well. It doesn’t hurt my feelings, it just gives me additional information on how you operate professionally and personally.

    4. OriginalEmma*

      In high school a buddy of mine was pushing vitamin supplements (coQ 10 being the big one). In college, the first time I met another friend’s family, her dad tried to sell me some MLM nonsense. What a surprise that this friend whose dad tried to sell me stuff would pop up periodically after college to “catch up! it’s been so long!” but really trying to sell me Pure Romance nonsense.

    5. NickelandDime*

      You know what else I find annoying? When these people scour the internet for any mention of this kind of thing, and pop into blogs and message boards they’ve never visited in their life to talk about their wonderful experiences with this stuff and how awesome the products are and how fun these “parties” are.

  12. Three Thousand*

    I’m really bothered by the recurrence of managers holding references hostage or employees believing they will. It’s just not a concept I ever became familiar with before starting to read AaM. I guess I can hope if there are enough dishonest, underhanded managers who would actually lie about an employee’s performance out of spite, even for something as simple as wanting to punish them for leaving or not participating in pyramid schemes, the word of a former manager will start to be second-guessed and seen as less valuable.

    1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

      That might not be happening here, though. Lots of MLM people will ask just about anyone they know to host a party. It sounds more like OP is worried she might be obligated, but it doesn’t sound from the letter like the manager made any threats about the quality of her reference if OP doesn’t agree to a party.

      1. neverjaunty*

        She probably doesn’t have to. The unspoken obligation/worry about a reference is right there.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I think this is more about the manager in this case not realizing that she’s triggering that worry in the OP. She probably figures she’s not her manager anymore so there’s no power dynamic, without thinking about the reference issue.

      1. OP#1*

        Allison– Could you delete my previous comment? I just realized my photo showed up with my e-mail address and I want to keep it as anonymous as possible. Sorry and thank you!

    3. OP#1*

      This was my predominant anguish in making a decision. She’s only someone I know in a strictly professional setting; we are not friends by any stretch of the imagination, and the only favor she’s done for me was serve as a reliable phone reference maybe three times. I didn’t mention it in the initial question to AAM, but I felt conned from the beginning because she sent me a text out of nowhere to say she’s starting a business and needs a big favor, with no further elaboration. She refused to text or e-mail her favor request, insisting on talking to me on the phone on a weekday evening. Now I realize it was because it’s much harder to say no on the phone where unlike in writing, it’s easier to gloss over important details and pressure someone to immediately respond. Anyway, she talked to me on Thursday; I told her I’d get back to her in the next week. She contacted me both Saturday and Sunday this weekend about it AGAIN. Pretty pushy!

      1. NickelandDime*

        See, I hate this. Be very direct and tell her you don’t have time and you aren’t interested. Don’t feel pressured into doing this!

      2. Ad Astra*

        Oh, gross. You really are not indebted to someone because they served as a professional reference a few times.

  13. kirsten*

    #1 – there is nothing I hate more than multi-level marketing. It’s not a business, it’s a pyramid scheme. I always felt bad for my friends throwing the “parties” and went and bought something I didn’t want. Now that I am older I am more comfortable saying no to people trying to sell stuff.

  14. Micole Kaye*

    Alison, I read your blog almost every day, if not every day. Your insight and suggestions are very helpful to so many people! Thanks for reading, writing, and managing!

  15. I Like Jewelry*

    I own a few pieces of Cookie Lee jewelry that I bought from a former co-worker and I love them. I have had these pieces for 6 years and have not had a problem with them. My former co-worker (lets call her Mrs. J) had a jewelry party at another co-workers home (Mrs. I) and all the ladies in the office were invited to the party which was on a Saturday around 2 PM.
    Mrs. I had lots of yummy snacks, wine, juice and desserts for all of us to enjoy. I had a very nice time!

    1. NickelandDime*

      I’m glad you had fun and like your accessories, but any insight into helping the OP, who might feel some pressure to do something she doesn’t want to do because of a professional relationship? She’s worried about not offending this woman.

        1. Kelly L.*

          So then you should have a Facebook party!!! (joking, but it’s probably the next thing the salesperson will suggest)

          1. Retail Lifer*

            I actually don’t mind those. No effort, really. I got a bunch of free stuff for the one I hosted!

            1. Xanthippe Lannister Voorhees*

              I think we may be in the minority, but I actually like the facebook parties too! I don’t feel actual pressure to buy, if there’s too much posting go on I can turn off the notifications, and occasionally I do find something that I want to buy (I am a sucker for anything with tiny reindeer print, so Jamberry has my number!).

              The real-life friend who calls me to “catch up” but actually doesn’t care about my life, just if she can talk more about her MLM and the people who make constant posts about how my job must be sad and horrible because I’m “stuck” with a 9-5… those are the ones I loathe.

      1. PontoonPirate*

        I’d probably make up a gentle redirection, like: “You know, I asked some of my friends about their availability, but they’ve all mentioned that lately they’ve been receiving invitations to a lot of [Scentsy/31/Avon/whatever] parties, so I think they’re stepping back from home-based parties right now. And to be honest, that’s not really the kind of relationship I have with my friends. Good luck though!”

        1. pony tailed wonder*

          That is a great solution!

          And if it is make up, you could buy a cheap lip gloss if you are too timid to say no. Then just take a catalog and say you are going to give it to a friend.

          As an aside, I buy Avon bubble bath and it is great stuff but I would never go to a party to buy it. I just told my rep to let me know when it is BOGO time for it and he does.

          1. Retail Lifer*

            I buy a couple of things though May Kay and I do the same thing. She lets me know when stuff I like is on sale or if there is a deal onsomething I might be interested in, based on my purchase history. She completely leaves me alone outside of that, so I’ll buy from her forever.

      1. Retail Lifer*

        Seriously…just say your place is too small to host anything. If there are kids or pets, blame them as well.

    2. Ad Astra*

      I can enjoy snacks, wine, juice and desserts at my own house, without being pressured to buy stuff. Actually, I can also buy jewelry from my own house. So I think I’d take a hard pass on an event like this, particularly if it was mostly coworkers and not my actual friends.

  16. TootsNYC*

    #3, the “private” promotion.

    I learned a lesson on this front recently: the announcing of promotions has meanings and messages WAY beyond the individual.

    A full-time staffer left, and I recruited a contract worker to take the spot. He hates hates hates the “welcome new staffer!/congratulate promoted worker!” chains of emails, and he asked me to not send an email out.

    I was trying to be a cool and considerate boss, so I didn’t.

    MY boss called me in and said,”Where’s the email?” And he pointed out, sending the email would quell rumors about whether the company was cutting staff by not replacing the person who resigned, etc. And it sends a message that the company values its contract workers, etc.

    It made me realize, there all sorts of undercurrents that my new full-timer and I hadn’t thought about. It also would cement his authority with people far enough away that they wouldn’t be aware he was now “more credible” (annoying, but often people don’t respect freelancers the way they do full-timers).

    It’s a business matter, and it should be open.

    1. Cassie*

      I don’t like those “welcome aboard!” emails either, but the information does have to get distributed and unfortunately, the emails are probably the best option. Maybe keeping the email simple and devoid of overly touchy-feely sentiments would be a good compromise?

      Our dean sends out letters to announce new department chairs and he uses the same exact letter so they are all the finest educator and scholar in their field :)

  17. MsM*

    #1: If you’re not comfortable just saying “Sorry, not my thing,” maybe something like “Hey, so I asked around, and the only response I got was from people who’ve had a bad experience with the product. I guess my crowd’s just not the right audience for this kind of thing. Good luck!” would do the trick? If she asks to talk to those people, you can just tell her they weren’t comfortable having their information shared, and hopefully that’ll be the end of it. Or if you’re really lucky, she’ll follow up on the reviews herself and decide on a different side business.

  18. Chickaletta*

    #5- FMLA actually applies to companies with 50+ employees within a 75 mile radius. The second part is key, because for example, you could work at a satellite office with 10 people for a company that has 2,000 people at headquarters 300 miles away, and you would not be entitled to FMLA. (That’s how three women at my former employer, including myself, lost their jobs after having a baby. Fun times!)

  19. a*

    #2 – I had a similar problem, where my manager told me when she hired me that she’d contact me about starting. I didn’t hear anything from her on the weekend, so on Monday I called and asked if she knew when I could start. She said, “Today!” When I went in one of my coworkers asked why I wasn’t there yesterday. I figured I had misunderstood what my manager told me, so I went to her and apologized for missing the first day.

    A couple weeks later, the same thing happened with the next person they hired. They scheduled his first day and never told him, so he didn’t show up.

  20. Kassy*

    On the answer to #5, I’m a little confused…I thought on previous posts on this site, I had read that an employer had to pay an exempt employee for a full week if they worked any part of the week. Can someone clarify for me? I thought I finally had the exempt vs non-exempt thing down!

    1. doreen*

      It’s in Alison’s answer- the employer doesn’t have to pay if the employee takes a full day off for personal reasons other than sickness or disability. An exempt employee’s pay can’t be docked is she/he gets in 3 hours late due to car trouble- but if the car trouble causes a full day absence, the employee doesn’t have to be paid for that day.

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