A month or so ago I was suckered by a new age hiring scam. It’s a funny story…Let me tell ya:
Let me set the scene for you. It was two weeks before the end of April and I was in the process of moving back to Atlanta, Ga from Fayetteville, Nc. My enlistment with the United States Air Force was completed on March 30, 2012 and I opted not to “re-up” [The reasoning behind not re-enlisting is a whole nother bag of cats that I may or may not cover in a post.]. I wasn’t moving because I wanted to leave Fayetteville, I was moving back to Atlanta because I did not have any other viable choice. Hell, I wanted to go wherever I could earn a paycheck. I had begun applying to other jobs the moment I realized my enlistment was about to end. Low and behold one day prior to my departure I found an invitation to an interview in the spam folder of my e-mails [Google truly knows best]. I thought to myself “What the Fuck….” If I hadn’t checked this thing I’d be out of a job right now. I immediately replied and set up my interview time and date. I was interviewed by a middle aged Armenian man by the name of Harout Gapikia. He was a dick to say the least. It didn’t matter though because he offered me a job as a car salesman. I was so happy. I told all of my friends. My “girlfriend” at the time [the girl from Banana] was ecstatic because she was very broken up about me leaving. I was set to start training on the next Wednesday. I scrambled to make contingency living plans. I had already scheduled for my power and water to be shut off at the end of the month. I’d also already wiggled out of my lease. In my mind these were minor problems that could easily be fixed by my new earning potential of $100K/ year.
Day 1 of “Training”
Being that I am a motivated bright young lad I hopped out of bed two hours prior to the scheduled meeting time. I wanted to make sure that everything went perfect since this was my only opportunity at employment. As I was arriving at the dealership I got caught at a light. I looked to my left and who did I see? Harout…driving a rented 2012 Dodge Charger. That didn’t make much sense to me seeing as he worked for a Rick Hendrick’s Toyota.I payed it no mind. As I stepped into the dealership I saw what seemed to be a sea of other new hires. That didn’t make much sense to me either. In all it was about 15 people. I had never seen any establishment hire 15 people at one time. I figured to myself that it was going to be a competitive hiring process. Game on. After about thirty minutes of waiting on Harout and the arrival of an additional seventeen “new hires” we were all lead to a conference room in the dealership. Harout came to the front of the room and started his spill. There was nothing out of the ordinary, cell phones, make sure you write down everything, there will be a test, etc. Shortly after his introduction Harout gave us a “break” of five minutes. I smelled this one coming a mile away. Again, I was in the mindset of “competitive hiring” so I knew he was looking to cut some people right of the bat. We all left and came back. There were two “new hires” that came back after the allotted break time. Harout wouldn’t even open the door for them. He retrieved their things and told them “Good luck on your future endeavors…”. That set the tone for the rest of the day. You could have heard a mouse pissing on cotton in there. He began his spill again and somewhere in there he stated ” You are on Automax time now…don’t waste it”. Bing…another red flag went off in my mind. What the hell was Automax? At this point there were enough red flags for me to be suspicious. Why would Rick Hendrick’s Toyota bring in a hire/fire firm and not give the guy a rental car? Why were there 30 “new hires”? By the time the lunch break came around we were down 3 people. I made a friend by the name of Daniel Wheeler. We chatted about his engagement, his 7 year old daughter and how he was so grateful for this opportunity because his unemployment checks had run out. He also told me that he was giving up another opportunity in Texas to become a truck driver for this job.
The rest of the day was a blur of car salesman training treachery. We were given an “open book” test on what had been taught so far. Harout was basically teaching us how to con people into paying the most for any car. Things like leaving people sitting for long periods of time to make them anxious and/or nervous, and adding tax, tag and title after a negotiated price was agreed upon to hike the final price. It was a mess. At the end of the day I didn’t know how to feel about it all. Something just didn’t sit right with me about the whole thing. I went home, went over my notes and went to sleep.
At about 3 am the next morning I popped up out of my sleep. I laid back down but couldn’t get back to sleep. This whole thing was irking me. I remembered earlier that I’d made a a mental note to Google “Automax” and got up to do so. What I found hurt me dearly.As I was typing in “Automax” the word “scam” auto-populated into my search. I went to the first three websites and read about how numerous people had been duped by the hiring scam. The breakdown of the scam is as follows:
- Automax is hired by a shady dealership to hire a few new people at no cost to the dealership.
- Automax comes in and advertises locally to hire new salesman.
- Automax interviews and “hires” a large group of people.
- Automax “trains” this group for three days.
- On the last day the jig is up. The dealership takes the ones they like (supposedly). Everyone is given a “certificate of training”, asked to pay $299 for their “training” and offered employment 50 miles away at other “Automax trained dealerships”.
- For those that pay they, are given a time and location in which to meet their new bosses and upon arrival they find out that they were never hired.
- The Automax trainer goes back to wherever he came from never to be heard from again in that city.
I was outraged. Here I was bragging to my friends and family about how I was starting a new career as a car salesman and the whole time it had been a scam. I wanted to cry. Luckily, I’d had the mind to not alter any of my plans until I had signed actual hiring paperwork. I spent the rest of the night planning on how I was going to corner Harout the next day in “training” and bust up the scam in front of the class. I didn’t go to bed until about 5 am. Needless to say I woke up late and was unable to make it to the class on time. I was undeterred. I was not only angry for myself, I was angry for Daniel. He was counting on this “job” to support his family and had given up on an actual job offering to be apart of this scam. Ugggghhhh I was livid. I called my best friend Jamaal on the way to the dealership:
Me: Bruh…I am about to go flip some tables over at Rick Hendrick’s Toyota. If you don’t hear from me in the next two hours I need you to come bail me out of jail…
Jamaal: Wait… what?? What happened?
Me: It’s too much to explain right now, I just need you to wait for my call and if it doesn’t come, come bail me out.
Jamaal: Aight…I guess.
Me: Cool *click*
When I arrived at the dealership I could feel my rage building. I hurried up the stairs and rounded the corner to the conference room. I stopped just outside the conference room to take a picture for this article. I made eye contact with Daniel and he looked at me bewildered. The front door was locked so I made my way to the back door. As I was opening the door to go in and fuck some shit up, Daniel popped out of the front door. I approached him and gave him the breakdown of what was going on. He told me that he had figured something was up and had already taken the job in Texas just in case. He said that he had come to the class anyway just to see how it would pan out. I was relieved for him and my rage subsided. I walked back down the stairs and out of the dealership at peace. On my way out I stopped a floor salesman:
Me: Hey, when you were hired here did you go through the Automax training and pay the $299 dollars at the end?
Me: That’s what I thought…thank you.
I called Jamaal back and filled him in on what I had discovered. As I was telling the story I got angry all over again. I was mad at myself now for not going through with my plans and turning over some tables, but figured it was best that I didn’t.
And now I’m in Atlanta, still looking for a job…