|Industry||Multi-level marketing, perfume|
Scentura also known as Scentura Creations is a perfume company based in the city of Chamblee, Georgia, within the Atlanta metropolitan area. The firm is a multilevel selling company which manufacturers inexpensive imitations of designer fragrances. Independent salespeople are sent out, often in pairs, to sell perfume door-to-door, in parking lots, malls, or in other retail stores.
Larry Hahn is the founder of Scentura Creations. The company itself began in 1975 as W.M. Industries Inc. (WMI). WMI was a door-to-door retail business which sold products such as luggage, toys and perfume.
In a 1984 motivation film, Hahn described his early experience:
Fifteen years ago I slept in my car, and I had no finances, I had no education, and I just said one day, if I could hook myself to the proper vehicle to get a break in life and make some money, I would help other people.
In 1975, with loans from friends, Hahn purchased his first product: 31-piece sets of bakeware. For several years Hahn trained new recruits himself. By the 1980s there were thousands of distributors.
Every manager and perfume salesperson must first sign an independent contract. Scentura representatives state that because these are independent contractors, Scentura is not responsible for either the ads or the tactics used by salespeople. Linda Fucci, a former administrative aide to Hahn and distributor, stated that "The independent contractor concept was preconceived before the first truck load was ordered in. It was already planned out before we ever opened up."
Scentura distributors recruit salespeople by placing classified advertisements in the employment section of the newspaper under the heading of "Management". Turnover tends to be very high. Training is from six to eight weeks.
Sometimes, new salespeople are promised large salaries and are later disappointed to discover that the actual position has no salary and is a 100% commission job. The only income is from selling knock off perfume door-to-door or in parking lots. Employees are also sometimes encouraged by independent distributors to lie about the products they are selling. Independent salespeople have been in trouble with police for soliciting without a permit.
In 1999 Scentura Creations, Inc sued Daniel J. Long, a former distributor, for $31,236.44, the cost of perfume which had been delivered to distributors recruited by Long. In 2001, the Illinois Appellate Court ruled that the contract between Scentura and Long was a "pyramid sales scheme", violated the law and was unenforceable under the Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act. The appellate court ruled that Long was not liable for products in the possession of other distributors.
- Stieffel, Kristen (September 2001). "Perfume Bandits. (Fake Perfume Offered In Parking Lots)". Orlando Business Journal. 18 (16): 23. "Scentura is described by the Better Business Bureau as a "multilevel selling company." The firm manufacturers inexpensive imitations of designer fragrances. Salespeople are sent out, often in pairs, to hawk the product door-to-door or, yes, in parking lots."
- Thomas Jr., E. (5 October 1987). "Who Wants To Be Rich? Larry Hahn: From Sleeping In A Car To A $5 Million Home". Atlanta Business Chronicle. 10 (19): 1 (5).
- Atlanta Business Chronicle, "None of their sales managers or salespeople, the people in the field, were on salary," says Gordan Gates, former WMI executive vice president. “They were all independent contractors."
- "Dream Jobs That Turn Out To Be Nightmares". 11 February 2002. Archived from the original on January 7, 2003.
- WFTV Orlando Channel 9, "All the companies sell perfume made by Scentura Creations in Atlanta, which says it has nothing to do with the way its independent contractors do business."
- Atlanta Business Chronicle, "Independent firms purchase products from W.M. Industries or Scentura Creations and sell the directly to people in their offices, on the street and in their homes, The direct vendors of WMI products work for the independent firms not the central office."
- The Palm Beach Post, "The manufacturer of the perfume she was supposed to sell, Scentura Creations of Chamblee, Ga., accepts no responsibility for the actions of independent distributors who sell its product, said Vice President Bob Hasty."
- Atlanta Business Chronicle, "...Former managers point out that turnover of salespeople was high in their offices. “We had very few that would stay with us for a long period of time." Fucci says, “You never could back off from recruiting."
- Flannery, Thomas L (March 07 1997). "There’s Big Dollars In Street Scents". Intelligencer Journal (Lancaster). "'Crazy, Greedy ... Must like $$$, music and fun. Office and general work. Call Warren ... ,' reads Jentis' ad in all three local newspapers.", "Jentis said hundreds of people have passed through his doors, but admittedly few make the cut. One training class started with about 70; five remain.", "...the fledgling salespeople begin a four--to eight-week training program"
- "Company Leaves Perfume Peddlers Feeling Betrayed". WFTV Orlando Channel 9. 20 July 2004. Archived from the original on November 2, 2008. "They promised us that we would be making $30,000 a year," she says...There was no paycheck, but they could make a few bucks profit on each bottle sold.
- The Palm Beach Post, "The interviewer said she had the qualifications to make $30,000 and more with the company-- if she could commit immediately...Butterworth asked about the $30,000 job an interviewer had mentioned. A recruiter told her, 'Don't worry about it, Pam. It's going to work out.' But it never did. The job was selling knockoffs of designer perfume door to door for a commission of $2 to $9 per bottle."
- Columbus Ohio Dispatch, "The sellers, for example, said they were promised a weekly paycheck of $295 or more."
- Noblesville Eyewitness News They said we're going to make like $75,000 the first year,' recalls Dan Penale.
- Richmond Times - Dispatch (2002), "But, she said she had trouble getting straightforward answers to how much money she'd make and whether the job involved selling, which she did not want to do."
- Richmond Times - Dispatch (2000), "When you first starting working for them, they say you get paid at least $200 a week...The only money I made was from perfume I sold on the street"
- Intelligencer Journal, "After about two months, Jentis said that 'successful' salespersons are offered contracts with annual salaries ranging from '$30,000 to $35,000 and a car,' and that free vacations are commonplace."
- WFTV.com, "...recruits like Shelby Sillen claim they were trained to lie and tell people they just left a perfume show and had to sell at cost...When another woman from EOE approached us, while we were undercover, to make a sale, suddenly the perfume "knock-offs" were the actual designer fragrances."
- Atlanta Business Chronicle, "An El Paso County, Texas, police report from April states: “The subjects [alleged to be] ‘Managerial agents' for W.M. Industries, had employees selling their products on a door-to-door sales campaign and all were purporting that their products were manufactured by the authentic companies who also manufacture the trade name products."...A 1986 complaint filed in the Iowa District Court for Polk County by the State of Iowa...making false, deceptive and/or misleading statements to potential customers about the nature of the transaction and the origin of the goods being sold...
- "4 cited for criminal trespass". The Daily Collegian Online (Penn State). 22 October 1991. Archived from the original on June 26, 2004.
- The Palm Beach Post, "Another time, her group stopped at a Jacksonville mall and approached strangers there to buy perfume, keeping an eye out for cops who might ask questions about permits."
- Columbus Ohio Dispatch, "But instead of offering to buy, Bogey Inn managers called police. The salespeople were a nuisance, restaurant managers said, and had no license to sell. They were asked to leave and not return...Aston and the others were operating illegally when they sold their perfumes without peddler licenses throughout Columbus and some other central Ohio cities."
- Intelligencer Journal, "Hardly a day goes by, said the Downtown Investment District bicycle police officers, when they don't cite one or more of Jentis' crew for soliciting without a permit...DID Police said most are repeat offenders and face fines between $50 to $600 on each daily charge."
- "Scentura Creations, Inc. vs. Daniel J. Long". Appellate Court of Illinois Second District. Retrieved 2006-01-10.
- Illinois Compiled Statutes
- Resources for further research on Scentura Creations
- Richmond Times-Dispatch, Va., Consumer Watch Column 06/08/2002 Richmond Times-Dispatch (Richmond, Virginia).
- Turnbull, Lornet (4 March 2002). "Perfume-Selling Operations Smell Like Scam, Women Say". Columbus Ohio Dispatch.
- "If it sounds too good to be true". Eyewitness News Noblesville, Indianapolis.
- "Perfume jobs smell fishy, BBB says". New Orleans Channel 6.
- Taylor, Iris (9 June 2002). "Know What You Are Applying For When Answering A Want Ad". Richmond Times - Dispatch.
- "Perfume Purveyors Are Real Thing, Even If The Myth Isn't". Richmond Times - Dispatch. 6 December 2000.
- Madore, James T. (28 March 1992). "Perfume Sales Just A Smelly Scam? Young People Say Amherst Company Fails On Training, Pay Promises". Buffalo News. Alternate link
- Madore, James T. (13 June 1992). "Former Employees Cheer Reports Perfume Firm Is Out Of Business". Buffalo News. Alternate link
- Chievrue, Kim (22 June 2001). "Perfume Sales Company Recruits In Munster, Indiana". The Times (from Munster Indiana).
- Eardley, Linda (22 June 1993). "Ads Spur Warning On Jobs Company's Internship Is Sales Spot, BBB Says". St. Louis Post - Dispatch.
- "Workers Say Perfume Business Stinks Employees Sell Knockoff Perfume". 14 February 2002.
- Elmore, Charles (27 July 1992). "Too True To Be Good". The Palm Beach Post.
- "Officials: Scent Of Fraud Lingers In Sales Scheme". The Atlanta Journal Atlanta. 15 February 1996.
- "Team 4 Investigates Perfume Scheme". WTAE TV Channel 4 Pittsburgh. 23 November 2004.