HRS Invictus: Scamming young graduates into unpaid sixty hour work weeks.
Picture the scene. You’re at home, relaxing in the living room after another grueling day in the office, sinking into the first bite of your home made meal. You hear a pounding on the front door. YOUR front door. Interrupting you in the privacy and sanctity of your own home. You open to be greeted by a suited and booted gentleman claiming that you’re spending too much on your utility bills. Annoying right? Well imagine the flip side – a recent University graduate, desperately looking for their first post study full time job, willing to snap up the first promise of progression and high salaries which comes their way. Combine the two, and you get HRS Invictus.
Nikesh Patel’s young company came to my attention through an innocent enough posting on Linkedin, where they were seeking Marketing assistants. It seemed attractive enough – the promise of assisting in marketing campaigns of an unnamed “internationally recognized client” using targeted marketing techniques. For those of you who are unaware, “targeted marketing” implies that a marketing company have researched – extensively – a products target audience and devises campaigns to appeal directly to this chosen demographic. An example of this would be the giveaway campaigns our website has run across Social Media, where we identify the people who would be interested most in winning our competitions and visiting our website. This is how Invictus advertised this specific role, and this is what the other fifteen applicants alongside me had applied for.
The initial interview process was straight forward enough; a quick screening interview lasting, at most, ten minutes before ringing back that same day to invite successful candidates to a second interview at an “Open Day”. A day in which we could observe the “marketing team” and have any inquiries about the role & company answered. A day, which would last from 11am to 8pm; nine unpaid hours. In this instance, the “team” consisted of one person, a lad in his early twenties, ready to assess the competency of the four applicants assigned to him. We were quickly ushered out of the two room office space within Leeds’ Oxford House to be stood outside and informed that the four of us were in direct competition with each other. One of us would be asked to leave early into the day and we would be taking a bus (yes, we were asked to pay for our own fares) to the other side of the city, to observe the work successful applicants would be expected to do. Imagine that. A hugely successful and profitable marketing company (as we had rammed down our throats on numerous occasions) having their valuable and trusted employees use public transport to take valued applicants away from the offices where these second interviews were to be held, carting them off miles away to the far end of the city where one unsuccessful candidate would be sent away – presumably forced to make their own way back to the city centre.
In our groups case, we were being ferried off to Crossgates – not too far away from the centre of Leeds. However, one unlucky Reddit user was required to go even further – needing to travel by train to Huddersfield, and by bus towards a housing estate.
“I think we’re walking to an office. Carlton then takes out a blue neon jacket, puts on a name badge, and starts knocking on people doors and talking to them about overpaying their energy bill. I get it: This is door to door selling. But how is [the job] sold? As an incredible business opportunity. As something only us lucky few, 5 of us from 25+ who interviewed, we’re good enough to witness!”
[Read the rest of Ambreen’s experience here]
As we were being instructed to board the bus, I decided enough was enough; directly asking our ‘guide’ exactly what sort of work we would be observing. I was hurriedly told he would explain on the way, trying again to usher us onto the bus. No answer. I tried again with an even more direct question, asking whether we would Street Selling or knocking on peoples front doors and that the majority of applicants probably hadn’t signed up to do this. He shot me a glare before rushing ahead onto the bus but his lack of an answer spoke volumes of their intentions. I elected to leave, choosing not to waste any more of my time; thankfully, I noticed a few other applicants from different groups took this as their cue to also leave.
After delving a little further into the company I discovered inconsistencies in their pitch to applicants.
Whilst being led to catch our bus, we were told of the highly profitable relationship Invictus enjoys with Broadband provider Talk-Talk. According to our guide, their partnership began in 2012 and Invictus assisted Talk-Talk in acquiring 56% of their 4.2 million customer boom. Impressive right? This is a company that clearly gets things done on a drastic scale! Companies should be lining up to acquire the marketing acumen Invictus provides surely? Well, actually, no. A quick look at Patel’s (HRS Invictus CEO) Linkedin page provides evidence that this story has as much factual basis as Little Red Riding Hood.
“I founded HRS Invictus in October 2016 in London, now we have expanded into two other locations including Leeds and Maidstone.”
The plot thickens somewhat after a quick glance at the HRS Invictus company Linkedin page, where it gives an alternative founding date:
Want to be confused even further? Surf on over to their eyesore of a website, you’ll find a third alternative founding date!
“Since starting in London in 2008, we have expanded into multiple markets worldwide. HRS Invictus now has access to a network consisting of more than 3000 sales and marketing professionals that represent our clients in over 700 locations across 17 countries worldwide.”
So which is it guys? 2008? 2016? 2017? The whole idea that a company which consists of 11-50 employees has somehow expanded across 17 countries worldwide; yet, despite their success, are only able to maintain ‘offices’ in Leeds and Maidstone makes this whole scenario feel more than a little far-fetched.
Reviews don’t make pleasant reading for HRS Invictus either, a small number of the many negative reviews relating to this company will be posted below, but to summarise the most worrying points raised:
- Little to no base salary – one review states minimum wage as a rate of pay, whereas others state income is completely commission based.
- Ridiculously long hours – Working hours are strictly 10am – 10pm, six days a week.
- Useless ‘Open Day’ – Candidates will observe door to door sales. Most candidates will be hired as Invictus are desperate for door to door/street sales people.
- “Opportunities are limited” lie – Company is constantly pumping out job advertisements with slight differences in wording to reach more job seekers.
- No holiday pay, sick pay, bank holidays
- No Contract – Absolutely no job security offered.
- Misleading/Non-Existent job titles
- UNPAID TWO WEEK TRAINING PERIOD –
So, if you’re a University graduate take the advice from countless other young adults in your position. Avoid HRS Invictus at all costs, you’re worth more than being flung into potentially dangerous areas of cities, completely alone, disturbing people in the comfort of their own homes.
We’ve offered HRS Invictus the opportunity to comment on this article. At this time, no comment has been forthcoming.
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