Students unite against Vector

Alisha Gore

A company that recruits college students nationwide to sell Cutco kitchen knife sets via in-home demonstrations has come under fire in recent years. The company, Vector Marketing, has been accused of unethical and misleading business practices. The company has been sued twice in the past 15 years. The first lawsuit was filed against the company in 1990 by the Arizona Attorney General. The second lawsuit was filed against the company in 1999 by the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission. In 1994, the company was also ordered by Wisconsin and Oregon not to deceive potential workers.

 The Cutco kitchen knife sets sold by the company are priced between $200-$2000. Despite the expensive price of the knife sets, consumer reviews have stated them as having problems like rusting and low-quality handles.

 The students that are hired to work for Vector Marketing are hired as independent contractors. Since the students are not considered to be employees of the company, they are unable to obtain employee rights such as minimum wage. They are also not paid for training or company meetings. Independent contractors are required to make or put down a $145 deposit to make demonstrations. They also are required to pay for optional conferences. A survey conducted on 940 Wisconsin Vector Marketing recruits in 1992 found that nearly 50% either earned no pay or lost money while working for the company.  

“Workers in [Wisconsin] earned less than $3.00 a day on average selling cutlery for Vector,” David Tatar, a supervisor for the Wisconsin Consumer Protection Department said.

 Former employees of Vector Marketing have made statements accusing their former employer of fraudulent behavior. A former manager for Vector Marketing says that he was told to use “psychological tricks, vague ads, loud music, flaunt rejection applications, and use reps posing as new applicants on recruits, who were called ‘guppies,’ in order to sell the job to as many people in as fast amount of time as possible.”

 In response to alleged deceptive practices of Vector Marketing, a group called Students Against Vector Exploitation has been created. In 2003, the group’s co-founder, Lauren Katz, won a case she filed with the New York Department of Labor against Vector Marketing. In the suit, Katz argued that Vector breached the independent contractor agreement, making her an employee of the company. Katz received monetary compensation from the company for unpaid training.

 “I know others can win too, it’s just a matter of standing up for your rights,” Katz said.

 The mission of SAVE is to inform college students of Vector Marketing’s practices. The group’s webpage can be found at An anti-Vector Marketing petition that was created by former students and employees of Vector Marketing can be found at