NUS warns of pitfalls of commission-based job schemes

February 21, 2003

Student leaders have urged students to make sure they read the small print before signing up to the many jobs and schemes that promise to alleviate debt.

The warning came as students were invited to join a commission-based scheme run by a small Reading-based telecommunications company that claimed it could offer them nearly £11,000 over three years. Participants would be expected to introduce clients to the company, Comec Voice and Data Technology. In return, they would receive 10 per cent of its monthly call spend.

A spokesman for the National Union of Students said: "Students are recognised as the poorest part of society. It's hardly surprising that companies see them as an attractive market for selling their wares. But we urge students to look into this as they would with any other get-rich-quick scheme."

He went on to say that such schemes were not the answer to student debt.

"More and more students are having to take paid work to get through courses. Students need the money."

Comec said it was looking for 1,000 students to sign up by the end of April. It expects them to generate about a £3,000 monthly call spend, giving the student a £300 a month stipend. The company claimed the scheme would give students experience in managing a business portfolio. The commission would come from the increase in business rather than raised tariff.

The company, which has a £6 million turnover and 1,000 customers, said it also expected that customers introduced by students would be more loyal since the student's livelihood depended on it.

Managing director Martin Rowley said he did not expect students to go out selling and that the clients would probably be contacts of the students'


He added that Comec's interest in students went beyond their potential ability to generate new business. "Good graduates are few and far between.

If they are leaving university with a £30,000 debt, employers will need to come up with innovative sponsorship programmes to attract them."

Commission for business generated through introductions by students who had graduated would be stored in a discretionary fund. The cash would be available to students who found their commission unexpectedly dropping from companies leaving.

To the question of why he had set up the scheme, Mr Rowley replied: "It gives me a warm feeling inside."

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