I have two complaints about lexingtontutoring.com based on emails I received yesterday and this morning. First, lexingtontutoring.com used spam tactics and unethical competitive practices by misrepresenting itself as a student while attempting to recruit me as a tutor. Second, the unwanted spam they sent left the impression that lexingtontutoring.com does not understand what an independent contractor is or the legal protections afforded to independent contractors.
I'm a proud, independent tutor, and some of my business is through wyzant.com. Students use that website to send emails to potential tutors. However, a tiny fraction of the emails I receive this way aren't from students. They're actually recruiting emails made up of invitations to work with Wyzant's competitors: other tutoring agencies or student-tutor matching services.
Until today, I thought it was amusing to imagine small business owners growing so desperate for good tutoring help that they log on to a competitor's site this way by impersonating a student. Most of the time, these recruiting emails are obviously not from a student because they include the name of the company or say something like, "Would you like to be part of our team?" But yesterday, I received a Wyzant request for a chemistry and calculus tutor that only said, "Would like to talk with you about working with us." Many families with more than one student have sent similar emails in the past, so I took the time to reply by treating the sender of this email like a parent (perhaps with one child taking chemistry and another taking calculus) instead of like a recruiting spammer.
The other shoe dropped this morning when I received a recruiting pitch informing me about working with lexingtontutoring.com from the same Wyzant email address. Wyzant's TOU makes it clear that its site is only for students and tutors, so lexingtontutoring.com misrepresented itself by misusing its competitor's site, but what really bugged me is that it misrepresented itself further by writing, "Would like to talk with you about working with us," something an actual parent might write. This morning I also received an invitation to join the LinkedIn network of the owner of Lexington Tutoring LLC, a person with the same first name and last initial as the Wyzant account holder.
The recruiting email this morning included this information:
"The tutors who work with us are independent contractors who work exclusively through us... All work exclusively through us." Guess what, spamming-lady? If you require that your tutors work exclusively through your company then they are not independent. Massachusetts law at http://www.mass.gov/ago/docs/workplace/independent-contractor-advisory.pdf makes it clear that an independent contractor "is capable of performing the service to anyone."
If these unfortunate tutors are required to work exclusively for this company then they are part-time employees. Calling them independent contractors might help the bottom line, but that is a different sort of misrepresentation. If you're a lexingtontutoring.com tutor and your contract has an exclusivity clause, I hope you consider sending a copy to the state attorney general's office. If you're a parent looking for a tutor then why not find one the same way that lexingtontutoring.com tried to find me?
After being a tutor for several years, I've grown disgusted at how some former educators behave when they form their own small tutoring agencies. A certain moment must come when their memory about the joys and trials of actually educating children becomes so distant that they begin to treat their own tutors and potential tutors like cattle, and then they become surprised, desperate, and unethical when they can't attract and retain good people.
It amazes me that a business owner in 2013 would engage in spamming and misrepresentation online and then have the audacity to send a LinkedIn invitation as if they'd done nothing wrong. The difference between right and wrong does not seem to be important to Lexington Tutoring LLC, and thanks to sitejabber, I finally have a chance to let others know about this company's unwanted spam, misrepresentation, and suspect contracting practices.