When You Lie To Prospects

We all carry around fragments of things we almost remember. For instance, I can just about recall a statement David Ogilvy made in the late 70’s. I’ve been a fan of Ogilvy since I happened across a copy of Confessions Of An Advertising Man in Bismarck, North Dakota’s Owl Bookstore back in 1975.

As I recall, (and this entire statement is subject to revision when I finally find the exact quote) Ogilvy was addressing the American Association of Advertising Agencies when he said “There isn’t a school of advertising worth a damn* anywhere in the world, and I’ll contribute the first $10,000 if someone will start one.”

He later commented that making such an outrageous statement at least twice per decade is enough to keep any public figure in the public eye.

Perhaps the owners of Salary Dot Com are also fans of David O. It seems that they also make outrageous statements for publicity purposes. Shall we look at their statement?

On Monday, May 2, Salary Dot Com claimed that, based on the work she performs, the average stay-at-home Mom should be earning $131,471 per year.

As you may expect, this statement got them publicity. I became aware of it on a segment of Good Morning America.

However, I’m one of those skeptical types who just can’t accept any claim without doing the math.** (My friends frequently don’t appreciate this aspect of my personality. My clients usually do).

Salary Dot Com made some assumptions: that without any preparation for the job, without training, without a degree or a license, without a demonstration of skills or even references, they have assumed an entry level mother should receive a base pay of $21.73 per hour. They then assume she’ll put in 54 hours of overtime per week. Yougottabekiddinme.

The article further assumes two school-aged children. What does Mom do while they’re in school? Doesn’t Dad have any interraction with his kids? Mom has sole custody, never takes a break, and she and the kids never go to sleep? At $32.60 per overtime hour we need to start docking this woman for television time, telephone time, and the time it takes to read an occasional Redbook.

And finally, Salary Dot Com has assumed that our entry-level Mom could find simultaneous part-time jobs in the workforce as a nurse, and as a daycare center teacher, as a chauffeur, and as a CEO… with no training or experience in any of these careers… while earning as much as people who have chosen those career paths and work those jobs full time. I personally know several CEOs who earn much less than the $612,623 assumed by Salary Dot Com. I would also ask for validation of their assumed salaries for “van driver,” “nurse,” and “general maintenance worker.”

Ok… I reject their assumptions, which means that I also reject their conclusion. Everything from this point forward is based on my observations of the workforce. Your actual milage may vary.

Without training or demonstrable skills a person accepting an entry-level job can expect to start at about $7.00 per hour. Annual salary based on a forty-hour week equals $14,000. As for overtime, shall we be generous and say 25 hours a week? At time and a half ($10.50/hour) add another $13,650 per year.

That’s a total of $27,650 for a live-in housekeeper, cook, and babysitter. I’m reasonably sure that a typical family could find such a person on the open market.

Of course, we’d probably have to deduct our live-in housekeeper, cook, and babysitter’s clothing, her automobile, it’s insurance, her health insurance, and her retirement program. Oh, and let’s not forget that as an employee she wouldn’t be entitled to half of Dad’s net worth.

$131,470 per year my… foot.

Verisimilitude. The appearance of truth.

We started this essay discussing partial memories. If you only remember part of what I wrote today, please remember this: Chuck McKay is not anti-stay-at-home-mom. My mother was a single parent long before it became fashionable. We’d have loved for her to be able to stay at home.

My purpose in writing this is to point out that Salary Dot Com has made an irrational claim that they can’t validate.

In other words, they lied.

They might call it a promotional stunt. I call it lying.

I can no longer trust any information posted on their site.

This is what happens when you make unsubstantiated claims which don’t “ring true” with people’s life experiences. They believe that you lied. They conclude that you can’t be trusted. They quietly decide to never do business with you.

_____________________________________________________

* I wonder what David Ogilvy would have thought of Wizard Academy.

** I also do the math on public service announcements. Nearly as I can tell, based on the projections being made in the 80’s, the last square mile of Brazilian rainforest disappeared in 1987, and the last American became homeless in 1998. It probably didn’t make the news because the last American would have died of Aids two years earlier.


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