(solution) Ramona Alexander graduated near the top of her class in the

(solution) Ramona Alexander graduated near the top of her class in the

Ramona Alexander graduated near the top of her class in the Liberty University MBA program, and she was recruited by several national companies. One of those companies was Next Step Herbal Health. Next Step manufactures and sells various herbal products, health foods, and health supplements. It was recently featured in Forbes Magazine as one of the fastest growing companies in America.Ramona was invited to attend a weekend-long “Get to Know Us” event at Next Step’s headquarters in Seattle, Washington with all expenses paid by Next Step. She eagerly accepted the invitation.While sitting in the Lynchburg, Virginia airport awaiting her flights to Seattle, Ramona decided to do some online research about Next Step. Most of the articles touted the great financial results the company was producing. One article talked about how Next Step sent researchers around the world in search of new organic sources. Another article contained an interview with Next Step’s founder and CEO talking about the CEO’s “mission” to create a healthier America and about the company’s industry-leading ethics code.Another article, however, mentioned how the founder and CEO had a pattern of starting new businesses, building them up and then selling them at a huge profit before moving on to something else. There was also an article that talked about how Next Step was a big contributor to Planned Parenthood, the ACLU, and various progressive causes.Ramona also came across a “gripe site” that accused Next Step of various questionable business practices, such as forced purchase tie-in agreements with its distributors. This practice required distributors to purchase set amounts of products with payment in advance, regardless of the distributors’ actual sales. It also required distributors to purchase set amounts of less popular products if they wanted to purchase the more popular products. The site argued that these practices had helped drive many of the distributors into bankruptcy in slow economic times.When Ramona arrived at Next Step, she was met by a corporate recruiter and was given a Next Step polo shirt, custom Next Step Apple iPad Mini, and a carrying case loaded with promotional materials.At lunch, the recruiter talked up the company and told Ramona how smart young people like Ramona were joining the company in droves and rapidly climbing up the management ranks to earn “big bucks.”When the recruiter asked Ramona if she had any questions or comments, Ramona mentioned what she had read about the company sending researchers around the world in search of new products. The recruiter laughed and said, “We have the greatest P.R. people in the corporate world.” Ramona asked if that meant that the article was inaccurate and the recruiter said, “Well, our P.R. people do make a habit of taking promotional photos in exotic locations, but of course most of our products are actually developed in our laboratories right here in Seattle.”Ramona mentioned that she had read about Next Step’s industry leading ethics code and the recruiter responded, “Well, of course, you have to have something like that these days to attract investors and pacify government regulators. Our lawyers made sure that they covered all the bases.”Ramona mentioned having come across the “gripe site” and the recruiter said, “Don’t worry about that. There are always disgruntled ex-distributors looking to blame others for their own incompetence. Our lawyers will have that site shut down within the week.”Later, at a company pep rally, the CEO put on a flashy display, complete with a 3-D video and company cheerleaders. He talked about how much he really cared about people and about making their lives better; however, when an infant that had been brought to the event by another attendee started crying, apparently upset by the noise and flashy displays, the CEO harshly told the infant’s mother to please show some consideration to the rest of the people there and take the child out of the room.The CEO then went into a form of “corporate sermon,” telling the attendees, “Brothers and Sisters, we are here to offer salvation to fat, lazy, lethargic Americans. To transform the nation in our image. And if we should happen to get rich as a result of doing so, where’s the harm in that? Can I get an ‘Amen’?” Many in the room shouted, “Amen.”At the end of the weekend, Ramona was presented with a recruiting contract offering her a starting salary of $80,000.00 plus commissions. She would attend a two-week corporate orientation and then be sent out as a junior manager in the company’s Atlanta, GA, office. The recruiter remarked that because Ramona was a Liberty grad, the company assumed she was a Christian, which meant she could likely “talk the talk” needed to bring in new distributors in the south.