One Columbia Business Carries Mixed Reactions Among Employees and Consumers

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COLUMBIA - One door-to-door Columbia business that some customers have been dissatisfied with, has led one employee to set the record straight.

KOMU 8 News aired a story on Saturday, Feb. 16 about C & R Distributing, a company that sells Kirby vacuums door-to-door across Mid-Missouri. According to multiple online forums such as and the Better Business Bureau website, customers have been less than satisfied with both the vacuums and C & R Distributing's selling tactics. Customers have complained of the company taking back the free incentives handed out for listening to sales pitches, and insistent selling tactics such as staying until 1 a.m. the next morning.

So what do previous employees have to say about the company? KOMU 8 News interviewed a former employee to see what she thought about her time with the company.

Kelli Elliott was employed with Team Navigator, a previous name of C & R Distributing, from Jan. 2006 to Jan. 2008 and left to have a baby. Elliott had only good things to say about the company, its employees, and the owners, Rusty and Cheryl Custard.

When asked about multiple name changes to the company, she said the company has always been C & R Distributing. However, when salespeople reached the top sales level, a Five Diamond, they would split off and form their own branch.

In response to questions about people complaining they were paid under minimum wage or unfairly treated, she said many people entered the company thinking it was a way to "get rich quick" without doing much work.

"It's all commission based so if you don't do the work, you're not going to get the pay. It's commissions only. That's all up to the individual," Elliott said.

In the past, C & R Distributing has gotten in trouble with local police for not presenting either business licenses or solicitor's licenses, including in Columbia.

Elliott said that C & R Distributing always tried to have the right forms of documentation at the ready, but since different cities have different rules, it sometimes didn't work out.

"Sometimes it's hard to know which ones are which," Elliott said. "We would always try to do our best and make sure we had the proper paperwork. Some towns just flat out refused to give a solicitor's license. Other towns bury you in so much paperwork that it takes two years to get the license."

As for the "free" incentives, Elliott says the customers needed to listen more closely to the pitch.

"We would offer a gift, yes, but it was a 'thank you' for helping us out," Elliott said. "We did not just go, 'Here it's free,' 'Oh I'll take it back' type thing."

Lastly, when asked about some employees having criminal records, Elliott also had a reply.

"Everybody had to pass the Casenet background," Elliott said. "Now does that mean your record has to be 100% squeaky clean? No. But you're not allowed to work there if you have felonies or severe misdemeanors such as stalking, things like that. But there are the occasional people who have these records in other states or do not disclose the information and it's not found right away on Casenet."

However, when KOMU 8 News did a quick search of a few people listed as employees of Team Navigator, gathered from a Columbia police report, some employees had several serious charges including stalking, domestic assault, and abuse of a child.

KOMU 8 News also attempted to reach out to another former employee of C & R Distributing. However, he did not show up to the interview and was unreachable on his phone.