Dear Heloise: My daughter was looking for an opportunity to earn extra money. She was invited to join a direct sales company, sometimes called multilevel marketing, pyramid selling, a home-based business or network marketing. I would advise your readers: Be wary.

This type of business touts itself as a wonderful chance to host parties, meet people and sell products you use and love. So what's the problem?

She was a salesperson, which is fine, but she purchased the products from the company, then turned around and tried to sell them, either online or at home parties. This required a large outlay of cash. Storing the merchandise and participating in training also were problematic and time-consuming.

In addition, a huge part of the job is recruiting others to join her team, or "downline." She then earned money from their sales; it is not easy.

Helen M. in Michigan

Helen M. in Michigan: Many people who try this come up short and are left with merchandise they can’t sell. Readers, check out the Federal Trade Commission at ftc.gov for more information.

Dear Readers: Have you ever needed customer service on a company’s website? You may end up interacting with a chatbot under the “Contact Us” tab.

A chatbot is a form of artificial intelligence that “interacts” with you, somewhat like a person would. What’s really going on? The software is scanning the text you typed in, looking for keywords that match. For example, you might type in: “recall,” “payment,” “registry” or “corporate.” The chatbot will then pull up matches for your inquiry.

Dear Heloise: I make deposits early in the morning for my employer at my bank's night drop. It's still dark out, so I am super-aware of my surroundings. The night drop has a camera, but I carry my phone with me, make the deposit, ensure it gets into the building and get back in my car quickly.

Heidi W. in Cincinnati

Heidi W. in Cincinnati: High-five! Readers, also be aware of your surroundings when taking cash out of the ATM.

Dear Heloise: I have a brother, sister and six nieces and nephews ages 25 to 73, all who live far away. On their birthdays, each gets an online gift card in the amount of twice their age.

This way, everyone is treated fairly and can get what they really want. And they look forward to my gift!

Aunt Tillie in Connecticut

Dear Heloise: Kudos to telemarketers who are eking out a living at an honest but extremely difficult job! I respect them for that. They deserve our courtesy, not our rudeness, regardless of our annoyance.

If you answer the call, it takes no more time to say, "Please remove me from your list" than to cuss them out. Also, you'll be in a better mood after making someone's unpleasant job a little easier.

Bunny B., Lancaster, Calif.

Bunny B.: How right you are! Readers, kindness is contagious — these folks are working for a living. Don’t feel pressured to buy what they are selling; just say no nicely and then say goodbye.

Heloise’s column appears six days a week at washingtonpost.com/advice. Send a hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5000, or email it to Heloise@Heloise.com.

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