Wow! It seems as though Combined is the same everywhere. I think you'll find my story oddly familiar. I actually made it to my six month mark with combined. I achieved my Accident Emerald, and was cheated out of it because of a bogus cancellation rate. But I digress!
I was contacted on a Sunday evening about 7pm by a recruiter who found my resume on Monster.com. He asked me to come in for an interview on Monday. I went and it was all full of hype and empty promises. I have a family and my concern was travel and the amount of hours I would work. I was told that there would be little to no travel and that I would work 9 - 5 Monday through Friday (we'll get to that later). I was excited. An income where the sky is the limit! Three weeks in Atlanta, GA couldn't be all that bad with a per diem and a gas allowance! On Wednesday I had my field demo. My SM was 30 minutes late! We made no money, and over lunch my SM "told me all about combined." I should have taken my SM's advice to heart and just stayed away, but instead I met my DM on Saturday, and left Sunday morning for my training.
Training was a breeze! I soared through the class! Passed my test with flying colors! I had previously been an actor so memorizing the scripts and being enthusiastic about them was second nature to me. I was so sure I was going to come out of sales school stringing 100 calls for my entire career! Man, was my opinion about to change!
For five weeks, I field trained and double padded with my SM (sales manager). We did alright for the most part. We made and average of $700.00 a week per person, before taxes!!! Then it came down to the wire! I was out on my own! I struggled to get over the "learning curve" for two or three weeks making less than $200.00 a week. All the while I was an hour or two away from my house every day! The commute wasn't too bad save for the gas expense
, and I reasoned it away that I wasn't staying out of town, because I was home every night. Granted, I would leave about 8:30 in the morning to be at the office for our 7 meeting "accountability" structure and finally return home around 11 or 11:30 pm. The whole Monday through Friday thing became Monday through Saturday, and on weeks where we had an incentive program running (which ended up being every week or every other week) or an Ardmore where I had to leave on Sunday to get to the hotel I would be staying in for the week until I returned home the following Saturday around 9 or 10 pm.
Combined's idea of management is strictly environmental. Get your people sequestered away for a week and MAKE them go to work, and if they don't produce then berate or ridicule them until they do and if they can't then they are just worthless! Or conference calls!!! Oh how we love our conference calls! A 7:30 conference call for this, and an 8:00 conference call for that, but be to your meeting at 9:00 - which takes you a half hour to drive to - and then go to work by 10 - which the meeting usually surpassed and then you had to drive an hour to get to your assignment!! Wow, M-F 9-5, and no traveling sure became a M-F 7:30a-11:30p and tons of traveling job rather quickly, and because of check-in and having to break down the assignments Saturday and Sunday became work days too!!! A seven day work week, who the hell has time for that?
I actually lost my apartment to Combined! Because I couldn't make enough money to support my family and pay my bills I ended up with an eviction notice and moving in with my father-in-law! How embarrassing is that!
The finer points... in a previous post someone mentioned that Combined has a large percentage of customers who are elderly (60 and over) and that in many cases, the agents/managers are taught to take advantage of them. This is true! Many of the older customers naturally have older/outdated policies, and because of this, their policies are unable to offer substantial benefits based on today's economy/rate of inflation. Furthermore, once a customer reaches age 70 their sub par/outdated policy's benefits decrease by 50%. Most of these customers pay on a semi-annual basis which then forces the agent to track these people down at all hours of the day to collect a premium ranging $15.00 to $100.00+ to make a commission of 14%! It doesn't even cover the gas expense to track them down!! At times people have their own mind made-up that they are going to cancel their policies, and we are trained to overcome this with number fudging. Instead of telling what the policy will pay on a daily basis we are taught to extrapolate the policy's benefits out to a monthly basis and break the premium down to a daily basis as a, misleading, way of over inflating the policy's worth to get the "reluctant" policy holder to renew a worthless policy that doesn't do them any good... this is called maximizing the benefits and minimizing the cost! Or lying! :) And, if that doesn't work then you just don't leave until they pay you to get you out of the house!!
Did anyone else have to contend with materials that were unapproved by the company? For instance, a "One-sheeter"? A "one-sheeter" is exactly that, a single sheet of cardstock paper that has been loaded down with a policy's benefits and then laminated, while completely omitting the legal points that are embedded within the company's approved "kit" presentation. In short, it leaves a large opening for the agent to omit pertinent facts while presenting the policy and its benefits to a potential client. This is not official company procedure. This is a case of an over-inflated District Manager imposing his views and teaching methods on his SM's and agents.
Now here comes the headache! First it starts with the newly appointed agent. The SM has a bonus structure in place making it in their best interest to quickly promote the newly appointed agent, while teaching them the "tricks of the trade." And naturally, the new agents have a small bonus as well to supposedly help them within their first quarter in the field. The truth of the matter is that the DM's bonus is contingent upon Manweeks which are created by his mass hiring of unqualified bodies. Thus putting his bonus above the wellbeing of the Sales Managers and the agents themselves whom he hired in the first place under the guise of giving them a wonderful opportunity where the sky is your income limit, because what you can believe you can achieve! In reality, the Sales Manager is forced to float these unqualified bodies with a three week guarantee where the SM must split his income. If the monetary value to support the guarantee is not achieved (because of geographical location, poor assignments, etc) then the SM incurs a charge to his account in the amount of the company's guarantee to the new agent for his first three weeks in the field; $500.00 a week before taxes. And of course, the DM does not incur any financial loss during this process, which only encourages him to continue hiring unqualified bodies to increase his number of Manweeks and his "stated" level of manpower at any given moment, which his bonus is dependent upon.
As a side note, I have read posts regarding "ghost employees" - staying on the books after you've quit. Yet another method used to increase the perceived level of manpower and number of Manweeks.
All in all Combined is a rip off!
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
U.S.A. Click here to read other Rip Off Reports on Combined Insurance