I was hesitant to make this post, because I'm usually the person reading through what others have written. Due to this website, among others, I have been able to avoid getting involved with seemingly unethical companies. As a token of my appreciation and to help other people out there, I decided to go ahead with this post. Below I will describe my interaction with Combined Insurance and let you form your own opinions.
I must say that I have found more seemingly twisted and unethical companies in the financial services industry than any other industries I have searched. That's not a shot at anyone, just my observation. Anyway...
I saw a posting on one of the online job boards for a Sales Management Trainee position. This position offered full benefits (Medical, Dental, Vision, 401(k) w/company match, Life Insurance, Disability, Employee Stock Purchase Plan, etc.). They also boasted about a comprehensive expense paid training program. I was very impressed by what was being offered. The three things that impressed me most were: I would be an employee, not a 1099 IC; Full Benefits; Extensive Training. I did some basic research on the company's website, and decided to apply for the position online and continue researching the company throughout the entire recruiting process.
I get an email within a day or two, saying that my application was received and I should call and schedule a confidential interview. When I called, the recruiter (a.k.a. Regional Manager) gave me two choices to interview the very next day. Huh? Okay, sure. I booked the interview and began preparing my questions for the next day.
I was given a landmark as to what they were located behind, but I didn't see the office. Being a bit lost, I decided to go into the hotel and ask if they knew where the Combined Insurance office was located. The person at the desk said, "Are you here to see __________?" I said, "yes, I am." He said, "Okay, hold on. Let me call her and tell her you're here." I was sort of shocked that we were meeting at a hotel. I was even more shocked when he told me how to get to the hotel room that my interview was to be held in.
After we met, I was asked to fill out an application in the hallway. There was another gentleman there who had already been filling out his application who went into the room before me. Within 10-15 minutes, he left the room and it didn't seem like things went well. At this point, I'm really confused, but I figured, what the heck, maybe they just do things differently around here. So I get called in for the interview, and to my surprise, and contradictory to what has happened to me in that past couple of financial services interviews I've been on, the recruiter was more interested in me and my qualifications for the position than trying to sell me the actual postion w/o knowing anything about me. Or, so I thought...
We get through the interview and things seem to have gone well. I was then informed that between 8:00-9:00pm that night, the candidates moving on to the next step would be receiving a phone call. If things went well, which she flat out told me they did, I should expect a call at that time. The next step was a Field Demo (or a shadow day as I like to call it) with someone. You actually spend the day with that person to see whether or not this position is the proper fit.
Right around 8:15pm or so I get a phone call, saying I did well in the interview and they would like me to come in for the demo. I thought, "well, great, that's awesome!" She then said, "I'd like you to be here tomorrow at 9:30am." I'm thinking to myself, "what the ______? Is this lady serious?" But, whatever, if this is all it's hyped up to be, why wait, right? So I was all excited and decided to proceed. Within about 12 hours, I'd be back there again for Round 2. Another mistake....
The day before during the interview, the woman told me she had a son that worked on this same team. She also specified his age. She never asked me how old I was (which, by the way, is an illegal question to ask someone in an interview), but seemed to imply if I moved on, I'd spend the day with him. Well, the very next day after I waited for about 30 minutes in the hotel lobby and she came downstairs with the rest of the team, she asked me how old I was in front of everyone. I reluctantly stated my age and then she said how she thought we'd make a great team, and said that we'd meet back at the hotel around 6pm that night to discuss the day's events.
There was another girl (candidate) that was going out with a different person that day for a Field Demo that looked scared out of her mind, and didn't say two words during that brief discussion. I wonder if she asked her how old SHE was. Anyway...
I spent the day with one of the Sales Managers (her son) and it was a very slow day. We spent most of the day driving around in circles for 1 or 2 clients that he really wanted to see b/c he was confident he could make a high ticket sale. The other thing I didn't like about Combined is that a different agent visits the clients each time through. You never really have a chance to build solid relationships with people.
Sales, sales, sales! You're assigned a territory for the day / week, and most times you've never seen the people before and other times you may have been there in previous years (if you actually stay with the company that long). It's almost as if you're a collections person. You collect their semi-annual premiums, try to sell them additional policies, and if they don't want anything else, then you can always try to convert their payment method to utilizing online monthly payments taken electronically from their checking account and earn a higher commission on that.
The reason, supposedly, is that once people have it auto-withdrawn, they're less likely to cancel a policy. The customer is told it's for their convenience and that it makes it more affordable to pay monthly automatically than to cut a check for the next 6 months in a lump sum. I've also heard some unethical stores about Combined once they get a customer's checking account info, which is probably why that conversion pays 24% commission vs. the 14% commission if you simply renew the policy as a semi-annual lump sum.
Combined does not pay for cell phone, car mileage reimbursement, car allowance, gas allowance, or anything. That all comes out of your pocket. Supposedly a "tax write-off." If you really do the math, though, it doesn't equate to the same as if the company had given you some help up front. We stopped for a quick lunch. I almost just said "thank you," but after the gentleman paid at the cash register, I said, "how much do I owe you?" He said, "Oh, I don't know, I told her we'd pay separately. Your bill is at the counter."
Do you know what my bill was? $5.73 for a soda + sandwich. If this is such a lucrative industry, and all this residual income + bonuses + commissions were being generated, wouldn't you think Combined's people could at least pick up the tab? Everyone has differing opinions here, but I just think it's the right thing to do. I've done it, and I've done it for a lot more than $6.
We get back to the hotel. No one else is there but the recruiter who said she was interviewing all day and had a lot of candidates come in, etc. We did a quick debrief, I was asked a few more questions, and asked a few of my own. At this point, the recruiter says to me, "why don't you give me a call around 8:00pm tonight after digesting your thoughts and let me know what you think and if you'd like to move on?" It was 6:30pm at this point.
I told her I'd call the following morning. She then tells me that she's looking to finalize everything the next day, because they were sending people off to the training class that Sunday. Did I mention that the ad said Limited Travel? Did I also mention that it boasts Monday-Friday workweek? I said I had someone coming to visit that weekend from out of state, and her response was that it ONLY takes 3.5-4hours to drive to the training on Sunday. Wow! Are you kidding me?
Needless to say that I respectfully expressed my lack of further interest in Combined Insurance. For those of you who may have skipped down to this part, and even those of you who didn't, let me summarize a few things about Combined Insurance:
Base Salary: $0
Commissions: 250% new sales; 14% regular renewals; 24% electronic renewal
Products: Supplemental Insurance - Accident, Sickness, Cancer policies
Bonus: $150 / week if you write 10 applications
Prospecting / Leads: Can sell to anyone. Use existing customers from cards company gives you. You are expected to cold call. Aren't req. to sell to family.
FRIDAY 9:00am-5:30pm (this is considered "taking it easy on Fridays")
SATURDAYS Yes, during your first year if you want to put food on table.
SUNDAY I think you might be able to take this off; some people work.
MEDICAL - 6 month waiting period
DENTAL, VISION, STOCK, LIFE, DISABILITY, 401(K), ETC. - after 1 year
CLASSROOM: They pay for your hotel (NOT your gas). They give you a few bucks for food. They DO NOT pay you ANYTHING while you train (no salary). Hope you got some dough put aside for the first month.
FIELD: You're with someone for 13 weeks. You split commissions 50/50 the first 13 weeks whenever someone is with you.
Just to give you an idea of the FIELD DEMO DAY'S SALES: $150 (just under)
We worked 9 hours or so in the field. This equates to $16.00/hour. When you divide by 2, that's about $8.00/hour. What a joke!
I heard McDonalds is hiring overnight shift for $9.00/hour!
Seriously, people, take a look at what I've written (this post has taken me about 1 hour to write). Think about your current situation, your future, and do yourself a favor by making the decision that you think is right for you. I know I did, and I owe it all to some of the folks that post on these boards. I hope this message added value to some folks' career search with Combined Insurance and also with any other company that may use similar tactics. Believe it or not, I could have written more, but I think this will suffice. I'd like to hear any constructive feedback to this post, as, again, I truly hope it is helpful.
I made it a point to not mention anyone's names or any information that I thought to be too detailed to include in a public posting. All information written above is with regards to my personal experience with this company and information that was freely disclosed to me without reservation along with information readily available in public places. Goodluck to everyone!
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