I attended a meeting after being invited personally by the Regional VP of the Columbus, Ohio office Michael Weihrauch via an email. I found it somewhat odd that the email came from a Yahoo account as opposed to a company's network, but let it go.
Ther email, of course, mentioned the "Citigroup" name prominently. Of course, I know this company; I remember the "The City never sleeps, Citibank" commercians that ran on commercials when I was a child in New York City. And I have a Citibank Visa card in my wallet as well.
I had to reschedule my interview, and found it odd again that the interview was scheduled for 7:30 the evening, but I could see a busy person staying late for calls to the West Coast during their business hours.
It never occured to me to ask Michael in our email conversations about how he knew I was looking for a job. I applied to over 200 jobs in the past month, and while I keep meticulous track of where I send my resumes, a lot of employers place jobs anonymously, and a decent number of the positions I sent resumes off to included fax numbers, boxes at the local newspaper who ran the ad, or email addresses with little information. So I just assumed that Primerica was one of those jobs. Hell, I even expected it to be a clerical position since most of the jobs I applied to were in that field. The fact that it was a financial organization didn't faze me; I applied to jobs at Discover, several local banks and some collections companies.
I went to the office with my first-year law scho9ol student fiancee in tow since we were going to hit the gym after the interview. Contrary to some reports here, the office was nice enough, though it's position in a dying mall probably meant it was cheaper than it looked.
Immediately, I knew it was not an interview, it was a meeting. I am quite familiar with how these things operate, and the etting reeked of a scam. Group meetings are generally a good clue. The small talk that was made by Michael and his associates before the meeting started was also a giveaway: Scammers sure do love to make a lot of small talk! Real interviewers might allow some pleasant banter, but not at the expense of something *real*.
In any event, the display was about 20 minutes of banter from three folks who passed the baton to each other. The person who was first, at the conclusion of her part of the presentation, actually had us applaud the second person. Sorry, I thought this was supposed to be professional!
What was presented was not an overview of the company. In the manner that someone with knowledge of these kinds of shucksters would spot immediately, they threw a lot of anecdotal remarks and what was supposed to be amusing banter with supposed "facts" about how people are. They were quick to bring out figures from USA Today articles and the like, and commented about how people are stupid about finances and how they needed help to learn.
They spent a ton of time dissing "Walmart greeters who couldn't retire" (as if every person wants to sit around and wait to die when they turn 63), and pointing out how such a large percentage of people who were able to retire were "entrepeneurs" (Quite a nebulous term, as a freelance writer who files a Schedule C, I am an "entrepeneaur" too, yet I ain't geting rich as a music critic!)
However, the specifics were lacking. And they even messed up one of their supposedly true examples of helping people: The one where they showed a family of three's life insurance situation before and after. Even a novice could tell that it was a bit odd that the husband and wife had very low figures for their own life insurance coverage while there was a ton more coverage for the kid. This is quite illogical.
It also turns out that it is illegal. A woman sitting behind me pointed out that laws stated that the parents had to have five times more life insurance than minor children. It makes sense if you think about it. When the presenter questioned her about her knowledge, she said she is a licensed insurance salesperson. The obviously flustered presenter stammered, but never explained why an illegal example was used in the presentation. (It's possible that this is a state law - that would have been a nice "out" for the Primerica people to use - but he didn't, and it's possible that the law is fairly uniform across most all states.)
When the VP who invited me went on (last), he was also full of the usual tripe - about how companies "pay the position and not the person," about how working for a living is horrible, that your employer will never respect you, and about how he was so f***ed over in his last job. He also complained about how, even though he made decent money, that he was getting into debt. Of course, Primerica solved all of his worries!
When he got to the slides that talked about the "income" that their associates makes, any shred of doubt as to the scamminess of the proceedings went away. Legitimate companies don't throw out numbers in this manner, even realistic ones. Even sales and marketing positions with mostly commission-based compensation, the companies don't do this.
Of course, he mentioned the fee - a shade under $200. He said something about how it pays for "training" and then left, asking us to stick around to talk to the person who invited us. He made us fill out cards, not with our work history (nobody ever asked me for a copy of my resume, which I brought with me), but just contact information, asking us if we wanted a free FNA, and trying to refer people.
I filled out the card with the minimal information and got up and left. My fiancee, who was in the lobby but who heard everything of the presentation, looked up at me, rolled her eyes and said, "What took you so long?"
I didn't stick around to hear exactly what their scam was. I certainly believe it's a MLM scheme based upon what others said here and the fact this seems to be the scam du jure.
Before some Primerica drone says, "You didn't stick around to hear the wonderful opportunity," I saw all I needed to know because:
1) Legitimate companies do not invite people to recruiting meetings without bfirt having a discussio about the company and the prospective employees.
2) Legitimate companies do no waste time talking about how your current/past jobs suck. Except for your past work experiences and how they can be put to use for their company, that is the extent. I can see a recruiter taking a shot at a competitor, but since nobody there were asked who they used to work for, and I know that I never worked for a competitor of theirs, that exception didn't wash.
3) Legitimate companies do not charge you to work for them. Really, it's as simple as that. Even if you are to be an independent contracted employee, the only way a company allows this is if you already have the skills required to represent their company, or they are willing to train you to attain missing skills. Mandatory training is paid by the company, because legitimate companies realize that someone representing them should meet standards and that the cost of doing business involves making sure those who work for them are qualified to do so.
4) Legitimate companies, related to the above mentioned, will noo take someone from scratch, or with zero experience or training, to work for them. Even at McDonalds (a place scammers love to dis), they will look at your application and see what you have done. The 16-year old kid looking for his first job will be asked about how they do at school, extracurricular activities, and references. First jobs after college look at the crappy jobs from the person's past and their academic qualifications for the position. Scammers don't care about your abilities, because they don't care. They want your money and your trust.
5) Legitimate companies do not scream about how much money you can make. Really, they don't. In fact, legitimate companies are much faster to talk about benefits and perks of the position, since just about every industry has built-in pay standards that are only deviated from slightly between them, and it is the benefits and perks that differentiate the companies.
6) Legitimate companies do not make recruiting employees a part of your job (excepting fields such as Human Resources where that's the whole point). Certainly, legitimate companies do not make the bulk of your income (or all of it) based upon bringing bodies into your fold.
No, some of you might decide that what Primerica and their ilk offer is not a job (even though they sure make it sound like that when they first get in touch), it's offering you the ability to be an "entrepeneur," but let's suppose that you're a venture capital person - by definition an entrepeneur.
Who do you invest in - the company whose owners are all well-versed in the field upon which they wish to enter, or the guys with no experience and little knowledge about exactly how to do what they want?
Only an idiot would say the latter. Yet, why is it that these companies have no problem taking money from people who have no qualifications, and in fact rarely even ask what qualifications they in fact do have?
Primerica is a scam. Pure and simple. Legitimate companies do not do what they did, because they don't have to. And notice that none of this even takes into account the other things Primerica has been accused of in these pages - the misleading contracts, the actual MLM aspects of the organization, the many other lies that they can tell if you're still listening after they insult your intelligence.
Don't let them get tht far. I'll never get back the half hour or so that I wasted with them. Lord knows, Primerica sure as hell isn't going to pay me for it. In fact, I'd wager that Primerica doesn't pay for much of anything, unless you believe in the concept of karma, that is.Click here to read other Rip-off Reports on Primerica