• Report: #126082

Complaint Review: Primerica

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  • Submitted: Thu, January 06, 2005
  • Updated: Mon, February 25, 2013

  • Reported By:Dover Delaware
Primerica
, Delaware U.S.A.

Primerica, PFS, Ripoff Deceptive and Misleading Sales and Recruting Tactics Exposed Delaware
*UPDATE: Primerica offers a good business opportunity & stands behind its products & services- - Company Executives have told Rip-Off Report that Primerica pledges to resolve complaints & address any inquires from the past, present & in the future.

*UPDATE EX-employee responds: Rebuttal to Mark Jones - You sound like you're reading off of a Primerica manual and it wouldn't surprise me that you're

*UPDATE Employee: Primerica is NOT for the Fainthearted

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I've posted some frequently asked questions from another website. They came from a former rep like myself. I've worked at Primerica and these Q+A's are right on the money. This really demonstrates the deceptive tactics Primerica purports to the general public who has no idea what they are getting themselves into. The bottom line is Primerica will recruit anyone who doesn't have a felony. They will tell you just enough to make you think you're doing business with the best company on the planet - WRONG. They are only interested in recruiting you and then getting to your friends and family in order to do business. No one calls Primerica to have them do business for them. Primerica does 99% of there business through the recruits they hire and there referrals (friends and family). Stay away from the Primerica Lair or you'll get wrapped in their Spider Web like I was.

Frequently Asked Questions - Primerica Sales Techniques

QUESTION: What does Primerica actually do for/to its customers?
ANSWER: Primerica is in the business of selling term life insurance, mortgages, unsecured loans, and mutual funds.

QUESTION: What is wrong with that?
ANSWER: 1. Primerica uses a improperly and undertrained workforce that sells on a commission basis. Commissions are paid to people that the customer does not even know based on a multilevel marketing (MLM)/network marketing basis. Other MLM companies include Amway and Mary Kay. It is very common for six or more people to split commissions on a single sale. 2. Primerica's products are not that competitive, i.e. the same products can be purchased elsewhere for less money. The fact that multiple commissions are paid on each sale is part of the reason why Primerica's products are relatively expensive. 3. Due to lack of training, or solely to make a commission, many Primerica agents will sell the customer products that are not in the best interest of the customer.

QUESTION: Who are Primerica's customers?
ANSWER: Many of Primerica's customers are its agents. They are told that when they join the company that they should purchase at least term life insurance in order to have credibility with the public. Most of Primerica's other customers are friends, family, and acquaintances of its agents.

QUESTION: How does Primerica arrange to meet with its customers?
ANSWER: Typically under the guise of helping a friend in training, someone who knows a new Primerica agent is induced to have an appointment at his home to help the new recruit. In reality, the trainer is looting the new recruit's warm market (relying on the recruit's credibility) to make a sale. Either the trainer or the new recruit will call to set up this training appointment.

QUESTION: What happens during the appointment?
ANSWER: Known as a kitchen table presentation, the Primerica trainer and the new recruit will sit down with a couple in their home and make a 15-30 minute presentation giving an overview of the company. This overview emphasizes that Primerica is a subsidiary of a financial conglomerate, Citigroup. The trainer hopes that the recruit's credibility and the Citigroup name will induce the customer to proceed. The trainer describes a Financial Needs Analysis (FNA) in such a way that the customer believes that Primerica is offering to do a free financial plan. In reality, the FNA is nothing more than a manipulative sales tool designed to maximize commissions instead of financial planning. The company will disclaim in fine print that an FNA is not a financial plan, but Primerica agents rarely will convey this information to the customer.

QUESTION: What happens if the customer agrees to have a FNA created?
ANSWER: The trainer collects data from the customer, and gets firm commitments from the customer as to a percentage of gross income that the customer is willing to commit to becoming debt-free and financially independent. The trainer schedules a follow-up appointment to present the FNA.

QUESTION: How is a FNA created?
ANSWER: An FNA is created at a local Primerica office or at an agent's home using software leased from the company. The customer's information is placed into the computer, and manipulated to provide several alternative plans, with the intent that the customer will select at least one of these plans. It is important to note that the numbers will be manipulated by the agent to achieve a desired result (a sale), rather than objectively planning for the customer's financial needs.

QUESTION: What type of formal training does the typical Primerica agent have for this type of work?
ANSWER: Other than observing a few training appointments, attending a few classes at a local office, and observing someone use the computer to create FNAs, there is no formal training program in the traditional sense. Primerica agents are not certified financial planners, and any designations typically achieved by competent financial advisors are actually made fun of at Primerica. Given that virtually anyone who pays $199 can join Primerica, agents' life experience range from farmer to college student.

QUESTION: What happens on the second appointment?
ANSWER: The trainer brings the recruit along (if the recruit hasn't quit) for the second appointment, known as a carryback. The trainer reiterates the financial commitments that the customer made, and asks the customer if there has been any changes since the first appointment. The customer will typically sign the FNA input sheet that was created at the first appointment. All of this is designed to corner the customer into committing to purchase what is recommended in the FNA. The FNA is presented as if it is a financial plan, and the trainer will ask the customer which plan is selected (not if, but which). All questions assume a sale, and before the customer knows it, the paperwork is being completed to purchase term life insurance, the customer is agreeing to refinance debt, and mutual funds are being discussed (if the trainer has the requisite securities licenses).

QUESTION: What else occurs?
ANSWER: At either appointment, the trainer will attempt to get the customer to come to the office for an overview of the company. This is an attempt to increase the trainer's hierarchy in the MLM environment, or at a minimum, hire replacements for the recruit. There is a 100%+ annual turnover rate, so the trainer has to recruit in order to continue receiving commissions from sales done by others. The trainer will also ask the customer for referral names. The referrals will be contacted in an effort to recruit and make sales.

QUESTION: Why did only one agent come to my house?
ANSWER: Although the company stresses making sales through training a recruit, there are times when there is no one to train, the recruit has quit, or the agent received the name from some source other than a recruit. These appointments are frowned upon because statistically there is less of a chance of making a sale.

QUESTION: Primerica offered me more insurance coverage for less money than my existing policy. Should I replace my existing insurance?
ANSWER: Talk to your agent before making a decision. Primerica condemns cash value insurance (although it has sold this type of insurance, and so have sister companies in Citigroup). Because there is no savings in a term policy, rates for such insurance tend to be cheaper than cash value. However, this is comparing apples and oranges. Your agent can explain to you the pros and cons of each. More importantly, even if you decide to purchase term insurance, your agent, and many other respectable life insurance companies offer term insurance. Primerica's rates tend to be on the high side, primarily because Primerica has to split commissions, often between six or more agents for a single sale.

QUESTION: Primerica showed me savings by refinancing my credit card debt and my existing mortgage. Doesn't this make sense?
ANSWER: Possibly, but your Primerica agent is not a financial planner. Your accountant, banker, and/or a real financial planner, can often provide you with a much less expensive means of reducing your debt without paying high closing costs on a Primerica loan. Primerica mortgages typically have a pre-payment penalty that penalizes you if you choose to refinance when interest rates drop. If Primerica was truly interested in reducing consumer debt, why is its parent corporation, Citigroup, one of the largest issuers of credit cards.

QUESTION: Won't I save a lot of money by switching to Primerica's biweekly mortgage payment option?
ANSWER: Probably not. In addition to the high closing costs and interest rates, Primerica is simply having you make the equivalent of one extra monthly payment per year on your mortgage (26 payments a year v. 12 monthly payments). Your existing lender will likely agree to permit you to switch to a biweekly schedule or you can make a 13th payment each year to be applied against the principal. There is typically no cost for doing this instead of paying to refinance.

QUESTION: What about my credit card debt?
ANSWER: A second mortgage from a competitive lender may be a better solution, or simply creating your own stacking schedule of paying off the most expensive debt first. A financial planner can greatly assist you in making a decision. Primerica does not offer such expertise, just commission-driven sales.

QUESTION: What about investments?
ANSWER: Check around to see which investments suit your actual needs. Given that the FNA is based on making sales rather than helping you, it makes sense to see a real financial planner to explore your options. You are likely to discover what you truly need to retire, and a better way of achieving it.

QUESTION: I can't afford a financial planner. What should I do?
ANSWER: Can you afford not to have one? Would you rather rely on an inexperienced captive agent bent on making a commission to tell you what you need? Even your own rough estimates, using the financial estimate aspects of Quicken or similar software, will likely be more accurate than that provided by a Primerica agent. If you are up to your eyeballs in consumer debt, such as credit cards, it may make sense to see a credit counseling agency. These agencies are often very helpful to a debtor at no cost, and usually can make affordable payment arrangements with creditors.

QUESTION: After all of the work done by the Primerica agent, I'd feel guilty not accepting his/her recommendation. What should I do?
ANSWER: You need to place your financial needs in perspective. Did you meet with the Primerica agent under false pretenses, i.e. to help a friend with training? Were you under the false impression that Primerica was offering financial planning? Do you think that your real needs were of primary importance in preparing the FNA, or did the agent manipulate the numbers to make a sale? Do you need more time to think about it? Did you talk to your insurance agent, banker, financial planner, and/or accountant, or have them review the FNA?

QUESTION: What is the worst that could happen?
ANSWER: It is your personal finances and retirement? What would happen if someone gave you bad advice? Could you live with the results of following the advice?


Frequently Asked Questions - The Primerica "Job" Opportunity

QUESTION: What is Primerica?
ANSWER: Primerica is a multilevel marketing (MLM)/network marketing organization that sells term life insurance, mortgage loans, unsecured loans, and investments. It is like Amway and Mary Kay. The difference is that overpriced soap and cosmetics don't have the dire consequences of financial mismanagement.

QUESTION: Isn't this company part of Citigroup, the largest company in the world? Doesn't this make Primerica a legitimate business?
ANSWER: Contrary to claims, Citigroup is not the largest company in the world. Primerica was started in 1977 as part of a can manufacturing company, and was originally known as A.L. Williams Co. Its founder, Art Williams, was forced to sell and get out of the business. While Citigroup, the current owner, is undoubtedly a large company, this past year has seen the company investigated by the government for allegedly laundering money for the Russian mafia, predatory lending to consumers, and for purported misconduct in its transactions with Enron and Worldcom..

QUESTION: I have an interview scheduled with Primerica. What questions should I ask?
ANSWER: Primerica "interviews" are typically group presentations known as "corporate briefings," "informational overviews," etc. There is a canned presentation from the company, usually involving an overhead projector of MS PowerPoint. It is not a true interview. Your questions are irrelevant. If you can be induced to pay $199 and have a pulse, Primerica is interested in you.

QUESTION: What types of jobs does Primerica have to offer?
ANSWER: Although corporate headquarters in Duluth, Georgia, may have positions, and some agents will pay for clerical/secretarial support, there is an excellent chance that any interview for a job is actually a deceptive means to get you to become an agent.

QUESTION: If Primerica doesn't have jobs, why is the company interviewing?
ANSWER: Primerica makes money by having a commission-only workforce. Most of these commissions are paid in the form of loans, which must be repaid if the customer changes his mind. You will hear "opportunity", "full-time," and "part-time," used by Primerica recruiters, but these words refer to an independent contractor arrangement. There is no salary, and no benefits.

QUESTION: I met someone who earns over $100,000 with Primerica. Why can't I do the same thing?
ANSWER: Primerica has an annual turnover rate of about 100%, with about 100,000 recruits coming and going in any given year. Of those who stay, some eventually gross over $100,000 per year. Given that several million have been recruited by Primerica, having a few thousand agents make this type of money is not particularly impressive. Moreover, this is not a salary, but rather your gross revenues (including loans) for a rolling 12-month period. This figure does not take into office rental, supplies, travel, licenses, and training.

QUESTION: I want to become a Regional Vice President. Is it true that I can become one in 12-18 months?
ANSWER: It is possible, but highly unlikely. In fact, less than 0.5% of all recruits ever become RVP. Significantly, of those who do become an RVP, many never earn over $50,000.

QUESTION: I want to earn some part-time money? Can I earn $1,000 to $1,500 monthly?
ANSWER: It is possible, but highly unlikely. Only about 1 out of 3 recruits get a life insurance license. No license = no commission. Only about 1 out of 10 obtains a securities license. Even if one grosses $1,000+ working part-time, there is an excellent chance that chargebacks (cancelled policies) will cause the company to deduct prior loans from your current commissions.

QUESTION: Doesn't Primerica offer me the flexibility of setting my own hours?
ANSWER: No. Although ostensibly an independent contractor, you will receive no help or training unless you agree to be "coachable." This means attending interviews/corporate briefings/informational overviews twice a week, calling on Sunday evenings to set up appointments, prospect for new recruits, attend all hierarchy meetings (known as fast start schools, Super Saturdays, etc.), and attend the national convention in Atlanta. If you question this arrangement, you are deemed "uncoachable," and will be given the cold shoulder. The typical part-timer finds 30+ hours weekly scheduled with little financial compensation to show for it because sales are only made on appointments.

QUESTION: I was told that I could try the business, and then quit if I don't like it. What is wrong with this?
ANSWER: Your training will consist of looting your warm market for your trainer to make commissions and to recruit people to replace you. Since there is a 100%+ turnover in agents annually, you are expected to quit. The goal is to recruit your replacements and make some money before you quit. Do you like being used? Do you want to allow someone to use your friends and family this way?

QUESTION: Primerica said that my spouse/significant other could be my partner. Isn't this a great opportunity for both of us to start a business?
ANSWER: This means that both of you will work on a commission basis. When one calculates the number of hours worked to compensation, it is very common for both spouses to work 60+ hours a week, and net less than minimum wage.

QUESTION: My recruiter said that I'd get $200 back after completing training. Isn't this a no-risk venture?
ANSWER: The company requires you to pay $199 to join Primerica when you complete your Independent Business Application. The training has to be in a qualified market, i.e. one in which the trainer thinks commissions will be made. You provide the names of friends and family for your "training." If you complete all six, you get $200 back. The agent has just made several sales in your warm market and paid you $200 for the referrals. In addition, you will alienate friends and family by trying to sell products to them. This is not a no-risk venture.

QUESTION: Doesn't Primerica help people become debt-free and financially independent?
ANSWER: If so, it occurs by sheer luck. Primerica agents are poorly trained, are captive agents, and are extremely limited in the financial advice that can be rendered. The Financial Needs Analysis (FNA) is geared to maximize sales, the data is manipulated on the computer to do this, and the client's financial status takes a back seat to making commissions. The consumer pays through over-priced term insurance, high cost mortgages, and underperforming investments.

QUESTION: Isn't Primerica a Christian company?
ANSWER: This has been the company's recruiting pitch since its founder first espoused "God, Family & Business." It is a great way to get into the door of local churches to recruit and make sales. However, Citigroup's CEO and executive committee is Jewish, and one of its largest shareholders is a Saudi (Muslim) prince. Religion is used to manipulate customers and recruits, but Christianity has very little to do with the company.

QUESTION: Is it true that Primerica allows me to own my own business?
ANSWER: In extremely rare circumstances, one can acquire rights to one's business. Most Regional Vice Presidents do not own their business. Anyone below RVP definitely does not own his business. One typically has to become a top National Sales Director or Senior National Sales Director before the company will give you the right to buy and sell hierarchies within the company. The terms of such sales are highly confidential, and the value has to be limited merely by how few people are in fact eligible to buy and sell. At any given time, there are probably less than 50 agents out of 100,000 who have the right to buy and sell hierarchies.

QUESTION: Isn't it true that my Primerica business will create an income stream so that I can retire?
ANSWER: This is purportedly true, but for some reason all of the top people stay active in the business or sell. Why? If you retire, your downline (the source of your income) will quit, and your income stream dries up.

QUESTION: What happens when I quit Primerica?
ANSWER: Your Primerica "friends" will disassociate themselves from you. You have chosen not to be a "winner." This is a cult-like response. Winners are supposed to win on the Primerica playing field even though less than 0.5% have ever won the type of income Primerica claims is obtainable by everyone "following the system."


Steve
Dover, Delaware
U.S.A.

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This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 01/06/2005 08:52 AM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/Primerica/Delaware-19907/Primerica-PFS-Ripoff-Deceptive-and-Misleading-Sales-and-Recruting-Tactics-Exposed-Delawa-126082. The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year.

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Updates & Rebuttals

#1 UPDATE EX-employee responds

Rebuttal to Mark Jones - You sound like you're reading off of a Primerica manual and it wouldn't surprise me that you're

AUTHOR: Stuart - (U.S.A.)

Let me ask you point blank what are the odds against someone making a six-figure income at Primerica? I don't think you'd want to answer that question Mark Jones so I'll answer that one myself. To the smart public the figures I'm about to give comes from Primerica's website for the most recent year it released figures which is the year 2001. The link is:

http://ww3.primerica.com/public/what/opp/track_record.html

The data shows close to 1.5% of the Primerica employees make over six figures. But hold on here, there's a little more to it than that. The website says the income is gross income meaning it's before business expenses which means that the true net income could be closer to $50,000 after business expenses are deducted. But hold on here, there's one more item. What's conspiculously missing is that the website isn't saying it's over $100,000 a year for the top performers. From the way the website is titled, it's suggesting that the $100,000 gross income before business expenses is over the course of 24 years or less than $5,000 a year. Just check it out at:

http://ww3.primerica.com/public/what/opp/track_record.html

I haven't forgotten about you Mark Jones. First a
quote on you:

"Being negative about Primerica is as easy as being negative about anything else in life."

People are negative about Primerica because they
have good reason to be Mark Jones. The lies, fraud and deception are rampant throughout Primerica. Outside of all the hundreds of negative reports on this website there are other websites also listing negative information about Primerica. I've posted a link to another website which is:

http://www.bizjournals.com/sanfrancisco/stories/2004/11/01/daily54.html

The article on this website describes how a Primerica executive (a RVP) ripped off a senior
citizen (and possibly more victims may be involved) with this executive being convicted of
the crime and sentenced to serve 44 days in a
county jail. When's the last time you ever heard
of an executive at any other insurance company
being convicted for such a crime?

Quoting Mark Jones again:

"Primerica is a challenge...." I have a challenge
for you Mark Jones. Produce documentation to
Ripoff Report proving that Primerica has successful frontline agents. I'm sure that your master fat cats at corporate Primerica can help you out with that one or you can contact your fellow shill associate, Paul from Brooklyn for further assistance (by the way I won't be disappointed if Primerica can't prove it. I've
been issuing this challenge for months with no
response).

So let the buyer beware.
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#2 UPDATE Employee

Primerica is NOT for the Fainthearted

AUTHOR: Mark Jones - (U.S.A.)

I have carefully read "Primerica, PFS, Ripoff Deceptive and Misleading Sales and Recruting Tactics Exposed Delaware". I understand how the author feels. I felt that way, too, at times about many opportunities in life, as well as Primerica. The truth of the matter is, the greater the opportunity, the greater the responsibility required to aprehend it. I've always thought I'd have loved to purchase some of that cellular bandwidth the FCC autioned off many years ago! But the truth is I couldn't have afforded to pay the price nor capitalize on the opportunity. Not everyone who aspires to greatness reaches their goal. How often I have aspired to some great task and fallen short because of my own unwillingness to dig in and do what it takes to get the job done. How many times have I wanted to blame the opportunity instead of taking personal responsibility for my own failure. I can tell you from personal experience that hurt people hurt people. How I have wanted to lash out at others because of my own failures. It's a common human condition.

True, every comission sales opportunity, whether Primerica or as an outside sales rep for some manufacturer, begins with those in our network. Good sales people have good networks. Not every product fits the program of ANY consumer, be it a two-step wholesaler, reseller or your mom & dad, siblings, close friends...

True, not everyone will produce a six figure income. In comission sales, income is directly proportionate to time, effort, experience, and ability. Timing is essential! That is why in sales you normally start out in the warehouse (or something), then inside sales, then outside sales. Not everyone is a born people person, either. Gregariousness is a trait, usually. Most of the truly highpowered sale persons I have known are ADHD to some extent. They had to learn focus--but once they had they were a force to be reckoned with.

Being negative about Primerica is as easy as being negative about anything else in life. Chances are those who feel they've been "burned" are just that--"burned"--burned about life, burned about those around them, just deep-down burned. It's a heart condition.

Primerica is a challenge, not a socialist free-ride. Like any stallion, you may be bucked off--rider beware! BUT, THE STALLION PERFORMS. IT'S YOUR MISSON TO TRAIN THE STALLION. For the fainthearted among us... you can be more than you are but never more than you think you are. You may wish you were a concert-pianist but unless you put in the long hours, you really don't want to do what it takes.

Sincerely,
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