I began working for American Income Life in November of 2001. I trained as an insurance agent but was told there were management possibilities after 6 months. We were not paid while training and after training we were considered independant contractors.
By January, I was unable to meet my bills on my commission only income. I have a family to take care of and I needed a more consistant income. During the month of January I had made enough in sales to qualify for the bonus of $450.00. This was around the same time that I had talked to Jose Sanchez, my imediate manager, about not being able to pay my bills and needing to find a more dependable income.
Many times during my time there I was encouraged to hold out and try to make it work until the 6 month point, even encouraged to live off of my credit cards because after 6 months, when management was a possibility, I would be making a lot of money.
Our paychecks came out on Mondays but bonus checks were held until Fridays so they could be presented in front of the whole office at the Friday meetings. I had told Jose that I needed to leave before Friday so I could start a new job and then there wouldn't be a lapse in my income, but that if that meant I wouldn't get my bonus check that I would stay until Friday to get the check in hand. He assured me that the checks were already in and that mine would be mailed to me.
Friday came and went with no check. I tried contacting Jose and he was not answering his office or cell phone. Conveniantly they both have caller id on them.
I was finally able to get in touch with Jose and was told that he was going to have to talk to Scott Smith about it. All in all after a few phone calls and a few different stories as to why, I was told I wasn't going to receive my bonus because I no longer worked there. Even though I did at the time the checks were in.
I contacted a lawyer and was told it would be best to go through the labor board. I called Jose back and told him I had spoken to a lawyer and that what they had done was not legal. He told me to call Scott Smith directly since he handled the bonuses. I was told to call at 9am the next day.
Not surprisingly, when I called the next morning, Scott Smith was out of town for 3 days. I left a message which was of course, never returned.
I happened to receive a questionarre from AIL headquarters wanting to know about my experience with AIL. They had me as being employed until Feb. 22nd. The date of the bonus check in question was to be given out Feb. 8th. So Lisa LaValley, who had sent the questionarre, contacted me and said she was looking into the matter.
She sent a letter stating she had spoken to Scott Smith and that it is not in his agencies practice to give out bonus checks to TERMINATED agents. I was not terminated, I chose to leave. She also said that Scott Smith said I was told to contact him about it and he remembers no such contact. She told me to direct any further questions to Scott Smith. So corperate headquarters was willing to look the other way about their agencies stealing money from their agents.
So the next day, I again attempted to contact Scott Smith. This time I was able to reach him. He told me in no uncertain terms that the only reason I would not receive my bonus was because I no longer worked there. That if I chose to come back and work there ,I could get my bonus. He also told me I could contact the union that we belong to as agents because this kind of thing happens all the time. So they have apparently screwed a lot of ex agents out of their rightfully earned money! And sadly have been allowed to get away with it. We weren't compensated while training, we weren't reimbursed for gas or mileage, which was over 100 miles a day average, and we had to pay for using the phone room that I hardly ever used.
The labor board dismissed my claim because I was an independant contractor and not an employee, corperate headquarters has turned away, Scott Smith himself admitted that he just wasn't going to give it because I quit. So please if you read this and are an ex agent or have also been screwed by American Income Life in some way please respond or write a report too.
I have also contacted Channel 2 Problem Solvers, and Target 5 Reports. I know it is not a lot of money but that is wy they get away with it because it isn't enough to be worth hiring a lawyer over. It really is about the principle now not the money. I'm sure they have continued to do this to new agents, turn over is very high already.
And if they are willing to screw their own agents then what would stop them from screwing their clients too? I know their practice is to put people on a guilt trip about if they die then what will they be leaving their families and that they owe it to their families to protect them in the event of their untimely demise. I just wasn't able to pressure people into buying something they couldn't afford ,as was the case with many of the homes I was sent to.
Oak Forest, Illinois