Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Avoid Primerica like the Plague

This is my experience with Primerica, a financial group that is supposed to help people with their finances and also help people make money if they sign up with them--a pyramid scheme.

They will tell you it is not a pyramid. In fact, they will tell you that WalMart is a pyramid because they say that managers are making money off of the employees because they are doing the work for him, and with Primerica, you don't get paid for signing people up, you get a bonus. No, a pyramid scheme is when you make money by signing someone else up to make money signing someone else up . . . etc. You are making money off of your friends and family. Sounds great, huh? Primerica indeed gives you money when you sign someone else up. In fact, you don't make money unless you sign people up or sell life insurance, or refinance mortgage loans. A manager at WalMart makes money no matter who he talks to, no matter who buys or does not buy products at WalMart.

First flag: A red flag went up immediately when they presented this "family that we helped in Boise, but we changed the name for privacy reasons." It was the same exact name and figures that my cousin had used in her presentation to me last year. So they lied to us, or at least gave the impression that they themselves had helped this family. The figures that they used to show how much money this family saved by going through Primerica is not the norm. Most families are better off with what they originally have, rather than going through Primerica.

Second flag: They told us that if we sign up with them, we could make $100,000+ a year, and all it costs us is $99 for a background check (which I paid $3 for a background check when I applied with the Child Development Center) and $25 a month to have access to their website. BUT we would get all that back after a month of being signed up with them. They said that we would receive a $200 bonus from Primerica just for signing up with them. So in other words, it wouldn't cost us anything to sign up. Come to find out, we only receive $200 IF we have four people signed up for Life Insurance. We were not told this. DH found it out after reading the paperwork that was given to us AFTER we signed up.

Third flag: I told them that I wanted to discuss it with my husband first and immediately, the man said, "Why? What questions do you have? What's holding you back? I asked you if you wanted to make $100,000 a year and you said yes." I felt like I couldn't even talk it over with him. I wish I would have stood my ground and said, "No, we will not sign up until we discuss it and give a day or two."

Fourth flag: The life insurance plan that they had looked really good--a lot better than the one I had. And it would only cost $13 a month more to have DH on there than what I was paying for just myself. I told them that before I sign anything, I want to see the papers--all the fine print. They said, "First you have to qualify, then we'll get the papers to you so that you can look at them." But they needed a voided check for automatic payments so that there wouldn't be a hold up once I was approved. And I was told to cancel my automatic payments with my current life insurance so that I wouldn't be making double payments. Guess what? A transaction for Primerica Life Insurance went through my bank account this month and I haven't even seen the papers.

They showed us a chart of how much we would make for each thing that we do: signing someone up would give us $2000, getting someone to get Life Insurance would get us $1200, and so on. Come to find out AFTER we signed up (we were not told this), that in order to get these amounts, we would have to be at the top of the pyramid. Very deceiving. AND they told us in order to make so much money, we have to say and do everything that they tell us. In other words, we have to lie.

So now that everything's said and done, we're $99 short, have life insurance that I haven't even looked at the papers yet plus have my current life insurance which is automatically taken out of my checking account which I cannot get a hold of the company because they went out of business, and feel really, really stupid for not following my instinct about the red flags.

Sometimes when you are told something that seems to be really good, you choose to believe that that is the truth, rather than waiting and looking into it first. I had looked up online everything I could find about Primerica and had found equally good and bad things. I had looked it up on the Better Business Bureau website and they were rated A+, so it made me feel really good about Primerica. I don't think that people know about the BBB. It makes me wonder how many other companies have good ratings with the BBB, but are not really that great. I don't doubt for a minute about a company that has a poor rating, that it is indeed a bad company. I suppose I need to be more cautious about companies that have good ratings. When looking into a company on the BBB, you should not look at the rating, but look at the number of complaints. A company could have a million complaints and each one was settled, giving the company a good rating. Likewise, a company could have three complaints that were not settled, giving the company a bad rating.

People who do well in companies such as Primerica are people who live in large cities with many gullible people, who are not afraid or morally concerned about deceiving people. And that is what my conclusion comes down to.