Published on March 24, 2016 | by Danielle Edwards Photography by SignFab2
The lure of easy money leads to criticism for companies
Promising easy money might mean fielding disapproving remarks for some companies.
Primerica, an international insurance company, knows all too well the scope of these criticisms, especially from opinions on the Internet.
Representatives from the company are aware of its image issues but still say that it’s the real deal.
The insurance and financial services company was established in 1977. It uses a multi-level marketing strategy, meaning that the sales force is compensated for the sales of other recruited members, not just the services they sell. The marketing strategy, while legal, does mean that Primerica and other companies like it are often referred to as “pyramid schemes.”
Primerica Region Leader Gary Derrell has been with the company for 10 years and said that it’s a completely legitimate business but he knows there are many that say otherwise.
He said the company operates honestly and is fully licensed by the government. He also said Primerica is focused on helping families. “We help middle income families get out of debt, protect their families in the event of any unforeseen circumstances and build wealth for their retirement and their future goals,” said Derrell.
Comments on a website called Consumer Affairs paint a different picture. The website had 233 reviews of the company, as of March 22, 2016, and it gave Primerica one and a half stars out of five. The comments range from mildly upset to outrage. One said Primerica is a “complete scam that doesn’t supply you with anything. You are putting your money into the pockets of word wizards…”
Another reviewer felt victimized by the company’s recruiting tactics. “They only recruit young naive people who don’t know what’s really going on. I hope you don’t make the same mistake I did.”
In response to the perceived public image, the company representatives pointed to its legitimacy and said it became public on the New York Stock Exchange in 2010. Last year, Primerica was featured on Forbes list of the 50 most trustworthy financial companies in America.
Amy Alfred, a division leader at Primerica, said that the Internet is highly unregulated. “If you type in ‘Jesus’ or ‘Obama’ you find a lot of stuff, too.” She said the company’s public image is due to a lack of communication. She said that the fault might lay with independent contractors that misrepresent the company. “It’s not the business system, it’s the representative that maybe wasn’t able to communicate properly or was misrepresenting,” said Alfred.
Omar Jarrett was a former member in another multi-level marketing company. He said he found success, eventually making up to $2,000 a month. He said he enjoyed the experience, but he admitted he was sometimes exploiting young people with low paying jobs who wanted what they perceived as easy money.
Derrell said that those that tried Primerica and failed might have not been trying hard enough within the company. “Is it possible that that person didn’t do what was necessary to get the job done and instead of accepting responsibility places blame?” said Derrell.
Alfred said that Primerica plans on paying out $1 billion to its franchise owners by 2020.