Date: September 01, 2006 02:05AM
I've had an interesting experience with Primerica. I found this forum because I was looking for information about the cult-like practices of this "company."
After what I've observed, I'm very interested in the creepy culture of false reward the company creates. I'm no psychologist, but after dabbling in Primerica for a summer I was really more concerned about the way they very obviously 'prey' on certain populations. Primerica pushes and violates a lot of boundaries ethically, and seems to be questionable at best as a business opportunity for ANYONE. At the time I was a college student and a sister-in-law tried to recruit me. She has been heavily involved in Primerica for many years. She also begged for info about friends ofamily I thought would be interested, and I gave her 2 or 3 contacts. I was curious, broke, and also wanted to appease my new sister-in-law.
I signed on and agreed to go to a few insurance classes. I paid the $199 thinking "what the hell. It's supposed to be reimbursed, and that's a lot cheaper than what it costs to get the education and take the licensure exam independently" which in some states is true. I'll admit it the class bored me to tears when it wasn't totally pissing me off. I walked out of the second session. But I can see how a determined person would stay on and get licensed. It just wasn't for me. I lost my $199 but did gain some knowledge about how insurance works - not $199 worth, though.
What really bothered me was how the population of the class so disproportionately consisted of immigrants. I teach ESL and work in the health care field and believe me, many of these people had marginal or limited English skills at best. I *know* a majority of them had trouble understanding some of the complex language of business and insurance principles (judging by how many people sitting at my table asked me in a whisper to repeat or explain parts of the lecture). During break I asked a few participants what they'd been told, and was heartbroken to hear they'd all been 'recruited' by Primerica agents, tricked into thinking they could become 'financial consultants' and make tons of money. $199 is a lot of money for some folks and I don't want to even think how many of them lost it and didn't benefit one bit. How can that just continue to happen and no one has called them on it?
My husband and I have also observed his sister and her family's involvement over the years with Primerica. She holds some kind of very high position and has her own office and seems to be successful. She has no college degree, which is fine, but I've noticed that she seems almost anti-college in her attitude. Sure that's somewhat understandable for anyone who becomes financially successful w/o a degree. But she almost pooh-pooh's college education, which I can't believe since she's a mother of two. How can a company encourage that kind of belief and no one has called them on it?
Other family members and friends have also been to her "award ceremonies" where they've all reported the same story about the strange, disturbing ideology that the "Primericans" seem to have bought into. They give out trophies, plaques and ribbons for vague distinctions and their recipients run down the aisle to collect them while "Eye of the Tiger" plays. Everyone who has begrudgingly attended one of these (for her sake) comes back saying they're creeped out. They talk a lot of weird, unspecific rhetoric about "personal growth" and "strategies" that's all cloaked in business language to make it seem legit. They do a really good job of 'personalizing' their MLM/pyramid scheme to make the recuiting 'agents' feel like they're these wildly successful 'businesspeople' and 'sales reps' who are 'leaders' and 'regional managers.' That's all fine and good - a lot of companies do the same thing - but there's almost no focus on the product - developing it, producing it, improving it - anything. They use their CitiGroup parent company backing to further coerce people into thinking it's legit or has potential to make anyone rich. How can a Fortune 500 company like CitiGroup maintain ties to this scheme for so long and no one has called them on it?
What finally convinced me that Primerica is a dangerous commercial cult is that when I backed away from it, my sister-in-law no longer had interest in me - as a person, as a relative, as a friend or family member. She hasn't called in months. She came to a party I threw and was coldly cordial. Her WHOLE attitude toward me changed. That's when I knew she was totally and completely brainwashed by her involvement with Primerica and was letting the principles of the company's insidious, deceptive practices make decisions for her.
After all this happened and I've had some time to think about it, I truly believe Primerica practices groupthink mind control to make money preying on vulnerable people, and contrives a carefully constucted ideological foundation for their victims to "believe" in. I do believe some people can become successful working the Primerica scheme, but far too seldom to build any kind of ethically sound promises on.
And what I mean by "call them on it" is a legitimate, public, wide-ranging investigation by a large, regulatory entity like the FBI or FTC. Not some pissed off people squawking on the Internet. They are ripping off poor people, who often lack the resources or feel too powerless to fight back in numbers. How can they be represented? What would it take for someone to REALLY blow the whistle on this corrupt organization?