Philippine Prudential Life Plans Inc. is currently taking a severe beating online from several bloggers and major forums. According to the various entries that I’ve read, the agents either send you a dubious SMS message saying you won something and all you have to do is to go to their office to claim it and to listen to their presentation. They also have sales agents scouring SM malls offering freebies for 45 minutes of their time to hear their pitch. For identification they will ask for your credit card, check book, or debit card. The reason why they are emphasizing so much on your plastics is because they want to close a sale with you right there and then.
Here’s a screen shot of the Google search results:
The nightmare comes after buying their product because the buyer isn’t totally informed or he/she was just caught up in the moment when they decided to buy. The unfortunate thing is Philippine Prudential Life Plans Inc. has horrible after sales service so it will be a huge hassle for you to try to cancel your plans. For example, check the excerpt below that I found from the Phawville Blog. Basically they were lured in via Datamex scholarship coupons and raffle tickets, hard sold a product, billed, and “forgotten” after.
First, he explained how the free stuff worked. He showed us the Datamex coupons that we would need to present to Datamex to avail of the free scholarship for any 2 year course. He also explained how we were to avail of the free insurance and then asked us to sign a form to formalize our ties with Prudential Life and avail the free insurance. Then he also gave us some raffle tickets. He said for every credit card that I have then and there with me, I would get 5 extra raffle tickets! I only had one so I only got 5 extra raffle tickets.
And then the ‘ugly’ part of the story came. After making us happy with all those free stuff and making us feel like the most fortunate couple in the world, he started pre-selling to us. He introduced us to their health plans. I am not going to go into detail but what I want to point here is this, we were somewhat tricked into buying their health plan. I had no intention of buying or availing of one but in the end we did and cost us 36,008 pesos. I believe this is what they call sales talk.
However, his sales talk wasn’t clean. He did not tell the complete truth which cost me another 6,000 pesos. You see he said that I can use my credit card to pay for the health plan. I brought a Citibank credit card that day. He said Citibank is one of their affiliates therefore I can use it to pay for the plan. I asked if the 36008 pesos can be paid monthly (divided into 12 months) without interest. He said yes. He also said that Citibank would call me after a few days to do arrange this. We signed the contract and then left.
A few days has passed and Citibank never called. We called Prudential Life and asked for the person who entertained us. He answered the phone. We asked why Citibank never called us. He said he never said anything like that. He is a liar. He even said that he cannot remember who we are. Certainly one of the worst customer service I have ever encountered (worst is Smart but that is another story…). He also said we cannot cancel the plan as it is already signed. Just great.
I tried to look for the raffle mechanics online and I found this page on the company’s website. If I understand the mechanics correctly all you have to do is present your ATM, Credit, or Debit Cards to get the raffle stubs, listen to the presentation, and that’s it. I know there’s no purchase requirement in this promo but I seriously believe that the Department of Trade and Industry should still look into this.
I’ve been victim to something like this in the past. We were offered a free buffet and hotel stay in exchange for listening to their presentation. After eating we were given the presentation and we were being sold some sort of hotel/travel membership. What I find irritating (in hindsight) is that they will really make an effort to attack your EQ by saying that this is a limited offer, you’d be “stupid” not to get it, and worst they will give the presentation in a room filled with other agents and “clients” so it will be very humiliating for you to turn them down because everyone can hear you. When we initially said no, the agent even called in her supervisor for another round of negotiations.
Personally I feel that this is an abusive and exploitative marketing strategy. It probably works to some extent because companies that employ this do close sales. However I don’t think they will last too long because people will start to complain that they were scammed. This is even more true today because of social media and the Internet. Arpee Lazaro’s blog entry has over 1,400 comments with hundreds of people sharing their own experiences with the “scam”.
My best advice? Don’t let yourself be abused. If you really feel that the product isn’t for you, decline firmly, get up, and then leave. There’s no point in hearing their appeals because at the end of the day they are not pushing you the product! The the agents just want the commission from the sale. Understand that they are not looking after your well being. In fact I would be surprised if the agents don’t even believe in the value of the product that they’re selling.
These are the moments where we all have to be thankful for the power of the Internet and Social Media. Technology gives us so much more information and we have to use it properly before we make big time decisions like purchasing products that will force us to pay over an extended period of time (like insurance). If people had the habit of “googling” first before buying, then I’m sure this company wouldn’t have as much business as it has now.
I heard that ABS-CBN’s investigative show did a feature on this already and that the tip about this case came from the Internet. Here’s to hoping that the concerned government agencies will act on the complaints now that it’s gotten national media coverage.
UPDATE: Here’s the video of the ABS-CBN episode from Youtube: