The Saga of the Duck: How I Nearly Shilled for Aflac

It didn’t take me long after graduation to reach the level of desperation required to turn to monster.com.   I think I knew that nothing good would come of it, but I did it anyway.  I uploaded my resume and created an optimistic little profile, with the career goal of “Junior Editor.”  I was already shooting for the stars.

The next day, I received a phone call.

A very nice lady from Aflac said that her supervisor had seen something “interesting” in my monster profile, and wanted to schedule an interview.  For what position?  She couldn’t say, but she assured me that it would be an informative interview.

The day of the interview,  I received a call to say that my interviewer was ill.  Could I reschedule?

The day before my rescheduled interview, I received a call to say that my interviewer was ill.  Could I reschedule?

Finally, ten days after the originally scheduled interview, I was suited up and ready to tell Aflac what’s what.  I knew that they were probably not calling me in to offer me a position as Aflac’s official policy editor.  A secretarial position seemed marginally more likely, but deep down I knew the only reason an insurance company would cold-call the desperate.  I would politely decline, or perhaps not-so-politely, as the occasion required.  I was not interested in a sales position.  I was interested in starting a promising career in book editing.

I was interviewed by a saleswoman, who spent the duration of the interview pitching me the job.  She was from Charlotte, North Carolina and had only been in Illinois for a few months, and had some difficulty blending in.  Before I had mentioned that I’d spent some time in the nation’s nethers myself, she noted that I was a recent graduate and asked my major.  Upon hearing “English,” she responded with “Well, bless your heart.” I had forgotten that there was a secret Southern code for “You poor imbecile!  Aren’t there facilities for people like you?”

I confessed to knowing nothing about the company, at which point she explained that Aflac is basically like a big, corporate charity, giving poor people money to pay their mortgages when they get sick or injured.  Forgetting her geographical location, she felt compelled to add that “Aflac is a Christian company.”  Although east-central Illinois is considered by most Chicagoans to be part of the Confederacy, in my liberal college town this type of information is generally not volunteered.  You won’t be informed that you’re in a Christian institution unless you walk into a church and specifically  inquire about the presence of Jesus.  Christian affiliation is not as much of a selling point in these parts as it is back home in Dixie.

She spent most of the interview reciting a detailed account of the eight ways you can profit as a salesperson at Aflac, specifically emphasizing that you don’t need to be a decent, or even above average salesperson to succeed (Aim for mediocrity!).   We talked for ten minutes out of a thirty-minute interview about tornadoes vs. hurricanes: which makes you fear God more?

I got a second interview.

Midway through her sales pitch I had a revelation:  I’m currently making $500/month and paying $475 in rent.  I’ll take what the hell I can get right now.

The next day I received a call and set up an appointment for a second interview, and my interviewer (who would have been my district manager) told me to write down some questions I had about the position, as well as reasons why I thought I would work well with the team and why I am passionate about working for Aflac.
I decided not to go with “because I have a long-time dream of brutally sodomizing your horrendously annoying mascot, and I figured getting an in with the company would be the fastest way to make that happen.”  But before I wrote down a list of reasons why I want to cold-call people and make no money, I thought I should do a little research.
It turns out that a simple search for “aflac pyramid scheme” yields an alarming number of results.  From former Aflac agents.  Who are really pissed off that they spent $300 on their license and wasted their time on training only to find out that the company is completely disorganized and the market is utterly saturated with agents.  One person mentioned that their UPS guy told her that there were 8 other Aflac agents living in her 4-block area.  Employers will beg agents to stop calling them, because two or three will call or come in each week, even if they already have Aflac insurance. Also, if someone quits or is fired from their job and doesn’t take their insurance with them, Aflac charges you for the commission you made off of that sale.

The people who have had good experiences with Aflac spam the forums with the company line, using the exact words I heard in my preliminary interview (the one where my interviewer held her fingers up in a triangle to describe the company’s organization- NO SERIOUSLY THAT HAPPENED).  You receive 7% of every commission received by every person you recruit to Aflac.
What an ethical, Christian company!
I would have made a miserable salesperson.  I generally try to avoid talking to strangers, and I especially don’t like talking to strangers who immediately and instinctively want to beat me about the head and shoulders with the nearest blunt object.  I had already envisioned my sales pitch:
“Excuse me.  I’m really, really sorry.  I hate to do this.  I really do.  I know you have better things to do.  I know I’m disrupting the delicate balance of avoidance and interaction in modern society by knocking on your door at dinnertime.  Please put down that lamp.  I can’t afford to go to the hospital.  I’m so sorry.  Please.  I’ll do your dishes if you buy a policy.”
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  1. This is a scary essay, and well written. Who knew that duck had a pyramid behind him? (And now, thanks to you, I can’t help but imagine that pyramid menacing the duck’s nethers.)

    Nice work. You deserve good luck looking for the editorial gig.

  2. I wrote about my time working at Aflac, check out my link!

    • Elizabeth
    • March 22nd, 2011

    Aflac Is not a pyramid scheme. The market is not saturated. And the only people who complain are those who didn’t have the work ethic to succeed. Aflac could not become a fortune 200 company on lies. There is so much of this misconstrued information about aflac out there. Of course aflac charges you for the commission that they paid you if a policy drops of the books within the first year – they pay you ADVANCED commission, 24 ht’s after the policy issued. Doesn’t that make sense? ? I don’t doubt there must be horror stories out there, but blame the corrupt agent, not the company; we are all independent, after all.
    Day after day I continue to sleep well because I believe every american needs this insurance, even if it is not with aflac, and I see families goes through horrific situations all the time, where, were it not for aflac, they’d have lost their house.
    Say what you want, but it’s all wrong.

      • Christopher Moses
      • May 8th, 2013

      Did you seriously say that a company couldn’t become a Fortune 200 company based on lies? How did every large bank make it onto the Fortune 200 then cosmonaut? Aflac IS a Ponzi scheme… If
      you don’t understand that, you don’t understand who Charles Ponzi was and what he did. The top feed off the poor associates! As in Capitalism and the Corporatocracy we currently live in. A gift wrapped turd is still a turd, and NO amount of marketing (thank you Edward Bernays) can hide the fact that Aflac is a pyramid, multi-level marketing PONZI scheme! If you are doing well, odds are you are higher up via help from a director, Regiona Sales or State Sales Coordinator… Friend perhaps? I know of a regional sales coordinator in MS who got his job from DADDY, the state coordiator… His son had ZERO sales in 6 months as an agent and got promoted to District Sales Coorinator so he could suck in overrides from poor agents. He now is a Regional and was GIVEN everything he has on the backs of those agents. You’re a fuckin moron if you think thinking people believe you. Aflac is a SCAM and a big example of everything wrong with the capitalistic wage slave system. Clown!

    • stin
    • August 19th, 2011

    Aflac is a piece of shit company. Fuck these people. They are a bunch of liars and frauds. When I first started, I didn’t know anyone so I asked my mom if she knew any business owners I might be able to talk to. She gave me the name and number of the vice president of a 300+ person company. I gave him a call and he was open to the idea of AFLAC and wanted to offer it to his people. The district coordinator IN THE NEXT OFFICE OVER swooped in and stole the account right from under my nose.

    Oh and the market is way over saturated with agents. Elizabeth must live in Alaska or something.

    • Duck No More!
    • May 1st, 2014

    Whoever “Elizabeth” may be, she is probably a district sales coordinator or a regional sales coordinator who has drank the kool-aid. I started with AFLAC 11 years ago and have been everything from an agent to a Regional Sales Coordinator. That being said, if you think for one hot second this isn’t anything more than a multi-level marketing deal, you are an absolute fool. DSC’s get a 10% override on everyone they hire. RSC’s get a 5% override on everyone they hire. The truth of the matter is, 90% of RSC’s or State Sales Coordinators could not answer a single question about the benefits of the policies. They no longer receive product training, they only receive recruiting training. You can make a tremendous living if you don’t mind hiring everyone that can fog a mirror because a handful may have some success. Company wide, the average new recruit brings in about $20k in production, then they leave. Hell, you get a plaque if you write $25k over your first 13 weeks. Do a little math here. Your actual upfront commissions on $25k in production is roughly $5,000, or $385 a week (some of the lowest commissions in the industry by the way, that duck doesn’t quack for free”. It is a cause for great celebration in AFLAC if a person hits this milestone and the DSC is awarded a $2,000 bonus if that happens. We were instructed to as DSC’s to hire a minimum of 24 people per year. They called it the Rule of 24. 14 of those hired will never produce $1 in premium. The next 6 should produce about $16k each, and the next 4 will write between $50-100K. So you’re considered successful if you hit $100k. Congratulations! You just made roughly $20,000 in your first year!! Thats a good bit different from what you’re told on the cattle call “interview” where you are assured you will make at least $40k with minimum effort. They also don’t tell you how some businesses actually have put signs on their doors saying “We are not interested AFLAC, please stop coming by”…thats a professional sales organization right there.

    As far as that ethical company bullshit, AFLAC, THE COMPANY, is an ethical company! They treat their employees great and pay their claims faster than most in the business. The caveat here is YOU ARE NOT AN EMPLOYEE, nor is anyone under the Territory Director. The State Sales Coordinator, Regional Sales Coordinator, District Sales coordinator, and agents are all independent contractors. Ethics are thrown out the window here. Believe me. A good RSC may pick up your bar tab (AFLAC, we used to joke, alcoholics finally land a career), and the SSC may take you on a trip (that you get 10-99ed for at the end of the year), but beyond that, you’re flying solo. The field force is lead by a money hungry desperate bunch of liars that will do anything to maintain their override commissions. SSC’s average $700K-$1,000,000 annually, RSC’s $250-$500k annually…believe me when I tell you they will do whatever it takes to keep their contract! The last management meeting I attended, the SSC bitched us all out because due to our “laziness”, his stock bonus was only $100k, it should have been twice that….man, I am so sorry the $1,000,000 you’re pulling a year isn’t enough!! I’ll sure try to do better masta! Sorry Masta!

    If plaques and trophies are your thing, I’ve got three crates of them I will be willing to sell. That and one account is all these shitheads haven’t taken from me over 11 years with their organization.

    If you interview, ask your RSC to show you the leaders report for his operation for last year. It’ll show how much each agent wrote. Do some math! Take the premium written and figure 20% of that actually going into the agents pocket. Total them up and figure 5% of that going in the RSC’s pocket….you tell me who’s making the cash and if its a scam.

    • Rachelle
    • September 22nd, 2015

    I’ve already been suckered by the Duck’s Regional Manager. I just told my friend that I was suckered into a bait and switch scheme. I also told he r it was a pyramid scheme as well. You (and others) have confirmed my suspicions. What to do next? I’ve already paid for a state test. Should I even study for the exam? Will it transfer to a legitimate corporation?

  3. I’m a network marketer. People that don’t understand pyramid scheme’s are people that fail at them. Stick to your 9-5 and make your boss rich. Enjoy the watch or pen for your retirement gift!

  1. February 11th, 2017
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