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Pre-Paid Legal -- A Pyramid Scheme With a Catchy Name...

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  • suesarkis@aol.com
    Good day all. I ve been reading the pros and cons and opinions of the authors with serious interest. I ve been following the PPL issue for quite a few years
    Message 1 of 2 , Apr 1, 2005
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      Good day all. I've been reading the pros and cons and opinions of the
      authors with serious interest. I've been following the PPL issue for quite a few
      years now for a variety of reasons.

      Pre-paid Legal (PPL) - what a concept. Scam, sham? I believe that depends.
      There are many large firms that offer pre-paid legal as a business perk.
      However, the attorneys and insurance companies they offer are not part of the
      PPL group as we know it and they (the big company pre-paids) are, in fact,
      qualified attorneys.

      The distinction between a legitimate MLM plan and an illegal pyramid scheme
      as I understand it, is based upon the activity for which participants are
      compensated. Generally speaking, a plan that compensates its participants based
      upon actual sales to customers by the participant and/or their “downline”
      is a permissible MLM plan. A plan that compensates its participants, either
      directly or indirectly, based upon their recruitment of additional downlined
      participants, on the other hand, is an illegal pyramid scheme.

      PPL has been around as a company since 1972, I believe. As each day goes by
      though, I believe they are reverting more and more from a carefully
      disguised legitimate MLM to an unlawful pyramid. It is usually just a matter of time
      based on the available number of suckers, one of which is born every hour,
      or so it's been alleged. Aside from the dollar amounts the associates have to
      pay to maintain their associate status, it appears in recent times that the
      annual participation renewal rate has gone from 80% (1978) to 15% (2003).
      In other words, in recent times 85% of the signed members have not renewed.
      Couple that with the fact that many, many of them have sued and I smell
      serious trouble on the horizon. Of the 15% who have been renewing, 90% of that 15%
      are allegedly actual associates who MUST renew by contractual relationship
      to continue to receive their compensation and benefits.

      The pending lawsuits are now countless. The SEC is now down their throat
      for alleged accounting irregularities.

      I have a problem though with their contractual relationship with their
      subscribers. Now mind you, I have never seen one of their contracts. I only base
      my beliefs on the written opinions of the deciding bench officers throughout
      America.

      Can there really be that many idiots, an excess of 1.5 million, who have
      bought a "membership"? Why would anyone buy into a program that sells the
      services of unnamed lawyers with unknown qualifications with no agreement on what
      they will charge for something simple like a traffic ticket defense? The
      courts have found that the PPL lawyers offer an alleged decent "discount" charging
      around $375 an hour down from their alleged normal $500 an hour rate. Wake
      up and smell the roses. Even the late Johnny Cochran did NOT charge $500/hour
      for a traffic related offense. The high end attorneys on Wilshire Blvd.
      charge between $250 and $350 an hour for their serious stuff. No one, REPEAT,
      NO ONE charges $500 an hour for a traffic defense.

      I have attended a number of depositions whereby a party was represented by
      PPL. I can tell you that each and every time it was pitiful. The last one,
      just a few months ago, had the defendant admitting to committing crimes with
      counsel seated right next to him who was obviously oblivious to the fact that
      his client was sitting there admitting the commission of crimes. Hooray for
      our side.

      In every MLM and even some pyramids there are some who make a small fortune;
      some who make a respectable living; some who make chump change; and, others
      who do not even recover their initial investment. I wish for Vickie a former
      rather than latter and that she become wealthy with this venture.

      As far as PPL is concerned though, I’m a firm believer in the proverbial, “
      You get what you pay for”. I believe that the PPL is a sucker’s bet."

      Sincerely yours,
      Sue
      ________________________________________________
      Sue Sarkis

      Sarkis Detective Agency
      (est. 1976)
      1346 Ethel Street
      Glendale, CA 91207
      818-242-2505

      If you can read this email, thank a teacher. If you can read it in English,
      thank a vet.

      God Bless America and her allies !



      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Vicki Siedow
      I only started selling PPL last summer, but have enjoyed it and done pretty well with it. My experience with PPL has been different from what s described
      Message 2 of 2 , Apr 2, 2005
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        I only started selling PPL last summer, but have enjoyed it and done pretty
        well with it. My experience with PPL has been different from what's
        described below. I'll insert my comments there. I've reset this in HTML to
        allow my comments to be differentiated from Sue's. Please excuse me if I
        don't keep responding promptly to these posts, I have witness interviews and
        other out of office tasks this weekend.


        Vicki Siedow
        Siedow & Associates Investigations
        & Custom Legal Support Services
        2629 Foothill Blvd. #262
        La Crescenta (Los Angeles area), CA 91214
        818-242-0130
        800-448-6431
        818-688-3295 fax
        Siedow@...
        HYPERLINK "http://Siedow.LawAndOrder.com"http://Siedow.LawAndOrder.com
        CA Lic. PI #22852
        Member NCISS
        Need economical legal help?
        HYPERLINK "http://AreYouProtectedYet.com"http://AreYouProtectedYet.com


        -----Original Message-----
        From: suesarkis@... [HYPERLINK
        "mailto:suesarkis@..."mailto:suesarkis@...]
        Sent: Friday, April 01, 2005 4:09 PM
        To: infoguys-list@yahoogroups.com
        Subject: [infoguys-list] Pre-Paid Legal -- A Pyramid Scheme With a Catchy
        Name...




        Good day all. I've been reading the pros and cons and opinions of the
        authors with serious interest. I've been following the PPL issue for quite
        a few years now for a variety of reasons.

        Pre-paid Legal (PPL) - what a concept. Scam, sham? I believe that
        depends.
        There are many large firms that offer pre-paid legal as a business perk.
        However, the attorneys and insurance companies they offer are not part of
        the PPL group as we know it and they (the big company pre-paids) are, in
        fact, qualified attorneys.

        The distinction between a legitimate MLM plan and an illegal pyramid scheme
        as I understand it, is based upon the activity for which participants are
        compensated. Generally speaking, a plan that compensates its participants
        based upon actual sales to customers by the participant and/or their
        �downline�
        is a permissible MLM plan. A plan that compensates its participants,
        either directly or indirectly, based upon their recruitment of additional
        downlined participants, on the other hand, is an illegal pyramid scheme.

        I have only been compensated for sales of memberships. I have 30 + people
        in my downline, but do not receive any $ for signing them up, only for
        membership sales.

        PPL has been around as a company since 1972, I believe. As each day goes
        by though, I believe they are reverting more and more from a carefully
        disguised legitimate MLM to an unlawful pyramid. It is usually just a
        matter of time based on the available number of suckers, one of which is
        born every hour, or so it's been alleged. Aside from the dollar amounts
        the associates have to pay to maintain their associate status, it appears
        in recent times that the
        annual participation renewal rate has gone from 80% (1978) to 15% (2003).
        In other words, in recent times 85% of the signed members have not renewed.

        Couple that with the fact that many, many of them have sued and I smell
        serious trouble on the horizon. Of the 15% who have been renewing, 90% of
        that 15% are allegedly actual associates who MUST renew by contractual
        relationship to continue to receive their compensation and benefits.

        There are several points here.

        First, we don't pay anything to remain an Associate, only to sign up. That
        sign up fee is nominal, and includes training and materials. At the moment,
        most people can sign up as Associates for $49. That include a 1/2 day
        training, books, CDs, etc.

        Second, I don't know the company's overall retention rate, and have no idea
        where you got those figures. My rate is in the 90+% range, as is everyone's
        whose rate I know. If your rate drops too low the company won't let you
        sell. I believe that they cut you off at 70%, but I don't personally know
        anyone who has fallen that low, so I'm not sure. As I stated earlier, my
        friend Jim is now retired on $10,000 a month in residual income, after 4 1/2
        years of 4 day work weeks. That's personal sales, not downline sales. I
        don't see how he could do that with the figures you describe. He is not one
        of the big company celebrities, but he is above average. I do know that
        some not too bright part time Associates do not describe the product
        correctly, promising things that aren't there. I've seen it on the lists,
        and hasten to correct it. They probably have cancellations once the
        customer sees that they didn't get what they thought they bought. That's
        why the company discourages selling through conversation, preferring that we
        use the CDs, brochures, etc. provided.

        I'm not sure who's been sued, perhaps one of the above described Associates
        who are not correctly describing the product. Of course any successful
        group gets sued, as well.

        Most Associates do have the plan, and of course it is encouraged, but it is
        possible to be an Associate without having the service. I personally
        wouldn't want to sell a product that I didn't believe in enough to use
        myself.

        The pending lawsuits are now countless. The SEC is now down their throat
        for alleged accounting irregularities.


        I have no information on this, so cannot comment. I'll look into it. Bill
        sent me some stuff. FYI, their Annual Report and a ton of other financial
        information is available on the website. HYPERLINK
        "http://wserver0.prepaidlegal.com/newCorp2/investor/investor_home.html"http:
        //wserver0.prepaidlegal.com/newCorp2/investor/investor_home.html


        I have a problem though with their contractual relationship with their
        subscribers. Now mind you, I have never seen one of their contracts. I
        only base
        my beliefs on the written opinions of the deciding bench officers
        throughout America.


        The contract is about a paragraph, just saying that what they're getting is
        exactly what's in the membership description. It's super simple, month to
        month. I'll email you an application (the list doesn't allow attachments)
        and you can read it, but here is the contract as it is on the app:


        I hereby acknowledge that on this date, I purchased this plan in the city of
        ________________________________ in the state of _________. By signing this
        application I certify I am legally residing in the United States of America.


        Applicant: I understand that the written contract sets forth the terms of my
        membership, including any exclusions or limitations, and agree to be bound
        by the same. I further understand that the company will mail the written
        contract to me at the address noted herein within the next fourteen days. If
        I have not received my contract within that time frame, I understand that it
        is my responsibility to call the Pre-Paid Legal Home Office at
        1-800-654-7757 to obtain a copy. The written contract, together with this
        application, constitutes the entire agreement between the company and the
        member with respect to the membership, and there are no agreements,
        understandings, warranties or representations other than as set forth herein
        and in the membership contract.

        In Florida, any person who knowingly and with intent to injure, defraud, or
        deceive any insurer files a statement of claim or an application containing
        any materially false, incomplete, or misleading information concerning a
        material fact is guilty of a felony of the 3rd degree.

        Of course the membership details vary according to which you buy, and the
        State of issuance.


        Can there really be that many idiots, an excess of 1.5 million, who have
        bought a "membership"? Why would anyone buy into a program that sells the
        services of unnamed lawyers with unknown qualifications with no agreement on
        what they will charge for something simple like a traffic ticket defense?
        The courts have found that the PPL lawyers offer an alleged decent
        "discount" charging around $375 an hour down from their alleged normal $500
        an hour rate. Wake up and smell the roses. Even the late Johnny Cochran
        did NOT charge $500/hour for a traffic related offense. The high end
        attorneys on Wilshire Blvd.
        charge between $250 and $350 an hour for their serious stuff. No one,
        REPEAT, NO ONE charges $500 an hour for a traffic defense.

        You're right, no one does. Traffic offenses are included in the membership.
        I'll send you something describing the services. In CA our attorney firm is
        Parker Stanbury. Check them out on Martindale.com. Many of our attorneys
        nationally are AV rated. I spoke with a Partner in the AZ firm and asked
        him some questions. According to him they don't allow any attorneys with
        under 4 years experience, or with a single Bar complaint to work the PPL
        cases.


        I have attended a number of depositions whereby a party was represented by
        PPL. I can tell you that each and every time it was pitiful. The last
        one, just a few months ago, had the defendant admitting to committing
        crimes with counsel seated right next to him who was obviously oblivious to
        the fact that
        his client was sitting there admitting the commission of crimes. Hooray
        for our side.


        I wasn't there, but you're probably right. As in anything, there are some
        people more competent and bright than others. My guess would be that this
        attorney was one that had to be retained outside Parker Stanbury, for
        reasons of a conflict or some such. I have found that those attorneys are
        much more variable in competence than members of the Provider Firm. I have
        not had that sort of experience with them, and have used them literally
        dozens of times. I've had one or two who are a little grouchy or slow, but
        I just ask for someone else and they get corrected. Overall I've greatly
        enjoyed my experiences with the PPL Attorneys. They've saved me a ton of
        time, trouble and money.

        One thing that I've been very impressed with is PPL's quality control. On
        the rare occasion I've had a problem they are all over it, handling it
        quickly and completely. To me that speaks more about the quality of a
        company than how they handle things when all goes right.

        In every MLM and even some pyramids there are some who make a small
        fortune; some who make a respectable living; some who make chump change;
        and, others who do not even recover their initial investment. I wish for
        Vickie a former rather than latter and that she become wealthy with this
        venture.

        Thanks, Sue. I'm buying <G> Of course some don't make it. Many don't ever
        even get started, due to their own inertia. I'm sure that in PPL, just like
        any MLM (and by the way, I just HATED MLMs, until I found this one) some
        people get all excited and sign up, or are pushed into it by unenlightened
        Associates. I, and those in my group, have a policy not to sign up people
        who are not motivated and whom we are not going to take responsibility for
        helping. It wastes our time and energy, and does the new Associate no good.
        The company, at $49 can't be making anything after the materials and
        training. We chose to spend our time and resources on Associates who
        promise a better return. There is never a guarantee when starting your own
        business, which is what PPL is. We all have the same opportunity, however,
        and I've found the company to be extremely helpful to those who ask for it.
        Since the sale of one Expanded Family Plan (our basic), at the lowest level
        of pay, is $75, and since you can become an Associate for $49, you'd have to
        try pretty hard not to make back your investment, especially with the
        current media blitz on ID Theft and Living Wills. I'm pretty new at this,
        but I am also pretty vocal. I'm a single mom running a full time PI
        business, and still managed to make over $1,000 on PPL last month.

        As far as PPL is concerned though, I�m a firm believer in the proverbial, �
        You get what you pay for�. I believe that the PPL is a sucker�s bet."


        Seriously, I thought so too. I asked that aforementioned PPL Attorney how
        they make money on these measly $26 a month memberships. There are several
        factors.

        First, most attorneys are taught to rack up billable hours. PPL attorneys
        have more of a "Chinese medicine" philosophy. The plan is heavily front end
        loaded, with a view toward prevention. They do all they can to keep us out
        of trouble. You get unlimited phone consultations, a Will and Living Will,
        document review, to begin with. If their help is required, they work
        quickly and accurately. The more mistakes they make, the more time it costs
        them, time they can't bill for. These guys really jump on it. I've never
        before experienced an attorney calling me back within a few hours, sometimes
        even during evening and weekend hours. The Provider Firm plan is what sets
        PPL apart, and minimizes the vagaries of finding a good attorney, similar to
        the employee benefit plans you describe above. We're a very popular
        employee benefit. We were also recently selected as the Preferred Partner
        in the war against ID Theft by the National Association of Federal Credit
        Unions.

        Next, the attorney told me that they of course get referrals to non PPL
        members, from satisfied members, and also take contingency cases like any
        firm, so make money on those. Of course they make money on the cases that
        exceed coverage or aren't covered. The plan doesn't cover everything, but
        it does cover a whole lot for the tiny amount it costs. Check my site,
        HYPERLINK "http://areyouprotectedyet.com/"http://AreYouProtectedYet.com for
        details on exclusions.

        The attorney also told me that the membership money is divided very roughly
        in thirds, one portion to the company, one portion to the Provider Firm, and
        the other portion dispersed as sales commissions. In California I was told
        that Parker Stanbury makes something like 1,500,000 or more a month just
        from that. They of course represent other companies, a number are listed on
        Martindale, but PPL covers a lot of overhead right off the top. They treat
        me, when I call, like an important client.

        I'm not saying that the company or attorneys are perfect, or that everyone
        who signs up to sell will become rich overnight, but my experience overall,
        and that of the people I know who deal with them, has been very positive.


        Sincerely yours,
        Sue
        ________________________________________________
        Sue Sarkis

        Sarkis Detective Agency
        (est. 1976)
        1346 Ethel Street
        Glendale, CA 91207
        818-242-2505

        If you can read this email, thank a teacher. If you can read it in English,
        thank a vet.

        God Bless America and her allies !



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