APPCO/Cobra Group / is a scam
In 2013 I begun to work with one of the 900 APPCO Group (formerly known as Cobra) companies.
Now, I'm not stupid, when I am offered a job or even an interview with a company that I haven't previously heard of I do my research.
After a quick Google search I read over 200 articles of staff exploitation using "self employment" to underpay staff. I even found an article from an undercover journalist working at the company I'm at.
What I have to say from the online searching and personal experience is to avoid this company at all costs. They have been known to ruin people's lives.
I'll tell my story below but for the protection of my identity I will not name the exact branch I worked for, only say that I worked in England, I won't use real names myself or anyone I worked with and I won't detail how long I was there, only say it was between 2 weeks and 2 months:
So, after being desperate for a job for some time now I decided to join one of these websites where you spend an hour creating a profile then you can apply for hundreds of jobs with just one click, in my area and age band unemployment is at 28% so I went for quantity over quality. Anyhow, I mindlessly went through every job on this list, clicking apply on anything that didn't require qualifications that I don't have.
About 2 days later I received an email asking me to come in for an interview tomorrow and an address. There was no information on the company at this point, not even a name.
I arrived for my interview in my best (and only) suit, and was taken into a freezing cold "boardroom" with about 15 other people. I was told all about this company and what they did and the impressive list of clients they represented. I was told in great depth about the company's B2B (Business to business) and events marketing. The interviewer also almost inaudibly mumbled something about a residential campaign and skipped over the slide in under a second, describing it as not important.
After leaving the interview I decided to go for a drink with most of the group I was with in the "boardroom". We were told that only the best and the brightest would be selected from the interview. About 45 minutes after we left the group brainwashing session one of the guys I was with got a phonecall from the company telling him that they don't usually reply this quick but they thought he was brilliant and they want to get him back for a final interview tomorrow and said they'd send him an email with more details. About 15 seconds after he'd told me what was said I received a phonecall telling me they don't usually reply this quick but they thought I was brilliant and they want to get me back for a final interview tomorrow. Within 20 minutes all 11 of us at the table got phonecalls saying that they don't usually reply this quick but they thought we were brilliant and they want to get us back for final interviews tomorrow or the next day.
I decided, against my best in intuition to go back to the interview where the MD of the company I'd work for talked at me for 20 minutes about how much he earned and how easy it was to get to where he is in the company. After the interview he told me that he doesn't usually do this but he wants me to start on Monday for a 2 day induction then get me straight into the field. He also told that to the 8 other people he hired to start on Monday.
When it got to Monday we were all in our best suits for our induction. We squeezed into a tiny office and listened for an hour as one man told me how much he earned in a week. We then, over the next two days were bombarded with propaganda about how employees on fixed rates of pay have no motivation and will die sad, poor and unfulfilled. We were told that we wouldn't feel like that because we'd be self employed and that means we'll work hard and earn £20 an hour as a variable starting wage.
The claims of the two company directors that were sharing the office I was at were laughable. The highest estimate of what they earned based on what they said was £1.65 million a year between them after 2 years. I saw many of the people I started with being brainwashed into the cult mentality of the company. Some of the rules I learned is that "you're not allowed to mention negs" meaning you're not allowed to say anything negative at any point during the 70 hours a week you're at work and that you're actively discouraged from disclosing what you've earned to anyone (so their claims of £20 an hour aren't thrown into disrepute). Just for the record, over my first 3 days I worked over 30 hours and didn't even earn £15.
The piece de resistance for me however was that when I decided to talk to the MD about members of staff specifically targeting single elderly women (preferably widows, they said) aged 70-80 because "they're the easiest to guilt trip" I was scorned for being "too negative" and I had "lost my attitude and work ethic". This was the straw that broke the camel's back for me. I don't care how little money I have, I do not condone exploiting vulnerable people for personal gain.
I have tried to keep this as short as possible but basically DO NOT WORK FOR APPCO/COBRA.
If you'd like any more info just post a reply and I'll give you as much as I can.