The Horribly Logged-In Kotak Experience Of My Life!

The calls started coming since more than year before my superannuation offering me part-time employment with a monthly salary. I was, naturally, elated getting job offers even before my retirement. The executives always told me I’d have to attend office only 3-4 days a week for only 4-5 hours a day in a managerial capacity, and my job would be to manage a team of young guys. It sounded good, but I told them that with my present employment I cannot have another job or income and so they’ll have to contact me after my retirement. As the month of superannuation neared the calls multiplied including calls from different other companies. I was a little surprised that most of the times the calls were from private life insurance companies—the Kotak Life Insurance (KLI) being the most consistent one. This fact put me a bit off, because I’d been having some kind of loathing all my life for life insurance companies from which you stand to benefit only after you die. However, that was not the case as was revealed to me later.

Within a month of retirement I’d been attending interviews in various companies. I rejected some that required me to sit at home and continue giving them references of prospective candidates who can cut life insurance policies with them, and I’ll get a measly monthly amount for that and some commission of the successful policies that occur from my references. One particular company nearly got me in, but I escaped in the last moment finding the company very unprofessional and even unethical. In all, my experience was not good as all of them wanted me to be a life insurance agent, and earn regular income from commissions. As I mentioned my loathing above I never had even an ounce of aptitude for that kind of business that requires you to approach/request/beg/cajole people to buy policies. I made it very clear to them and was slowly moving away from all of them.

Before I go further, I must clarify that ‘life insurance agency business’ is not bad at all and only I find it extremely unsuitable for me. Therefore, I must tell all prospective retirees from relatively good jobs that if they want to earn regular income from selling policies directly or through references to the company involved they can indeed go for it, but they must remember that they’ll have to make a sizeable investment in terms of buying policies at the beginning of this career. If you abhor the idea of being an agent then I must warn you to never respond to such calls. I understood the business-strategy of almost all of the private insurance companies very clearly indeed: they target the retiring people specifically, because most of them remain fit for work after the age of sixty; with their long career in relatively good positions they tend to have lots of friends/families/ex-colleagues and connections that may translate into references; and most importantly, they mostly carry home a good pension package. That ‘package’ is the primary target for the companies to tap as hard as possible like the vultures hunting for and pecking the corpses.

I told my preferences to the executive of the KLI the same thing that I didn’t want it because I neither wanted to nor have the interest to function as an agent. The executive very cordially told me that I was being considered for a job in the research and recruitment capacity with a monthly salary and allowances. He repeated the same thing on my insistent queries. So, I decided to give it a try and went over to their office.

After an interview with an experienced associate working with them from outside and an objective test I was selected within two days. I was happy to find the whole of them very professional and friendly, and I thought I made quite a few very good friends in that short time. Another manager held a session with me and other candidates like me, both retired and young ones, explaining the ‘verticals’ and the stipends plus monthly salaries plus allowances associated with the offer. Then, contrary to my hope of getting an appointment letter they informed me that I’d have to appear in the examination held regularly for life insurance agents. I refused straightaway reminding them of my unwillingness to become an agent. They convinced me that to begin the job in a field one must know the basics and that all of the employees and outside agents/associates in the company had also to pass the exam compulsorily. So I finally decided to take the exam, took their training for five days and secured 82% in the exam which made them extremely happy.

Then came the big catch: I’ll have to buy some of the policies to get the offer and more number of policies to get a coveted membership of a company club that offered incremental incentives and the opportunity to attend an annual conference in a five-star resort for two days. They did the calculations for the annual premium for me which I found to be quite huge to afford being a pensioner, but they assured me that my monthly income plus increasing commissions would more than compensate for that, and further, that I had the option of surrendering the policies after three years if I so desired. But how since I cannot approach/request/beg/cajole other people? They gave me the way to buy those in my wife’s name who was still eligible as per age. I found all this okay and also discovered the huge benefits in terms of cashbacks/bonuses/savings in the policies of various types even if you continue to be alive which changed my concept about life insurance policies. Besides, almost all of the policies came with what they called ‘riders’ offering various extra benefits.

So I went ahead and cut or what they called ‘log-in’ a number of policies. From the month of February 2020 I started to attend their training program that continues for a year—starting with week initially and then once every month for which they give a monthly stipend. In March that year I was given the opportunity to be present while the experienced associate was interviewing someone for recruitment and that marked the start of my ‘supposed’ job. Later in March I had to visit Mumbai for a week, but got locked up in the house there due to the first lockdown in view of the COVID-19 pandemic. The training became online and I attended till about the month of May after which I grew restless, because the whole of the training was about techniques of ‘how to sell policies’ which I never wanted. I told them so and demanded an appointment letter for the job offered for which I qualified fulfilling all their requirements, the promised stipend, the monthly salaries and the incremental allowances due to my club membership. Nothing came out of it and I stopped attending the training in protest.

They continued to keep in touch though and reminded me of the five-star conference in February 2021. Although we planned to go there before that it was not possible due to health reasons and I missed the conference, but their calls did continue. We returned to Kolkata in mid-March 2021 informing them of arrival the same day. Suddenly, the calls stopped. When I called up my recruiting manager telling him that I could not earn a single paisa so far apart from my commissions earned out of my own money he said that he was very busy for year-ending completions and would ideally arrange a meeting the next month for considering my benefits and the future course of my ‘job’. Nothing happened.

When I called him again in May he said most of them including him got the virus and some of them were in hospitals. This made me feel sorry, and I decided to wait during which I too got sick with acute gastric, the lockdowns also continued. The months of July, August and September passed without any response from them, even though offices were allowed to function by then. I knew now that I lost the so-called job and also understood the reason why. Well, they realized that I could no longer log-in policies on my own as my wife was past that cut-off age and that I had no children who can also be candidates to make policies in their names. In the meantime several calls from some ‘relationship’ managers from Mumbai came to me referring to my ‘inactivity’ to which I made them aware of my no-job-no-income story every time. Still nothing came out of it. But ‘business’ means strictly ‘business’ for them.

Finally, I decided to call it a day allowing the policies to lapse which amounted to a huge financial loss, but even if I pay for the third year I’ll get only get 30% of the paid premiums and that assured amount will be still less than the annual premium that has to be paid if I continue for the mandatory third year. The bank under the same Kotak umbrella, an account in which became mandatory once I reported as an agent or a part-time ‘employee’, also behaved funnily.

While in Mumbai they offered me a free credit card and when I told the lady executive that the card had to be couriered to my Mumbai address she said no problem noting down the address meticulously. Finally I came to know that the card was sent to my registered address and went back. The bank sent an executive to my home when we came back to Kolkata and he completed all the formalities. Yet the card never arrived this time too, even as they maintained my card details very lovingly in my net banking account. Then, a call came from an executive of the bank offering me more card benefits. ‘I beg your pardon! Where is the card?’ I responded. The executive was surprised in a profound way and promised to deliver it within a week. It never arrived till date.

Well, enough of this! I’m relieved that I’ve decided to be rid of them about whom I always had a very positively professional image—their company being fully India-born and one of the topmost earners of revenues/profits annually. Is all this due to the pandemic or the endemic or the epidemic? Anyone cares to explain please? Never ignore the advice of your wife! My wife did indeed warn me before the I took the plunge as I finally wanted her to benefit more. 


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