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Youi's logo.

Youi 'gets you' even if you don't like it

A YOUI insider is one of several to reveal the inner workings of the insurance giant which has its headquarters on the Sunshine Coast.

The claims closely resemble the concerns which led to Youi pleading guilty to 15 charges of misleading customers in New Zealand this month.

The New Zealand Commerce Commission alleged the insurance company made false or misleading statements during telephone sales calls with consumers, including telling them bank or credit card details were required to generate a policy quote.

After the case, Youi CEO Danie Matthee "unreservedly apologised" to all affected customers and said policies had been put in place to correct the problem.

However, the Daily spoke to a Youi insider, who asked to remain anonymous, and he said what happened in New Zealand was just the tip of the iceberg.

The insider said practices at the Sunshine Coast call centre included "manipulating" insurance quotes to ensure the best quote went through but potentially causing problems for the customer down the track.

"They coach people how to word things in a certain way. For example if you have a red Holden Commodore, if you capture it as white it lowers the risk and makes the policy cheaper," he said.

But then if an accident happens there could be a problem because the car doesn't match what was in the policy.

He detailed the company's pressure-selling tactics.

"If you don't buy on the day, they will phone you possibly ten times or more the next day," he said.

"The floor manager sends you an unsold report and then you harass the customer until they are worn down or make a complaint."

A customer who spoke the Daily on the condition of anonymity also complained about the hard-sell tactics used by the company, which included pressurising for credit card details at the quote stage and serial dialling the customer.

"These people are haphazard, I received multiple calls over an already fully paid insurance policy, not once but twice," the frustrated customer said.

This week Youi has been under fire from Australian media outlets with an outpouring of customer horror stories.

However, while many might not like Youi's alleged hard sell tactics, it's unclear if the company falls foul of any laws.

The Insurance Council of Australia said general insurance products were "subscribers to the General Insurance Code of Practice".

The code has the requirement sales people act in an "honest, efficient, fair and transparent matter".

Youi, which has started building its new global headquarters on the Sunshine Coast to eventually house more than 3000 employees, hit back at claims of a questionable culture.

Head of Communications Trevor Devitt said the proof of just how resolute Youi was to address its service, was reflected on the "Youi Wall" which bore testimony to the company's customer service with a 92% satisfaction ratio.

Mr Dewitt said complaints had been addressed and "all customer issues were resolved".

"We have monitoring systems in place to ensure quality service, good customer interaction, correct data capture and compliant processing," he said.

"Should the interaction involve poor conduct or unacceptable staff behaviour, we refer employees for appropriate coaching, retraining or alternatively disciplinary measures for more serious transgressions.

"In line with good labour practice, disciplinary outcomes are subject to appropriate time periods which allow for corrective action to be taken and also for affected employees to demonstrate correct behaviour.

"Repeat offenders are dealt with decisively."

His comments conflict with the insider who said complaints were registered in a "discipline matrix", but a bad record was only held for three months.

"A lot of advisors who get a file note wait for the three months to do it again."

Another former employee said the company was "terrible to work for" and that its Performance Based System kept changing.

"This causes people to do anything they can to sell a policy to avoid a performance discussion for being low on the PBS system.

"When people call to cancel a policy the advisor sometimes won't even cancel it as it affects his pay check, the customer calls back when their next premium is due complaining that their policy has not been cancelled as, until then, they think that the advisor has done it."

The insider, who has worked with Youi for several years, listed similar selling tactics.

"You have a base salary and a performance bonus scheme, like commission. Then you are paid on how you compare to those around you and it adjusts daily.

"There are a lot of good people making bad decisions because it comes down to sales strategy.

"When it comes to cancellation, you are penalised by how my cancellations you have.

"So if you take a cancellation, you are punished financially."

"It really does stem from greed," the insider said.

While Youi has gained an enviable reputation as a good Sunshine Coast employer, winning a workplace award in 2015, the insider said it had gone from a "young company to no holds barred".

The insider continued to work at Youi as there weren't many places on the Sunshine Coast to find a job.

But he was frustrated competing against people who "do the wrong thing and I won't stoop to that level".

"They say they value honesty and passion. But it's lip service."

"They stick to the (Insurance) Code of Conduct, but if you look at what pressure selling is, it is 90% of what we are taught to do."

Mr Devitt disagreed and said the behaviours described by the insider "reflect a biased and incorrect view of the company culture, it's processes, remuneration system and compliance approach".

"Furthermore the behaviours described are totally unacceptable and stand in stark contrast to our values," he said.

"Our remuneration system is performance-based and a crucial measure includes a customer satisfaction component."

He couldn't comment on how the performance bonus system worked as they were "specific salary issues" which formed part of Youi's intellectual property.

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