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How Canadian Banks are Like Eikaiwas

So, I'm going through my news feeds, checking up on the news, when I come across this CBC news story about the nasty sales tactics of Canada's banks. It's definitely scandalous, but I couldn't help but think that they ripped a few pages out of the eikaiwa sales playbook.

CIBC teller said, "I am expected to aggressively sell products, especially Visa. Hit those targets, who cares if it's hurting customers."

Sell, sell, sell. This was GEOS' modus operandi. Learning English with a foreigner was the bait to lure in unsuspecting customers.

An Ontario-based TD insurance agent wrote, "We are straight up told to tell false stories (lie) to sell products."

Say anything to make that sale.

An RBC certified financial planner in Guelph, Ont., said she's been threatened with pay cuts and losing her job if she doesn't upsell enough customers.

"Managers belittle you," she said. "We get weekly emails that highlight in red the people who are not hitting those sales targets. It's bullying."

These were the weekly GEOS staff meetings where the manager would implore us to sell because we weren't hitting our targets. We had it relatively easy. I remember numerous occasions where our manager was reduced to a teary, hot mess after some particularly nasty phone calls with Head Office.

Employees at several RBC branches in Calgary said there are white boards posted in the staff room that list which financial advisers are meeting their sales targets and which advisers are coming up short.

GEOS did exactly this with a sheet of paper in the "staff room" during campaign periods. It listed how many students were up for renewal and how many renewed. At a glace, you could see who was doing well in the renewal campaign, and the manager could use it to "encourage" you to do better and more like the top-selling teacher.

Some of the big five bank employees said they're so stressed by expectations to hit sales targets, they're on medical leave. Others said they had to quit.

They wrote about their jobs causing "insomnia," "nausea," "anxiety" and "depression."

I knew a few teachers that ended up this way. It was a combination of the dissillusionment with the job and culture shock.

She said the worst part of her job was having young families in her office who agreed to re-mortgage their homes because of debt.

In a similar vein, GEOS managers would size up a customer and force a lesson package on them based on how much money they thought they had. Older housewife wearing expensive clothes? Her husband must be making good coin, so try and sell her the most expensive private lesson package.

I also had the displeasure of selling private lessons to a pensioner. He didn't have the cash and eventually left, but that didn't stop the manager from trying squeeze what should could out of him.

The CBC news story brought back a lot of memories about the sales side of eikaiwa. I was happy to play along and be a team player at first, but then it gradually dawned on me that eikaiwa really was never about teaching.

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