• Report:  #66423

Complaint Review: Cobra Group (DS Max) - London Other

Reported By:
- Indianapolis, Indiana,
Tue, September 02, 2003

Cobra Group (DS Max)
Brunswick Place, London London, Other, United Kingdom
Tell us has your experience with this business or person been good? What's this?
After reading all these rip off reports from ds Max and granton etc. I thought it was about time to say something about The Cobra Group (operating in UK, Holland, Scandinavia, Japan, Spain, Greece, Korea, Australia, N-Z etc).

They say they are independent now and not operating under the DS Max umbrella anymore.... So why did my owner share a crappy office with DS Max clearance division then??? I don't know or anyone ever heard the name Chris Niarchos?? He used to work with Larry or Murray and now chairman of Cobra.

Anyway, I can't believe I have worked there for more then 2 months. Me, with my intelligence and degree walking around the streets of London selling high rates for electricity and gas. When I started I knew exactly what I was doing - as I asked questions in my 1st interview (I mean they were not going to tell me, were they???) You guys have heard it all before; everything on own expenses, no social life anymore (I broke up with my boyfriend, but I left Cobra, we are back together now), working with stupid people. I thought I just give it a go. Wanted to know why those other graduates were doing it. Now I think very differently, I can't say that I haven't learnt anything of this but I wouldn't reccommend this job to anyone.

The reason that I decided to leave two weeks ago was because I found out some things, who stupid me, didn't know earlier. The guy who trained me was an owner before, as were 3 other people in our office. I can't believe he was lying to me all this time - the b*****d!! The only 4 people who were doing really well, were there for longer than 3 years and had f...ing offices before and still only 1 person on their team. My owner would always call out people who were ringing the bell and if you didn't ring the bell but he liked you then he would say, that you were doing really well. He made it look like everyone was making tons of money, but in reality most people were making between 60-150 a week (you can only live of that if you are living with your parents or partner)If you didn't ring the bell for over a week he wouldn't help you, no he would just stop talking to you (how childish can you be)

All those lies it was unbelievable - he was in company for 6 years pretending to have lots of owners promoted and said he was going to promote 7 offices in the next 4 months - my a*s - what a bullshit, he probably won't even promote one. He does drive a porsche but doesn't even own his own flat!!! He is 36 and "apparantly earning 200,000 a year, he should have enough money to buy 3 houses in Chelsea. It are all lies again. Now I can understand why they want you to 3 times to the "pre-man" just to brainwash you.

He still owes me my "security bonds" but he is probably going to tell me that all my contracts were rejected or some other lies. But I don't give up until I researched it until the bottom. Lucky me, I kept all the contacts of customers I sold these crappy deals to, I will know exactly what got rejected or not. I will stalk untill they pay me.

There are some things what really bother me. I thought I had a good contact with my leader, I called her the other night and had a chat with her about normal s**t. She says, yeah we keep in thouch - I swear that she will never call me again untill she has left that shithole - they get told not to spend time with negative people don't they????? She thinks she has her office by november, I know she will never make it, I feel almost bad for not telling her to leave but she won't listen, she is brainwashed. When I walked out 7 leaders followed me. My ex-owner is making no money anymore and the leaders have to be in at 7 am now, absolutely insain.

And all that s**t that they are not a sales company but an opportunity company. What opportunity??? To lose all the money you have??

Everyone who is still working for those companies like DS-max, Cobra, Granton etc. Please leave!!!! you guys don't deserve to get threated like this. This morning I accepted a job offer for something I have studied for and they will pay me 22,000 a year. I am very pleased to start a normal job, I know I will make it without Cobra - I would hate it being an owner anyway and then lie the whole day.

PLEASE PEOPLE DON'T GET IN TO IT AND IF YOU ARE - GET OUT!!!!!! Juice by you........MY a*s


United Kingdom

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8 Updates & Rebuttals


United Kingdom
London Marketing Services

#2Consumer Comment

Thu, February 18, 2010

OMG reading all this Cobra related stuff is like an exact account of my horrible experience with London Marketing Services last year (door to door SALES is not marketing, & self employment selling make up or charity direct debits is NOT a graduate marketing role The lies begin even in the job advert).  Ok so some business people could start of that way... but why the mystery with the job? The no commission, the endless hours? All the Cobra people will say its not a job thats for everyone Well why dont they tell you what its all about then? Why do they have to trick people in to interviews??

So...so I was spun the same rubbish as everyone else i.e. Wow, we are so impressed with you! (although I was told that a pretty face & nice smile was apparently enough yeah, what Ive always dreamed of from a graduate job after having a first class degree..trying to charm money from people in tower blocks in Bermondsey into handing over their bank details for charity).. Unfortunately until they change their job description people are going to turn up really believing they actually stand a marketing job with real progression (and REAL pay). I should have walked out when the shabby offices, managers aged 19 prancing around in their shiny suits, interviews in twos, the cattle market of people going in and out for meetings all set off alarm bells...and as for the loud music, its so obvious, they have the psychology down to a T! Everything is planned and cynically designed to make them look like this young, vibrant,exciting atmosphere.. they know exactly who they are targeting and they do it well!

I googled London Marketing Services just out of interest to see if it was just me whod had this creepy, unnerving experience with them.. unfortunately there was nothing on the internet but their website when I went for my interview...& to think I went home and cried cos I thought I was giving up a great opportunity that just didnt feel right to me! What a lucky escape!

Maybe for student summer work this would be fine and as for learning, apart from the PMA part, you could learn everything else about Cobra from reading online. Again as Ive said, trying to entice desperate graduates with their advertising is the first part of the sham. Any graduate/hardworking young person with any self respect would realise straight away that working all hours for not even a basic salary is madness! None of the defensive comments I've seen from Cobra employees surprise me - But if the job is so marvellous why do they have to go on the attack? If you are really content with your employer then why attack what the majority of people have experienced? Ask yourself - how many people over the age of 25 at Cobra? Where are all the seniors in such a so called amazing company Young people are just yet another group they prey on!

Surely anyone can see they are totally taking advantage of young people who are willing to "work hard" i.e. will do anything any normal job gives their employees respect what if you are ill? What if you have to attend a funeral? What if you had family problems? Jury service? Holidays? Cobra dont care tell me how that is a good environment to work for?

As for everyone else being too lazy to do their job - Don't make me laugh! You arent the only people who have ambitions and work hard!! Theres no need to be martyrs about your work because no one is forcing you to pound the streets for 12 hours a day you can work equally hard somewhere else by knowing what your customer wants, providing a good service and being accountable for what you do. And what do you actually do? Pester people who have better things to do with their days for money!! And dont tell me its for charity how much of the commission lines the pockets of the superiors? (Who incidentally dupe you their colleagues as much as their customers).

The defensive people who imagine that we are all secretly jealous of Cobra workers and their fantastic lifestyles make me laugh, saying to us to Go back to flipping burgers Hmmm, in reality, a Mcdonalds managerial position would have far FAR more stability than your job! And there you would get ACTUAL managerial responsibilities & rewards not just pretend ones. How funny they should criticise us saying we are just jealous because we are in dead end, low paid jobs YOU are the ones who have CHOSEN to work out on the streets for NO actual pay!

If u think money is all then go into finance or banking! There are plenty of options if u are as good at selling as you claim Why would you stick with Cobra who give u very little in return, unless u are scared of anything else? Plus I would rather have what you think is a crap job and a normal work/life balance than work 72 hours per week with no time to enjoy friends, family, relationships, holidays, leisure time, relaxing, exercise thats more what Id call happiness, not wads of cash and no time to spend it!!! How do you think u will ever have a family/relationship in the future! Or do u intend to give up on all that too for the wonderful Cobra? (Dont tell me, u get all the love you need from your team).

If they are such a successful company why dont they reward and appreciate their staff? Surely just having a base salary would motivate people and make staff retention stronger, therefore making it easier for owners to establish a better team..& having a base salary is what other sales jobs have, i.e. to motivate their staff to hit their targets not scrape by. What company wants to see their employees exhausted, worried and hungry? In what way is that at all conducive to having a successful work team? If u choose to be part of a team that gives u false promises and gives you the barest bare minimum, then good for you.

If you are happy where ur then great, but if you have any niggling doubts then please look for something else There are employers out there who will treat you like a person and not just a proft making object AND actually pay you for your effort. Please check them out!




United Kingdom
Mike Blane email?

#3UPDATE EX-employee responds

Wed, August 05, 2009

Hi everyone, I left the Cobra group over four months ago now and Im' trying to get my bond return. However, I'm unable to get hold of my old company and they're not replying to any of my messages surprise surprise!! I can't go in unfortunately as I've moved, so I want to go direct to Cobra. Does anyone know Mike Blane's email address?? I'm a bit annoyed as I know for a fact they've messed with it so it looks like I actually owe them money, when I know they owe me about 200. Its funny how a bond can go from 220 to -30 with only one reject being recorded. Hmmmmm!! While it may not be a huge amount of money it's mine and I want it!! Thanks guys!!


United Kingdom
Hi Luke

#4UPDATE Employee

Sun, May 24, 2009

Yes I remember you well. I guess there are always two sides to every coin, you just have to take what you can out of life's experiences. For me it was many useful tools, funny stories and some great friends. I am sorry you don't feel the same. It is nice to hear from you though!


Newcastle Upon Tyne,
United Kingdom
Leona, I think I know you... (blonde hair blue eyes probably 3-4 years younger than me?)

#5UPDATE EX-employee responds

Mon, June 09, 2008

... I worked with Scully in clearance at same time as you before going up to Newcastle with Brain Mogg in early 2000. It nearly killed me. It is an evil and deceptive cult that ruins lives, careers, educations, familes and relationships. They don't tell you that your real chances of ownership aren't one in four or five, but more like one in 1,000 or more. Slavery by deception. Have a look at this site if you haven't already. Enjoying life as an 'elderly' undergrad at the LSE. Regards Luke (Small mediterranean- lookin' fella, had glasses when I knew you (c 1999- 2000))


United Kingdom
The truth about Cobra from an ex employee

#6UPDATE EX-employee responds

Wed, April 02, 2008

Hi I also worked for Cobra around 8 years ago in Manchester, however, unlike Anna I was in the clearance division rather than applications, this was basically carrying a bag of items to sell to businesses and individuals. This division was certainly no easier than Anna's. I did this for about a year, was not promoted to management and found it difficult to build a team, I had about 3 guys on my team when I left. I stopped working for Cobra because I had an accident that left me unable to walk properly on one leg for about 8 months. I was therefore unable to participate in the field as energetically as I had done previously and took another offer that I had received in the field. This was about 8 years ago now, I do not work for the company now and have no affiliation whatsoever. My Experience Working for Cobra taught me a lot and is a memory I look back on fondly. Yes it was hard work, yes it was long hours (even longer for me as I travelled a hour each way by bus to get there), I carried a heavy bag from shop to shop day in day out, come rain or shine. The job certainly isn't for the faint hearted or the lazy, however neither is having your own company. Business and sales are for grafters, if you don't want to work hard then it is best to look elsewhere. Finances The money isn't the best as it tends to be commission only (but then you are lucky to get anything out of your first year of a new business if not longer). However, in contrast to Anna's story I rang the bell most days (about 90%, I rang the bell on my first full day and went on to ring the bell in a different city consistently for the week after). Ringing the bell for people who don't know means that you have earned (8 years ago) 40. Quite often I would surpass it and my highest was about 180 in one day. Why people fail PMA-What cobra teaches you are some very powerful selling tools, ones I still use to this day. However, that is not the most important thing cobra taught me. What they try and drum into you is a positive mental attitude, and they are really do this well. Unfortunately some people don't want to put in the effort to work on this, neg out and quit blaming it on anything or anybody but themselves. A positive mental attitude isn't an easy thing to achieve, it needs to be practised and embraced until it becomes natural, however they help you every step of the way. Whenever I felt myself negging out I learned how to turn myself around. This again is a invaluable tool in business. In fact a good example of this was last week when Ebay stopped my business overnight with the introduction of a new policy, a business that I have been working on for over a year; instead of crying, giving up, blaming Ebay, I kept positive and sought out a new direction to take the business. This isn't only a sales tactic, this is a life lesson. A positive attitude is the most important tool to take with you through life and is the heart of everything Cobra teaches people. So when out in the field, instead of panicking about sales and worrying whether I was going to ring the bell I relaxed had fun in the field and guess what; I sold! Customers warmed to me and even though I was physically and mentally exhausted I really did have more fun in this job than I have experienced anywhere else. With a negative attitude you are almost talking yourself into failure making it very difficult to sell so you end up failing anyway. Inspiring and Motivating Others - Cobra taught me the confidence to talk in front of others and to motivate a team. Again you need to be a positive person to be able to do this, so not everyone can. However, we had a good teacher, our office owner, he is the type of man for whom you always stop and listen when he opens his mouth, as you will always want to hear what he has to say. When I have to motivate people now I use the very same techniques that I learned in that office. It teaches you to how be a leader and to have enough confidence in yourself to stand up and say what you mean and to actually help and inspire others. However, if you are uninspired yourself, you can't effectively inspire others; so building a team, running an office and creating a successful business is incredibly difficult and will in most cases lead to failure. Presentation- Another important part of working for Cobra is interviewing and hiring staff, they support and teach you how to do this effectively. They also taught me a valuable lesson to dress for where you want to be and not for where you are. Peoples' perceptions of you when you are selling your product, idea or business are vital and this lesson has served me well in many situations. If you don't look or act the part when interviewing potential team members or when leading a team then you will loose them; they need to have confidence in you. Jumping in- Lets face it, I was selling out of a bag, working my territory and trying to sell things like vibrating hairbrushes to bikers. This was hugely out of my comfort zone and still is to this day. However, I just jumped in and did it, no territory was out of bounds; I would pitch bank clerks, builders on large sites, bus drivers whilst parked up, basically anyone. I didn't just step out of my comfort zone I obliterated it, you can't create a large successful business and you certainly can't earn money or progress with Cobra without doing this. Is it an Opportunity or is it a cult? What Cobra does is give you the product, the tools, the training and the support to build and run a successful business; what you do with these opportunities is up to you. It isn't for everybody, however; if building a successful business was easy then we would all be millionaires!! It made me laugh when I heard it described as a cult; after hearing 70 people shouting juicy with enthusiasm at 8am in the morning on my first interview, I was certainly a little wary. Also as described earlier they do work on retraining your brain to be positive and lead via hope, you do get hooked up in the whirlwind and if you are lucky like me then you build some really close bonds with your work colleagues and they end up life long friends. You also have a lot of fun (especially on Friday nights when the whole office piles into the bar!!). If this is what you believe to be a cult then I am all for it!! However it clearly isn't a cult as free will is encouraged and they don't ask you to have babies for the group. Some offices do help you out with accommodation that you can share with other workmates, but you are there of your own free will and tend to deal with the landlord directly this is basically the boss helping out finding accommodation for you, there is nothing tying you into employment with them, you don't even have to give notice so in fact it is easier to leave Cobra than it is most other jobs. The Lies Cobra aren't perfect - you're right; they make it sound like it is easy to own a business, that its just a matter of time until you get your office and become rich. They boast of new ventures that don't come into fruition and yes, some will tell you they are making 600 a week on the field on your interview when they are earning 200 or even less if they neg out easily. Unless you are very good at sales you won't earn this type of wage until you have a team and an office that is running successfully. It isn't easy to get an office and people aren't promoted all the time, although two guys from our office were promoted while I was there. Everyone is different and it is hard to build a team, so where it may take one person 1 year, it may take another 5 and there is no guarantee that you won't go under with your first couple of offices as well, unfortunately that's business. However, they do this to help create a positive buzz; right or wrong, the effect is still the same - they make you believe you can do it so you're more likely to actually do it. It is easier to blame people other than yourself when things go wrong, it is easier to walk away than to keep pursuing your dream. Cobra encouraged me to follow my dreams, to picture the future I wanted in my mind whenever I felt low and to keep trying. Instead of looking back and thinking you wasted your time whilst with Cobra, why not look back and gather the resources and tools that Cobra has taught you and use them to build the future. So it didn't work out for you, the average entrepreneur has 16.5 failed businesses before they reach their successful one. Why do they succeed in the end? Because they think positively, they boost themselves up every morning, and continually step out of their comfort zone. When they hit a problem they find a solution, bounce back and just keep on going, every day, following their dream. This is what Cobra shows its employees, your success is only limited by you. I didn't reach my dream with Cobra; the same happened for the friends I met there as well. If you asked me if I would go back, my answer would be no - it wasn't for me either. However, my time with Cobra was invaluable as I now wake up every morning and follow my dreams, when I feel down I have my goal on my desktop, when I meet people I act and dress for where I want to be and that gives me added confidence to talk to almost anyone on a one to one basis with ease. I am not afraid to try anything or to dream to big. I love the sense of freedom and positivity that this provides. Like many others Cobra didn't make me a millionaire, however, using the skills that they have provided me with I am closer to my dreams now than ever and I keep getting closer every day. Would I consider my time with Cobra wasted? Not in the slightest - I got paid to learn about business and self development and had a lot of fun in the process. Best Wishes Leona Ex Employee of Tuscan Marketing, Manchester and was (if not still is) part of the Cobra Group. PS. I have just found a Tuscan Marketing Group on facebook, which led to my search for Cobras website, hence how I landed on this report. There are also other ex employees in there if you want to speak to someone else who has worked for Cobra.


people they go after

#7UPDATE EX-employee responds

Thu, August 25, 2005

one thing all of you need to do is look at the people they go after with these companies. they advertise in the employment section normally under the "general" section and the reason is most people who are looking for jobs in that section are just looking for a job and not a career and most do not have transportation, most can care less about health benefits or benefits period. i hate to say this but i was a manager an office and those are the victims that we preyed on and of course we told you to tell your friends because birds of a feather flock together. the juice meetings were just a distraction to get you to keep coming back and give you somethin to look forward to. i now work as a mortgage broker and make 6 figures and never once have we needed a juice meeting b/c the quality of people that work at my company now are professional and know what they have to do to make money. i am neither defending nor applauding ds max but the reason why most of you fell victim was because they viewed you as weak and insignificant. i came in as a recruiting manger b/c that was my specialty but it really wowed me how many fall prey to these schemes.


United Kingdom
The cult that is direct sales.

#8Consumer Comment

Sun, August 14, 2005

The Cobra Group PLC seems to be exerting a strong hold upon the young, ambitious students and unemployed of Britain. Most young people at one time or another will come into contact with them; their job adverts are appealing. I became familliar with Tuscan Marketing, a subsidiary of the Cobra Group when a close friend went undercover to write his university thesis on corruption within charities. A high proportion of the money earned by Michael Scully, Managing Director of Tuscan Marketing and Vice President of The Cobra Group PLC has been earned through the direct marketing of Charities. "Employees" of Tuscan will be more than familliar with the technique of identifying housing estates within economically deprived areas and launching campaigns upon their residents. Statistics show that the more deprived an area, the more willing its residents are to give up their hard earn money to charitable oragnisations. It is important to note here that due to the pyramid like profit structure of the Cobra organisation, less than half of the money raised ever reaches the charity. Ok, I can hear Tuscan's "employees" shouting that in fact ALL of the money raised goes to the charity. Indeed, this is a repetetive part of their pitch. But the fact is that all of Tuscan's clients pay a comission on new sign-ups. In the case of charities I have heard senior members of Tuscan claim it to be over fifty percent of the original Direct Debit donation. So what does Michael Scully do with the fortune he has raised through exploiting the vulnerabilities of young people and charities? He buys Ferrari's. Yes, having had his ex-girlfriend write-off his TVR Tuscan and having sold his F360 Modena, Mr. Scully is now awaiting delivery of a further TWO Ferrari's. Nice. Two big, red beautiful carrots. You will note that I type "Employees" in quotation marks. This is because, if you should apply to work with The Cobra Group PLC you will discover that you are not in fact applying for a job, more applying to become a freelance contractor. This sounds fine on the surface, but the truth is that you will be subject to the same commitment of an employee, but you have none of the protection that employment law provides. It is usual for "FR's" (Field Representatives) to work 12 hour days during anti-social hours (10 am to 10 pm) 6 days per week. There is no paid holiday, there is no sick pay, and no guarantee of earning any money unless you make a sale. But critically, you are not permitted to work for anybody else during your period of contract to Cobra. Nor are you allowed to choose when or even if you work. You are committed to be present at the (relentless) behest of your "Owner." If you are to look at tax law regarding freelance work, you'll find that Cobra breach its spirit in a multitude of areas, not least the "Master - Servant" relationship that dictates PAYE. Of course, Cobra's lawyers exploit every legal loophole they can. They are very highly paid, unlike the FR's. But all of this is nothing when you see the damage caused by the cult-like psychology that exists within this organisation. It has its very own lexicon: "Juicy" "Negged" - the bi-polar yet entirely linear paradigm of thought with Cobra. Young people are being baited with Ferrari's. They are giving up their social lives, their family time, their sense of worth to an organisation that will employ "anybody who can fog up a window". Call up their employment hotline - listen to the propaganda while you're on hold and then try to work out why, when you arrive for an interview, the "Owner" is trying to sell the job to you, rather than you sell your skills to them. I have seen the guts of this company. It is very ugly indeed.


United Kingdom
How do you wake someone up from this company

#9Consumer Comment

Sun, October 12, 2003

My boyfriend has worked for Cobra, Grantans, whatever for nigh on 9 months....First of all in Essex then recently London...His owner in Essex failed to make his office work so had to go on retrain with the head of the advertising devision. So Essex office was closed down and the guys from the office were shifted to Aldgate. My boyfriend really believes in the oppertunity and has worked his but off for this company...He is a recovering alcaholic andthe only good thing this company has done is give him a focus that is not at the bottom of a bottle, or so I thought, he is slowly turning back to the drink because every time he gets near, builds up a crew etc, he gets knocked back....All the reports of dsmax, Cobra etc are sooo true...I went with him to a rally in London a couple of months back, where the new vps got there watches etc....Boy it was like one of those evangelistic charasmatic christian rallies, I though Billy Graham would pop out any second. I just do not know what to do, our relationship is going nowhere, he is putting this business before us, before his son by a previous relationship, beofore everything, he works 14 hrs a day, 6 days a week, puts every penny he has earned back in the business the next day for travel, paying obs etc....Boss bought him a new suit the other day, whooppee, he thinks thats great, what he forgets is, that he had to buy an ob a suit out of his own pocket within 2 months of being with the company...He is hurting me and everyone around him, especially his young son....he thinks he is providing a future for us, I think he is being taken for the ride of his life...I need help, advice...a de-programmer...

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