Tag Archives: Cobra Group


With the economy suffffering and the safety net of the welfare state being cut from under us, jobs are hard to come by these days. But as one BRISTOLIAN reader found out, you’d be better offff punching yourself in the face than accepting employment with some of the COWBOYS out there.

‘Jane’ contacted us to warn others about Clover Advertising. “I responded to an advert for an office-based ‘energy surveyor’, and got an interview. But in the interview it suddenly turned out to be door-to-door sales – and the advertised hours of 10-7 became 10-8,” recalls Jane.

The interview began as a sales pitch for Riverford, an organic veg box scheme from Devon. When asked what this had to do with energy surveying, the interviewer cagily said “Um, you’ll be doing some of that too”.

“They lied through their teeth. Advertising a different job to the one they had,” says Jane. “I want people to know they’re a bunch of crooks. From the start they were ABSOLUTE BLAGGERS.”

Other people conned into applying for MISADVERTISED JOBS with Clover have told The BRISTOLIAN that it gets worse if you work for them! Clover is a Bristol-based marketing company run by Gareth Byrne and Natalie Powell from an office above an unlet shop off Park Street. It’s effectively a franchise of the UK’s largest direct sales outfit, Appco Group, run by MILLIONAIRE WIDEBOY Chris Niarchos.

“Billion dollar enterprise” Appco once traded as Cobra Group – until its reputation got known – and sells direct debit subscriptions on doorsteps, mainly on behalf of charities.

Meanwhile in Bristol, Clover – like other Appco companies – recruits mainly young people with vague promises of “fantastic average earning potential”. Appco-linked firms don’t employ their doorstep canvassers either.

Instead they consider their workers self-employed (so don’t pay tax or National Insurance contributions) and only pay commission. That’s right – no basic wage. If you don’t sell anything you don’t get paid! Appco-style self-employment also means answering to the same boss everyday, being contractually tied to the company and being forbidden to work for competitors.

So you’re like a charity street seller only without the Minimum Wage. A few really ruthless I-could-sell-anything-to-your-102-year-old-gran types do succeed – but most Appco workers are simply exploited, with reports of staff earning less than a hundred quid for fifty-hour weeks.

So why does right-on farm Riverford Organics use a company that rinses the desperate-to-work unemployed to sell their lovely organic veg? They proudly display ‘Best Online Retailer 2011 in the Observer Ethical Awards’ on their website; ethical with vegetables not people though.

Other clients of Clover include the Red Cross, who recently started providing food donations in the UK for the first time in seventy years. So the people who flog their direct debits will likely be the same people forced to use their food banks! Clover Advertising and Appco Group: you win The BRISTOLIAN‘s very first CRAP EMPLOYER OF THE MONTH award.

You absolute scumbags!