Complaints about Trinet HR Services

I’m not a paperwork guy.   As the CEO of a small business, with a few contractors (that really felt more like employees after a while), I decided that if I was going to take the step to have employees, I would need to do it right.   I wanted to make sure I offered a competitive compensation package that included 401k, health insurance, life insurance, etc…  

So I started to search around for ways solutions  I came across a company that was referred to me a few years ago, Trinet.   Trinet offers HR services as a PEO (professional employment organization).   People often refer to this as employee leasing.   Think of it as hiring whoever you want through a temp agency like Kelly Services.   They take care of all the tax and insurance paperwork, and you just pay the agency a fee as a vendor.   The fee was relatively small at $1,860 per employee, per year, so I decided that this would be the best of both worlds.  

The Sign Up Process for Trinet

I have to say that of all the vendors I have ever worked with, none seemed so utterly incompetent as Trinet when it came to the sign up process.   They would send over documents without instructions, or that were dated wrong.   They would lose stuff I sent.   The best part is that I would go through long spurts of not hearing from them, after confirming that everything was ready to go, and then all of   sudden get a flurry of emails from them marked as urgent, saying they needed more paperwork from me.

Once, and I swear this is true, I was told weeks before that we were truly ready to go.   There would be no further delays.   A couple days before the payroll date, I contacted my rep there to ask about the amount they would be taking out. I didn’t hear back.   But then , a day or two before payday, I get around 3 – 4 emails, all marked urgent, saying I need to call them right away.   I happened to be out of town, so I didn’t get these messages until around 2pm.   I called the main rep, she wasn’t around.   So I called another rep I had dealt with, who had also emailed me saying I needed to call him and that it was urgent.   When I got a hold of him and asked what they needed, he said, I and I swear this is true, he didn’t know.   So they had spent most of the morning trying to reach me, but didn’t know why.   I asked him if my payroll was going to go out.   He didn’t know.  

Payroll didn’t go out that week, so once again I had to scramble to cut checks myself.   This went of for literally months.   The best part is, they charged me retroactively for this time with the insurance.   Insurance my employees weren’t aware they had.   We had received no ID cards or selected any plans yet.   But of course I had to pay for it.  

The ongoing problems with Trinet

Since we worked out those initial issues, I would love to say things have gotten better, but I cannot.   Each pay period is an exercise in patients, and comes with it’s own little set of grief.   I have asked Trinet on numerous occasions to send me an email letting me know the exact dollar amount they attend on deducting.   I set up a bank account specifically for payroll, and I need to transfer the funds into that account.   Each time I ask, I’m assured that invoices are sent out ahead of time.   The closest this has come unsolicited was last pay period when I got a notice after 3:30pm that funds would be taken out the next day.   I got a follow up email from Trinet the next morning that they were unable to get the funds.   So despite me asking for several days notice, I couldn’t even get a 24 hour notice.  

One of the documents I filled out was to my bank, allowing Trinet to request a funds transfer.   I had this hand walked into my banker, as well as got Trinet a copy incase of any issues.   My bank has done things like this for me in the past without incident.   And there have been no incident on the money transfer issue until this past payment.   All of a sudden, after 3 – 4 consecutive successful transfers, Trinet is reporting my bank will not honor the request.   They tell me this on Christmas eve and they want me to go to the bank “right away” to wire the fund manually.   I explained to them that I was on vacation with my family and that they needed to work this out with the bank directly (that’s why they have a copy of that document), but for some reason it was determined that the easiest way for this to be handled was to have me go down to the bank on Christmas Eve.   By the time we went back and forth on this, it was late enough that going to the bank was not an option.   So they said I could cut my vacation short and go on the 26th.  

Trinet had not real response to my question about why my bank would not honor the document I gave them.   They just decided that it was too much trouble I guess.   So as of now, employees checks have not been cut.  

For the sake of not rambling on forever, I have actually not gone into other issues I have encountered with Trinet.   I have not gone into the fact that none of the amounts they deduct make a lot of sense.   But they are so screwed up, I know that if I open that can of worms, it will never be solved.

I do have to say that the main rep I deal with there, Angela, is quite nice.   I feel genuinely bad when I start bitching about things to her because she clearly doesn’t control any of it.   But she doesn’t strike me as overly surprised with all these issues.   I get the feeling this must happen a lot.  

There have also been issue with their website when trying to make changes for employees, or anything else.   They brag that their technology is based around Peoplesoft.   As someone who has worked with Peoplesoft, I know that’s not something to brag about.   I have never seen a successful Peoplesoft implementation.   And I don’t believe Trinet has either.   It’s a crap system, and is likely the cause to much of Trinet’s issues.  

So if you’re looking for something to make Hr a little more simple, I would not look at Trinet.   I spend an obscene amount of time dealing with their issues, and apologizing to employees, which is exactly the opposite of what they are supposed to be doing.   You’re better off looking to your bank or other places.   I’m not saying that PEO’s or employee leasing is a bad model, I’m just saying that Trinet is not a company I would recommend trusting with your business.  


  1. On little post script to this: Trinet doesn’t offer it’s own 401k plan, they just refer to another company. I went elsewhere because the people they referred me to looked pretty sketchy. So they don’t really offer a “total” solution.

  2. ADP offers a PEO plan as well. I looked into it, but decided against it because of price. I ended up hooking with a company through Costco of all places. You should check them out.

  3. @Robb Pratt I did notice the ADP option when I was looking around, they didn’t cove Nevada. I’ll check out the Costco idea. That’s where I found my 401k provider. Wells Fargo is also pitching me pretty hard on switching things over to them. They seem to be able to cover payroll fine, but I’m not sure yet how they handle the insurance issues.

  4. Ed, I was sorry to hear about your not so unique problems with another “Leading” HR company. Your story is just one reason for the success of my business.

    Employers Rx helps entrepreneurs and busy executives like yourself to find the “right” HR Outsourcing or Professional Employer Organization to partner with. We can recommend several excellent firms that will compete for your business and total satisfaction.

    Feel free to contact me directly.

    Bruce Silver, Founder
    Employers Rx LLC
    [email protected]

    PS. I took the liberty of posting your comments on our company blog.


  5. This is a prime example of many of the problems with Professional Employers Organizations. Although there are good ones out there, most do not save you the time nor the money they often promise. In our experience in taking clients out of PEO's we are finding that quite a few offer no cost saviings and actually add to the the level of administrativia.

    Our best success case is we saved a company with 65 employees over $100,000 a year by taking them out of a PEO. Most of this savings came from a reduction in medical insurance costs which is supposedly the biggest selling point of PEO's. They say they offer Fortune 500 benefits for the small comapnies. Unfortunately, it is starting to look like the small companies have to pay through the nose for these benefits. Our client is happy because they are getting a much higher level of service at a much lower price. Isn't this thie objective of outsourcing?

    Take a look at this link for a comparison of using a PEO vs. maintaining independence –

    Beware, you do not always always get what you pay for.

  6. We are a current client of Trinet and have similar negative experience with Trinet. I was totally dissatisfied with their services, particularly the FSA Team, who works like a government agency. They do not answer calls and send email announcements, but refuse to accept reply. Make annual medical spending deadline on an odd date 12/15, while most of our employees thought the deadline was 12/31. Thus lots of FSA deduction money went unclaimed. With mounting complaints from employees, I checked with a couple of alternatives like Adminstaff and Explicit and found out they are just as sneaky as Trinet when we discuss about insurance cost with them. It is probably true to go independent, but it does require a full time HR person to deal with labor related issues. Independent approach may not be a good solution for small company with 10 or 20 employees.

  7. They are dreadful, I got stuck with them when they bought out my original PEO and what a nightmare, couldn’t get away from them fast enough.

    I went to Advantech who were bought out by Oasis within 6 months. Just figured out they are overcharging me for FUTA/SUTA and pocketing an extra 400.00 a month in undisclosed fees. When I questioned it I was told yes that’s what we do and too bad, apparently people don’t delve into the numbers too deeply so they don’t get called on it that much and if you do happen to figure it out tough luck you can take it or leave it. I find that to be disturbing like FRAUD, reminiscent of car dealers who like to hide fees in leases.

    I would stay away from PEOs like the plague as no doubt they are all working the same MO, I understand everyone is in business to make money but lay the actual costs up front so a customer can make an educated decision.

  8. I have had the exact same experience with Trinet. It has been a horrible transition and I wished I would have never have signed on with Trinet

  9. Trinet has been nothing but a pain to work with. We have an employee leave and hijack our account. Trying to get back control was a nightmare. They do not use common sense to make decisions. In the end we left for Oasis. Check them out, lower price and more timely responses.

  10. I wish I could somehow get back all of the extra funds I had to pay in late fees due to Tri-net changing paydates. The last straw is to see 55% percent of my pay deducted for RETRO-ACTIVE benefits I did not even know I had although I did not enroll until the last moment of elegibility. These people business practices are very unsavory at the least. It will surely catch up to them.

  11. I wish I had never heard of Trinet HR. they have go be the worst company I have ever worked with. Nothing but errors and stress. What a waste.

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