Why I Hate MLMs (Multi-Level Marketing Companies)

Corey —  August 30, 2010 — 48 Comments

       The Silicon Valley Blogger (SVB) had a post up Friday about MonaVie and the ongoing drama that Lazy Man and Money faces as he tries to expose it for what it really is. If you’ve been approached by someone selling MonaVie’s miracle juice, I strongly encourage you to read what Lazy Man has written about them.

       I left a comment on SVB’s post that I wanted to share with you all. She asked for thoughts on MLM, MonaVie, and the like. Here’s what I had to say:

My thoughts on MLM? I HATE IT!

I hate that people relentlessly pursue their family and friends (and their family and friends) just to try to make a quick buck (with a shoddy or overpriced product).

I hate the social obligation that we often feel to support people doing the above.

I hate that people get sucked in to what they think is a “real” business when all it really does is suck up their money and pass it up the line.

I hate the brainwashing that makes it impossible to talk any sense into your family and friends.

I hate all the wasted time and resources that go into these things when people could do so much more on their own or even just with a reputable company.

I say more power to Lazy Man! If he gets only one person to turn away from MonaVie (or any other MLM), he’s done the world a favor!!!

(Side Note: I think Primerica is another terrible offender in this arena because of the damage they and their products can do to unsuspecting consumers. I’ve seen this first-hand with my own mother.)

Now let’s see how many of your readers have already joined the MLM cults. :)



       Maybe I’m being harsh, but I just don’t have much tolerance for these shams – I mean, wonderful opportunities to become your own boss…

       What do YOU think about MLMs (any of them)? Let me know in the comments below! I’ll be happy to discuss this with anyone who wants to talk about it.

       P.S. If you’re considering getting involved in a MLM or buying from someone who is, I’d be glad to talk with you for free. Maybe we could find a better business model for you or look at the true value of what you’re about to buy.

Corey

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Corey is currently pursuing a Master of Arts degree in religion. While he enjoys learning and writing about Christianity, another one of his new passions is writing about personal finances in order to help others make wise decisions with their money.

48 responses to Why I Hate MLMs (Multi-Level Marketing Companies)

  1. Paul, I’m with you. I used to be accosted by Quixtar (Amway) representatives all the time. They would approach me in Walmart and try to get me to join. I could tell from the instant they started talking what they were – they had a scripted conversation they would use where they acted like I “looked familiar”, in order to start the conversation. When I asked them, “Is this Quixtar?” They had a scripted answer that was a non-answer and they would not say yes.
    It is garbage as there is no real business involved. Any reputable business is focused on providing a quality product, price or service to its customers, but in MLM’s these are all an afterthought.

  2. I agree with all of the above. Pampered Chef, Home Interiors, Jewelry Parties, Purse Parties and Mary Kay are all just as horrible! My husband has always said it is just using your friends. We had a “friend” call us 4 times and even invited us to dinner. She was selling “all natural products” and had all kind of data as to why everything else, except what she was selling, was horrible for you. We finally had to flat out tell her not to call us back if this was the topic to be discussed. We do not want to be involved in MLM in any way!

  3. Thanks for your comments, Trent & Jennifer!

    @Trent: I had a “friend” try to recruit me for Quixtar in college. I had lunch with her and then tried to ask some questions to figure out what it was really all about and how it worked. She couldn’t answer my questions and I couldn’t find the answers online or in their materials. That tipped me off to be wary of the whole thing and I never joined. Then two years later, another friend of mine got sucked into it but I couldn’t talk him out of it.

    You’re exactly right about the nature of a reputable business versus an MLM. MLMs really just try to sell an idea/lifestyle to get people to join the downline and bring in bucks for the people at the top of the pyramid. If an MLM were legitimate, you wouldn’t have to depend on the generosity of your family and friends to keep buying your overpriced products or on your ability to persuade others to join the “company”.

    @Jennifer: It’s terrible that you have to resort to telling friends not to call you back, but I think you all have the right strategy. Avoid MLMs as much as possible and don’t encourage others who get involved.

    Thanks again to both of you for your comments. It seems like nearly everyone’s been approached by these programs or know someone who’s gotten involved. Maybe I should continue looking specifically at why these are a terrible idea if you’re looking to start your own business.

  4. I remember being invited to an Amway seminar by your uncle Gary and went with your dad. I wasn’t impressed. Then years later, Marvin was invited to a big to do, same company, by some one at the paper station. We went, still wasn’t impressed and I had to convince Marvin that the only ones making any money were the ones holding the seminars, the speakers and the ones selling the starter kits and motivational tapes/books. Oh yeah, thanks for putting the Primerica thing on me….

    Love you!!!

  5. Hi, Mom!

    I didn’t mean to “pin” it on you. I just remember when you told me about the fees and expense ratios for the mutual funds they put you in. It wasn’t pretty. And it really wasn’t what you needed to be doing at the time. It was like they completely ignored your financial situation in favor of making money by selling you investments.

    And you’re right about who makes money in MLMs. It’s the people at the top with lots of distributors beneath them. But even then they have to keep recruiting people because so many burn out/give up once they realize the truth about these companies.

    Love you, too!

  6. You nailed it. These people talk as if they were brainwashed. A fellow church member started giving me the spiel for one of these miracle fruits and I asked him about scientific research — and he absolutely would not consider that there might have been another side to the issue. (I’m a scientist. I expect experimental results to be widely varied, and then we sort them out. HE however just searched the scientific literature for a couple of papers that supported his nostrum, and ignored the rest.) I wish I had the presence of mind to tell him, “Brother, you are in idolatry. You have made a faith commitment to something that isn’t God.”

  7. I would even go further and say, “Brother, you have joined a cult. You no longer have a godly view of God’s creation or of your relationships with your fellow humans.”

  8. I had a similar experience with some friends of friends at a campfire one evening. MonaVie was the topic and I couldn’t talk any sense into them at all. They can’t answer simple questions, but they still think it’s the greatest opportunity ever.

    A lot of it has to do with the marketing/motivation strategies used by MLMs. They suck people in with promises of achieving their wildest dreams (which are often driven by materialism and discontentment). Then they motivate them by showing the people who’ve made it big while ignoring the masses who lost vast amounts of money and time to the “opportunity”.

    The scary thing is that I’ve heard many of these MLMs have a strong Christian culture to them – or at least something that appears that way. But I’m fairly certain the Lord wouldn’t want to have us selling questionable products based on false promises to believers or non-believers.

    Thanks for your comment, Michael! As always, I enjoy hearing from you.

  9. P.S. Sorry your avatar looks so angry! :) If you go to gravatar.com, you can sign up and use a picture you choose.

  10. I don’t mind the grumpy avatar :)
    Maybe preachers should be confronting MLM from the pulpit as a kind of heresy or cult. It certainly often has that quality.

  11. It’s funny your avatar still looks grumpy even though you used a different email address this time! They’re randomly generated based on the email address you use, and you always get the same one on a site for the email address used in your comment.

    I think it’d be pushing it to design a sermon around MLMs, but I could definitely see how it could fit in to the discussion of some verses from Scripture. It would probably be relevant as it seems that many MLM programs get spread through churches and some people target churches to sell their MLM products.

  12. I absolutely hate MLM! The unfortunate thing is that they usually gain traction within churches!

    I know someone who was recruited to sell Primerica, who knew absolutely NOTHING about finance. Since my ambition is to be a financial planner, she asked if she could practice her presentation on me.

    The products, rates, and outlandish claims were so disgusting to me! I kept correcting her and the trainer about basic financial facts.

    When she left I just kept thinking, “she is really going to destroy someone’s life with this nonsense”. Of course she was recruited by a presentation at her church!

  13. I totally agree Michael, I wish the preachers would confront this issue since these MLM schemes run through churches like wildfire!

  14. Thanks for your comment, Sherrian! I think it could certainly be addressed in the context of honoring one another, being wise about the world, maintaining integrity, being fair & just, and not using religion to rip people off (I’m thinking of Jesus clearing out the temple).

  15. Exactly my point about Primerica, Khaleef! I’m looking more into their training and how they run things now. I’ll probably be posting a few articles about Primerica to give people the knowledge they need to assess working with or for them.

  16. I think it would need to be in a sermon about idolatry in general, or about wrong approaches to created things. Hmmm… must think about that…

  17. Let me know if you come up with something, Michael. It’s definitely something I’ve seen in my own church and others around us.

    I have no problem with people trying to make a living with sales, but there are more legitimate, honorable, and useful ways to do it than through an MLM.

  18. These companies are smart about using MLM as a way to market their wares and services. They know that a grass roots marketing approach can work. I don’t like it at all either. But if the product were actually incredible, it would be a bit more forgivable. Great thread!

  19. Thanks for commenting, SVB!

    I agree that it is an effective marketing strategy, but what really gets it going is the psychology they use to recruit/retain people. They psyche them up and tell them they can achieve all their dreams through this MLM program. They highlight all the very successful members and gloss over the ones who make no money or lose a ton.

    I’ve never said you can’t make money in an MLM. It can happen but never by selling products only. You have to sell the pyramid scheme to others, get them in your downline, and then get them to sell stuff and recruit people as well. That’s when it becomes questionable as to whether it’s a real “business”. But in my eyes it’s never a real business because it’s predicated on selling grossly overpriced goods to people through deceptive means.

    The funny thing is you never see a truly remarkable and useful product marketed this way. Maybe that should be a clue!?

  20. I have been in Chritian Ministry for over 20years now & yet I still wonder how I got myself involved with MLM.I later foundout that Deception isn’t deception till is well concealed.Yes,I worked for Primerica & Fortune high tech marketing of which I was one of the top producer for the later. The higher I went in their system the more I realised how unethical & morrally wrong it was.In MLM one must knowingly or unknowingly lie their way up and pride often prevents the MLM faithfuls from admitting loses.My Most recent encounters with these apostles of MLM in my Churches were the OgarnoGold disciples(the so called “health coffee people”)these wolves in sheep skin have taken over churches by storm & even pastors & church leaders are being baptized in this holy coffee.
    After making quite some money off the backs of my downline losers, God spoke to me to repent and pay back to as many as a could possibly reach.I realized that 99.8% of my downline were working aimlessly with a greater potential as losers than winners I began to teach against MLM.Space is limited here to list every biblical scripture against this form of business nevertheless I’ve.Come to this Brief conclusion that” All MLM of wich OgarnoGold is one of them is never to be practiced by real CHRISTIAN or any soundminded person”Its a dengerous thing when well meaning people are deceived to the extent of losing all form of close relatioships.

  21. Thanks for sharing your experience and wisdom, Dr. Gemen! I don’t have any direct experience myself since I’ve never gotten involved in an MLM, but I’ve seen the effects on family and friends firsthand. If you’d ever like to share your story in a post on Provident Planning, let me know and I’ll get it published. I think more people need to hear about the dangers of MLMs before they get involved and get brainwashed by the motivational stuff they use.

  22. I have read all of the posts. I can understand where many are coming from in their negativity of MLM. We live in a microwave society. We want it NOW!! The biggest positive is also the biggest negative in a MLM business. It is open to everyone. However not everyone is willing to do what it takes to achieve. Not everyone is cut out for this type of business. You can only know this if you try. Why do you suppose people change careers or majors in college? This may not be the path God has in mind for them. It is that way in everything. Not everyone graduates from college, not everyone sails to the top of their chosen careers. There is a ton of leadership training within MLM that one can use forever. Why would Paul Zane Pilzner, a leading Economist, say it is the industry of the future? Why would Robt. Kiryosaki call it the Business of the 21st Century? Take a step back and think this over a bit more. No one can make someone successful in any area of life, they can offer help, guidance, mentor them but in the end it is up to the individual. How bout a little personal responsibility, now that would be refreshing. I have been a multi million dollar producing Realtor for 10 years. Do you realize how much money it costs to just get a Real Estate license? The promise of BIG money? Yet after 3 years of holding a license,only 3 out of 10 are still in Real Estate. Imagine….. So you see, MLM does offer hope but in the end it is YOUR business, no one can force you to grow and work. If the product is really good why wouldn’t you want to share it with others? If you heard of a great investment wouldn’t you share it with your clients? Sounds to me like you have a personal bias and nothing will change that. Can you say “bearing false witness”?

  23. Mary, I hardly think that sharing my honest opinion on MLMs qualifies as bearing false witness. What exactly did I lie about?

    Regarding the rest of your comment, you make no point that doesn’t equally apply to a regular business that someone starts up themselves. Additionally, I never said an MLM wasn’t great for the people who start it or get in at the top. That’s where you want to be in any pyramid-type scheme.

    My main objection is selling overpriced products with questionable value compared to other similar, less expensive products to your family and friends. That’s not lying – it’s the truth. I’ve seen and used the products that come from MLMs and they’re no better than what I can get elsewhere for a fourth to half the price.

  24. Paul, you obviously do not understand MLM. Firstly, anyone can pass up the person who showed you the business. The person who introduced you to the business doesn’t make a dime unless he helps you make money. Helps, works with you, spends time helping you grow. How is that a pyramid? Much like a boss getting a bonus for his Dept. doing well. I have a brother who got into a MLM over 20 years after the Co. began. He worked his tail off and became a millionaire. How does that fit into the statement of ” great for the people who start it or get in at the top.” Actually I have 3 brothers who did that but who’s counting! I have bought products from many MLM Co’s. Mary Kay, Amway, Silpada, etc. The products were exceptional and per use, cheaper than similar high quality products. You may need to do a bit more research before you paint with such a broad brush. Pyramids have been outlawed so to call MLM’s “pyramid like” is less than truthful. Xerox, IBM, the Catholic Church to name a few have a structure of a pyramid, big guy on top, can’t pass the boss up, pay you only what it would cost to replace you, pay you the same as the guy in the next cubicle who plays video games all day….. MLM’s pay on merit, actual production. Sorry but in today’s atmosphere some really great, hardworking employees are getting the shaft. At least in a MLM you decide, not Corporate. Sorry if I sound touchy but your assessment of MLM’s is flawed. Did you realize that to enroll in Monavie for example that you do not have to order anything? Whatever you do order is your choice. I have been drinking the Monavie since last Oct. and have not had to go to the Dr. for allergy/respiratory illness for the first time in over 40 years. My Dr. has my chart. It’s verifiable. I haven’t found any drug or product in 40 years with that affect. So that’s me…… It helped me, what can I say? I could go on but you get my drift. Don’t blanket ALL MLM’s. Some are not good, some people are not professional but I dare say that is the truth in every business area.

  25. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Mary.

    The person who recruits you makes money if you buy stuff or sell to others. Sure, they’ll make more if they help you sell more. But it’s less than truthful to say he “doesn’t make a dime unless he helps you make money”.

    For every success story in MLMs there are hundreds of failures. Some are due to personal failures to work at it, but many are also due to the nature of MLMs.

    I call MLMs pyramid like because of the payout structures. Sure, you can pass up the guy who recruited you in terms of how much you’re making – but he’ll always be getting a cut of your commissions (just like a pyramid scheme).

    Regarding your anecdotal evidence for MonaVie, please read Lazy Man’s Juice Scam site…(http://www.juicescam.com/)

    I appreciate it when people take the time to comment and I always try to respond. But you will never agree with me, and I doubt you will sway my opinions based on what I’ve read so far. I’m not sure we’re going to get anywhere discussing this here.

  26. Paul,
    I agree with Mary. But I think your main problem is with being approached by the people in an MLM. I do have to say that MOST MLM’s are worthless and some are even set up as a “scheme”. But not all of them!

    Because most of the MLM’s are junk & don’t train properly & don’t have a REAL product or service that everyone can use, they have to teach their distributors to “hype it up”. These distributors then go out and do a poor job of sharing the business (they annoy you w/o really having something real to show you). This is akin to anyone in a traditional business not doing their job right. We suffer these people at every restaurant, office building, lumber yard, car lot, hotel, and on & on! If they would just DO THEIR JOB RIGHT we would actually enjoy the hotel or restaurant better & realize it DOES have redeeming qualities. Same goes in most MLM’s.

    The part about most of the people not making any money – just the higher-ups is the same thing you will find in any office building. The people lower on the totem pole CAN apply themselves and work their way into a higher position at that office and into higher pay. Why would the boss pay the guy who plays video games in his cubicle all day as much as he pays the guy who actually does some work? You can’t promote the lazy guy that just “wishes checks would come simply because he’s there”.

    I do have to admit that until 2 years ago, I wouldn’t even touch the few MLM’s out there that do have a real product and are structured very legally & morally. I knew even the so called “good ones” were missing some VERY important things to be eligible to be called “The One”. This was my policy when being approached by someone: “I’ll look at anything, but don’t think for a second that I’m going to join.” I recognized that if it was possible for me to know what was missing from all of these companies, then it was possible that someone else would someday see it too and create “The One”. And I surely didn’t want to have blinders on when it all came together and headed my way!

    I’m not even going to go into it here about those “things” that a company would need to be “The One”, much less tell you the name of the company that actually achieved it, because I think it would be lost on you and your little following. I’m actually disappointed that Mary mentioned the name of her favorite MLM company on here (mostly because I can’t stand that company :) but if it works for her – great).

    But I do want to ask you, Paul… You mentioned that you would help people find a better business model for free – “P.S. If you’re considering getting involved in a MLM or buying from someone who is, I’d be glad to talk with you for free. Maybe we could find a better business model for you or look at the true value of what you’re about to buy.”

    What is THAT about? Was this whole article & rant to try to get people into whatever “financial planning” thing YOU are involved in? Is it that you too recognize that someone could create (or already has created) a REAL MLM company and you don’t want folks to successfully invest in themselves – you want them to invest in traditional “shaky” investments that LITERALLY have NO guarantees with YOUR firm so that YOU make money off of them??? And you figured if you did a little bloggy thing about how you’re so smart about the pitfalls of MLM then people would trust you enough to invest with you? You’re “building a list” just like the MLMer’s, aren’t you? The disclaimer at the bottom of this web site is WAY more scary than one seen on an MLM Comp Plan!

    As they say: “Don’t knock it ’till you’ve tried it”. And that means you can’t lump my company in with all the others unless you’ve seen it & experienced it. I know more than enough people that have been ruined by traditional investments. People that DID work hard all their lives to build a retirement only to have it all go away because, how does your disclaimer go: “Past performance is no guarantee of future results, and no representation is made that the stated results will be replicated.”?
    I’ll bet plenty of them have been your clients. Would you like to share THOSE stories with us?

    And as far as injecting “A Christian Perspective into personal finance”… I have two things to say to you about that:
    1) “For I know the plans I have for you”, declares the Lord. “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future.” -Jeremiah 29:11

    2) Jesus only sponsored 12 reps! And in 2000 years, the market’s STILL not saturated!

  27. Chris, if “The One” you talk about is so great, why wouldn’t you want to share it for those who might be interested to see?

    Regarding most people not making money in MLMs, the truth is that people are sold on a lie – this MLM is going to help you achieve all your dreams. But the fact is that most people achieve absolutely nothing in an MLM and it’s not just because they’re lazy. There’s a bigger flaw to blame – the nature of the business itself.

    Regarding my offer for free help – it was simply that. I’m saying that I will take the time to help someone who’s thinking about getting involved in an MLM to actually look at the math of what they’re considering. I have no “financial planning” thing to get them into or any other MLM. I have nothing against people investing in themselves, but it should be a smart investment and not a waste of money. Those who know me realize that my offer for free help had no ulterior motive and was out of a true concern for others.

    Finally, my disclaimer at the bottom of the site is an industry standard and much of it is actually required by law. There is nothing deceptive about it.

    I’m not even sure what the point of the last bit of your comment was…

  28. Paul,
    Great points! But as far as not sharing the name of my company, I just don’t feel like you have the appropriate audience here (collection of people that have made up their minds already and are hungry to bash something they don’t understand). Furthermore, since it is “The One” I don’t have to peruse the internet and beg or harvest people to succeed. One way to be a success in any business is to not waste time where it obviously will do no good. I won’t be selling combs at a Bald Is Beautiful convention.

    And you should have said MOST people are sold on a lie, not: “… the truth is that people are sold on a lie.” I do not sell people on a lie. I don’t even have to “sell” anything. People ask me to share with them! The nature of the business as a whole DOES have to do with all the crappy MLM’s out there, but just because the nature of a rainy night is dreary cloud cover doesn’t mean there are not stars shining out there somewhere.

    Thanks for clearing up the Free Help thing. It just sounded a little like all the “mentoring” spam that goes around where they actually want to harvest you for their own business. What you do is admirable. And…I never said your disclaimer was deceptive; I said it was scary. By law any investment disclaimer must note, as yours does, basically that there are NO guarantees. In other words, a person could invest their money into traditional things on the advice of someone like you and simply lose it ALL. That is not smart to me, that is gambling. And no, people should not even invest in themselves if they don’t believe they are going to do anything to make it work or if there are ANY red flags at all about the company. But investing in yourself (your on MLM business) does not rely on the market; it relies on your own hard work – which is easier to believe in these days for a lot of people than things they can’t control (like the market).

    The point of my last comment was that MLM is not “anti-Christian”. In fact, to sit in any church and listen to their main objective (to have us spread The Word to others in the community) and how they want us to go about doing it, you realize that the Church INVENTED network marketing.

    But hey, it’s been fun talking to you. As a positive Christian person, I had hoped to find that you would want to teach and inspire positivity in your internet community. But if you and all of your responders feel more comfortable being negative and looking for the “bad” in everything, then who am I to stop you. I personally don’t see much point in leading a discussion about something I’m not going to participate in anyway. I’d rather just show people the light and focus on helping; not wasting time bashing others. You are on your own journey, and I hope it leads you where you want to go.

    Have a Blessed and prosperous day!

  29. Chris, thanks for remaining civil.

    I just thought if your company is really as great as you’d say, you’d never want to shy away from sharing it – regardless of the primary audience in the area. For all the time you’ve spent sharing your comments, it wouldn’t have taken you much more time to share the name of “The One”…

    Yes, there are no guarantees on “traditional” investments. But neither are there guarantees on non-traditional investments or even your own hard work. There’s not even a guarantee that you will be here tomorrow, so in that perspective guarantees are virtually worthless anyway!

    I think comparing the Gospel to network marketing cheapens what Jesus did for us. I’m not sure I’d keep using that comparison. It’s not like Christians are selling tickets to heaven. It’s a free gift from God – and not in the sense that you get this free gift in the hopes you’ll buy something else…

    I don’t look for the bad in everything, but I do try to critically think about things. We are to be as wise as serpents and as innocent as doves, right? This isn’t about bashing others – I have picked on no one in particular. I’m talking about MLMs in general as a group. I’ve shared some of my experiences particular to certain MLMs because that’s what I’ve seen first-hand. I’m not focused on bashing people, but I’m not going to stand idly by and say nothing either. If I see something questionable or dangerous, I will do what I can to warn others. It’s up to them to make their final decision.

  30. Paul,

    I stand by my reasoning for not sharing the name in a hostile environment. How much time it takes is not the issue. It is possible that MLM’ers can hold conversations on topics other than their own business.

    The notion that Christians aren’t selling tickets to heaven proves my other points about hating MLM (or anything) with a broad brush. No, REAL Christians don’t do it. But, sorry to say, the vast majority DOES. Just like most MLM’s spew their brainwashed (your words) hype to get you to join, many Churches do the same type of brainwashing about “you can’t get into Heaven unless you get close to God in His house (a Church), and while you’re here, we need your money. Give at least 10% or you’re a Sinner!” Again, this is something people are divided on, just like business models and politics. So why talk about it with people that don’t agree? Oh sorry…I’m the only one doing that here. Your “followers” have been assimilated and agree with you. So I am the fool today. :)

    And as far as thinking critically, you SHOULD have picked companies in particular. If you are right about what you say about each one, then you have not slandered. When you talk about them ALL as a group you are risking slandering one that I know of. Would you talk about an entire certain Race of people so “critically”? Or a certain Economical Class of people or a certain gender as a group with such disdain? When you speak, you show people exactly who you are. And there is a name for people that Categorically Hate as you have done here. But I won’t be saying that name either because I am not your Judge.

    And finally, since you have so professionally exhibited that you must have the last word on your very own page, I’ll leave you to that. And failing that, I expect you’ll just use your executive powers to delete this comment or maybe all of the ones I’ve made. It is what it is.

    God Bless

  31. Well, Chris, you’re not the only fool. I’m talking with you and you disagree with me.

    I’m perfectly willing to admit there could be a good MLM out there. I just haven’t seen one yet. That’s why I ask you to share about “The One” you’re involved in. If you can show me that it’s a viable business model with a quality product without all the “achieve your dreams” and “get rich” motivational mumbo-jumbo, then I’ll gladly say that not all MLMs are bad.

    And finally, I don’t reply to my readers’ comments so that I can have the last word. I do it as a matter of courtesy. I feel like I should take the time to respond if people take the time to leave a comment. So I make it a point to respond to every comment I receive to show that I appreciate my readers’ time and thoughts – whether they agree with me or not. I will not delete your comments or those of anyone else who respectfully disagrees with me. I never have done that and never will because I encourage critical comments.

    I know I’m not always right and I will make mistakes. I’m not going to ignore and delete critical comments. I want that kind of feedback as long as it’s based on an analysis of the ideas and not just cheap shots at my personal character (as you have done twice now). I try to do everything on here in a way that is above reproach and focused on helping people. I wish that you could see that, but it’s fine if you don’t.

    May God bless you as well, Chris. I do not wish for this issue to become a point of disunity between us. But if I am wrong, please provide concrete examples and facts to show me an MLM that does right by people.

  32. Hi Paul,

    Thanks for admitting that there could be a good MLM out there. That makes me feel like I am no longer being personally attacked when you speak your feelings about MLM’s. And… it just so happens I agree 100% with you about every one of them (except one) :)

    I apologize for the two times you felt I took cheap shots at your personal character. I think I know which ones you are referring to. I certainly wasn’t trying to take “cheap shots”, It was more of going on what I thought to be the case based on what you’d said & how you said it. But I too can admit when I am wrong and the possibility that I can be wrong. So, I was probably wrong and I am sorry.

    Thank you for having this forum and for trying to help people stay away from bad things. It actually helps me because the more people that get burned by all those slimy companies & scams, the more they aren’t going to give a real company a second of their time. There really should be better laws about MLM’s! They shouldn’t be allowed to make it so attractive that people end up “accosting” (as Trent said) others the way they do.

    Pepsi could change their business model and stop paying Ad Execs and start paying People to spread the word about their drinks, but if that meant folks would start trying to ram Pepsi down my throat, I’d have to protest!

    Anyway, thanks for being a Class Act, Paul. And keep up the good work!

    -Chris

  33. Thank you, Chris. I appreciate that you have found an MLM you like and feels does not do the things I mentioned in the post. And I gladly forgive you on the character attacks. I can see how you could have misconstrued what I said. I will try to be more careful with how I phrase things and explain them a little better if they seem sketchy (like my offer for free help).

    I’m usually more of a Coke man myself when I drink the stuff, but your example was good. :)

    Thanks for remaining willing to talk with me. My offer still stands if you’d like to share about what makes your MLM different and why. I’d be glad to share it with people as an example of how these companies should be if you want to share.

  34. I’m a Coke man too. That’s why I said I’d have to protest if someone attacked me with Pepsi! :)

    I’ll look on your site for an email address when I get a chance and tell you about my company there. I will say this now though:

    ONE of the things I knew an MLM would have to do to qualify with me would be to be completely open before I spent a dime. I would need to be able to see the entire Comp Plan, every product/service, exactly how every service worked, all revenues or any numbers & statistics since the first day, every feature of their websites (personal & main). I would also need to be able to hear/see the story of the CEO or Founder and His/Her WHY for creating the company, along with doing my own research through Google and sites that contain the legal & ethical history of the person and any company they’ve been involved with (EVER). If I found anything bad, I’d have to also be able to find equal material that would reliably discredit the the bad stuff. I’d also want to be able to verify that some of the people they “display” in their testimonials are real and that their statements are real (there are ways to do this). I’d look for awards or accreditations that come from uninvolved 3rd parties and that are mainly known for recognizing traditional businesses, not just MLM’s or internet junk.

    They have to be brave & proud enough of themselves that they don’t care who looks at their full business! AND…I have to be able to see all this stuff without ending up on some list where I could be contacted later by them or anyone! If ANY door is closed or I have to pay to learn, I’m OUT!

    If I felt like there was one single question that couldn’t get answered BEFORE I spent a dime, or that the answer to was even slightly evasive, I’d know they had something to hide and refuse to be a part of it. I know not every distributor has ALL the answers in their head, but if they can’t get RIGHT back to you with the answer or if it can’t be found on a web site without using passwords to access the info, then that is a red flag!

    My other qualifications for being “The One” involve the products, services, duplicability, and policies & procedures and are all just as important too. But if you CAN find out all the answers you seek before you get involved, then I would hope everyone would realize how great & unique that is and take advantage of it. You know…first ask the company or it’s distributors EVERYTHING you can think of before you chalk it up as “just another MLM”.

    Sometimes that may takes weeks for a person to think of everything they’d like to know. So Paul, if you think you can give it a fair chance & know everything before you knock it, I’ll be happy to share it with you. And I’m sure you can; you seem very level-headed and honest.

    Back to the soft-drink example: Some people love Pepsi and some people hate it. But even at a traditional company like Pepsi or Coke, you will find ex-employees that “didn’t cut it” in their old company for one reason or another. This can lead to disgruntled employees bashing their entire company. But the bottom line is: Just because they had a bad relationship with their manager or didn’t like to drink the product, doesn’t mean there is not a HUGE market for the product and doesn’t mean the company is a bad one. Some of them hate their company because they were fired for not doing any work! Does that mean it isn’t a great place to work for? No.

    In other words, I haven’t found any place online where a disgruntled distributor of my company is bad-mouthing them, but that doesn’t mean there’s not one. And if there is, that must be taken with a grain of salt and looked at for what it is. The only place we will ALL love and be happy to be a part of is Heaven. I have found several sites with titles or catch-phrases like “Is (insert my MLM here) a scam? Find out the truth here?” Well, upon actually reading them, you find that they are not trashing my company, they are just using that (stupid) way of trying to get people to interested – usually because they themselves are a distributor! No matter how awesome something is, someone will think they can do it better by doing it the slimy way. Their slime doesn’t mean it’s a bad deal.

    Well, I talk too much. (best thing I’ve said all week, huh?) :)

  35. I agree with you, Chris. The problem is that every MLM I’ve seen so far conceals all the information and makes it as confusing as possible. This makes it nearly impossible to make an educated decision about the business model or to see the results most others have achieved (except for the ones who hit it big). Most MLMs won’t share much of the specifics until you’ve paid into the system – like you’re going to steal the ideas or something?

    Anyway, I agree with you about looking at testimonials and complaint sites. I think you have to take all of them with a grain of salt because people are responding from different perspectives and backgrounds. Someone who did well in an MLM might be the kind of person that will do well in most things they put their mind to. Someone who did poorly might be the kind that just won’t work hard enough in anything to achieve success.

    I appreciate you sharing your thoughts again. I’ll send you an email so you’ll have my email address. Thanks again!

  36. I have been increasingly irritated by how often I am recruited for MLM events at church. I wondered if you had considered application of Matthew 21:12-17…i.e. “My house will be called a house of prayer, but you are making it a ‘den of robbers’.” It seems like the main place I am solicited for MLM schemes is through relationships at church or Bible study. Church can be a wonderful place to connect with business people and there is certainly nothing wrong with that. I like to consult with friends from church when I need a reliable contractor, mechanic, or real estate agent. The operative words being “when I need”. MLM just takes it to a whole different level because the participants begin looking for opportunities to force their product and actively sell and distribute it within the walls of the church! They are even offering to promote products under the guise of a “ladies fellowship night” or similar schemes. Women especially incite the Bible itself when explaining how their particular scheme allows them to fulfill their Biblical roles as women more effectively (neglecting to disclose how much of the family savings was dumped into the scheme to get it started or how many night-time parties, meetings, etc are required.) I worry about the effect – people being scammed into joining a scheme because of their relationship with a person in a discipleship role. I feel like most churches would put their foot down if a mechanic or real estate agent at the church abused their position in the church to drum up business. But so often people cave to the pressure of MLM and in the process church members really get hurt. If you want to sell an MLM product, please resist the temptation to do so in the church – no matter how amazing you have been brainwashed to think it is.

  37. Thank you for your comment, Melanie! I can tell you’ve been pretty frustrated by this and I agree with you. I’m not a fan of pushing any product in a church setting. I think the merchants and money changers in Matthew 21 were guilty of more than that (they were defrauding people as well by charging exorbitant prices), but the concept still applies. We should come together as the body of Christ for fellowship and community – not to make a quick buck selling a shoddy product or service!

  38. Just wanted to make a quick comment about an MLM my daughter recently got herself out of. After having to pay for classes and products, and being charged over $200 a month for a “website”, she sold practically nothing and went into debt over the $200 a month charge (which she was led to believe was a one time charge, not a monthly charge). She is now in the process of being evicted from her apartment because the $200 per mo. and no sales overdrew her meager bank account to the point where it will take her at least a few more months of living on my couch to recoup. AND I’ll mention the name of the company – Market America. Way overpriced products (which is why no one bought anything)and it took them months to cancel her website account after she initially requested to get out of it. I told her from the beginning this reminded me of the people who use to try to convert me and my husband to sell Amway back in the 80′s(and I use the word “convert” because it really seemed like a cult to us)and was nothing more than a pyramid scheme. Turns out I was right. She’s currently living on my couch until she can dig her way out of the debt hole Mkt Amer. put her in. She fell hook, line and sinker for their propaganda of retiring within 3 to 5 years, blah, blah, blah. Hard lesson for her to learn. I don’t know what people who don’t have family to fall back on do when the pyramid comes tumbling down on them like it did her.

  39. I don’t have any personal experience with Market America, but the story sounds typical of MLMs. Misleading fees, classes, product purchase minimums, and promises of fast riches…

    I pray your daughter recovers well and is able to find a better way to increase her income.

  40. I am not for OR against MLM’s as a rule. I AM, however, very curious about the company Chris represents. Did he ever tell you and are you allowed to share it?

  41. Audrey, he did not tell me as far as I can recall.

  42. I seriously hate MLMs too. I was looking forward to visiting my family over the holidays until one of them asked me if I’d ever heard of Advocare. Apparently, our family gathering is taking place at their house this year so they can tell us about this “amazing opportunity.” What a way to spend the holidays. Geez

  43. Wow – that’s got to be a new low.  Sales pitches at a family holiday gathering?  Good luck!  I’m just glad it’s not me.  Maybe you can go to the bathroom for a very long time during the pitch?

  44. Not a bad idea! I can come back and tell them their opportunity made me sick.

  45. Haha!  I’m not sure I would go that far, but at least you wouldn’t have to sit and listen.  Maybe plan on taking a book…  :)

  46. People who do not succeed have one distinguishing trait in common.
    -They know all the reasons for FAILURE and have what they believe to be air-tight alibis to explain away their own lack of achievement.The world wants to know why one thing – “HAVE YOU ACHIEVED SUCCESS?”

  47. People who do not succeed have one distinguishing trait in common.-They know all the reasons for FAILURE and have what they believe to be air-tight alibis to explain away their own lack of achievement.The world wants to know why one thing – “HAVE YOU ACHIEVED SUCCESS?”

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  1. Marketing Scams: Learn How To Identify Them — Faithful With A Few - November 8, 2013

    [...] Most multi level marketing programs (even the ones with good intentions), end up like scams in the long run. Here is a great article looking at the nature of most multi level marketing. [...]

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