Blogmas Day 11

Someone that I know joined an MLM in 2020. Actually, they joined two. First they started off with one of the token MLMs that gets talked about widely, and often, and is well known world-wide. They sunk several thousand dollars into that MLM before they decided that it just wasn’t for them. So then, with a stockpile of these useless goods taking up space in their home, this person decided to join (what I’ve discovered) a new-breed MLM.

This person is miserable. They were already someone whom I would consider to be a vulnerable member of society prior to joining these MLMs, but now… they’re vulnerable and more than $10,000 in debt from just this year alone.

They started changing earlier this year. I remember thinking ‘Oh, that was weird’ when witnessing their behaviour. But, it was two months into their first MLM experience before I realized what was going on. They fell for the ‘be your own boss’ speech hook, line and sinker and immediately started investing money they didn’t have.

Most people know of the obvious MLMs. Whether it’s Amway, Essential Oils, Tupperware, Makeup, Beach Body, etc… there are certainly a lot of them finding loopholes in the law and taking advantage of people the world over. This year, though… this year I’ve noticed a distinct change away from the typical business model of hosting parties and convincing people to buy. Perhaps it’s the pandemic, perhaps it’s people getting incredibly savvy at masking what they’re doing, but I’ve noticed a shift to completely social-media based MLM style structures.

People are collecting money on social media to teach people how to collect money on social media so that those people can collect their own money on social media by teaching a new crop how to collect money on social media. Does that make sense? They slide into your direct messages to pitch products you don’t want, don’t need and don’t have use for. They try to convince you to ‘be your own boss’ with these products.

The odds are high that you’ve likely seen this throughout 2020. If you have any form of social media – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tik Tok, they’re there. I promise you that they’re there… waiting for you to give them your cash.

Why I think this is so important to note is because they’re capitalizing on a new structure, something that doesn’t look like a typical MLM so a lot of people aren’t realizing what is actually happening.

I love my friend. I’m sorry they’re hurting. But they’re also being an asshole. This group of individuals who are running this ‘scheme’ through social media are teaching those who buy in that if someone says no, if they criticize, it’s not legitimate, it’s someone being jealous. My friend, as a result, is a very different person as we approach year’s end then they were even just six months ago. I truly believe they don’t realize how far sunk into this scheme they are. I truly believe they don’t recognize what is actually happening. And, since they won’t listen to outside voices who try to tell them otherwise, they’re continuing to sink down into this pit of despair.

I… want to help them. I’ve tried to help them. But I can’t. I’m not purchasing their product because I do not wish for them to think I support the scheme they’re running. Also, though… their product is useless. And since they won’t get out while they still can, they’ve all but sworn me off as of late. I think that’s something that is important to note when it comes to this new digitally optimized MLM structure. They’re teaching people to ditch their friends if their friends don’t believe. So, not only are they in harms way through what they’re doing online, but they are also cutting off anyone from their lives who could be a voiced of reason.

So, if you’ve ever considered starting some form of an MLM business that exists solely online, I would hazard a couple of warnings for you:

  1. If a business exists solely on social media, that is a red flag.
  2. If a business relies on your initial investment to be a legitimate ‘boss’ that is a red flag.
  3. If a business is teaching you how to get rich quick on social media, that is a red flag.
  4. If a business relies on teaching someone how to teach someone how to teach someone, that’s a pyramid scheme.

If you know anyone who’s joined one of these digital schemes, see if you can talk to them before it gets too late. Social media is a deeply complicated structure that promotes the popular and provides them advantages over the rest. These ‘gurus’ may have found their popularity in one of ten million ways. I promise you this, however they found their popularity, they’re not going to tell you the truth because that cuts from their bottom line.

Much like people who sell oils don’t make their money from selling oils, but rather from recruiting people to operate beneath them, these people who sell products solely on social media aren’t selling the truth to the trade, they’re recruiting people to operate beneath them.

These MLM structures will continue to evolve in the coming months and years. If there’s one thing I’ve learned it’s these MLMs will always find a way to skirt the system. So be mindful of what you see, who you speak with and what they present to you.

44 thoughts on “Blogmas Day 11

  1. I don’t like the sound of this. There is something horribly familiar about it….people in denial, people unable to listen to valuable advice. Why are people so easily suckered? I hope your friend come to their senses.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. I completely understand the desperation of wanting to find a way to earn money. I’ve been a broke person all too many times in my life, so I can see what sucks people in. I just hate that unassuming people are preyed upon. And I hate that unassuming people will cut-off their friends, people who actually care about them, to pay attention to the MLM leaders.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. It’s really hard for me to understand. When I was homeless and living in my car, and when my parents initially stopped helping me out with money, I was basically facing death. Yet I never lost my senses, and I’d always know this kind of thing would only make my situation worse, not better. Same with getting into debt— I’d probably die before I got into debt with no way to pay it off.

        I can only understand this sort of thing as like a combination of the extreme vulnerability with some distorted/delusional/paranoid ways of thinking, which surely manifest destructively in so many other areas of life. And not that I’d ever recommend anybody to go to a mental health hospital— but that’s the level of help which people in that situation would surely need. They need police looking into the criminal manipulation, plus some major psychological/emotional support. 🤷‍♂️

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  2. Oh, how much I could write about this topic (and may well do so). I know too many people who repeatedly fall for these things, and I realize that by trying to “support” them by buying a thing, I’m encouraging some scary and unhealthy behaviors. Now, I admit that I “sell” oils and am making someone in Utah rich (but not the creepy person). Only I don’t. I use them myself. The end. And I do like a brand of skin-care that I have been buying for years from the same woman, because it works. But the fact that I’ve successfully managed to participate without going into debt is the kind of example that could encourage people to jump in, and I do NOT want to do that. MLMs are just not good. And they do, indeed, turn people into assholes. There are a couple of perfectly nice friends and relatives from whom I just want to HIDE, because they always have a new one. One does all the old stand-bys, Pampered Chef and such. The other does really weird ones with hemp, food products, and I don’t know what. Anyway, you’re right, V, COVID has brought out the worst in this stuff, and the media-savvy level has gone way up. ARGH.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s like… I don’t have a problem with the products. I don’t need them, but I know lots of people like Oils. And lots of people use them. I just don’t agree with the way the companies are structured, you know what I mean? And skincare, another great example. People like skincare. People want skincare. If they have a use for skincare, that’s not what I take issue with. I take issue with these companies praying on the weak.

      Your skincare that you’ve been buying for years from the same woman, does she have people that ‘are beneath her’ in the structure? Probably. If she’s not broke, it’s probably because she’s taking advantage of people selling below her.

      It’s good that you at least make use out of the products. I have a feeling that the vast majority of products produced for these companies are just in stockpiles in garages and basements.

      It’s such a catch 22 for me. Whilst I believe that it’s a good thing your skincare lady isn’t broke, it also makes me wonder how many people she’s possibly taken advantage of and got working under her to take a fraction of their profits so that she’s not broke.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. A while ago I had to go to traffic school and the teacher had a “business’ he wanted to talk to me about. I met with him over lunch and as soon as he started in on it, I told him “That’s an MLM.” He didn’t deny it and kept going. I got up, told him I wasn’t interested. He stared at me and said, “But I’m buying you lunch.” I took out my wallet and dropped some cash on the table and said “no you’re not.”
    Never saw him again.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. WOW! The traffic school instructor? Not only do I feel for them, but also, that’s so unprofessional. It just goes to show how they really will try and take advantage of everyone if the traffic school teacher is telling his traffic school students to join his MLM. That’s sooooooooooo unprofessional.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. My cousin got involved in Quixtar, which I think is or was Amway in one form or another. He was real close to pulling me in. It wasn’t too long after I finished college, so it looked like an easy way to make money. When I started getting into it I realized what I was getting into and backed out. When he tried to get me to hand over the people I’d already started thinking about pulling in, I refused. My argument was, if I’m not willing to do this thing, I’m certainly not going to let you call them on my behalf. I didn’t want him to try and sucker them into something this crooked and I certainly didn’t want those bridges burned when they found out how he got their contact info. You’d think I’d personally attacked him because he turned on me like a rabid dog. This guy was like a brother to me growing up, so we had our share of fights. But I don’t remember ever verbally sparring with him that heavily before or since.

    Thankfully, he and his wife got out of it less than a year later and it didn’t take much time for our relationship to get over that argument. Even while he was still involved with it, he came to understand my reasoning.

    I hate that these things exist. And they always will. It doesn’t matter how many come and go, there will always be people behind MLMs who prey on desperate people who just want to find a way to make a little extra money in a bad economic season.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sounds like you did the right thing with your friend. I’m glad to hear that he got out before it was too late. It really seems like everyone knows someone, or multiple someones, who get sucked in by these MLMs. It’s scary.

      Your last sentence sums it up entirely. MLMs pray on people looking for a way to make a little extra money during a bad economic season. And, with the way the economy has affected so many millions upon millions of people this year, I fear that MLMs are thriving and taking advantage of people in their weakest, hardest moments.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I have seen former classmates get suckered into MLMs and also direct marketing “jobs.” It’s heartbreaking to see them in denial of believing they’ll make six figures in a year with the “grind” (god, I hate that word). I had a bad experience with them once, and it’s since made me really skeptical of such people. Overall, I feel bad for them, but really, there’s not much we can do to change their minds. Hopefully, they’ll see the light at some point, before it’s too late…

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I don’t understand how so many people get sucked in. I, like you, have had bad experiences. I wish, with so many people speaking of bad experiences, that they would stop being able to suck people in.

      At the end of the day, there’s nothing I can do about my friend. I know they’re at least 10,000 dollars in right now. I’m sincerely hoping they figure it out before it’s too late.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Hi. Please tell me what MLM stands for. I know I should know it. I found this post really sad and true. I’ve done some of those “businesses” in the past… like Home Sense…I did home parties etc. Lately I was thinking of signing up for Silver Icing…a clothing company. Back with Home Sense there was very little social media if any so it was out there and sling your crap…now…omg…I need to turn people off or unfollow cuz it’s so aggressive. If it’s okay with you I’d like to also tackle this subject and refer back. Do you feel there’s a certain kind of person that falls for this? Are they home bodies? don’t want to go work outside the home? believe the something for nothing sort of mentality? You’ve really got me thinking.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. MLM is a fancy word for multi-level-marketing aka. Pyramid scheme aka. 99% of people end up losing money. Been there. Never again.

      P.S. Fun fact: there’s actually a store in my country called Home Sense (The equivalent to TJX in the US) and I’m pretty sure it’s not a pyramid scheme. It’s an actual store-store 🤗

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Hi Hilary. Thanks for responding. What one did you get sucked into? I’m in Canada and Home Sense was huge in early 2000’s before the internet really took off. It was all home parties. So much work for so little. I’m going to look into this cuz I write an opinion/advice blog/column called Auntie Says… It’s for young people or for people who share with young people. This mlm is obviously a huge thing…

        Liked by 1 person

      2. The company I joined was called Max International. Ppl like Chuck Norris and his wife endorse it. I joined long before the company started bringing in the celebrities to appeal to the younger ppl. I joined solely to sell supplements because I wanted to help ppl with arthritis, joint pain, fatigue, and inflammation. $100 CAD for a one-month supply of 1 bottle of supplements is way too much money. I was spending over $200/month min. Just so would keep the PV (it’s all psychological) PV doesn’t mean much if you aren’t profiting! Nobody can afford to pay these astronomical prices, especially university student, regardless of how “good” the products are. That’s why I quit. I made more money selling items on Kijiji.

        I had no idea that Home Sense was an MLM! Wow!! There’s quite a few MLMs that tend to appeal to Millennials, like Beach Body and Scentsy for instance. Instagram is littered with ppl trying to peddle their products. Can’t tell ya how many ppl tried to get me to join. I fell for MLMs once – I’m not falling for it again. Before I ever sign up for Beach Body I will hire a personal trainer and nutritionist. It’s probably cheaper too. 😂

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Hey Hilary. Very well said! The one thing I always hate too is when a friend is some sort of rep…let’s take BB for example. You get together for coffee or something and then they pitch you over and over….you never know if they wanna see you or just sell. I HATE that. Stay focused and strong. Thanks for the chat. so enjoyed it.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. I got suckered in with free samples and a conference in Toronto. It seemed pretty legit! Yet nobody disclosed the true costs of joining [and staying] in a MLM. It’s one thing to dish out cash to join but it’s another to keep spending money each month on auto ship!

        Whenever ppl would try to approach me on Instagram, I knew that they probably had another agenda. They act like they are your best friend but will have nothing to do with you the moment you tell them you’re not interested in joining. I haven’t used IG since 2018 but I’m sure the atmosphere hasn’t changed much since I took a hiatus.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Nope it sure hasn’t. There’s an old saying: The more things change–the more they stay the same. It’s all a big loopy circle…that just keeps going and going. Thank goodness I never really got into any of those…or not for long anyway.

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Yes I’ve heard some of those health food/supplement things can be really bad.
        But it must work, right? The marketing I mean otherwise they’d be in the retail stores. They’re still successful on the backs of these young people. Ugh.

        Need to correct one of my comments. It wasn’t called Home Sense it was Home and Gift. Sorry for the confusion- it was more than a few years ago. It was all kitchen and home decor. I sold $20k in one year. I have no idea how much I made though. Sadly i didn’t keep track snd wasn’t aware enough to figure it out. Prob got .25/hour 🤦🏻‍♀️
        Such a great and important conversation. Thx.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. MLM stands for ‘Multi-level-marketing’. It’s a ‘Legal Loophole’ that allows pyramid schemes to operate within the laws.

      The way these companies are structured is that there are no stores. Goods are sold by ‘Consultants’. When you sign up to be a consultant, you have to to automatically pay a portion of any profits that you make, for the rest of your time with said company, to the person who convinced you to sign up. From there, anyone who you convince to sign up to be a consultant has to pay you a fraction of their profits for the rest of their time with the company. So, these people with MASSIVE platforms are convincing hundreds upon hundreds, sometimes thousands, of people to sign up to be a consultant. If you’re taking 15 percent of one person’s profits for the rest of their days, that’s only a small pay-day, so to speak. But, if you’re taking 15 percent of profits from 100 people that you’ve sucked into the company, that’s a point in which you don’t even have to sell the products, you just have to collect the profits of the people beneath you.

      So, this is how people make money. They wind up not actually selling anything. They just take profits from manipulating people to become a part of the pyramid scheme.

      There’s absolutely a certain type of person who is targeted a lot more than others. While no one is exempt from MLMs, they largely take advantage of mom’s. They give this ‘You can be your own boss and make money for your family and look after your kids and have the whole work life balance and be happier then you’ve ever dreamed’ schpiel. And it speaks to a lot of mom’s. If they’re at home, they likely want to help contribute to their family financially (especially with this past year and how shitty things have been for so many people) and if they’re mom’s who work, they’re often sucked in by the prospect of making tons of money with this work so they can be at home more with their kids.

      MLM Examples: Doterra, Young Living, LulaRoe, Amway, Rodan & Fields, Beach Body, Mary Kay, Watkins, Tupperware, Younique, Herbalife, Scentsy, etc… etc… (there’s soooooooo many)

      I’ve never heard of Silver Icing prior to reading this comment, but I did a few minutes of googling here and it looks as though it’s an MLM. Be very careful. Tread lightly. I can’t tell anyone how to live their life and what decisions to make about work and finances, so I won’t tell you what to do. But I will say that fewer than 2% of MLM Consultants make profitable income. The majority of which barely scrape by, or wind up just making 50 or 100 extra dollars to just pay the phone bill. Do you research. They suck you in and they make it difficult for you to get out, often times forcing monetary punishment if you stop being a consultant, threatening legal action if you don’t pay.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you so much for this. I’m going to really look into this and write something up. Silver Icing is one that is here in BC still relatively small but building. I’m sure it would be mlm. My understand is that who ever signs you up gets a % of your sales but not anything of the third person sales…does that make sense. So if I signed up with A she’d get % of my sales but if B signed up with me then A gets 0. So is that still mlm? I need to do a bunch of homework on this. I decided not to sign up simply cuz I don’t have the time. But I know many many young women who get sucked in ….sigh. Have you done any?

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      2. I’ve been to a couple of ‘sales parties’ in which they didn’t actually let me know what I was coming to prior to getting there. They used the ‘Lets have a girls night with drinks’ line to get me to come, where they proceeded to pitch me.

        You’d likely have to be inside of Silver Icing to learn exactly how their payment structure works. With this friend who joined an MLM this year, the MLM they joined back in March/April, the way it worked was whoever they signed up, counted towards their profit. So, if they signed up 15 people and earned 100 dollars from those 15 people, then 15 of those dollars, in addition to any money they made selling the actual product, were owed to the person ‘above them’ (the one who convinced them to sign up. It wasn’t just direct sales that counted as profit, but also the profit they were getting from people signing up with someone who you signed up.

        Often times, these companies also have a mandatory minimum sales in a month. So this company my friend joined in March/April had a mandatory monthly sales of $200. When most can’t sell $200 in a month, they’re forced to pay that $200 to the MLM in place of actually making sales. This is a structure that ensures the person at the top always makes money. You’re on the hook for $200 a month, whether you sell that much or not. Does that make sense?

        Eventually, there’s on person at the top who’s essentially taking a piece of the profit of every single consultant on earth.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Yes. Makes sense. One of the worst is Mary Kay i think for the reason of minimum. Snd stamping up and and and…. it really does go on snd on doesn’t it. Heavy sigh. If they promise the world. Run for the hills.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Often the products are actually pretty good. I have this one roll-on essential oil from DoTerra which was mega-expensive (my mom was mislead about the price) and yet, it’s my FAVOURITE peppermint essential oil. I’m running low and nothing else compared to Doterra Peppermint. Their other scents are “meh” but this…. this is an exception. I need to buy more but don’t have a supplier. If your friend joined DoTerra, please tell him/her that I need to buy this peppermint roll-on essential oil. Just not at their super high prices though.

    I’m curious to know which MLM this person joined. I used to be apart of one which I didn’t know was an MLM until I had already joined. I lost $2.5K total but paid it off once I got a real job. It was a not-so-well known health and wellness company called Max International, and was littered with celebrity endorsers and super-steep prices. To make it worse, it was all in US dollars. The whole thing just felt wrong. My husband convinced me to quit and I’m glad I did.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can text you with what MLM they joined. They’re someone in my life whom I know has access to and reads this blog. I’m not trying to single anyone out or shame them.

      I’ve heard that Doterra is good quality. I personally don’t find a desire to use, need or have essential oils. But, for those that do, they say they’re great. I don’t know that I’d spend the Doterra fee on them when people say the same quality of oils can be found at Walmart these days. Have you seen oils in grocery stores? I started seeing them last summer.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Even Sage brand is weak compared to DoTerra – It’s the only brand that seems to stand the test of time. The roller things are made of metal instead of plastic so the roller glides a lot smoother. I have yet to find a brand as strong as this peppermint oil. I use it for migraines and to mask smells in the hospital. The hospital smells stale and old so I use it prior to each shift. To an extent, combined with Tylenol, peppermint oil helps.

        I definitely think that you can save a lot of money by buying essential oils at your local stores. I’m all for Walmart essential oils although I haven’t personally tried them. My favorite essential oil for a diffuser comes from The Body Shop. They aren’t exactly pure as some other brands but I love how most of them smell. The “Exotic” one smells like bananas, papayas etc. so I stock up on those. And they’re cheap ($12 for 3) so win-win. These days, I don’t use the diffuser that much but when I do use it it’s quite relaxing.

        Which oils do you like? Do you have any favorite brands? Which ones are worth purchasing? I would love to know 🤗

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I went to a Spin Studio two years ago that would give us cold towels after spin class that had drops of lemon grass on it. I thought the lemongrass essential oil smelled amazing. It does. But, I rubbed it on my face to wipe my sweat away and I got a giant rash on my face from it. Turns out, I’m allergic! Deep during a period of insomnia for me a friend told me that Lavender essential oil can help you sleep. I was worried after what happened with lemongrass but I convinced myself it was only lmeongrass and that I’d be safe to buy lavender essential oil. I used a roller ball on my wrists (because I always sleep with my hands near my face) thinking it would calm me for sleep. I got a huge rash from it. So since then I’ve been worried that I just don’t get off with essential oils. I also love the smell of tea tree oil. But, I’m too scared to put it near my skin.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Tea tree burns skin so I don’t recommend putting that one on your skin! You might do better with a water diffuser for your room – one that disperses small amounts of essential oils and makes the room smell amazing. As for rollers, yeah… maybe stay away from those if you are allergic. DoTerra also has a bottle of the peppermint that can be diffused but it’s probably mega-expensive for what it is.

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  8. This is so weird to me, to see SO many comments about experiences with these things, or witnessing friends get involved in them. I’ve only ever heard about this kind of thing on your blog. It’s like reading about religion. The strangest thing for me is that social media is totally opt-in, and people are voluntarily exposing themselves to this fucked-up ecosystem to begin with 🤷‍♂️. It sounds so toxic in so many ways.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Social media has provided a means for these businesses to thrive in 2020. When people are too afraid to go to stores, they’re more susceptible to people creeping into their messages on social media, sadly.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I’m selling encyclopedia sets door-to-door. It’s a ground-level opportunity to make a million bucks. Vee, you have the perfect platform to make your own million – I’ll show you how just as soon as I make my own million. I’ll I have to do is sell that first set…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I remember when Encyclopedias were really big in the late nineties, early two-thousands. I think they sucked a lot of people in before Friends used their show to shine a spotlight on it.

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