Multi Level Mayhem

Multi level marketing schemes have been around for as long as I can remember (and I use the word scheme to its fullest possible meaning). Everyone is looking for ways to get rich, free up their time or sincerely pay their bills. MLMs offer such an opportunity presented in a timeless package that continues to sucker thousands every year. I can not count on two hands & feet the number of these ‘business’ opportunities that I have encountered.

As a child, a good portion of my livelihood was stripped away by MLMs as I watched my mother dump countless dollars down the drain. Yes, there was some poor financial management on her part but really, she was the continual victim of slick sales pitches: Amway, Herbalife, Shakalee, Melalueca, Mary Kay, and Pre-paid Legal were among them just to name a few. Dollars were always spent but dollars never came back in. It was a hard lesson I learned as a child but I took it to heart. While many of these companies offer WONDERFUL products, their business model (bluntly speaking) sucks for the individual.pyramidschemes

Let me reiterate a serious point made above. Many of these companies have great products. Take Melalueca for example, I love most of their products and I’m fond of anything with a tea-tree oil base. Their toothpaste is phenomenal and, as I recall from so many years ago, their other products were great as well. But that is the lure of most every MLM – the product is, in almost every case, a viable product. When analyzing things however, one must separate the product from the business model.

With all the above companies [and more] I’ve heard the speeches given by ‘successful millionaires’. Without fail, everyone of them starts with the same pitch: work for yourself, be your own boss, make more money than you’ve ever dreamed possible, etcetera and etcetera. Everyone of these companies starts their business opportunity advertisement by dangling the carrot of lust in front of their listeners. This is what I resent the most; Nay, this is what I loathe.

My favorite cliche among the MLMs has most recently come from World Ventures. Their slogan is ‘Make a living, living’. I’ve been to their presentation, I’ve heard the sales pitch. In reality, their sales pitch should be ‘Make a living being a Rovia salesman’. Now they have pretty decent setup as the Costco of package travel deals if you’re into the sort of deals they offer (personally I’m not) but again, this is not about the product, it’s about the marketing strategy that suckers people into giving up their hard earned dollars.

So why do they advertise the way they do? Well, would you go to work for them if they simply said, “You can work for us with a down payment of $100 and $25 a month. If you do well, you’ll earn commissions. If you don’t do well, you can continue to pay us”! Of course you wouldn’t. People are sold on the false hopes of a better tomorrow by a magical opportunity in which it is best that they ‘invest’ now.

Multi level marketing companies are quick to use words and phrases such as reseller, distributor, and business owner because it sounds much better than the word ‘serf’. In the middle ages, serfdom was the enforced labor of serfs on the fields of landowners, in return for protection and the right to work on their leased fields. Multi level marketing is nothing more than a voluntary form of serfdom. In my mind, it ranks right up there with spam & kiddie porn.

Many years ago I knew a lady who ‘worked’ for a long distance company. Later I discovered she had to pay this company a daily wage (in advance) for the use of her cubicle and related equipment. If she didn’t convince enough cold-calls to switch their long distance service, after 8 or 9 hours of working she was financially in the negative. Her scenario is no different than the offering of any MLM. If you are involved in a multi level marketing business then you are paying money to work for someone else [period].

Before engaging in any MLM you must realize that the significant portions of their revenues are not always made off of their products, they are made off of the hundreds of poor saps who sign up as distributors and resellers. As a successful Systems Engineer, my employer pays me to work for them. As a Mulit Level Marketing member, you pay your employer for the opportunity to make money. See the difference? The validity of the opportunity differs from company to company but the foundation of the argument is still very much the same.

I wrote this piece because I have friends, like many people with debts, looking for opportunities to increase their income. I hate to see them waste needed dollars. Unfortunately they have. They’ve squandered their hard earned dollars on the MLM known as ‘My Shopping Genie’. The scam known as My Shopping Genie is detailed on Youtube here and here in a two part BBC series. While some other MLM offerings may be legitimate, My Shopping Genie more appropriately fits the definition of a pyramid scheme. Watch the youtube video.

Despite my viewpoints, I am not just a naysayer. I have put my money where my mouth is with my dear friends. While I won’t disclose the details of the bet we’ve made, suffice it to say I’ve laid down a considerable amount that in a 60 day period, they will not generate (off of the application) much more [if that] than what they have put in. Please bear in mind that my friends are wonderful, charismatic sales people. I believe in them. I do not believe in ‘My Shopping Genie’ or any other MLM and am fully convinced of my position. On February first I will disclose the results – stay tuned!


On Nov 21st, a day after I wrote the above article, I received a phone call from a friend who said they had a virus. After inspecting the system, I disabled an application on the system and everything started working well again. What application did I disable? You guessed it, My Shopping Genie!

One Response to Multi Level Mayhem

  1. Pingback: The American Dream | Christian Theory

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