Note, any changes to this article since it was written have been added in red.
You may have heard of Lifetree World. Maybe you’ve been sent a message from a friend-
Maybe you’ve seen adverts like this on Instagram or Facebook?
Maybe you’ve been browsing Netmums or Money Saving Expert and read about people in an amazing scheme?
From Netmums’ board-
As of July 2016, this Netmums thread no longer exists. Hopefully, it is because they are clamping down on the promotion of schemes like these.
This all sounds very intriguing. So you go to the Lifetree website and see things like this-
‘Daily use products’? They want everyone in the world to be a member? This is starting to sound a bit odd!
Reading about the scheme, you learn that LTW aim to buy products with long shelf lives direct from the manufacturer and sell them to you (now known as the IBO- Independent Business Owner) within 3-5 days. The profit made by cutting out the middlemen is shared between the IBOs. Ok, that sounds interesting.
As of July 2016, the website has been stripped of most of the information. There appears to just be the address and the most basic information on some products they sell. No description of how the business works, no policies, just an address and pictures of smiley people in fields.
But then you learn that you have to spend 100 points (which is roughly £160) a month and so do the three people beneath you and at least one person beneath each of them. Hang on? This sounds a bit Pyramidy!!!! No, not at all, you are told. LTW are in the DSA so it must be legitimate! Pyramids are illegal, don’t you know?
The DSA has this to say about their membership.
So they are not full members yet. They are being watched to check they are compliant with their rules. They are not being compliant. The recruitment adverts break their rules.
As of July 2016 LTW are no longer prospective members of the DSA.
Here is a great explanation on how these types of schemes work. Much thanks to Chuckingstones on Mumsnet for this-
Let’s see if it is a pyramid scheme. A basic test for pyramid schemes is the Fair Trading Act 1973 section 120 (3)- This act makes it a criminal offence to persuade someone to make a payment to a scheme by promising benefits from getting other people to join a trading scheme.
You have to make an payment of £35 to join.
You have to recruit others.
You tell the people you are recruiting that if they pay £35 they can join your scheme but they will only earn money if they recruit others.
Hmmm, I wonder if this is a pyramid scheme, you decide for yourself.
What about the company finances and business plans? What do the records from Company House have to say about that? Much thanks to Tiimeless Vie for providing this information ( Blog, Facebook). Here is a little summary of what they say-
What have LTW members been saying? For now, let’s not listen to the successful people just in case they are exaggerating to recruit new people.
This was on Netmums-
And from a different person-
This is what people have been saying to Bot Watch on Facebook in messages-
Bot Watch was also told that an LTW seller was seeking recruits on Money Saving Expert where people go for debt advice and who can ill afford to get involved in this sort of scheme.
Money Saving Expert delete any thread promoting this scheme as a way to save money.
(name deleted by me to maintain confidentiality)
If you decide you think it might not be a pyramid scheme and maybe those people just had bad luck,let’s look at the products and see what you will be buying. Oh, you cannot see the prices for the items until you have joined up and paid your £35. That doesn’t sound fair. You don’t know what you are letting yourself in for! They said the products are all branded and that I use anyway so it must be ok.
Here is an example of something you can buy
Hmmm, not really a branded, every day product. And the claims here break the law for advertising rules. Aloe vera does not do any of these things. No one is allowed to say their products do this. This can be reported to the Advertising Standards Authority.
How much does it cost? You can’t find out until you join up and pay your £35.
That’s ok though, someone who is a member has sent me some images showing the prices of some items.
It’s not too clear so here are the prices and how much these products cost according to Mysupermarket-
Tropical Sun Jamaican Callaloo 540g £1.29 ASDA-£1.28.
PG Tips tea bags 160s £2.99 Unavailable in supermarkets in this form. Newer packaging for the same product costs £4 in ASDA.
Nescafe Original 100g £2.80 Unavailable in supermarkets in this form. For the same product in different packaging, it costs £2.74 in ASDA.
Kellog’s Fruit and Fibre 375g £2.19 Unavailable in supermarkets anywhere in any packaging.
Kellog’s Co-Co Pops 350g £2.19 Unavailable in supermarkets anywhere in any packaging.
Kellog’s Cornflakes 500g £2.10 Available in ASDA for £1.75 but in newer packaging.
Weetabix family 24s £2.10- Unavailable in supermarkets anywhere.
I don’t think I need to go on. Look up the rest if you like, but I suspect I know the answer…
The company might be a pyramid scheme.
They recruit people who have debt problems.
People have complained about not getting their money back.
People have complained about not getting their orders.
The credit status of LTW is very poor.
The business sounds unrealistic.
They claim to buy products from the manufacturer. In reality they are buying up old, presumably very cheap stock from somewhere.
Do you still want to join up? If you do, you might want to jot down this number for if it all goes wrong-
If you have joined this scheme and they are not delivering your products or giving you a refund or you are concerned about it, please call the above number. They will pass on the details to Trading Standards who will investigate.
To read more about this type of thing or to keep yourself informed about Multi Level Marketing schemes, visit Mumsnet for the ongoing discussion and support. Or Like Bot Watch and Timeless Vie on Facebook for people’s stories and information.