If you are worried about someone in an MLM and want to know what is going on with them and how you can help them, have a look at these links-
How to help someone. Explains how to research MLMs and how to speak to people in an MLM.
Having second thoughts. Aimed at people who have joined an MLM, might help them see the truth.
Someone who cares about you is worried. Explains to people why you are worried about them being in an MLM.
Expectation versus reality. Aimed at people considering joining an MLM. Information from ex MLMers about the truth of what really goes on.
Watch this You Tube film by Ethan Vanderbuilt that has some advice.
This Skeptoid article gives you three options on what to do if someone you care about has a worrying belief in ‘woo’, whether that be a ‘cure’ or a financial trap. Well worth a read.
MLMs in General
Are All MLMs Scams? By MLM Alert.
Is it a pryamid scheme? by TINA
MLM bingo, what they all say. By BotWatchBlog
Lazy Man and Money explains why MLM health products don’t work.
10 big lies of MLMs by MLM Watch.
How to identify a product based pyramid scheme by MLM Watch
Albania had a near civil war with thousands of deaths in 1997 due to the collapse of pyramid schemes. New York Times article about it.
Assess an MLM to see if it will make you money or if it is a scam. A simple 5 step assessment with explanations for each point. Written by an expert.
Timeless Vie- Facebook page and Blog. They are an MLM parody site that aims to educate and support people on all things MLM, with the aim of stamping out MLMs. Contact them with your questions or experiences.
Bot Watch- We have a Facebook page too if you want to contact us in confidence with questions or just ‘like’ us and keep up with information. Follow us on Twitter (@MLMBotwatch) for developments. There’s always something kicking off in the MLM world.
Information on specific MLMs
Their Canadian website has some earnings figures from 2010. Why 2010? Are their figures worse now? ‘Not all IBO’s make a profit’. How many don’t make a profit? They don’t tell us. Their figure of $500 a year earnings only include active members that earned money. What about all those that didn’t earn any? I think they are relevant! IBOs have to make a yearly payment to remain members of US$149 and purchase training materials and attend events at their own expense. Source.
Ethan Vanderbuilt says ACN is a legal scam. This website has a very comprehensive breakdown of ACN and the facts behind it. Well worth a read if you want to know more about ACN.
Some researchers have found that participants lost on average $605. Fewer than 1 in 200 people will recover their initial investment.
ACN have been linked with Donald Trump. The National Review discuss how Donald Trump associated himself with ACN for years and made millions of dollars from it. He then denied knowing anything about the company when he started his presidential campaign.
IBOs in ACN are not allowed to solicit customers from cold markets. They have to persuade friends, families and other people known to them to buy the non-competatively priced products.
ACN Policies and Procedures. From the policies-
“B. Eligibility for Compensation. In order to receive compensation, IBOs must maintain a minimum number of phone points per ACN’s Compensation Plan.” This means that you may make an investment, put time and effort in, gain customers and make sales but still get paid nothing.
The policies also state that, should a disagreement occur between the IBO and ACN, the IBO/exIBO is not allowed to sue ACN in a class action suit. Also, IBOs have to agree that, should a disagreement come to court, they have to waive their right to a trial by jury!
Undercover investigation into the ACN product.
“Surgery like or medically inspired treatments for use in the home.”
Used to be called Actiderm. They just changed the name in 2016 to take into account that they are introducing non-skin products. In America they are called Acti-labs Paris. Some of their products still have Actiderm on them.
Here’s someone who has used their wraps on their arms. Do we think the results are down to the wraps or from turning her arms round?
This is a British company registered first as Aesthetimeds Ltd. and then Acti-Laboratories UK Ltd. Aesthetimeds was set up in 2006, buying beauty products made in France and selling them using traditional methods. In France the manufacturing company seems to be called Cosmetic Research Group, with the brands Soskin Paris, Tom Robbin and Hellionature. In the UK Aesthetimeds started using a multi level marketing scheme to sell their Actiderm products in 2011. Aesthetimeds Ltd changed its name in Dec 2015 to Acti Laboratories Uk Ltd. It is owned and run by Christopher Hillyard-Miller and James Hillyard-Miller, chemists.
This Actilab blog seems to imply that the French company Cosmetic Research Group and Actilabs are the same company but I can’t find out who owns the Cosmetic Research Group. It looks like a French company make lots of different types of cosmetics, including a line called Actilabs that is sold in the UK and now USA through MLM.
Related companies that have been set up and dissolved by these people are-
Aesthetimeds research group Ltd– opened and closed in 2010.
Institut Soskin Ltd opened and closed in 2007.
There is no income disclosure statement available which should be a red flag. They say they will be opening up in Canada soon so maybe there will be one then, as it is required by law there.
Website against Advocare called Advocarefacts
Advocare is mentioned in this New York Times article on the Olympics and supplements.
FB group against Advocare- Advo-Truth
Lazyman and Money’s assessment.
Another article criticising Advocare. You just need to ignore the pop ups and promotion of the author’s own scheme.
TINA’s investigations into illegal health claims made for the products.
Income Disclosure for 2015. These figures are annual payments. Let’s hope your team managed to buy $500 of stock every month to make you eligible for payments.
Merchants of Deception– a free book about one man’s experience in Amway. Most MLMs these days seem to be based on this MLM.
A Polish subtitled video from 1997 that exposes Amway for what it is. Actual footage from meetings. Former members share their experiences.
An investigative undercover program looking into Quixtar/ AKA Amway.
FTC proceedings against Amway in 1979.
The Finance Guy analyses the financial figures for Amway and finds the average person lost $1176 in 2010.
TINA’s investigation into illegal health claims made for Amway products.
If you look up Amway on Companycheck, you will find AMWAY (EUROPE) Ltd is worth £223.8 million. There are many other Amway entries in Companycheck where sellers have registered themselves when they joined Amway. You can see how well they have done. There are 45 companies with AMWAY in the title. One of them has earned money in addition to Amway (Europe) and that was a freight company, nothing to do with AMWAY. All of the others say N/A for the figures or show a loss, here’s some examples-
Unusual for an MLM, in that they have shops and sell products to the general public.
Go Compare investigate the earning potential and interview a party host. She points out that people only want parties at the weekend and it is only really possible to arrange 2-3 parties a fortnight, not the promised 3 a week. The poor woman blames herself for not trying hard enough.
The Guardian Explore Anne Summers as a career. They find that most people are supposedly (no evidence given) able to earn £80-£120 gross a week, but out of this comes their expenses and rental of the equipment.
An ex-Ann Summers party planner asks for advice at The Consumer Action Group after finding herself not earning money and ending up in debt.
The earnings here are particularly poor. The independent consultants line at the bottom is only including 20% of the ones that bought/ sold enough stock to get a payment. AVERAGE EARNINGS OF ARBONNE PARTICIPATNTS IS $60-$500! A year.
Here is the USA income disclosure–
The above chart only contains the payment details of the top 13% that actually earned a payment by selling/buying the qualifying amount. I have worked out from this what the real average earnings are.
Total amount of people in the chart are 23000. Total payments made= $146,293,340. Total payments divided by the full 175,500 consultants= $833.58 a year. This figure still doesn’t take into account the people that joined and left during the year. The churn rate would need to be known to calculate more accurately the actual earnings. It is likely much less than the $833.58.
Compensation Plan. It is very complicated as product costs are converted into points and these points are accumulated to qualify for earning percentages of purchases and downline purchases. There is a minimum spend to qualify for payments but I haven’t got the time or sanity to calculate what it is. If you know and can explain in a few simple sentences, comment and I can update my information. Thanks.
An undercover Mirror reporter investigates Arbonne. He finds it costs about £1500 to get started. One quote from this piece- “I’m a traditionalist and prefer jobs that don’t involve buying stuff from the company I work for – and ones that come with a salary.”
Ethan Vanderbuilt classes Arbonne as a scam.
TINA’s investigation into illegal health claims made for Arbonne products.
Also cryptically known as ‘The Opportunity company’. The symbol of Ariix is two infinity symbols, because
The ‘width and depth’ they are talking about here is the dimensions of the pyramid of people underneath you. There are not infinite numbers of people. Their statement is non-sensical.
A critique of some Ariix research.
Some background on Ariix’s doctor.
A person associated with Ariix giving a ‘nutritional talk‘ about a medical condition at a hotel for people with cancer.
Average earnings statement for Ariix sellers. A clip from that document-
In the UK, this equates to £814.06 Gross. For an entire year. Of course, some people at the top of the pyramid will earn more so people joining at the bottom will be earning a lot less than that. According to Ariix’s website, there are costs involved in order to be eligible for bonuses-
1PV seems to be $1. so it costs $150 to start with the company and $75 every 4 weeks to be eligible for bonuses. Over a year, this adds up to $1125. Take off the average earnings and the average person earns $69 in a year.
Timeless Vie interview an Ariix escapee.
Dr Fred Cooper, one of the founders of Ariix was still president of USANA when he started up Ariix, directly breaking the rules of USANA.
MLMs will use the fact that Avon is an MLM to legitimize the whole system. Everyone has heard of Avon and assume it is a good company. It used to be a direct selling company but has more recently become an MLM. Becoming an MLM has complicated things for them and tarnished their reputation. Have a read of Pyramid Scheme Alert’s analysis in this article – Has MLM corrupted AVON?
Costs involved in being an Avon rep- Can you make money selling Avon?
The Pink Truth’s article on AVON. (http://www.pinktruth.com/2009/03/25/is-avon-just-another-pyramid-scheme/) It is worth reading the comments at the end.
There are loads of people complaining about AVON on Complaints Board. Here is a detailed one that highlights some bad business practices. (http://www.complaintsboard.com/complaints/avon-products-c118733.html)
Analysis by Lazy man and money.
Ethan Vanderbuilt says it is a scam.
Body By VI/ Visalus
This MLM sell meal replacement shakes. There has been much criticism of these shakes, namely that they do not encourage healthy eating, their healthy diets are flawed, and there are some bad ingredients in the shakes. These two websites look at the MLM and analyse them.
Health Living, Heavy Lifting. This site looks at the shake and the marketing.
Graham Thomas Online. This blog post looks at the supposed science behind the products. There isn’t any.
Their compensation plan is mind-boggingly confusing.
Their arguments supporting the facts that Visalus is not a scam are
- They give to charity.
- Big companies have a hierarchical structure.
There is no income disclosure statement, even on the Canadian website. They don’t want you to know how much their sellers earn. Multilevel Marketing Madness is a website that has analysed the claimed earnings.
Bodyshop at Home
Color by Amber
Their website. They sell jewellery and are environmentally friendly.
There is not much information about this company.
There is no income disclosure.
Direct Cellars, sometimes referred to as DC Nation
An MLM wine membership club.
Companies House information.
Their Facebook page.
Their website is Directcellars.com but it doesn’t seem to be working at the moment.
Owned by Peter Sperling and opened in America in March 2017 and might be opening in the UK soon.
Analysis by Lazyman and Money.
DoTERRA have claimed their essential oils have CPTG certification or that their oils are FDA certified. They are not FDA certified. CPTG is a mark made up by DoTERRA, it means nothing. These points are covered in this article.
DoTERRA recommend adding their products to food or drink. (12-24 drops a day).
Don’t add essential oils to food or drink. It will make you ill or kill you, according to this well researched and informed article by an aromatherapist. They explain how it can be used safely. Here is a statement by the Alliance of International Aromatherapists on using essential oils internally.
CNN news article about the FDA issuing warnings to DoTERRA regarding their claims that their essential oils can cure Ebola.
The FDA warning letter in full to DoTERRA regarding numerous false health claims being made.
This article in the New Yorker is about Young Living, but if you read it, you will find some information about how DoTERRA came into existence and some dramas they have experienced.
They sell shares in the company to distributors or they can ‘earn’ them. The plan is to recruit 2-3 people and get them to recruit 2-3 people etc etc. They say recruitment is easy, you just need to show a video to your prospect, you won’t need to sell, the opportunity will sell itself.
They sell energy, insurance, water, phones, financial products. Most of the sections have ‘coming soon’ written over them. The things they do sell come from a company called Utilico.
“The company was established by two experienced entrepreneurs Andreas Papaiacovou and Ababil Sher“- according to their website. The website claims they had seen many network marketing companies fail to deliver on their promises, but this one is different.
The company was registered in September 2016. The two company officers named on official documents are Andreas Papaiacovou and Matthew Postlethwaite. Andreas is the director of Utilico, a series of businesses that provide the services being sold by e-conomize.
The jury is out on this one. There is a joining fee, starter kits, parties at home and offers for hosts. There are recruitment posters. There is a promise of flexible working and a career opportunity. What is not so obvious is the compensation plan, success days and ‘build a team’ focus. If anyone has any thoughts, please comment.
A perfume website called Basenotes has a forum discussing the products. They describe the perfumes as not-so-cheap knockoffs. They essentially copy well known brands. Then some FM advocates wade in and exclaim it is not at all pyramidy (yawn).
Scandal of Forever Living using Great Ormond Street and a children’s illness to sell their products.
Why Forever Living cannot make health claims.
TINA’s investigation into illegal health claims made for FL products.
Newspaper story in Sunday Times about Forever Living targeting health care staff.
Newspaper story in Daily Mail about Forever Living misusing Barclays Bank facility aimed at helping local businesses.
Another Daily Mail article, this one showing what the realities are for people in FL. A follow up piece by Timeless vie about the abuse the whistle blower was subjected to, as well as support from others in the same situation.
A whistle-blower’s story exposing Forever Living and their dodgy practices.
ASA ruling on a Forever Living rep’s advert.
Reality versus expectation in Forever Living- stories from a few ex FL whistleblowers.
Avoiding tax. How some companies funnel money around to avoid tax.
Newspaper article on FL’s owner paying a huge amount of money to an anti gay-marriage campaign.
A whistleblower’s testimony of what happened when they stood up to conflicting advice from Forever Living.
Fortune Hi-Tech Marketing
This MLM was declared by the FTC in the USA to be a pyramid scheme and was told to shut down a lot of its operations and pay compensation.
TINA have an article on it.
The FTC’s statement about it.
Analysis by Timeless Vie here.
This is the ‘wellness band’ of wor(l)d. Their website.
It is like a fitbit. Except the product claims to test blood sugar, blood pressure, respiratory rate, alcohol levels, ECG (electrical cardiac activity) and mood. This video shows how it is worn. You cannot test these parameters with a wrist device. You would need a cuff to compress an artery, blood samples and sensors attached on the chest.
The FTC’s rulings on how Herbalife have to change the way they operate in the US. Made in July 2016. Briefly, they have to pay $200 million in compensation for all the people that lost the most money, they have to ensure that there are real customers (not just Herbalife workers buying stock), there will be an independent compliance auditor ensuring the new rules are followed.
Well acclaimed documentary called ‘Betting on Zero’ about Herbalife, the people it has harmed and the financial battle being fought that is a big threat to the company. It has a 100% rating at Rotten Tomatoes. It is available here, along with a trailer.
Free short video showing experience of Herbalife victims.
A Herbalife victim speaks out.
A selection of articles by TINA about Herbalife.
Brenda’s story. Brenda left Herbalife. Here is her story.
UK income disclosure. 2014. Initially, it looks like the average person earns $5,456 a year, but that is disregarding the 87.1% of people who earned nothing (80%) or the 7.1% that earned on average $48. I think all members should be included in this calculation, after all, it is unfair to include just those that are doing well.
Total people in chart- 554,353
Total money paid out- $392,210,128.
True average yearly payments= $707.51.
Herbalife were going to be sponsoring The Great North Run in the UK but there was a Twitter campaign and a petition and Herbalife were dropped. For more, see here.
International Silver Network
Their income disclosure states that because the company has not been trading for long, they do not have accurate figures for earnings. They state that after their first year they will do a more detailed survey on pay. As it stands, they estimate that earnings will be $500-$2000 a year.
ISN was founded in 2010. I would have thought they have had enough time to put together an income disclosure by now. Could it be that they don’t want to? Or have they done it and decided not to share that information?
There is a review of ISN by Behind MLM. They look at the compensation plan and the cost of the silver. Essentially they conclude that the compensation plan is unclear and over complicated (33 pages) and their products are cheaper elsewhere. There is a monthly fee and an obligatory purchase to make. They conclude that the commission is biased towards the number of people you recruit and the amount of autoship payments paid by these recruited people.
Isagenix- cutting through the crap This is a blog post I did on Isagenix, including financial and product analysis.
TINA’s investigation into illegal health claims for Isagenix products.
This is their Income Disclosure. For analysis of this, see the above link. 0.36% of members earned above the poverty line. And that isn’t taking into account all the stock, expenses and tax, which can be hundreds or thousands of dollars.
This Australian article looks at the business model, a member’s account, and an analysis of the products.
An article by a well qualified nutritionist explains why the ingredients in the products aren’t what they seem. The article is called “How Isagenix Lies To Its Distributors And Consumers About GMOs, Preservatives, And Artificial Ingredients”
A doctor who fights against health frauds has written about the absurd health and science claims that Isagenix claim. Some of them are bizarre. Here is one quote
“The claims on the Isagenix website are a mishmash of pseudoscience, myth, misrepresentation, and outright lies. For example:” She goes through quite a few of these silly assertions that Isagenix make.
Ethan Vanderbuilt analyses Isagenix here.
Dr Bill Sukala (an exercise physiologist) reviews the products.
Truth in Advertising (TINA’s) evaluation.
Lazy Man and Money’s assessment of It Works.
Income disclosure statement. This shows the average earnings of its members is $189 / £128 and that this does not include expenses which run into hundreds or thousands of dollars each year.
A Jamberry escapee’s tale.
Another story of a Jamberry escapee.
A follow up post about the above article and the fallout from it.
Income disclosure statement on page 2 of their compensation plan. They only include people that have been in the company for a year. That is excluding an awful lot of people from the statistics. In MLMs, it has been shown that 80-90% of people leave within the first year. The earnings shown below are from the people that have persevered against the odds.
Terms and conditions. These state-
Here are the points for individual items.
An application kit costs £12.50 Sellers buy at wholesale price of 60% which means they need to spend £75 a month or sell £125 of stuff. This adds up to £900 a year of personal product costs. In CAD$, this is $1061. For someone earning $36- $998 a year, this is not great. (disclaimer- the pound is undergoing a massive flux in value due to the Brexit drama so these comparisons may be different in a few week’s time.)
PEOPLE HAVE TO SPND MORE THAN THEY EARN IN JAMBERRY. The only money to be made is by selling the products bought. Good luck with that. Or of course, attempt to recruit loads of other people and getting them to recruit loads of people.
Timeless Vie interview a Jamberry escapee. The £600 sales targets they talk about there are to remain a consultant. The £900 I mention is to qualify for bonuses.
Income disclosure. 86% earn less than $213 a year.
Lazyman and Money’s assessment.
Class action being taken against Jeunesse for being a pyramid scheme, as reported by TINA.
TINA’s list of illegal health claims for their products. It’s a long list.
This company is actually called NSA which stands for National Safety Associates. NSA is on all their paperwork. It seems NSA is the company, Juiceplus is the product. In the past they have sold fire safety equipment, water filters, air filters and children’s books. NSA was founded in 1970 by Jay Martin, who is still the CEO now. In Europe, the company is registered in Switzerland.
Oncology journal article warning against using Juice Plus during chemotherapy.
Review of their so called research. Juice plus people bring out this research to back up any and all claims they make about their products.
A critical look at Juice Plus by MLM Watch.
You can be promoted or demoted by your upline, which is quite unusual in MLM circles apparently. This pro-MLM website explains it at the bottom of the post.
An article in the Independent about Juiceplus and other MLMs. It is from 1995 but it is still relevant today.
The Juiceplus starter guide. How to prospect people, how many you have to recruit and how much to sell/buy to earn any payments.
Juiceplus do not provide an income disclosure statement so we cannot accurately see what expected earnings can be. The Canadian Juiceplus website has this image. It isn’t very detailed but it is the best I could find. Which should be concerning in itself.
Juiceplus run a child health study that provides free Juiceplus capsules to children aged 4-18 if they take part in a survey. As long as an adult commits to buy Juiceplus for themselves for a year. At a cost of £246- £693. And they fill in 6 questionnaires. This is not very free.
Juiceplus’ doctor, Dr Mitra Ray recommends pregnant women take Juiceplus tablets-
Pregnant women should not take any supplement that have vitamin A in, as well as avoiding too many foods with naturally high levels of vitamin A. Doing this could damage your baby. This information is from the NHS website.
There is vitamin A in Juiceplus products-
The assumption made with Kangen water is that your body works better if it is alkaline. A very basic understanding of human physiology will show you that everybody has to have a blood pH of 7.35-7.45 for you to stay alive. Changing it outside of these small parameters will kill you. Luckily, drinking alkaline fluids will not change your body pH. It may affect the pH in your stomach though, which is supposed to be about pH2. If it is made less acid, you can’t digest nutrients properly. But, as ever, the danger with MLM isn’t with the pseudoscience, it is with the financial aspect and the effects being in an MLM will have on you and your relationships.
Lazy man and money’s assessment.
Kangen water is made by a Japanese company called Enagic.
Enagic in hot water in Japan. Story on false claims made for Kangen water and their ‘opportunity’.
Kleeneze, also referred to as Klife
They have a catalogue that distributors deliver to people’s door and then collect payments for orders. There are no territories though so sellers could end up competing with each other.
Distributors have to pay for catalogues.
This blog lists all the problems with Kleeneze and compares it to a cult.
A newsletter for Kleeneze. (https://dsa.kleeneze.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/dsa-Team-talk-sept-2015_TT-sept-15-new.pdf) Spot all the persuasive messages to entice people in and keep them trying to make money.
Kyani in trouble about lies they told about their products. They made numerous false health claims.
Lots of illegal health claims for Kyani made in the USA, compiled by TINA.
37.8% of active distributors earned more than $10 or more in a year. Here are their earnings.
Iron Beaver analyses Thrive from a fitness perspective.
Truth in Advertising’s analysis of Le-Vel.
There is no income disclosure. They do not want you to know how much their people earn.
Information from TINA on adverse health effects from Le-Vel’s products.
Advertising Standard Authority‘s ruling against Le-Vel. It is interesting to read in the ruling how Le-Vel treated their rep.
Lazy Man and money‘s article about Le-Vel. For which they are suing him. He won his court battle.
Lean Java Bean coffee (product sold by Vitae Global)
See this analysis in a Botwatchblog post about this MLM.
Their coffee is billed as ‘clinically proven’ to help weight loss. It is nothing of the kind. The post above analyses this research and looks at the ingredients.
I am currently investigating this company. More to follow in due course.
A complaint about the product and customer service.
The website does not use https so transactions are not as secure as they can be.
Life Tree World
Update- 10th March 2017.
Lifetree World has now been liquidated, leaving many creditors. A lot of members had purchased goods and never received them, and many had bought into programs that promised more profit for them. They have all lost their money now. The only assets the company had when it was closed down was a car that still had finance on and some pretend money in a ‘Gateway’ account. This amounted to -£885 in assets and a total of £454,319 owing to everyone. Companies House have all the documents if you want to look at the details.
We won’t have heard the last of them though. Previous players in this company have gone on to form another MLM and another MLM team which moves people from MLM to MLM, ensuring a few of them will always be at the top of a pyramid somewhere. More on this in future blog posts.
Life Tree World have not been accepted by the DSA as members. They have disappeared from the prospective list.
There was a dispute between LTW and a supplier, culminating in court action. A petition is due to be heard on 11/07/2016 for insolvency, brought about by a company called Per-Scent Ltd. I am told they agreed to pay the company in instalments and they were not shut down at that time.
Netmums discussion– This discussion has now been deleted by Netmums.
Limelight by Alcone
This MLM sells makeup and is based in New York. Their reps are called Beauty Guides.
Here is their website. They only operate in the USA. You can read their terms and conditions if you get to the application stage. You don’t have to give any information to get to this stage, you do need to choose which starter kit you want.
There is a monthly charge to maintain the third party site the guides get paid through, and a charge for withdrawing money from it. There are yearly renewal fees. There are monthly fees for having a company website to sell products from, this is not optional.
Pissedconsumer website lists some complaints about this company. Some issues- problems with orders, reps lying, cosmetics not as free from nasty chemicals as claimed by the company.
this is the product sold by the MLM known as SeneGence International.
This is an MLM that, thankfully, is not in the UK. It seems to just be in the US. They sell leggings. Some issues with this company are-
Their leggings have been criticised as very poor quality, with them ‘ripping like wet tissue paper’. Many people are unhappy about them and trying to get refunds. Reps are refusing to refund because it will cost them.
They are in trouble for charging people tax in some states where tax should not be charged. This is the subject of legal action.
The reps don’t get to choose the patterns on the leggings. They just buy a batch and hope they are good ones that will sell well.
This is the consultants’ contract. Some information for consultants who want to leave-
Income disclosure statement. Here is a snippet “The average annual bonus payments made by LuLaRoe to ALL U.S. Consultants at all ranks (which includes Eligible and Ineligible Consultants) in 2015 was $91.65, and the median annual bonus payments made to ALL U.S. Consultants at all ranks in 2015 was $85.80. ” YEARLY bonuses of $85.80! And that’s not taking into account of the losses they most probably made buying the products. 87.04% of reps did not earn a cent. The document states that costs can be hundreds to thousands of dollars.
There is now a 2016 income disclosure that, on the surface, looks better as “The average annual bonus payments made by LuLaRoe to ALL U.S. Independent Retailers at all ranks (which includes Eligible and Ineligible Independent Retailers) in 2016 was $2,064.77. ” Look closer though, and you find that most people don’t get paid any bonus, and of those that do, they don’t get much. As usual, it is the very few at the top that earn anything decent, pushing the average figures up.
The above table shows that only about a quarter of people in Lularoe earn anything, and of those that do, 99.84% earn $5103 a year before expenses. They have a lot of expenses.
For stories, have a read here-
news article with links.
Lulaoe say no Twitter account highlighting latest news.
Scary Mommy Blog post about the refund problem.
Truth In Advertising’s summary of Lularoe’s problems.
Mommygyver on twitter is campaigning for LuLaRoe’s reps trying to get refunds when they leave the company. Many people are left thousands of dollars out of pocket. LuLaRoe are taking legal action against her to get her to reveal her sources for her stories.
Article by Behind MLM.
Dragons’ Den Canada where someone tries to pitch Lyoness to the Dragons. They don’t get the funding. Watch it from 25 minutes in.
The figures in this chart are abysmal. ‘The median income of all members was $0.04’. The median is the middle number if all the numbers are lined up in order. It is what most people earn. 4 cents a year is horrendous!
Launching in the US and UK in October or November 2016.
Maële’s facebook page causes controversy, as reported by Timeless Vie.
It costs £59 to join but you won’t get sent your starter package until ‘Fall 2016’. No date. And the starter kit products are subject to change.
Pink Truth, a website dedicated to exposing Mary Kay and also touches upon other MLMs.
Ten reasons not to join Mary kay. Number 5 is that you have to wear a skirt to all company events!
Pink Truth Discussion board. See what people are saying.
Earnings disclosure from their Canadian website.
The above statement is only counting people who have been involved for a year or more. Most people leave MLMs within a year so the vast majority of people in this scheme (29,614) have been totally disregarded. These figures apply to people who have spent $2700 on products over the year. 47% of them earned over $100. Not great.
A website called Families Against Cult-Like Expoitation in Sales has a bit about Mary Kay.
Stories from victims of Mary Kay.
Neal’s yard exposed as selling an illegal remedy for Malaria on Quackometer.
Their compensation plan is not available to view until you join up. Likewise, there is no information on how much their people actually earn. Why hide this?
This MLM sell cleaning products for the house. They are against ‘chemicals’.
Ecofriendlymama reviewed their products and found that they aren’t as eco friendly as they claim.
That link to the product manual doesn’t work. Try this link.
There is no income disclosure from this company, which is always a concern. When you get companies openly disclosing that their sellers make £100 a year, how little must they be making for a company to keep it a secret?
Nu Skin fined for breaking FTC’s rules. Again.
A Nu Skin whistleblower’s story.
Interesting link between NuSkin and Olympic drug cheats in this New York Times article.
Analysis of earning potential of Nu Skin by Dr Taylor, Pyramid Scheme Alert.
MLM The Truth’s analysis of NuSkin.
Cultish behaviour at a NuSkin convention from MLM The Truth.
An ingredients analysis of NuSkin’s toothpaste.
TINA’s investigation into illegal health claims made for NuSkin products.
NuSkin released an income disclosure in 2011-
These figures use the numbers of current members, discounting all the people (probably a large number) of people who left during the year. The figures show the amount earned by active distributors only, which make up just 41.61% of the total. And of these, only 12.68% actually got a cheque. This means that only 5.28% of people in NuSkin in 2011 actually earned any commissions. Half of these lucky few got paid $492 a year.
A document that shows how NuSkin has attempted to discredit its main whistle blower. Dr Jon Taylor. He provides arguments against their statements.
Ethan Vanderbuilt article on Onecoin organisers arrested in India for running a scam. His website has many other stories on this scheme.
A blockcoin expert describes how Onecoin is a fraud
on Ethan Vanderbuilt’s website.
They sell coffee and other hot drink powders, many containing Ganoderma Lucidum. This is a mushroom that has no allowable health claims in the UK and can be very harmful to a few different groups of people.
Reps selling this coffee often tout it as a weight loss product. Which it really isn’t. They also claim some ridiculous things as here-
In 2014 Organo were in trouble with the DSA for pretending to be members. The FTC weren’t happy with them for making inflated income claims and health claims of their products.
They sell beauty products. They originated from Sweden.
They recommend buying ten catalogues every three weeks.
Information from their website.
There is no information on actual average earnings.
This comment is a little concerning- “The compensation plan awards recruiting more independent consultants higher than that of selling the company’s products“. This is from a Best Company review page where people rate the company they work for.
Oriflame were shut down in Tehran in 2010 for operating an illegal marketing scheme and evading tax. Story from the BBC. Oriflame said it was because they employed women and was no different from any other business. This news report about the Tehran incident makes the case for Oriflame being a pyramid scheme. There is an Iran Oriflame Facebook page now so maybe it is up and active again? Although the last post was in February 2016.
This is one bit of a Glassdoor review. It is a theme that crops up a few times.
Top Management: Most of the mangement have been having same or similar positions on the top for 10-15 years. The men have normally never worked at any other company except for Oriflame and just rotate each others’ chairs despite the company performing poorly for several years.
Sexist: there is definitely a glass ceiling at Oriflame. If you are an ambitious, young woman, there are much more equal opportunities at other FMCG companies. Do not waste your best years here, no mater what they promise. All but a couple of the MDs are men and in top mangement there is only one woman.
Micro management: it is an extremely top down company.
Wavering priorities: the company never stick to their decisions and will change their mind on decisions including company strategy .”
This MLM has an odd mix of products. At first it was bedding, now they have added dried fruit powder!?
Amandeep Rajput is the CMO (Chief Marketing Officer). You may have spotted him before. He was one of the people that ran Lifetree World but left before it was liquidated. Link to his current status at Companies House.
Other people involved that are listed at Companies House are
Myrja Oketch, who owns Akom Ltd, a non-specified wholesale company. I can’t find anything about this company.
Harrison Oketch is listed as the Director.
They have both been involved in a dissolved company called Stirling Academy Ltd, and are both now involved in Citizen 2000 ltd which seems to be an educational institution. Myrja is Head of Academics and Registrar and Harrison is the principal. Their website gives information on how international students can apply for Tier 4 visas so they can come and study. Unfortunately though, they were investigated for visa fraud and this status has been revoked, according to The PIE News, an international education website. Here is an article about the investigation and fraud. This page gives a business analysis of Citizen 2000. It seems they may have shut down.
An MLM company selling candles and accessories. They are owned by Blythe Industries that are in turn owned by The Carlyle Group.
Business guide with all the rules and earnings structure.
Sellers only get bonus cheques once they have sold more than $2,300 worth of candles. The bonus is only 7% of the sales each month. That’s a lot of candles to sell. $14.95 a month is payable to be able to use Partylite’s IT systems. Starter kit $250.
There are monthly sales amounts to achieve.
I cannot find an income disclosure statement anywhere which s always a red flag as it means the company are not willing to disclose what your realistic earnings are likely to be.
They sell insurance and investment products to the North American market. Some reviews by customers and reps here.
Ethan Vanderbuilt declares it is a scam (in his opinion). He alleges that a common ploy these reps engage in is setting up fake job interviews to reel in new prospects. More on that issue on this Consumer Fraud website.
This blogger describes how he was contacted by a Primerica rep to attend a fake job interview. There are over 1000 comments on this post that are worth a read.
This information about earnings is provided on their website section entitled “Important Disclosures. “From January 1 through December 31, 2015, Primerica paid cash flow to its North American sales force at an average of $6,119 per life licensed representative. Average cash flow includes commissions paid on all lines of business, and reflects combined U. S. and Canadian dollars remaining in the local currency earned by the representative. Exchange rates fluctuate daily and could impact the average.”
They only give payment details for the ‘life licensed representatives’. There seem to be other types of products they sell that do not need any licensing. I wonder how much they make? Or what the real average of their whole salesforce is?
Costs incurred by the reps- “The IBA fee is $103.95 (including applicable sales taxes) and the monthly Primerica Online fee is $28.00.” IBA stands for Independent Business Application. This is a total of $439.95 in the first year. Also, take into account other expenses such as stationery, travel, phonecalls etc.
This is mentioned on the Canadian site– “Any cash flows stated represent gross income only. All commissions are subject to Deferred Commission Account withholding and applicable taxes, and Representatives are responsible for their own business expenses.”
This Seeking Alpha article explains some of the issues. They explain how Primerica have 28% of the licensed reps in the country and only 1.83% of the market share. Also, they say that Primerica were vocal in objecting to rules that made companies sell products that are in the best interests of the customers.
This page gives financial information about the company. On it is this chart-
Look carefully at the figures. in Q4 2015, there were 106,710 life licensed reps. In Q4 2016, there were 116,827 reps. This is a net increase over a year of 10,117 of life licenced sales people.
We can see that each quarter there are about 11,000 new life-licensed recruits. (11,144 if we take the average of the quarters provided).
This means that in the 4 quarters of Q4 2015 and Q4 2016, there were 44,576 new life licensed reps (LLR) joining the company.
So in Q4 2015- 106,710 LLR
Between Q4 2015 and Q4 2016 44,576 LLR join up.
This makes 151,286 LLRs in total.
Q4 2016 there are 116,827 reps remaining.
This means 34,459 LLR left the company.
44,576 joined and 34,459 left. For every person that joins, 0.77 leave. That is quite a high churn rate. And this is only counting the reps that made it as far as qualifying for their license.
I wonder if they left because it was too difficult to sell the products? The stats show that life licensed members made on average 0.22 sales per month, equating to less than 3 policies sold in a year.
Rodan and Fields
Is Rodan and Fields a scam? By Lazyman and money.
Their Twitter account is @safety4girls. It is an odd mix of crime statistics, Labour party support and information about and from charities that support victims of crimes.
Their product catalogue. You can only purchase these items through contacting a rep or joining yourself. They sell an odd range of products- rape alarms, car crash escape kits, child locators, red dye spays for spraying at attackers, carbon monoxide detectors, to name but a few. They charge £18 for a 125 decibel gaudy pink attack alarm. This is double the price of alarms found on Amazon that are a lot nicer looking.
Companies House information about this company (Safegirl Ltd) shows the officers to be Andrea Clark, Christopher Shipman and Samantha Shipman. They are also involved in Safegirl Holdings Ltd which is a management consultancy business. Both businesses were registered in November 2016. The Safegirl website mentions Andrea and Samantha but there is strangely no mention of Christopher.
They are a prospective member of the DSA which does not really mean much as it is just a trade organisation.
Safegirl terms and conditions. It describes how Safegirl Sisters (the title reps are given) have to purchase the products and sell them on. It says that profits are only made on sales and there are no monthly obligated purchases.
There are two ways safegirl sisters can join the business-
Sister level- you buy products at 25% discount and sell on. You buy £100 of products and sell for £125, making £25. If you purchase £300 or more in a month, you get a 5% bonus. So if you bought £300 of product, you would get £15 in bonuses and would then have to try and sell it all for £375 to get a further £75 profit. That’s 20 personal attack alarms to sell in a month for £90 profit. Attack alarms that can be obtained much cheaper or free of charge elsewhere. It is worth noting here that if you sold an item to someone online, presumably, you would have to purchase the item and pay the P&P to send it to your customer. This would nibble into your profits a bit. Then there’s taxes and expenses too, of course.
Sponsor level- You will earn a small percentage of your downline’s sales as long as you purchase £300 of products in a month.
I do wonder if this company is being discriminatory by naming their sales reps ‘safegirl sisters.’ There seems to be no provision for men who want to join. This Telegraph article discusses research and expert opinion that found feminized job descriptions actually encouraged discrimination against women. It says the job holders were perceived as less professional and devalues women. This is at odds with a company that claims to ’empower women’.
This MLM has been popular with people leaving Lifetree World.
It is supposedly a cashback scheme where you register your top 10 retail sites and a pay method. You then have to send copies of receipts to Saivian to get 20% cashback. You have to pay $128 every 28 days to be a member in this scheme. This means you have to spend $625 every 28 days to break even. Never fear though, just recruit people to earn money off them. You can just recruit people and pay your fee, you never need to use the cashback scheme at all. Hmmmm. It is only available in the USA. Everyone else can just join the global option where you get cashback for travelling.
A review by avertscams.
Behind MLM review looks into a bit more detail about the compensation plan and the organisers. They conclude it is a pyramid scheme.
This is the MLM that sells Lipsense.
Their reps’ titles are Princess, Duchess, Royal etc!! Their downlines are called Dominions.
Joni Rogers-Kante is credited by the company as starting SeneGence and travelling round the world with scientists developing amazing makeup with anti-aging properties. Her husband and son help run the company.
This snippet is how Joni describes one of their products in The Direct Selling News. “As the product line grew, the company also added an anti-aging benefit to the products. “SenePlex Complex is the proprietary anti-aging formulation exclusive to SeneGence,” she says. “All SeneDerm and creamy SenseCosmetics contain this one-of-a-kind kinetic enzyme that fights the signs of aging by renewing your skin from the inside out an average of 23.3 percent more rapidly, which in turn reduces fine lines and wrinkles by an average of 55 percent for 100 percent of our consumers.”
I’ve heard of skin renewing faster than normal, it’s what happens in dandruff and psoriasis.
I have tried to find the clinically proven research paper to analyse. I love a good bit of analysis. SeneGence give this information. Lots of charts and numbers and assumptions. No reference, no author or paper title. I’d like to look at the actual research. I have tweeted Senegence for the details (15th May 2017). I will keep you updated.
There is no income disclosure statement anywhere, not even on the Canadian website.
There are problems with products at the moment. The distributor packs that people purchase to start their business are currently out of stock. But that’s ok, you can still pay to join up and recruit others. The reviews at Glassdoor indicate there have been stock issues for a number of months now. There is an allegation of bullying by uplines, frontloading being encouraged, cult-like behaviour and lying.
The Complaints Board Website is full of Senegence complaints. People complaining they can’t get stock, customer services unhelpful, still recruiting when no stock available, ‘senecash’ not working, refunds not being given, many, many problems.
This blog post is by someone who left SeneGence and she spills the beans. She explains that distributors have to spend $200 every 6 months on products, the website costs $300 a year, you are encouraged to get a credit card to pay for products and to build up an inventory. The $55 join up fee has to be paid every year, you have to buy hundreds of dollars of stock each month to be eligible to earn from your dominion. This is one of the gems in the comments by someone in this MLM ‘nothing comes easy when its you being independently earning money next time you try something like this out give it some time and keep your optimism you could have reached those goals had it been something you really wanted to do. its really that simple if you dont want to put the work and time in then obviously you wont get the return you expected’.
A blog post where someone describes how they were terminated by Senegence. She was a Crown Princess and tells what it was like. She has started a Facebook Group for disullusioned Senegence people- “Anyone wanting to join Verbal Release Therapy, message me on my facebook; Robyn Elizabeth Berry (I’m the one from Canada).”
A blog post on Crownless Princess that lists blogs to do with Senegence members and their experiences.
This very detailed blog post evaluates SkinnyBodyCare. The blog looks at the ingredients in the products, the people behind the company and financial information.
Details on this blog of a court case against SkinnyBodyCare.
BBB rating of F. They have not responded to 10/12 complaints.
They have no income disclosure statement. They do not want people to know what small amounts their people earn.
Stella and Dot
Income disclosure statement
A review on Glass door website. “You have to buy all your won products and displays. Which never ends because they are constantly discontinuing certain lines so you have to buy more each season. They run promotions to earn credit for free jewelry or qualify for 50% off but it’s a scam. As a stylist if your jewelry breaks to bad that “we want the customer to always be happy” doesn’t apply to stylists. You have to buy it again and at full price. The company makes money off the stylists not customers. If you want to make money you will be working more hours than any sales job I’ve ever had. And if you have stylists under you and you don’t make your required dollar amount those stylist get out under the person above you and they make the money not you. There is little support for stylists each team is very different. Very little training. They sell stay at home moms on oh you just have to throw trunk shows with your friends and for and for a few hours a week of work you can make great money. It’s a total lie. They want you to use an iPad with their app but you have to buy it. Most will spend more than they ever make. They keep expanding the line so you have to buy more and more and more products. Jewelry, purses, bags, makeup, scarves, glasses…..“
A member of the DSA in America. At least, they are as of May 2017.
Their website. They say they provide video communication products.
Their compensation plan. You have to sign up 3 recruits in a month to be eligible for a bonus. Within this compensation plan is the income disclosure-
69.54% earn nothing! 11.93% earn less than $50 in a year. A further 12.31% earn less than $250 a year. This means 93.78 earn less than $250 a year. That’s pretty poor. Note that 0.015% at the top earn over $200,000 a year. They have been in the scheme for 55 months. The lower earners who pay into the scheme and leave fairly quickly don’t earn anything. This demonstrates a continuous recruiting chain of people entering, paying money, not getting anything and leaving, while people at the top profit from this.
This pyramid scheme alert post explains how Talk Fusion are being sued for being a pyramid scheme in America.
Ethan Vanderbuilt discusses the case here. He outlines the points being complained about and has the actual court documents that you can scroll through for yourself.
Total Life Changes
Ethan Vanderbuilt says it is a scam. He concludes it is a product based pyramid scam.
There is no income disclosure from TLC. They do not want you to know how much their people earn.
Their products offer dubious claims and have dangerous ingredients in them. (according to Ethan’s assessment in his blog).
Andrew Pennman exposes this scheme as a scam.
Facebook group for people who have been scammed by Traffic Monsoon.
Tara Talks, a website that highlights Ponzi schemes.
A Digital Marketing website explains how this sort of scheme works and how bad Traffic Monsoon is.
Traffic Monsoon is in trouble with the authorities. Tara Talks and the Salt Lake Tribune report. The Salt Lake Tribune report how most of the victims came from poor countries, including Morocco and Bangladesh. Some people lost hundreds of thousands of dollars. The money earned by some was 99% from joining fees of new people. Classic Ponzi.
Their compensation plan.
They sell nutritional supplements, body care and related products.
Income disclosure for 2015. The average income is US$859.
USANA is on the stock market. See here for how it is performing.
TINA’s list of illegal health claims made for USANA products made by the sellers.
Usbourne are an unusual MLM, in that their products are mainstream and sold in high street bookshops and Amazon etc.
There is a Twitter campaign against them, have a look at @uzzieuncensored. They have a website here. They accuse Randall (the owner) of falsifying figures. They allege that any negativity or criticism from reps and they get fired. They offer evidence of these accusations.
This patronising blog post was written by an Usbourne rep. However, she has since left them. The comments at the end are worth a read.
Information from Usbourne about the ‘opportunity’. There doesn’t seem to be an income disclosure statement on this MLM. What are they hiding?
David Brear explains Utility Warehouse here.
Sellers have to sign up 6 customers before they get paid any commission.
Financial statement from Utility warehouse contains this-
According to their figures, 11,100 distributors joined in a year. By the end of the year, there was only a net increase of 1,737 people. That’s quite a high churn rate.
The Guardian published an article on Utility Warehouse and how their numbers don’t add up.
The Mirror Newspaper revealed in 2016 that UW were charging 94% of its customers too much money.
They got in trouble with OFGEM and ordered to improve the way they dealt with complaints handling. The report is from January 2017.
This MLM sell coffee that is billed as ‘the healthiest coffee in the world’.
Ethan Vanderbuilt says Valentus is a scam in his opinion.
5 of the 7 levels require members to arrange an ‘autoship’- setting up a monthly order of products.
There is no income disclosure document anywhere, despite the terms and conditions saying that it must be provided anytime any sort of income claim is made.
Their terms and conditions include the following points- You have to recruit, you’ll probably lose money, you have to purchase products each month to get bonuses, Valentus can use you image, words, story as they like and you can’t refuse or approve it, most members spend more on products than they earn.)
Valentus are being sued by Vitae Global- who supplied their coffee beans and are now their rival, selling Lean Java Bean Coffee. A counter claim has been put in by Valentus which contains many damning allegations. It got very ugly very quickly.
Review by Behind MLM, an MLM positive site aimed at people who are involved in MLMs. The review of Valentus is not overly positive.
This is one of their products
One of the ingredients (phenylamine) is a type of amphetamine and should only be used occasionally. There are some conditions and medications that make this drug very dangerous. It can be addictive, increases blood pressure and blood sugar levels. For more information, have a read here. The maximum recommended dose is 500mg. How much is in Prevail? The dose is not on the packaging or website.
Raided by the FTC n America in August 2015 for being an illegal pyramid scheme. Vemma fought back and have been allowed to trade but they have to follow strict rules to keep them legitimate. As a result, they have not done so well. Read TINA’s (Truth In Advertising) article on recent developments.
Lazy Man’s article on Vemma.
Watch out for false health claims from this company.
See Body by vi.
The listing for this company is under Lean Java Bean Coffee (the product they sell.)
This company sells essential oils.
TINA (Truth In Advertising) have compiled a list of dishonest and illegal health claims made by sellers of Young Living.
The New Yorker wrote a good piece on Young Living. They examine the culture, money earned and the man behind the scheme (Gary Young). Here are some extercats from the article about Mr Young
The article continues with many revelations which are worth a read. Here is another one-
I’d like to draw your attention to the top line there…
94% of distributers earn on average $1 a month. This doesn’t take into account the associated costs like ‘advertising or promotional expenses, product samples, training, rent, travel, telephone and internet costs, and miscellaneous expenses.’
An ex-Younique victim’s story from Timeless Vie.
Chammy In Real Life is a blogger and she had an experience with Younique as well. Here is her story.
Younique’s website claims there are 734,924 presenters worldwide as of 9th May 2017, let’s see how that number changes over a year.
This excellent Timeless Vie blog post on the horrors of MLMs includes an analysis of Younique’s infiltration into an economically deprived British town. Really worth a read.
Younique do not provide an Income disclosure statement. Why?
The new face of Flexkom, a Turkish MLM company.
Write up by Lazyman and Money. There are some very detailed posts in the comments section about Flexkom. It looks like Flexkom took a lot of people’s money for franchise licences and technology, only to never deliver. Then they disappeared.
Their income disclosure statement. During 3 months, the average participant was paid US$393.35 for Jan-March 2017.
This means that 58.79% earned nothing. Of the remaining 41.21% , 86.45% earned less than $1988 in 3 months. 86.45% of 41.21% is 35.63%. These figures add up to 94.42% not making much at all.
A penny auction website scheme that was deemed to be a Ponzi scheme. Zeek themselves claimed to be an MLM.
Zeek’s MLM lawyer, who has also represented Herbalife and USA, among others, convinced members that the company was legitimate. More here about that on the False Profits website. The article discusses how Zeek Rewards is just like any other MLM.
Official announcements from the receiver about Zeek.
US Department of Justice updates given here about Zeek.
Action against MLM. Things you can do.
Report a dishonest or illegal advert to the ASA on this complaint form.
Complain to event organisers about an MLM stall using this template from Timeless Vie.
Report to Trading Standards if any of the following apply
The DSA are the Direct Selling Association. MLMs are members of this group and they value this membership because it makes them look legitimate. The DSA have a code of conduct that the MLM companies and sellers have to adhere to. You can complain to them if these rules are broken and the DSA can step in.
Here is a basic overview of the codes of ethics-
The whole code can be accessed on the DSA site for consumers and business conduct. If you are concerned that these codes have been breached and you are not getting a satisfactory response from the MLM company, contact the DSA to complain and they will step in to help.
Buy products to support Timeless Vie financially for promoting their message.