These ‘cancer kits’ or ‘positivity packs’ are appearing all over the internet at the moment, and on the face of it, look harmless. Helpful, and charitable even. Increasingly though, it is making people feel very uncomfortable. I will attempt to explain why.
I think the biggest element that makes people feel uncomfortable is that it is hard to criticise someone when they are helping to raise money for a good cause, especially if they are doing it without making any money. Who wants to stop people raising money for cancer patients?
Part of my job brings me into contact with people who have cancer. I want to help them, not stop them from having nice things. I also want to protect them from being exploited, especially if a massive multi national company in America is going to profit from the sales, as well as people in a multi level marketing scheme. The people selling these kits are being less than truthful and I feel a lot of people are being taken advantage of.
Let’s have a look at some of the calls for help to make these kits and see if we can analyse what is going on.
This one was spotted on Facebook on Thursday 9th November 2017, and the packs were due to be dropped off on Friday 10th November.
Her friends and family have bought these products from her. Forever Living will make a profit, the woman selling the products will be closer to earning her bonus, and her uplines will get a percentage.
The person writing the post says she ‘told her story’. Telling of a story is a common occurrence in MLMs. People stand up in front of a group and explain to them some health problem they had or some dreadful problem with a job, or something else that was bad in their lives. Then they explain how their MLM came along and everything changed. Their health problems went away, they left heir job, they found a ‘new family’ etc etc. Then they explain how they are so thankful for the amazing opportunity and then they subtly/ or not so subtly (depending on their audience) try and recruit people. The people in the above picture could be being subjected to a recruitment attempt.
The post claims that the products can ‘help with certain side effects’. It is very common for sellers of these products to make false health claims.
Have a look at this attempt to make sales and false health claims. This person has set up a Just Giving page where she can appeal to people to send her money so she can purchase products from Forever Living and give them to cancer patients. She wants to raise £1500 to make 100 packs. (Not sure why she says £300 when she says each pack costs £15 to make).
She claims that the aloe vera toothgel helps with mouth ulcers. This is an illegal health claim. Aloe Vera cannot be claimed to help with mouth ulcers.
She claims that aloe gelly can help with hair loss and dry skin. Again, this is an illegal health claim.
She recommends taking the gelly internally. This is not actually recommended by the scientific bodies that regulate medicines and herbal remedies. There is no evidence it is good for people, and some evidence it can cause harm.
She claims that aluminium is linked to breast cancer. It is not. She is scaremongering people into buying her products. Cancer Research UK are among many websites that debunk the myth that aluminium and cancer are linked.
She claims here that the packs are ‘none profit’ (sic). This makes it look like she is doing this out of the goodness of her heart and not making any money. In reality, she has to sell these products in order to earn her bonus, and her upline will be getting a cut of the profits, as will their upline. By selling these packs, she is losing nothing, whilst gaining financially and making herself look good.
So what is being bought for £1500? A deodorant stick, lip balm, nail varnish and a card. I can’t help but wonder what else this amount of money could be spent on that would actually be useful.
This person is trying to raise £898 to purchase products from her team. She will benefit from all sales from people below her in her team.
It’s not just Forever Living that use this tactic, Modere are at it as well.
They use the exact same techniques- cancer patients, bogus health claims, aluminium free deodorant, being kind to needy people.
Here is a NuSkin rep raiding money for her kits. She omits to mention the NuSkin element in her Go Fund Me page. You have to go to her Face Book page to see that is what she is actually selling.
Some reps have been more creative with their links to charities when getting people to buy their products. This one seems to have swapped a proportion of her proceeds to a hospice, gaining sales and contact details of customers/ potential recruits.
This one managed to persuade at least four people to buy C9s from her for a hospice fundraising activity.
C9s cost £108.95 each. That’s £435.80 if only 4 people bought them. This effort raised £100 in total for the charity, costing the ‘customers’ £485.80. It earned the FL rep some great sales, enough to qualify for her bonus, new customers and some publicity.
This Consumer Reports article examines the phenomenon of ’cause marketing’ where product sales are related to a charitable cause. There are many negative aspects to it. Here are a few interesting quotes from the article.
“After all, companies don’t do cause marketing solely to give, but also to get more of your business. Surveys show that almost 90 percent of consumers say that given similar price and quality, they’re likely to switch to a brand associated with a good cause. (Case studies suggest that is actually what happens in stores.) And businesses get to bask in the warm glow of good PR. “Nonprofits are lending their good name to the business, and consumers are well aware of that,” Irvin said.”
“Think before using a product as a go-between, Krishna says. “Are you buying a $30 T-shirt from which $2 will go to the charity?” she said. “Or could you give $30 to the charity and do without the T-shirt?”
If you see someone selling some expensive products that they and their company will benefit from, think hard. Would it be better to donate the £10 directly to a charity? Where they can directly benefit, spending it where it needs to go? Would the cancer patients benefit from being given some toiletries and used as a sales prop, handed false health claims that could harm them, or would they be better served by their ward being given £1500?
I think cancer patients would be better served with direct donations to charity. I think friends and family of the reps would prefer not to be tricked into thinking they are doing a good thing. Many people find it hard to decline making a purchase to MLM reps at the best of times. People want to help their friends out and are often guilted into supporting them. If the donor is told their purchase will help someone fighting cancer, they will find it even more difficult to resist purchasing. This is a very manipulative tactic.
Friends, family, social media contacts and the wider public are not told the whole truth about who will benefit from their purchase.
Cancer patients are given expensive packs of toiletries with false health claims.
Cancer patients are used to persuade people to help them. Sometimes their photos are used. All with the aim of making more sales.
Opponents of these schemes are reluctant to speak up, because who wants to be seen denying nice things to ill people?