How to choose a Network Marketing company to work with

This is a serious article and is not a spoof or a trick. It is not an attempt to get you to sign up to anything.

This article gives pointers to people who are in Network Marketing and are looking for a new company. I am not against the individuals who are in these schemes. This site is aimed at facts and exposing the realities of Multi Level Marketing.

I am forever seeing people go from one company to another and making dreadful mistakes along the way. Some of you have been led into illegal schemes or tricked into doing illegal things yourself. Many of you will have had your reputation affected and gone through a lot of trauma.

A bit of research before joining a company could save you a lot of trouble.

 

Products

What are the products? Don’t be swayed by the level of commission or an assurance that the products will ‘sell themselves’. Products do not sell themselves, you have to sell them. If you don’t wear make up, don’t sell make up. If you aren’t into sports, don’t sell sports products. You will have no credibility if you try and pretend you know about these things.

You could run the risk of looking like an idiot if you are selling something you know nothing about. It is not enough that the company provides training in the products. People will see through you. People with a real interest in the market will spot you a mile off.

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Is there a market for the product?

Will people actually buy the product for what it is? Is the price reasonable? Do you know of people that will buy it because they want it? If they saw it in a shop, would they buy it? You need real customers, do not rely on friends and family who you think will support you. They may initially order from you to be supportive, but you do not want pity purchases. Pity purchases dry up, and can cause resentment between you and people you care about. Friendships are more important than selling a lipstick. Ideally, you would want repeat customers who like the product and ask you for it, instead of you chasing them for orders.

Do you want to sell to customers or will you have to beg?

Is the company registered at Companies House?

It doesn’t take long to check a company is registered and their accounts can be looked at. Go to their website and type in the company name in the search box. You can find out when the company was incorporated, who runs it, all sorts of information. Take a bit of time to look into the details that you find out.

It isn’t enough to be told by someone you work with that a company is legitimate. Find out for yourself. It really doesn’t take long. If you are investing your time and money into a scheme, you really should be doing these background checks. Google the names you come up with. Have any of them been in trouble with the law? If there is no information on them anywhere, this might not be good. You would think that someone who has set up a business that is going to be really successful would have experience and leave a footprint all over the internet on their previous activities.

Compensation plan

Have a look at the compensation plan. Do not be distracted by people or figures that show you can earn a lot of money at the top. Have a look at what you think you are likely to earn.

If you need to host parties, how many do you realistically think you will do? It may be suggested that you do 2 parties a week to earn a certain amount of money. How realistic is this? How many people do you know that will be happy to host parties for you? How far away will you have to travel? How much time and cost will be involved? Two parties a week does not sound much, but could you keep it up for long?

Don’t get carried away with what could be possible. Work out what you can realistically achieve. Look at the details. Work out a plan properly. If someone says it is easy to set up parties, ask them for the details on how they do it. If someone tells you it is simple and no effort, they are likely not being honest with you. Especially if they are trying to persuade you to join their team.

Are there minimum amounts of money that you need to bring into the company every month? Companies have different amounts that you are expected to bring into the company in order to remain active and to earn bonuses. Find out what this is. Will you be expected to make up the amounts with your own purchases? Wold you be buying these products anyway at these prices or would you end up spending money you would otherwise have spent on bills? People think they will just make up the amounts on their own purchases for a bit, and then their businesses will take off and they won’t need to anymore. This is not a good tactic. You will be wasting your money and you could end up being your own customer.

Advertising and marketing

Check what type of product you will be selling and what the selling points are. You will need to find out what claims are allowed and which ones are illegal. When you put claims on social media, you are as responsible for the advertising as a standard company is when they advertise on the TV or in magazines. Officially in the eyes of the law, you are responsible for your claims.

If a company sells coffee and you market it as weight loss coffee, you could get into a lot of trouble if you break advertising rules. Have a look at the CAP rules for the UK. This page tells you nice and simply some of the main advertising rules you need to adhere to, like what you can and can’t say. It covers weight loss rules, before and after pictures, testimonials, health claims etc. If you are told to sell a product by claiming it can do something like increase metabolism, cure diabetes, lose weight, help with depression, you need to check this is actually allowed.

Link to weight loss rules at the Advertising Standards Association.

Have a look at this index from the ASA that covers all the advertising rules you’ll need. There’s sections on competitions, environment, customer data, health claims.

If you are satisfied that the product claims can be advertised by you legally, you will be in a good position. The last thing you want is the ASA telling you to remove content or Trading Standards turning up at your door. You will not be able to blame the company for your claims, it is you that is responsible for it.

It is not acceptable for you to say that you were told to make the claims or that you just copied an advert. Make sure you carry out your responsibilities seriously.

If a company just sells weight loss coffee but you know you cannot sell it as weight loss coffee without breaking the law, could you sell it just as coffee? If not, you might want to find another company.

The DSA

Some people will tell you their business is legitimate if it is registered with the DSA. However, this does not provide you with any protection at all. Some companies have been with the DSA and been shut down by the authorities for being a pyramid scheme. The DSA is made up of people that run Network Marketing companies. They act to protect the companies, not the individuals signing up as reps. People who have complained to the DSA have found their complaints just passed onto the company.

Beware the hype

I’ve seen the hyped up videos, you probably have too. You know, the ones where someone is screeching  about the amazing opportunity they have just stumbled upon. Join now, it’s amazing, they’ve looked into it and it’s perfect. DO NOT TAKE THEIR WORD FOR IT! You may like them and trust them and want to join their team. You may even have worked under them before.

Signing up to a new company should be a big decision and not taken lightly. Do your own research. You don’t need to tell the person you don’t trust them. Check out what they are saying, follow the points in this article and decide for yourself if it is a good opportunity for you. If you decide it is legitimate and you think it is for you, join up. If it isn’t for you, find something else instead.

If you decide not to join and you are put under pressure, remember you are in charge of what you do and which company you chose. You should not be working with someone who tries to pressure you into their team. That’s not how professional people behave, that’s what bullies do.

How will you get paid?

Being paid isn’t as simple as being paid straight into your bank account. Most MLMs pay into a third party account. You might be charged for withdrawing money or there might be minimum balances needed before you can access it. Some companies pay bonuses in the form of stock or discounts on their products. Is it important to you how you get paid?

Is it an illegal pyramid scheme?

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This can be a tricky subject and I have seen may different interpretations on what a pyramid scheme is. It is usually the people who are recruiting that give the loosest definition. You should be familiar with pyramid scheme laws so that you can avoid one. Here is an article I wrote that brings together the relevant rules for England and Wales. Have a look. There are links to the actual law so you can see with your own eyes what the law is.

In summary, the big rules (In England and Wales) are-

You cannot be your only customer

There has to be a product or service that is sold

You cannot spend more than £200 in the first month in a scheme

You have to display the statutory wealth warning on recruiting adverts

There are some irrelevant ‘facts’ that you might hear to explain pyramid schemes like- “corporations are pyramid schemes, if people can overtake you in the pyramid it is not a pyramid scheme, it is registered with the government so it must be ok, I have earned money so it must be ok…” No doubt you will hear all sorts of rubbish. Listen to what people say by all means, but check out what the actual law says. After all, it could be you that is breaking the law if you are not careful.

In the US, you need to look at the FTC’s rules. Have a look at what they said about Herbalife.

 

Extra costs

What sort of training is available? Some companies provide training manuals or online modules as part of the joining fee. Some will charge you for it. Some will charge you for training courses. Some will expect you to travel long distances at your own cost and pay for your own hotel.

Are there events that you are expected to go to? Herbalife have recently been in trouble and are being sued for their events. They told people they would make money if they attended all the events. These events turned out to be a money making exercise and did not help anyone make any money.

Have a look at postage and packaging fees. Will you have to pay for it if you order for a customer? Younique presenters and LuLaRoe end up paying a lot for postage. Is there a minimum amount per order?

Will you have to pay a fee for having a back office or for being paid? Will you have to pay a fee to your upline to be in groups ( I have heard of this happening).

If the person trying to recruit you tries to fob you off and not answer your questions properly, or tries to tell you not to be so negative, take this as a warning sign. It is perfectly acceptable to work out what your running costs are going to be before you invest your time, money and reputation in a company.

 

Look for criticisms

Other people may have been in this company and had problems. What problems did they have? It will be useful for you to know how others have done. You may be told not to look for ‘negativity’ and to stay as positive as you can. This is not helpful when you are assessing a business opportunity.

Imagine you looked up a company and found a criticism about the product availability. Maybe there is never anything in stock or there is a three week wait for stock. This would be useful to know. What if people are never paid the correct money or ex members complain about hidden costs? You need to know this.

Make your own mind up over what you are going to do with this information. You may want to dismiss it as the ramblings of a bitter ex-rep. You may decide that the problems are going to be a problem to you to.

Deciding to ignore any criticism and any problems could backfire on you. If you have a friend who has concerns about the opportunity, do not dismiss them. They may have a valid concern. Listen to what they say and then make up your own mind about it. There is no need to fall out with them or cut them out of your life. It is a very special thing to have someone looking out for you and telling you what they think.

Of course, there is a difference between someone who dislikes you and makes mean comments, and someone who is worried you will make a mistake. Please dismiss the nasty people, but listen carefully to worried people that love you. You don’t have to do what your loved one says, but it is hurtful and unnecessary to cut caring people out your life who have not done anything wrong.

 

Understand what FDA accreditation means

Quite often, you hear the claim that a product has some sort of FDA backing. Is it certified, registered, certificated? Do you know what these terms mean? Do you know which applies to the products being sold? Have a look at this website that clearly sets out what they mean and how you shouldn’t be misled by the phrases. Don’t be impressed by the claims until you know what it means.

Your attitude

I get that you need to be positive, I really do. You deserve to do well, I want people to be successful. Boosting your self esteem and believing in yourself are good things. These can give you confidence and push you to try new things. These are healthy attitudes and help in everyday life.

I do not want to knock anyone’s confidence, or belief that everything will work out OK. What I do object to though, is the attitude that you can have anything you want, just because you want it hard enough. Your desires may give you the push to be more adventurous and give you a purpose in life. This is good.

What is not so helpful are the people who persuade you to ignore your rational thinking and natural curiosity and just do what they tell you to do, based on the belief that just wanting it is good enough. You need more than that. You deserve more than that, you really do.

If you want to be taken seriously as a business person, do your research. Don’t just hope it will all work out alright because your friend said it would. Think for yourself.

 

I hope you find the above advice useful. Remember the following points

You are responsible for your actions

Don’t take people’s word, find evidence

Don’t break the law

Listen to criticism, is there any truth in it?

Contents page

I have written a few posts and it is sometimes hard to find the one you want. Here is a list of some of the most popular/ useful ones and a quick summary. I hope you can find what you are looking for.

Follow Bot Watch on Twitter (@MLMBotWatch) or Facebook to keep upto date.

 

Why Network Marketing is a bad thing.  This is an introduction to Multilevel marketing/ network marketing. It explains why it is not the innocent small work from home type opportunity people say it is.

How to leave an MLM This helps people who are in an MLM and want to leave but are worried about how they should go about it. It can be a stressful time. This is also useful if you have already left and are grappling with the emotions that are left.

Network Marketing is a cult. This title is not as mad sounding as you think. It provides an analysis of what a cult is and how MLMs fit the criteria. This is quite a stressful read if you have been involved but things may make a bit more sense to you after reading.

MLM and the Enterprise Allowance This is a continuing investigation which is nearing completion. The article lays out the problem and the beginnings of my sleuthing. More progress has been made and it will be updated when completed. The Enterprise Allowance is a government scheme that funds new businesses.

You are not an independent Business Owner A quick look at what these words mean and how ridiculous they sound when applied to someone involved in MLMs. Quite funny, and a good one to link to in an argument with someone involved in MLM!

Directory of MLM information This one provides general MLM information and then gives an alphabetical list of some of the MLMs we have come across and details on them. I need to update it a bit to reflect some of the companies failing and creating new scandals, but it is a good place to start looking for information.

How to help someone in an MLM. This is a good read if you have a fried or relative involved in an MLM and you are at a loss as to what to do. You may be worried about damaging your relationship with them. This article will help you through the difficulties and offer practical advice.

In need of an alternative/ extra income? This is a resource for people who are in need of earning some money and need an alternative to MLM. This could be useful for someone who has been considering an MLM or people who are leaving and are still left with the problem of wanting to make money at home. I gain nothing from any of the links in this article. No affiliate marketing going on here.

The things MLMs say (or MLM Bingo) People arguing for MLMs will always come up with the same tiring arguments all the time. Here, they are laid out and explanations given as to why they are not true. If you get in an argument with someone in an MLM, refer them to this piece.

MLM Expectation vs Reality This was produced in partnership with someone who was quite high up in Forever Living. She spills the beans on what she was promised and what actually happened once she joined. The themes are relevant to all MLMs. It is quit an eye opener.

Forever Living using sick children, Great Ormond Street Hospital and a charity to make unsubstantiated health claims. This is an investigation that exposed some lies that some people were caught telling. The title tells you all you need to know.

People who care about you are worried A good one to link to if you have a friend or relative who has become embroiled in MLM but you don’t know how to approach them. People have actually sent this to people and had good results. It could also help you get your own thoughts together and working out why you are worried.

Are you or someone you know in an MLM? Having doubts? Aimed at people who have just joined an MLM and are thinking ‘what on earth have I got myself involved in here?’ Maybe it was going well at first but now the doubts are creeping in. Read this to find out what is happening to you.

Making False Health Claims. Part 1 and Making False Health Claims. Part 2 These explain the laws around making heath claims for products in the UK. This covers medicines, herbal remedies and any products that claim to alter the body’s functions. Seen an advert for a product that can cure diabetes or help you lose weight? These articles help you work out if those claims can be made, and if not, what you can do about it.

Lean Java Bean coffee

Lean Java Bean coffee is starting to be promoted by poor, deluded bots who have found their last MLM did not work. They are hoping that this is the one that will make them millions. After all, it is clinically proven, everyone likes coffee and everyone needs to lose weight without putting in any effort right? Surely they can’t lose? After all, their last coffee MLM had problems because the meanies wouldn’t let them promise weight loss miracles. This one will apparently. They sell weight loss coffee and expensive ‘tools’ aimed at self improvement (read ‘brainwashing products’)

Let’s look at the claims made and the evidence behind them. Then we’ll look at the law and see if they should be making these claims.

Here are some of the claims being made out there…

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Wow! That’s quite some coffee! The list of claims is significant and promises quite a lot. The addition of ‘clinically proven results’ sounds quite impressive and has obviously convinced the people trying to sell it.

So what are the ingredients? They seem to be-

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I went to the website of the actual company , through clicking on a rep’s link, and found some details about the amazing ingredients. There are 3.

Ingredient 1.

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20 people is a very, very small sample of people to base any conclusions on. Even if it is without ‘side affects’. The dose quoted is 500mg, how much is in the coffee? We don’t know because that isn’t disclosed on the label. It could be 1mg for all we know. Let’s see if we can find the research that was done to come up with these claims.

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The above article summary is from the Super Citrimax part of the Lonza website.  Lonza manufacture Citrimax.  If you understand research (as I do), you will notice that there are only 24 participants which is pathetically low. More tellingly, the results are not as good as they are making out. It says at the end that ‘body weight tended to decrease (P=0.1)’. For a result to be statistically significant, ie the results are what they say they are, the P value needs to be less than 0.05. This means the research does not show Citrimax does anything except reduce how much energy the people consumed. It has no effect on feelings of fullness or weight loss.

Three other research papers are cited on the super Citrimax website, but none of them describe anything resembling the research cited by Java Bean. Another study stated results but they were not all statistically significant. Even more tellingly, it was described as a pilot study. This is a type of study that is done as a practice run to see if it is worth running a bigger study. There is no mention of a bigger study. Either they didn’t do one or no significant results were found.

Ingredient 2.

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Lonza describe the two studies that were done on Chromemate. The first one had 4 groups of 10. Just ten! LDL cholesterol, and therefore total cholesterol, were reduced in the small group that took Chromemate. Three other cholesterol related numbers were not affected. Again, this was a pilot study with no follow up. The other ‘study’ wasn’t a study at all, rather, it was someone theorising how Chromemate might be useful for atheletes.

Ingredient 3.

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I found the website that is linked to this ingredient. It is pretty disturbing. It has to be visited really to truly take in the horrors of this product. Cocaine leaves without the cocaine? What?

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The ingredients are listed here. The reasoning for including these ingredients are mostly traditional use claims, such as

Annatto Leaf Powder

Annatto Leaf Powder – the rainforest tribes have used the entire plant as medicine for centuries. The Piura tribe as an aphrodisiac and astringent, and to treat skin problems, fevers, dysentery, and hepatitis uses a tea made with the young shoots. The leaves are used to treat skin problems, liver disease, and hepatitis. The plant has also been considered good for the digestive system. The Cojedes tribe uses an infusion of the flowers to stimulate the bowels and aid in elimination as well as to avoid phlegm in newborn babies. Traditional healers in Colombia have also used annatto as an antivenin for snakebites. The seeds are believed to be an expectorant, while the roots are thought to be a digestive aid and cough suppressant”.

 

So, are the claims made for the coffee based on trustworthy facts?

There has been no research done to test the Lean Bean Java coffee.

The claims come from research and traditional claims made for individual ingredients.

The research is flimsy at best.

We don’t know how much of the ingredients are in the coffee itself.

 

I conclude that there is not enough evidence for the claims that are being made for the coffee.

 

Legally allowed claims

But surely, for the company (and the people selling and buying it from them) to make these claims, they must have pretty solid grounds? They are making claims that their product can interact with the body and change how it works, bringing about changes. This means it is a medicine in UK law and a drug in US law. The MHRA regulates medicines in the UK and they say this-

“A medicinal product is:

  • any substance or combination of substances presented as having properties of preventing or treating disease in human beings
  • any substance or combination of substances that may be used by or administered to human beings with a view to restoring, correcting or modifying a physiological function by exerting a pharmacological, immunological or metabolic action, or making a medical diagnosis”

If  product is to be sold as a medicine, it needs to have a licence from the MHRA. Is Lean Bean Java coffee or any of the three ingredients listed as a medicine?

I searched the MHRA’s list of licenced medicines.  The following ingredients were not on the list- Lean Bean Java, Macoca, Chromemate and Citrimax (with and without the ‘super’). This means they are not an authorised medicine so no medical claims can be made about it or the ingredients.

I decided to search the European Medicines Agency (EMA). They keep a register of medicines and herbal remedies for the whole of Europe. I searched for the same ingredients. Guess what? There is no record of any of the ingredients there either.

I then looked up some of the other ingredients on the EMA. Ginseng root can be claimed to be able to treat tiredness and weakness, but not if it is in combination with other herbal medicines.  There is no good science for it, and a few side effects, but this ingredient can only be claimed as a herbal remedy if it has been authorised by the MHRA in the UK. Looking this up, the only Ginseng products that are allowed to make these claims are from two companies that make it in tablet form.

Green tea extract was searched for next. The EMA are still evaluating the evidence. The MHRA have not licenced any green tea products based on their herbal use.

I then looked up all the other ingredients on the EMA and MHRA websites and found no mention of any of them. I won’t bore you with the links to each search. You can have a look yourself if you like.

Legally then, no one can claim that Lean Java Bean or any of its ingredients can affect metabolism or have any noticeable effects on the body. Looking back at the images in the beginning of this post, there are many claims being made about the physical effects of this product on the body. These are very, very wrong, as well as misleading.

 

What can be done?

Companies should not be allowed to get away with making misleading and illegal claims about their products. There are safeguards in place to prevent these lies from being made and products sold under false pretences. The legal body in the UK that monitors these adverts is called the Advertising Standards Authority. They refer to a set of rules called CAP that set out what can and can’t be said. Their website says they were set up keep adverts ‘legal, decent, honest and truthful’.

If you see any adverts about Lean Java Bean coffee claiming they cause any physical effect on the body’s functions, you can complain to the ASA. It is a really simple process and you can do it anonymously if you like. Normally, if you complain about an MLM, it is the rep who was selling it that got in trouble and they took the blame. The company reprimanded them or fired them (so much for being an independent business owner). In this instance, however, the claims seem to be coming direct from the company (Vitae Global).

Background to the company.

I tried to look up this company at Companies House but there seems to be no trace of them. I wanted to see their history and the owners’ details for some clues as to what they might be upto. A little look around shows a facebook page that has been deleted, and a  Behind MLM review that has been deleted. I found this review, but be warned, it tries to sell you his method of recruiting but it has a lot of information.

Here is a video message for the founders who are joining before the company launches. Jim Britt literally promises you will be rich very quickly and very easily. I investigated the company further but I began to be drawn down a rabbit hole so I extricated myself and decided not to bother.

For now, I would just like to concentrate on the fact that the health claims are bogus, illegal and come straight from the company.

 

What you can do

Please complain to the ASA if you see any of these illegal health claims for this coffee. It needs to be stopped. The complaint form is straightforward to fill in. You will need to take a screengrab and note the time and place that you saw the advert.

The basis for the complaint will be that the health claims are not allowed as the product is not a medicine or herbal remedy as regulated by the MHRA. Let us know how you get on…