The stages of leaving

From helping many people through their journey away from Multi Level Marketing, I have noticed common themes. I have attempted to describe them here. Have you been through these stages? Would you add any others?

Trigger

There is often a single event that unsettles people. This trigger goes against their personal ethics or crosses a line that is important to the person. For example, someone finds out that Younique is not as animal friendly as they were led to believe or they witness an upline encourage lying. Perhaps they find out the CEO is a homophobic tax evader or the charity the company supports is a sham.

Whatever the trigger is, it is enough to upset the person on a level where they cannot deny the wrongness of it.

Dawning realisation

Once someone has been awoken to the trigger they are more easily able to see other troubling things around them. They start questioning like never before. Niggling doubts become real concerns. The nagging upline can now be seen as the bully they are. The little lies they have been encouraged to make are now seen for the deceptive recruiting tactics that they are.  The rep becomes more and more horrified at what they have become involved in.

Fear

The fear at this stage is real. Timeless Vie looked into the fear that is instilled into MLM members. The fear is probably worse the longer someone has been involved in the company. They will have been faking it to make it. This would have involved presenting the image of success to their friends and family, telling them they are making money. They will have had conversations with friends and tried to persuade them to join them in this successful venture.  If they then decide to leave, they will lose face.

The worst fear will come from the realisation that friends will have been lost due to the MLM. Often people are encouraged to ditch their friends and family if they are less than totally supportive. They could have unfriended people and upset long standing friendships. Slowly their friend groups will have been replaced with their MLM family, their Senesisters, Y-sisters, other family/group name of belonging.

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It’s a bit culty actually. People spend a lot of time with their MLM ‘family’ and feel a real connection with them due to the immense amount of time they spend with them. The slow backing away from friends and the encroaching influence of the MLM group creeps up on people and they can feel quite isolated when they realise how alone they really are.

This isolation can be worsened when people left their normal jobs (‘sacked the boss’) or if they have mental health issues.

There will also be fear from the thought of how the upline and team will react. They will have seen people leave the team before and heard how they were treated. They may have witnessed the blocking, isolation and character assassination that often occurs to the traitors that leave. They are blamed for their failure and lack of commitment to the group. Again, the cult vibes surface here. The excommunication and vilifying of outsiders is a feature of cults and MLMs.

Action

In this stage, the person decides that they can no longer continue in the MLM and they have to do something. They know it will be hard to take action but they know that they must. The question here is what they need to do. Do they stay members and let it fizzle out? Do they have a raging argument with their upline? Do they just delete and block everything and pretend it never happened? Do they tell an old friend and seek some perspective? Do they contact Bot Watch, Elle Beau or Timeless Vie for support and advice?

There is no simple answer here as each person’s situation will be different and their ability to cope will vary. I would strongly advise, whichever tactic people use, that they stop spending money on the products/ training/ any MLM activity. Take time to decide what to do, but stop trying to make it work. Once you have gone this far down the decision making process, you will not be happy in MLM any more. The visor has been lifted and you can no longer pretend it might be ok. The person will be OK, but not if they stay in MLM.  It can be harmful to keep trying to lie to yourself and knowingly lie to others to recruit.

 

Consequences

This is the part where people have to deal with the upline, contact head office, admit to friends what happened. Sometimes people need to admit to partners about the money that they borrowed or face their downline and try to make amends. They need to deal with friends who can no longer quite trust them due to previous attempts to recruit them and the perception from friends that they were seen as a way to make money. There must be the problem of coming across people who are thinking ‘I told you so’.

This part can be very isolating and can be difficult when you have been told repeatedly to just follow the plan and to reject the ‘normal’ way of working by having a J.O.B. So much hope and energy and money will have been invested in the dream of succeeding in the MLM. The actual process of leaving will be unchartered waters and can be very scary.

Healing

This is a very important part.  People need to be able to sit back and lick their wounds. Often a mental health problem such as anxiety or depression could be worsened. Previously strong people might be feeling fragile. Their belief systems have essentially been shaken to the core and everything they were working for has come crashing down.  Sometimes a reaction can be to start blogging and becoming an active voice against the MLM can become all-consuming. The anger and distress can be overwhelming and people seek to channel it.

If you have been through anything like this, it is very important that you slow down and take time to process what has happened. Please realise that you have been subjected to many techniques designed to keep you in the company, spending your money and working every spare minute to send money up the pyramid to the owner. You have been manipulated and it will take a lot of healing to overcome the damage.

If you have a friend who has been through this process, be gentle with them and allow them to talk about their feelings. You may have to occasionally step in and offer  a different perspective when their faulty logic shines through. They may blame themselves for things that happened that wasn’t their fault. They may have a negative view of themselves and their abilities. Be gentle with them and be patient.

Please contact Bot Watch if you need help, support or advice.

Some other articles you might find useful on this site are

How to help someone in an MLM,

How to leave an MLM,

How to be a Bot Watcher,

Why do people join MLMs?

Network Marketing is a cult.

MLM Expectation vs Reality

The scandal of ‘cancer care kits’

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.

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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.

 

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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This one managed to persuade at least four people to buy C9s from her for a hospice fundraising activity.

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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.

Summary

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?

 

 

 

 

 

Why Network Marketing is a Bad Thing.

What’s the harm of network marketing/ distance selling/ multilevel marketing? It’s just normal, everyday people making a bit of spare cash from selling things harmlessly to friends and online, right?

MLM creates victims

Victim 1- friends and family of the rep

You should see some of the heartbreaking stories I hear from people about their worries for their loved ones. It has ruined relationships. Not only can it dramatically ruin close family relationships, it can make working relationships and friendships awkward when someone tries to involve you in their scheme.

Here’s a selection of messages from Bot Watch’s Facebook inbox.

 

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Victim 2- customers

The people who buy the products are most likely only buying out of pity for their friend or relative. They might be trying to support their friend but do not actually want the product. Have you seen the inflated prices? They have to be high in order to pay all the people up the pyramid.

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This is water available to purchase from Forever Living. 12 bottles for £14.76.

Here is exactly the same water from the same source, not from Forever Living.

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24 bottles for £12.72.

Forever Living sell at £1.23 a bottle, 53p from another company.

 

Victim 3- legitimate homeworkers/ small businesses

How many real small business people/ home workers and life coaches have been met with scepticism or an eye roll when they reveal what they do? People who have spent time and money and skills building up a real business are not taken seriously because MLM have sullied the reputation of genuine businesses.

Some reps describe themselves as life coaches, which must sting genuine life coaches who have had training and built up a reputation, helping people to make the best of their lives and overcome obstacles they are experiencing. Reps come along and call themselves coaches, with the express aim of recruiting people, coaching them to recruit people to coach them to recruit people to coach them to recruit….You get the idea.

 

Victim 4- The rep’s finances

It has been well established that it is impossible to earn a good wage in MLM, unless you are high up with the right connections. The people that earn money are reliant on having a large team beneath them, most of whom will lose money, before they feel a failure and slink off feeling worthless.

There have been many, many people coming forward with stories about losing money. Have a read of Elle Beau and her story of Younique. People hide their losses to themselves and family. Most do not even realise they are losing money because they do not keep a proper track of their expenses.

Victim 5- Women

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Women are targeted for this industry, often in a patronising way, using their vulnerabilities and patronising them along the way. What is this, the 1950’s? Have a look at Timeless Vie for some of their work on feminism and MLMs. This article is a particular eye opener.

Here is one example from Bot Watch’s inbox of vulnerable women being specifically targeted.

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Victim 6- free thought

It is becoming increasingly evident that MLMs are cults. People are subjected to techniques that condition people into thinking and speaking in a certain way. They are taught to ignore their inner questioning thoughts and to blindly do as they are told. They are conditioned to think all fault lies with them and anything good is down to the MLM. They speak of their team members as family and are encouraged to reject friends and family that raise concerns. This post goes into more detail about it.

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 Victim 7- People with health conditions

For some reason, many MLMs tout products with amazing properties that can cure any illness. People target sufferers with conditions and tell them their products can help. This is not only deceptive and fraudulent, but illegal and dangerous as well.

Truth In Advertising have looked at the bogus health claims made by MLMs and they came up with quite a list.

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DoTERRA got in trouble for saying their oils could cure Ebola and got in trouble with the FDA about it.

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Below is a common type of social media post. What are they trying to do? Tell you that any condition you have can be cured by their oils/ juices/ tablets/ coffee? Yes, that is exactly what they are doing. I hope that they are just deluded and really believe in their products. Because otherwise, they are deliberately getting people to spend over the odds on products that will have no effect on anyone’s health. At least it won’t improve any conditions.

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What to do about it

If you are an organiser of an event please consider banning MLMs from attending. People are becoming wise to them now and are are generally displeased when they see these stalls. People who do not know about them could be vulnerable to being recruited. This is especially bad when the event is a jobs fair, targeting a particular profession or aimed at people with health conditions or new parents. You could be enabling these companies to cause many problems for the people you are trying to serve.

If you see adverts for events that include MLMs please speak up about it. Read this article on what you can do to help.

If you have a friend or relative in an MLM and you want to help them, look here for inspiration.

If you are in an MLM yourself you might want to read ‘How to leave an MLM’ if you are at that point. If you are not sure what to do and are having a bit of a ‘moment’ and tying to work out what is going on, read this article on ‘having doubts‘. It might help clarify a few things.