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pinkmint

Multi Level Marketing. What is the deal?

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I sold jewelry througn a direct sales / MLM company for a few years when my ex-husband couldn't keep a job. I worked a full-time+ job, and then did jewelry parties on the side. I never pressured anyone, much less my friends, to buy anything. The product, price, and customer service were all something that people liked, so yeah...I made some money. I never signed anyone up, and still did well, relatively speaking, and helped make up for the lost money every time the ex lost yet another job.

 

I also like going to some of the home parties that friends have, although I haven't been to one in years. Most are Facebook parties at this point.

 

If people don't like the products, then they don't buy them. Seems pretty simple to me. I don't understand the strong feelings about it one way or another.

One thing to note is that some DS companies have requirements of the salespeople on how many parties minimum or "fresh leads" are generated every week. When I was in DS, we had to do two parties a week at minimum to keep our status as a seller. I think we were allowed two "failures" a month. There were other rules, too, which I sometimes got around. We were not supposed to do "book parties" where a person takes the book to work and generates orders that way. We were not supposed to do it because it doesn't generate leads.

 

So this is part of why sellers feel their own pressure, which they transfer to you (general you). Some companies have a different model; I believe Avon was not like this because I knew some Avon sellers who virtually never did a party. It was very relaxed. There would be a book in the office lunchroom and people would order periodically. So they don't all operate on the same model.

 

On the whole, though, if one feels their friend has turned into a product-pushing phony phriend ever since they started selling _____________, there is a very good reason why the pressure is coming. It's because your friend feels the pressure because many of the companies do not let you be a low-key periodic seller. You can only keep your status if you are making it your JOB, not dabbling in it now and then.

 

Here's one more point that is why I don't like DS or MLM. The great majority of people who get sucked in to selling are lower in economic status. It is targeted to people who don't have other optimal prospects for making money - no degrees or specialized skills, and needful of the money. People who are already in a comfortable place financially are very unlikely to start hawking plastic storage bowls. So the companies are, IMO, taking advantage of women who have less money and fewer marketable skills, who then often spend a LOT of money buying their start-up kit and being "encouraged" to keep buying new inventory.

 

When I was selling Tupperware, a big part of why I joined was that there was a special deal on the start-up kit (it was around $300) and I reasoned that it would set me up in my apartment at under retail price at the very least. But every week, we were "encouraged" to buy new inventory, so we could show the goods, which generates sales. I have also heard that Mary Kay is doing that excessively - the start-up kit is very expensive and the sellers will be continually "encouraged" to buy more inventory. So the sellers themselves become a boon for the company and often, they cannot well afford to invest in inventory; if they could, they wouldn't be doing this gig in the first place.

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I've known of a few people who ran nice little businesses this way - mostly Mary Kay sellers.

 

It wasn't mostly parties though, they had a client list they supplied regularly, were conservative about their costs, and Mary Kay is a pretty good product. 

 

I was targeted by a guy I took a course through church with  who got into selling Manuluka (sp?)  I just hated it - the feeling that I had some social obligation to listen to his pitch and buy.  He seemed to be really into the product, and maybe it was good.  But it billed itself as environmentally friendly and yet I couldn't see the ingredients.  Plus - it was shipped from the US.  I can buy cleaning products from 5km away that are really environmentally friendly and include ingredient lists, why would I ship from the US?

 

The only thing I would say about the OP - the reason I might buy from a local salesperson rather than Amazon is because then I would be supporting a local salesperson rather than Amazon.

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I was friends for years (since high school) with someone who is now firmly entrenched in a MLM company. She never posts anything on FB but sales pitches. I stopped getting together with her in person because it's all she talks about. Most of her comments imply that she's much smarter than we are because she "took a chance" and "saw the truth," and somehow we are just these repressed cowards who are afraid of change. She posts all these pictures about how her product has revolutionized people's lives, but it's so clear that the lighting and camera angles have been manipulated. At least she stopped trying to sell to me after I told her I didn't need her product because I am perfectly happy with myself the way I am.

 

I avoid people if I know they are involved with MLM. My husband and I have been targeted by too many desperate, obnoxious people.

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I have a friend at church who is now doing Rodan and Fields.  UGH.  She keeps posting before and after pictures of people with freckles who have a healthy glow and then use R&F and no longer have freckles but now have some very unhealthy looking white paste-y look.  People say, "Wow!  She has a clean slate!  Look how good she looks!)  But i think the before photos look much better!

 

I don't understand the hatred of freckles.  I love my freckles and it suits me.

 

Never mind that the ingredients to stip your skin of freckles is horrible for you.

 

Dawn

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It aggravates me because they advertise these awesome results from taking some kind of supplements and slapping a wrap on. I've lost 100 pounds (as of today actually, happy dance!) but it's just a slap in the face. No, that won't work long term.. and I don't have respect for people looking for an easy way out.

 

I have looked at the wraps, cellulite & stretch mark stuff to help my mommy belly... but I tell myself it's a pipe dream and I can't afford it. lol

 

Congrats on reaching such an awesome milestone!!! 

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It aggravates me because they advertise these awesome results from taking some kind of supplements and slapping a wrap on. I've lost 100 pounds (as of today actually, happy dance!) but it's just a slap in the face. No, that won't work long term.. and I don't have respect for people looking for an easy way out.

 

I have looked at the wraps, cellulite & stretch mark stuff to help my mommy belly... but I tell myself it's a pipe dream and I can't afford it. lol

Congratulations!! That is incredible!!

 

And DawnM- I love my freckles too! Freckles are beautiful. 😊

 

I think it comes down to individuals. Mlms get a bad rap because of the way certain people (and companies) behave. Sort of how all lawyers get to be the butt of jokes because of a minority of ambulance chasers. Or realtors who stretch the truth beyond belief in write ups, or used car salesmen who are oily. But hopefully we all know counter examples. People who are upstanding and honest and not only out chasing after the almighty dollar.

Mlms probably are higher rate offenders because their reps are amateurs and make mistakes. Sometimes a lot of mistakes. And some companies and/or top level leaders encourage that. That's wrong and tarnishes the entire industry.

There are some good companies out there and a lot of good people just trying to make a little money on the side with products they really like. I know a few people who are the bad example- only spam you with ads, constantly after you to join, only seem to want to have a relationship if they can get you to buy or join, etc. I unfollow them on fb and turn down invitations. But I also know many more who aren't. They are the ones you don't see posting all the time and always up in your face about joining. They just really like the products and are usually very knowledgeable about them. I like to support those people. If I'm going to buy something and I can buy it from a friend and help her out then I will. Id rather support a friend than a random company.

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Congrats on reaching such an awesome milestone!!! 

 

 

Congratulations!! That is incredible!!

 

And DawnM- I love my freckles too! Freckles are beautiful. 😊

 

I think it comes down to individuals. Mlms get a bad rap because of the way certain people (and companies) behave. Sort of how all lawyers get to be the butt of jokes because of a minority of ambulance chasers. Or realtors who stretch the truth beyond belief in write ups, or used car salesmen who are oily. But hopefully we all know counter examples. People who are upstanding and honest and not only out chasing after the almighty dollar.

Mlms probably are higher rate offenders because their reps are amateurs and make mistakes. Sometimes a lot of mistakes. And some companies and/or top level leaders encourage that. That's wrong and tarnishes the entire industry.

There are some good companies out there and a lot of good people just trying to make a little money on the side with products they really like. I know a few people who are the bad example- only spam you with ads, constantly after you to join, only seem to want to have a relationship if they can get you to buy or join, etc. I unfollow them on fb and turn down invitations. But I also know many more who aren't. They are the ones you don't see posting all the time and always up in your face about joining. They just really like the products and are usually very knowledgeable about them. I like to support those people. If I'm going to buy something and I can buy it from a friend and help her out then I will. Id rather support a friend than a random company.

 

Thank you!

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I think it is all in how people do it. I have some friends who sell stuff- one sells jewelry, another pampered chef and another those Usborne books. Oh, and a man who sells Avon.

 

With each of those people, my friendship was never in question if I bought/attended or not. I actually bought from the jewelry one regularly for a while because they made fantastic volunteer gifts for my work and gifts for my MIL and such. I have no doubt that you were this sort of seller- asking, no pressure, working your contacts well.

 

With many "friends" though, they get all nice and then ask you to come to a party and then when you say no thanks, suddenly you either never here from them again or only hear from them again with more invites. That is what makes people feel so cruddy about them. I don't have a problem saying no to friends but if it seems like we are friends or we were reconnecting or we are starting to make friends and the person is never especially friendly or interested in you again, it feels duplicitous and rude. If I only hear from someone when they want to sell me something, they aren't really friends.

 

It's like the friend who we never heard from unless his gallery was having an opening. Are we friends or are we just his customers? It's not a great feeling, as a friend or as a customer. I get other invites from artists and gallery owners and I don't mind that at all but it's clear I am a potential repeat customer and they don't pretend to be my friend right before every sales event.

I see what you mean. It's not so much the product or business itself (in most cases), necessarily, but the skeeziness that can go along with it. I get that.

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I definitely agree PP, it depends on the person and how they go about it. I have two family members that sell (one sells Scentsy, the other It works!) and neither are the kind that ram it down your throat or message ASKING you to buy or come to a party. I NEVER bought anything from anyone-but have since make a few small purchases through my cousin for Scentsy. She doesn't have to advertise.. I know if I want Scentsy I buy from her.. she's "the Scentsy lady" to me, hah. I feel like if people want to buy something, they know you sell it, they will come to you. Maybe it's just my social anxiety but I can't stand pushy sales people.

 

Like the Kirby guys that stayed at the house for 4-5 hours and wouldn't leave/take no for an answer. Finally Dh came home and made them leave. I still have flashbacks to that horrrrrible evening every time I run my sweeper :( lol (Which is a DYSON-btw! ;) )

 

 

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I must admit Amway got on my forever sh!t list when my aunt and grandmother flew to visit us when my mother was in the hospital and coming out of several weeks of a coma. My oh so dear aunt, my mom's sister, sprung a fairly lengthy Amway presentation on us so she could deduct the expense of the trip as a business cost!

 

While this says a lot more about my aunt as a person then it does about Amway, stuff like that makes a lasting impression. I was 15 at the time and told her off. Had I been an adult, I would have shown them both the door (unfortunately had this been the worst of their sins they would have been outstanding people compared to their actual selves.)

 

I've heard about enough surprise Amway pitches at dinner parties and the like that I definitely believe you when you say it was something Amway specifically taught.

 

dh had someone TRICK him into attending their "recruiting" meeting.  the guy told him it was something completely different - only when he got their did he learn it was amway.  he was livid.

 

and the couple who were supposedly taking my teenage-needs-a-role-model brother under their wing - were bragging about being able to take it as a buisiness deduction.

 

we loath the tactics, and will never, ever look at their products.  I wish I could find the almost live clip with the scary bosses and his "have you heard the good news about amway?" being the scariest of them all.

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One thing to note is that some DS companies have requirements of the salespeople on how many parties minimum or "fresh leads" are generated every week. When I was in DS, we had to do two parties a week at minimum to keep our status as a seller. I think we were allowed two "failures" a month. There were other rules, too, which I sometimes got around. We were not supposed to do "book parties" where a person takes the book to work and generates orders that way. We were not supposed to do it because it doesn't generate leads.

 

Here's one more point that is why I don't like DS or MLM. The great majority of people who get sucked in to selling are lower in economic status. It is targeted to people who don't have other optimal prospects for making money - no degrees or specialized skills, and needful of the money. People who are already in a comfortable place financially are very unlikely to start hawking plastic storage bowls. So the companies are, IMO, taking advantage of women who have less money and fewer marketable skills, who then often spend a LOT of money buying their start-up kit and being "encouraged" to keep buying new inventory.

 

When I was selling Tupperware, a big part of why I joined was that there was a special deal on the start-up kit (it was around $300) and I reasoned that it would set me up in my apartment at under retail price at the very least. But every week, we were "encouraged" to buy new inventory, so we could show the goods, which generates sales. I have also heard that Mary Kay is doing that excessively - the start-up kit is very expensive and the sellers will be continually "encouraged" to buy more inventory. So the sellers themselves become a boon for the company and often, they cannot well afford to invest in inventory; if they could, they wouldn't be doing this gig in the first place.

 

this may well be why so many of these MLM/ds products end up for sale on ebay.  if the rep has to buy they stuff - they have to make their money back somewhere.

 

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Well, of course I would talk to friends and family about the products and the business. Who else would I talk to? Proctor and Gamble doesn't have any qualms about talking to everyone in the entire known world. If I have a product or service that I think is valuable and worthwhile, of course I will talk to people I know. That's just common sense.

 

I would not refer to it as "luring them in," unless I did a bait-and-switch kind of meeting, which Amway does not recommend, nor did the group I belonged to (and it was a large crown direct distributorship). We were very active for several years (and then homeschool happened...o_0), attending center meetings and meetings at our sponsor's home and training sessions and even weekend retreats. I already loved the products; and the encouragement and instruction and interactions with all my up-line and "cross-line" and the people they invited to speak made me love the business, too.

 

Mr. Ellie and I are not independently wealthy because of selling soap, because we are slackers. :-) However, it would be the thing I would turn to if I needed to make an income, and I will always recommend it to anyone who asks.

 

One of the first stages in Amway was to make a list of all of our friends and family, on a form they provided. It had check boxes for each level of contact made with them. So yes, they do want you to contact everyone you know and try to sell the business to them. Please don't tell me that it wasn't pushed from above. I saw the marketing materials, attended the big regional seminars, etc. I know that it wasn't just my upline pushing it.

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One of the first stages in Amway was to make a list of all of our friends and family, on a form they provided. It had check boxes for each level of contact made with them. So yes, they do want you to contact everyone you know and try to sell the business to them. Please don't tell me that it wasn't pushed from above. I saw the marketing materials, attended the big regional seminars, etc. I know that it wasn't just my upline pushing it.

My experience with Amway is that it winds up being a non-religious cult to many who join. The ability to discern the wisdom of Amway sales tactics wind up lost on them...people who used to be aware and able to recognize truth buy into a lie and it winds up causing them to lose friends and cult up with their Amway buds for more dysfunction. Now, that is with the ones who pour their whole being into it. Those are the only real encounters with Amway sales people that I have had. I have a very wise and intelligent family member who got involved and seemed to lose his senses while towing the company line. He got out and was fine later. It is because of that situation and many others where I wound up feeling used that I have a gut-level reaction against MLM!!!

 

I do buy Mary Kay from a non-pushy friend. And if I find a product I want to try, I will find that person to buy from who doesn't push it on people.

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I find some of the product lines really weird - as in, how do people think they will make money off of this?  Our neighbours at one time were into candel parties - well, how many fancy candels does anyone need?

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I find some of the product lines really weird - as in, how do people think they will make money off of this?  Our neighbours at one time were into candel parties - well, how many fancy candels does anyone need?

 

Candles are something I do buy in large quantities from PartyLite. I love the way they burn clear and don't leave a lump of wax at the end. I almost always have candles lit. Mostly votives.

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Ever watch the movie Go?  This whole thread is reminding me of it.    Two guys get invited over to dinner by a married couple - it's weird and awkward- they think maybe an orgy is in the works? Nope, Amway.  And they are even more weirded out by that than what they thought was happening.

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I tend to err on the side of skepticism so I'll say that right off the bat. But I just want to know what you all think. MLM's are nothing new right? There's been Tupperware, Avon and Mary Kay in the 80's. But now it's fitness coaching, essential oils, magical mascara, jambery nails etc etc etc.

 

I wonder how these people, overwhelmingly women, make actual money. When I see their efforts to sell products all I can think is why would I buy ____ when I can go to a store or buy it on Amazon? I have never once wondered or thought that their products are special and superior. 

 

And speaking of women, I wonder how good these ventures are for women. They are time consuming, a little cult like and always seem to require an upfront purchase. 

 

Also, I've felt a little manipulated at times when a lady will make an effort to reach out to me in friendship, only to find she's actually trying to hock her wares. 

 

Am I missing something? Is there anything good about MLMs? 

 

I know a single mother that sold Tupperware and managed to do quite well for it and enable herself to keep living in the Washington D.C. area after her husband left her.  She was the "third grandma" for my husband.

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I know a single mother that sold Tupperware and managed to do quite well for it and enable herself to keep living in the Washington D.C. area after her husband left her. She was the "third grandma" for my husband.

I am not picking on you by saying this.

 

Everyone has a friend or two who seem to do just fine with DS or MLM...and, sure, some may do well. But I want to point out that things are not always as they seem. Some sellers eat up all their profits buying more inventory, gas, postage or whatever else supports their selling efforts. You cannot know from the outside how much debt one may have incurred buying inventory or selling props.

 

One aquaintance of mine went in big-time with four different DS/MLM companies in quick succession. First it was makeup. Then vitamins. Then a laundry disk. Lastly, an alarm company. She had a wardrobe consultant do a makeover and bought entirely new clothing and makeup. She rented an office at an expensive city location. Then - it abruptly stopped and she "disappeared" socially. My DH learned wht had happened because he was friends with the husband. She was many, many thousands in debt from trying to prop up those businesses. He had NO IDEA she was racking up such debt; she was "encouraged" to keep it on the DL since she *would* make a ton of money and recoup the investment and he would never need to know. Well, he did learn of the debt and they almost got divorced over that massive betrayal.

 

All that to say - appearances can be very deceiving. Just because someone seems to be doing well in whatever company does not mean they actually are.

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Thanks, everyone. Again, cynicism comes easy to me. It's just so hard for me to believe in MLMs as a valid endeavor. I have never known anyone closely enough to verify if their MLM gig is as great as they say. I only knew my mom who was stuck with cases of Mary Kay stuff and no income to show for it when I was a kid (she was working full time as a single mom but also tried to do MK). 

 

In line with what Quill said, it seems like they do target poorer women, and also SAHMs or women who would like to be home. But it seems like the level of obsessiveness one has to have about it is such that they might as well not be home even if they are. Either that or they fail to be successful because they don't "have what it takes". 

 

I was reading a post by a MLM fitness coach recently and she was carrying on about how because of her new career she has the life that she can be proud of now, achieved all these things while staying home with her kids etc and I guess I felt momentary pangs of discontent with my situation. I stay home with my kids because it's important to me, not because we have good finances. We don't. But I would love to change that if I could.

 

I'm just very cautious of what it means to get involved in an MLM, and I think it's highly unlikely I'd join. But there's probably even people out there looking at our situation and wondering why I don't just start "selling oils" or whatever else. It's not that easy.

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Common ploy for major MLM's. It was actually a ploy we were taught during our Amway stint. We were encouraged to meet people wherever we could and invite them over, etc, and then "bam" introduce them to Amway. This was not just our direct upline but a major part of the official training. We were introduced to it when a couple started talking to us at the playground, acted like they were into whatever we said we were in, asked us to meet for dinner, and then after that, asked if they could drop off some interesting info and then bam! Can't believe we got sucked in for a bit.

 

I didn't realize this was so common. It happened to me a few years ago, and I'm pretty sure it was with Amway. This woman started chatting with me at the playground, got my number to get our kids together for a playdate, and told me she was interested in homeschooling too, what a coincidence!  When she called me a few days later and gave me her pitch, I politely declined and she got really, really mad and hung up on me.

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All that to say - appearances can be very deceiving. Just because someone seems to be doing well in whatever company does not mean they actually are.

 

With no child support payments, she never had to take another job and raised three kids. That's successful enough for me. I am SURE it was hard work. She became the regional distributor for the area for a time and was interviewed in a Tupperware history piece a few years back. It wasn't "Stay at home with your kids all the time" work.

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I didn't realize this was so common. It happened to me a few years ago, and I'm pretty sure it was with Amway. This woman started chatting with me at the playground, got my number to get our kids together for a playdate, and told me she was interested in homeschooling too, what a coincidence! When she called me a few days later and gave me her pitch, I politely declined and she got really, really mad and hung up on me.

I had a woman stop me in McDonalds and rub hand lotion on my hand so I could "try" this amazing product she had. Hahaha it was Mary Kay. It reminded me of those guys in the kiosks at the mall...but I expect it from the kiosk guys. I don't expect it from some random mom at McDonalds.

 

That kind of thing makes me think they have been given two options: either you can have and make new friends or you can have money. Can't have both! They chose the money!! Ick!!

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Thanks, everyone. Again, cynicism comes easy to me. It's just so hard for me to believe in MLMs as a valid endeavor. I have never known anyone closely enough to verify if their MLM gig is as great as they say. I only knew my mom who was stuck with cases of Mary Kay stuff and no income to show for it when I was a kid (she was working full time as a single mom but also tried to do MK). 

 

 

I know I've chimed in here already with my 2 cents, but I just wanted to respond to this statement. I know a lot of people (not just you) have expressed doubt that people actually make money with MLMs.  I have close friends who are really doing well with these types of businesses.  And these are people I know and trust that they are honest people and not just making things up. 

 

The friend I'm closest to has been part of her MLM for a little over a year and already doing really well (over $30,000 a year).  I'm part of her facebook page for the people on her team and she's pretty active on there answering questions and encouraging her team, but in a complete no-pressure way.  She also does informational meetings about once a month.  But she is a stay-at-home homeschool mom who also happened to find a way to help support her family. 

 

I feel like she's running her business in an ethical way and if someone joins her team and puts some effort into it that they'll do well, too, since she's so supportive.  And of course, it benefits her if they succeed, but that doesn't mean it doesn't benefit the others, too.

 

I don't doubt that there are a lot of people who don't make money, or lose money, or worse, lose friends, but there are also others who don't.

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Decades ago a former housemate from my single days called me out of the blue. I hadn't seen her in years and was surprised and happy to hear her voice on the phone...until she dropped the bomb that she wanted to tell us about a "business opportunity". She and her dh would gladly drive two hours to our house to talk to us about it. She was very mysterious, but finally admitted it was Amway. Really??? You didn't want to talk to me. You just wanted to grow your business. I never spoke to her again.

 

A neighbor once came over to talk to us about an MLM that was supposed to be the Next Huge Thing. You could order all kinds of products online, and it was going to put Amazon out of business, lol. This was about fifteen years ago.

 

I am sure there are people who make money doing MLM, but there always has to be a bigger number of people on the bottom to feed the upline. Also, some people who get involved in these really change. They drop their old friends because they're spending all their free time going to MLM meetings, and because their friends tire of hearing them constantly talking about it. I know this isn't always the case but for the most part they leave a bad taste in my mouth.

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Thanks, everyone. Again, cynicism comes easy to me. It's just so hard for me to believe in MLMs as a valid endeavor. I have never known anyone closely enough to verify if their MLM gig is as great as they say. I only knew my mom who was stuck with cases of Mary Kay stuff and no income to show for it when I was a kid (she was working full time as a single mom but also tried to do MK).

 

In line with what Quill said, it seems like they do target poorer women, and also SAHMs or women who would like to be home. But it seems like the level of obsessiveness one has to have about it is such that they might as well not be home even if they are. Either that or they fail to be successful because they don't "have what it takes".

 

I was reading a post by a MLM fitness coach recently and she was carrying on about how because of her new career she has the life that she can be proud of now, achieved all these things while staying home with her kids etc and I guess I felt momentary pangs of discontent with my situation. I stay home with my kids because it's important to me, not because we have good finances. We don't. But I would love to change that if I could.

 

I'm just very cautious of what it means to get involved in an MLM, and I think it's highly unlikely I'd join. But there's probably even people out there looking at our situation and wondering why I don't just start "selling oils" or whatever else. It's not that easy.

To my way of thinking, there are much better ways to bring in more income and improve the financial picture of our family than ANYTHING direct sales or MLM. I have been toying with the idea of getting a food service PT job this summer. If I wait tables at a restaurant, I have ZERO up-front expense, unless maybe I buy a nice outfit for an interview. I will absolutely make *some* money. It may not be an earth-shattering amount but some is still better than none and I don't have to annoy all my friends to do it. They can go out to eat or not; i don't have to spam FB with pleas to come to the restaurant where I serve so I can make some pennies.

 

See, in DS, there is always the illusion that you make a bunch of money without having to leave the house/get childcare. Well, that is false. You are right to be a skeptic. There is no free lunch. If you are going to make any money at it, you have to work your tail off. Even if you have some clientelle who willingly buy from you, you still will most often have to call them to collect orders. There are always Rah-Rah pep rallies that you either must go to or at least should, so you know what new products are out and what the contests and such are. And there are the parties or demonstrations you will have to go work, and your children don't come along to those.

 

When I sold Tupperware, I had no children and really didn't have anything to lose by being out a few nights a week. As far as I was concerned, I would have just wasted my evenings anyway, watching Melrose Place or doing something equally unimportant. But it was still not lost on me that the distributors were constanly telling women this was a way to earn money while being home with the kids and it struck me as a constant lie. My own distributor constantly bragged about how TW had saved her family because she earned the van and her husband was out of work for a couple of years, but she was very obviously NOT AT HOME, at least not every evening and not on Saturdays. Also, the parties and meetings were far from the end of the work we did, because we also had to pick up inventory, and pack out and deliver the orders, at minimum to the party host, but so etimes to individual guests. Something was always backordered, which meant another trip next week. Or someone wanted to exchange their lid from a casserole bowl made in 1972, and that was another special trip I had to make that didn't even add up to the gas money I spent.

 

If it sounds like I am discouraging you, I am. If you want/need to improve your financial picture, make a solid plan. Do budgeting and money organizing so you know what money comes in and where it goes. See what holes can be plugged that way. If it still isn't adding up to a sustainable plan, either figure out what stop gap unskilled labor you could do (waiting tables, retail work, etc.), or make a plan to gain some marketable skill (real estate agent, hair dresser, office assistant, web design, etc.). IMO, even selling kooky gigs on Fivrr or selling paper bead bracelets on Etsy is far preferable to doing DS or MLM.

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Totally agree with Quill. This might be marketed to stay at home moms, but it's not a SAH gig.

 

Even to the people who say they make money - is it income? Do they generate that much in sales, and call that their number? Because how does that balance out against what they are required to buy, what they need personally to keep this "business" going (clothes, child care, party supplies, I don't know what else they might need, but a vehicle comes to mind) and - most importantly - their own time? When they calculate it that way, would they most likely be better off with a job that pays a salary?

 

Having spent years self-employed, I'm fully aware that it's possible to not draw a salary, to pour it all back into a business. To write an awful lot off. I have two thoughts on that. First, pay yourself first - save, invest. Pay yourself a salary! I always made enough to take care of our family, invest, and have fun. And second - a MLM is not your business. It is someone else's brainchild. So, where I did pour a ton back into my business, it was to grow my own business. Not to make someone else wealthy and sort of piggy back off of it.

 

I worry for the people caught up in these. I do know a few who say they make it work. One college friend whose family is extremely wealthy. She does this to keep Dad pacified that she's working. One aunt who was caught up in Amway decades ago. They never made the millions they said they would, and they're not in it now, but they seemed very happy with it back then.

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Quill, I waitressed for a couple of years and you're right, the money is actually nothing to sneeze at. I actually think that is one of the best options. There were nights when I left with over $100 tips in my pocket for a 6 hour shift. Plus I rather like the idea of bam, go in, do your work shift, make your money and get out. I am not a sales person at all, so MLM is not only unappealing but sounds like a bad fit for someone like me anyway. 

 

DH's work schedule makes any possible part time job basically impossible for me to procure though. We never know ahead of time, 24 hours at the most (usually it's much less than that) whether or not DH has to work the weekend and/ or late into the night. There's no way for me to commit to any part time job schedule... and there's no way for us to make any plans ever as a family since we are always in suspense, never knowing if DH has to work overtime or not. But this is our lot right now because his overtime wages put us a little further from the poverty line. I'm actually pretty disillusioned with all the years of praying I've done over our situation (we are massively in debt and live in a run down tiny rental in a somewhat ghetto area). Nothing ever changes and I have kind of given up for the time being. Part of my vision is that my kids are better off than us, and homeschooling is part of that. 

 

Sorry to type out my life story but it all comes back to the topic at hand of being given false hope by MLMs when it might very well make my situation worse. 

 

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Just last week, I was having this discussion with a 19 yo young man we know.  He's convinced a MLM opportunity will make him rich.  As part of the agreement, he has to agree to an auto delivery of $150 worth of products every month.  I tried to talk to him about the downsides of MLM, but he's going forward.  He's so excited that most of the people at the introductory meeting were his age.  He thought that young people could see the possibilities better than we "rigid" old people.  MLM may work for some, but I don't think this young man sees anything but money signs.  He's not weighing a business proposition carefully.  He's jumping at a "once in a life time" opportunity.  I hope it works out for him, but I have my doubts.

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Quill, I waitressed for a couple of years and you're right, the money is actually nothing to sneeze at. I actually think that is one of the best options. There were nights when I left with over $100 tips in my pocket for a 6 hour shift. Plus I rather like the idea of bam, go in, do your work shift, make your money and get out. I am not a sales person at all, so MLM is not only unappealing but sounds like a bad fit for someone like me anyway.

 

DH's work schedule makes any possible part time job basically impossible for me to procure though. We never know ahead of time, 24 hours at the most (usually it's much less than that) whether or not DH has to work the weekend and/ or late into the night. There's no way for me to commit to any part time job schedule... and there's no way for us to make any plans ever as a family since we are always in suspense, never knowing if DH has to work overtime or not. But this is our lot right now because his overtime wages put us a little further from the poverty line. I'm actually pretty disillusioned with all the years of praying I've done over our situation (we are massively in debt and live in a run down tiny rental in a somewhat ghetto area). Nothing ever changes and I have kind of given up for the time being. Part of my vision is that my kids are better off than us, and homeschooling is part of that.

 

Sorry to type out my life story but it all comes back to the topic at hand of being given false hope by MLMs when it might very well make my situation worse.

I am sorry you are struggling. I could not "like" your post.

 

It sounds to me that, with the uncertainty of when DH will be available and when not, you are not even a candidate for Direct Sales. Your best bets for now would be to make frugal living a study and/or nurture any business prospects that can be operated 100% from home/on-line. I'm thinking of Etsy, Fivrr, Ebay, Amazon Marketplace, for example, or if you have skills in blogging or something like that.

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Quill, I waitressed for a couple of years and you're right, the money is actually nothing to sneeze at. I actually think that is one of the best options. There were nights when I left with over $100 tips in my pocket for a 6 hour shift. Plus I rather like the idea of bam, go in, do your work shift, make your money and get out. I am not a sales person at all, so MLM is not only unappealing but sounds like a bad fit for someone like me anyway.

 

DH's work schedule makes any possible part time job basically impossible for me to procure though. We never know ahead of time, 24 hours at the most (usually it's much less than that) whether or not DH has to work the weekend and/ or late into the night. There's no way for me to commit to any part time job schedule... and there's no way for us to make any plans ever as a family since we are always in suspense, never knowing if DH has to work overtime or not. But this is our lot right now because his overtime wages put us a little further from the poverty line. I'm actually pretty disillusioned with all the years of praying I've done over our situation (we are massively in debt and live in a run down tiny rental in a somewhat ghetto area). Nothing ever changes and I have kind of given up for the time being. Part of my vision is that my kids are better off than us, and homeschooling is part of that.

 

Sorry to type out my life story but it all comes back to the topic at hand of being given false hope by MLMs when it might very well make my situation worse.

I have watched people pour years of their lives into MLM work and eventually give it up because it wasn't worth it. They weren't making enough to justify all the work and time spent away from home. The products are often hyped up expensive versions of whatever. The inflated prices aren't because the product is super amazing. That extra money goes to feed the upline.

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Thanks, everyone. Again, cynicism comes easy to me. It's just so hard for me to believe in MLMs as a valid endeavor. I have never known anyone closely enough to verify if their MLM gig is as great as they say. I only knew my mom who was stuck with cases of Mary Kay stuff and no income to show for it when I was a kid (she was working full time as a single mom but also tried to do MK). 

 

In line with what Quill said, it seems like they do target poorer women, and also SAHMs or women who would like to be home. But it seems like the level of obsessiveness one has to have about it is such that they might as well not be home even if they are. Either that or they fail to be successful because they don't "have what it takes". 

 

I was reading a post by a MLM fitness coach recently and she was carrying on about how because of her new career she has the life that she can be proud of now, achieved all these things while staying home with her kids etc and I guess I felt momentary pangs of discontent with my situation. I stay home with my kids because it's important to me, not because we have good finances. We don't. But I would love to change that if I could.

 

I'm just very cautious of what it means to get involved in an MLM, and I think it's highly unlikely I'd join. But there's probably even people out there looking at our situation and wondering why I don't just start "selling oils" or whatever else. It's not that easy.

 

cutco targets college students . . . also among those who can least afford it, both time and money.

 

I was  desperate for a job during a difficult stretch, and responded to one - who MISREPRESENTED themselves in the ad.  I'm sure it helped other young people who didn't have it to lose when as soon as I realized what it was, I stood up, said I hadn't realized this is what it was - and walked out.  In front of everyone - including the guy trying to "sell" to a group of desperate potential reps.

 

eta: and everyone would have seen me leave - he parked himself between everyone and the door so people would be uncomfortable just up and leaving.

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Once a young mom from church called me. She thanked me for the gift I bought for her new baby. Then she started talking about how money must be so tight for us. "No, actually. We just live below our means." Well, it has to be hard because teenagers are so expensive. "No. Our teenagers make their own money." Finally, she hung up exasperated. Ds was listening to my side of the conversation. I just thought she was weird. He didn't believe it for one second and googled her name. Tons of complaints about her and her husband and our priest about their business endeavor.

 

We ended up leaving the denomination over that.

 

My daughter and I have a business. I don't advertise it on my personal FB page. I figure if friends want something they will message me or go to the business page.

 

If friends make something by hand, I'm interested and will follow their business pages. I do not have any interest in any MLM companies.

 

I unfriended everyone using their personal FB page to con friends into becoming customers.

 

If people want to be my friend, they have to act like a friend and that means not using the relationship as a marketing tool.

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If people want to be my friend, they have to act like a friend and that means not using the relationship as a marketing tool.

 

Yep. The person I know who is involved in MLM even posts things like, "I know some of you don't want to see this, but I just can't keep all this POSiTIVE ENERGY to myself!" and then goes on to post about the MLM stuff.

 

It's a violation of FB's user agreement, at the very least.

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Warning: this turned out much longer than I anticipated. My apologies.

 

This is a hot under the collar topic for me. What these companies excel at is not a terrific product or a great business model. They excel at emotional/psychological manipulation. That is their business foundation. That is what brings in the money. The model is odd, and depends on human inclination to emotional response.

 

(Caveat: this is a general post. If you are in an mlm and are loving it and making money without resorting to mind games, just ignore this post. There are certainly people who will succeed in these companies... If there weren't, no one would be doing them. But, they represent such an incredibly small percentage. And I am very happy for people like Ellie for whom it works in a really positive way (couldn't happen to a better gal, :wub: )

 

Some companies have decent products and relatively decent reputations... These are often companies with tangible products like Pampered Chef. I am not necessarily talking about that type of company. And those are a small percentage. Yet, the number of people drawn into the mlm world is crazy-disproportional to the success stories.

 

Why?

 

The mlm model is not based on a amazing product or a great service. It relies on emotional manipulating techniques like 1) peer pressure, 2) lack of transparency, 3) manipulative sales techniques that make normal sales look like child's play, and 4) a push-pull strategy for creating "business owners".

 

1) Peer pressure

The model relies on people buying because their friends are buying. This is why parties are so big. Especially with either an overpriced or a lackluster quality product. Creating illusions about how many people you know are buying the product is critical to more sales. Scripts are designed to draw you (General you for the rest of this post) in, reveal personal info such as values and desires. Then, they are given language to target these desires. Scripting, complete with stage directions, are a key tool in the mlm "toolbox".

 

Using your "warm market" is encouraged because they have the potential to use the significant power of guilt. Yes, a normal person will tell their family/friends about a new business venture and maybe add that if they know anyone who could use it to let them know. Mlms have multiple techniques to manipulate people into listening to pitches/buying product to prove they support the seller. The company is also aware that the sales pitch to return ratio is much, much lower with cold market targets.

 

Many mlms will also go the other direction to make people feel they are part of something big and meaningful. "We care." Or they will drive a wedge between the sellers and any real knowledgable authority figure in the field. Youngevity comes to mind here. They use their literature/propaganda to convince people that doctors are conspirators or incompetent at best. The "Dead Doctors Don't Lie" thing is full of holes, but it is incredibly good at rousing emotion in the listener. This establishes the corporation or its charismatic spokespeople as authority figures. "Listen to us, not to them." "They have a vested interest in keeping everyone sick/fat, etc." "Degrees don't mean anything." (Degrees obviously do not guarantee perfection, but they are a good way to begin the vetting process of reliability.)

 

Also, and this is more of a personal observation, they seem to count on the fact that their sellers aren't usually a part of certain social groups. They can drive a wedge between sellers and doctors or scientists because the sellers often do not have strong relationships with people in those groups. I sometimes want to ask people, "Are you close friends with any doctors? Scientists? Etc." That personal connection will often give people pause because it isn't so easy to paint a group ugly when you are close with people in that group.

 

And finally, the whole, "if it isn't working, there is something wrong with you... Our model is successful. Just look at all of the people we have shown you that are making the big bucks." You aren't working hard enough. You aren't committed enough. You don't believe in the product enough to see that if you just buy more, hit your friends up more, book more parties, you will be able to create the lifestyle you have always wanted. (Is there a barfing icon?)

 

2) Lack of transparency

Most mlms do not have open product ingredient lists ("ours is special and proprietary" "no one has anything like it" "it will revolutionize your health..."). They are usually selling things that are supposed to be magic bullets. Isn't it interesting that in the history of the world, the mlm is the only one who has found a panacea for many diseases (and it is usually one product) or a secret to weight loss? Guess what? If these things were really that terrific, the founders would not NEED mlm. They would be loaded without having to build a downline, or needing to set up training to give people a high and motivate them. The product would truly sell itself... They would not need a constant influx of new salespeople. Mlm is probably the worst possible business model for a truly unique and high potential product. VC's would be clamoring to give them money.

 

Also, their financials are often really hazy. I have a friend who is really involved in an mlm and was touting the financial strength of the company. I looked at the financials. The company has leveraged itself in a big way to boost their numbers. Their company add-ons are covering for a crap stock price. They have convinced her she is a "knowledgable businesswoman". But, she knows zip about business. She wants to feel important and smart, which is a normal, human desire. But she doesn't have the education and experience to see that they are relying on her ignorance and playing into her heartfelt desires. (She is a beautiful person inside, no dummy at all. Her emotions are just being played like a fiddle.)

 

Another technique is to coach their salespeople to present themselves as "experts." I think this gets especially dangerous in the oils/vitamins/supplement fields. The mlm's training is not usually valid, objective training in a clinical sense. It gives people just enough new knowledge to make them feel like they know something that everyone else doesn't. Medical training via Google helps keep that smoke screen going :lol:

 

And finally, many distributors are taught not to state the company name up front... Until "you can give them the whole presentation... We don't want to be fighting pre-conceived notions. They won't be able to fully understand what an amazing opportunity this is."

 

Falsely initiating friendships. This has been mentioned numerous times in this thread. It is basically warm chatting on steroids. It is NOT OK to invite people to your home socially and then ambush them with a pitch. No matter what your trainer/upline/company literature says about "doing them a favor." This is deceitful, plain and simple. If the company you are with makes this sound good, run the other way.

 

Another deceitful practice involved manipulating search engines. If you are trying to research a company, you go to Google, right? Not always. A disturbing trend involves using keywords, such as "company" and "scam" to play the system. Distributors are encouraged to write blog posts using these terms in the title and copy to climb the search engine rankings and push out legitimate complaints.

 

3) Scripting and manipulation

"If I could show you how to make x$ per month, while only working x hours, wouldn't you be interested in hearing more?" "Are you tired of working in a dead end, 40 hour a week job when you could be home with your family and present for special moments?" "Would you get out from under your corporate boss so you can take control of your own life?"

 

These questions and more are designed to "get to yes". They are designed to lead a target closer and closer to your "opportunity". They are designed to make that target (by the end of the pitch) feel like an idiot for not taking advantage of the business.

 

Most mlms will provide scripts and training on language, tone of voice, the proper way to make eye contact, etc. Many people in normal sales roles study techniques like this. However, the mlm has it honed to a science to the point where many will be adamant that you are NOT to go off script or that you must do EXACTLY what your upline tells you.

 

And where normal sales jobs usually provide answers to product related questions, mlms need to do a great deal of verbal gymnastics to create an emotional smokescreen for logic-based arguments. (I.e, why would I pay a company to work for them - membership fees, autoships? Why should I pay for training? Is this a pyramid? I don't want to sell to my friends and family.) Responses typically draw a potential recruit back into "the dream" by reiterating that it is "your own business, you are your own boss, these are just normal business expenses".

 

They also try to minimize costs by breaking it down to the minimum. The initial inventory may only be $300, but with autoship, returned product, training materials, training events, gas, etc., that $300 grows awfully fast.

 

Keep in mind, usually it is the seller's upline telling them this. This relationship is often couched as a "mentor" position. In any other field, would you put trust in a "mentor" that minimizes the stakes of a new business? If they don't want you to do your due diligence or take your time making a decision, look deeper.

 

I often hear that the upline only has the seller's best interests at heart because their income depends on the seller's success. This may very well be true. People in upline positions are not evil. However, they are also not even remotely nuetral. They have much more incentive to let you limp along rather than mercifully cut you loose. A true business mentoring relationship, other than boss/subordinate is usually a step or two removed.

 

4) Push/pull strategy for creating "business owners"

Business is about putting the right skill sets in the right place. If someone is selling health products, they are not a "health coach", they are a salesperson. If someone is selling essential oils, they are not a "wellness expert", they are a salesperson. THE most important skill set in an honest mlm is sales ability. You are not an expert at anything without the proper training and credentials, preferably by an outside accrediting agency.

 

If someone says they aren't good at sales/don't want to sell, an honest direct sales company would acknowledge that the skill set probably isn't a fit. Some sales technique can be trained, but a great deal of it is ability/inclination. Normal companies advertise their sales position as sales positions and list qualifications that fit those positions. Advertising for "health coaches" or "women who want to help women" is a huge red flag.

 

To be a "business person", you need to have some knowledge about business (at least if you want your company to stay afloat.) Often the mentor is presented as a coach to the new distributor. You are encouraged to ask them questions and follow their advice, usually at the exclusion of other business professionals. Running things by your accountant, lawyer, successful friend or family member is often discouraged because they will just "be negative" and they don't understand that this opportunity "is different."

 

Also, after you have signed on, mentors will often start employing a hot/cold technique. When you are making money, you are their best friend. They introduce you to higher ups, etc. which makes you feel terrific. But, if you have a slow stretch, you may get the cold shoulder. They may not be as available to you. They only have so much time and they will spend it on their stars.

 

Last but not least, and my personal favorite, is the "I have a business opportunity I would like to get your advice in/run by you."

 

If you want my advice, here it is...

 

Are you a salesperson at heart? If not, walk away.

Is your recruiter telling you you can be an expert fill-in-the-blank, when you have no real experience in a field or in business? If so, walk away.

Is your recruiter encouraging you to pump your friends and family for business because they should want to help you succeed? If so, walk away.

Are you willing to put in just as many hours, if not more, than you would in a normal job? If not, walk away.

Have your suggestions that you would like someone outside the company advise you on the worthiness of the venture been met with stonewalling? If so, walk away.

 

And before you consider an mlm,

 

Get trained in basic business principles, accounting, marketing, etc. so you have a good foundation in which to grow your business.

Do not allow yourself to be pressured by time constraints (you have to act now) or guilt (I have out so much time into you, you owe me.)

Decide just how much money you can afford to lose. Stick it in a bank account. When it is gone, you are done.

 

If you are in an mlm,

 

Don't let sunk costs mess with your decision-making abilities. The next sale/client/whatever is an illusion, just like the next hand in gambling. If you feel like you are sinking, get out before you sink further. The money is gone, but you don't have to lose more.

If anyone is telling you (or insinuating) that it is ok to lie to/manipulate your spouse, get out.

If anyone is trying to drive a wedge between you and your spouse or your family and friends by calling them negative or saying that they don't support you, get out.

 

Legitimate, honest, above-board companies do not have to employ these tactics to be successful.

 

I truly apologize that this is a book. Feel free to gloss over me in favor of some of our more succinct boardies, :lol:

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I have had this Mary Kay warm chat happen to me a number of times,

 

"You have such great skin!!" "Why thanks, that is so sweet!" "I would love to offer you a facial, etc."

 

Um, does this actually work? If I have such great skin, why in the world would I need your product, lol.

 

I suppose it is better than, "You look like crap... How about a facial?"

 

:lol:

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I just remembered something that happened to me about 15-17 years ago. A good friend of mine, one of the most down-to-earth people I know, got involved in an MLM. She and her dh wanted to come tell us about it and we said ok. They weren't pushy or weird. They were new to the MLM, so my friend suggested she have her upline mentor call me to answer my questions. A day or two later she did. This gal was gushing about the fantastic opportunity. They had taken all their kids to Disneyland or Disney World. Didn't I want that for my kids? Didn't I want to take them on tropical vacations? No, I answered honestly. I let her ramble on for a while and then told her, I'm sorry but I just don't think this is for me. Then we said goodbye. For some reason I waited for her to hang up (pre cell phone days...she was probably using a cordless phone). She forgot to push the hang up button and set the phone down. I could her hear talking to her husband about me. "I think she's just afraid." And they were talking about strategies to get around this supposed fear of mine. It was eye-opening. Then in a few minutes she picked the phone up, I guess to call another sucker, and realized there was no dial tone. "Hello? Hello? HELLO???" She sounded frantic. I had my hand over the mouthpiece and was perfectly quiet. "Honey, I think someone was still on the line." Click.

 

Yes, I was afraid. Afraid you called the wrong person.

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dh had someone TRICK him into attending their "recruiting" meeting. the guy told him it was something completely different - only when he got their did he learn it was amway. he was livid.

 

and the couple who were supposedly taking my teenage-needs-a-role-model brother under their wing - were bragging about being able to take it as a buisiness deduction.

 

we loath the tactics, and will never, ever look at their products. I wish I could find the almost live clip with the scary bosses and his "have you heard the good news about amway?" being the scariest of them all.

I have many fond memories of watching Almost Live! as an older child/teen. The Pike/Pine quiz show one was my favorite. Soooo true. To this day I second guess which spots are on Pike and which are on Pine.

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Professormom - you said the MLM people will say "if it isn't working, there is something wrong with you."

absolutely YES.  I have a mthf mutation (I only recently learned about this) that adversly affects how my body can use b-vitamins (food or supplement).  I was doing "ok" taking a double dose of an average drugstore b-complex due to profound stress.  My friend got me to try reliv (all in one, one-size fits all nutrition shake. knowing what I do now about molecular bioavailability of vitamins - i looked over their ingredient list again.  they're c*rp quality vitamins, but cheap.  of course, they sell them at a premium.) - and with full money back guarantee if I didn't like it.

 

so - to give it a fair chance I stopped taking the supplements I was already taking.  re: my double dose b-complex. (which was only an average quality drug store brand.)  I could feel myself going downhill, and getting worse each day. after two - three weeks, I sent it back for a refund as I realized this was NOT going to make me feel better and I was getting sick.   "Oh, you just need to drink more shakes - and push through it."   I heard that several times.

when I first started down the nutrition road for dudeling, who wouldn't take a pill to save his life, and if he knew I sprinkled any on his food - he'd refuse to eat.  "oh, you just need to try  ___ or ___  or ___.  I had to put my foot down and say "your product is NOT working".  (I got him into a naturopath with a very personalized and tailored plan.  he's doing very very well.)   

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I have many fond memories of watching Almost Live! as an older child/teen. The Pike/Pine quiz show one was my favorite. Soooo true. To this day I second guess which spots are on Pike and which are on Pine.

 

youtube . . . . .

 

I was watching some awhile back the last time I was trying to find that clip . . .oh, the native tests . . . and the quiz shows . . .a favorite is the ballard driving school.  park by sound . . . .

ah, the seattle trivia . . . .

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Professormom,

 

It might have been a book, but it was a total page-turner. :) You said it all so well and with such order.

 

and, mine was just as long; it was just strewn over several posts and was poorly organized! :)

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I have a friend at church who is now doing Rodan and Fields. UGH. She keeps posting before and after pictures of people with freckles who have a healthy glow and then use R&F and no longer have freckles but now have some very unhealthy looking white paste-y look. People say, "Wow! She has a clean slate! Look how good she looks!) But i think the before photos look much better!

 

I don't understand the hatred of freckles. I love my freckles and it suits me.

 

Never mind that the ingredients to stip your skin of freckles is horrible for you.

 

Dawn

Wait. There's an MLM company with products to get rid of freckles?????

 

Now I've heard it all. I love my freckles.

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