MLM, Network Marketing, Direct Sales

Scenario: it’s Wednesday morning, you’re having coffee and scrolling through Facebook. Your friend from high school is posting like a madwoman about her amazing new business, an MLM. She gets to work from her home office, take care of her house and not worry about daycare-the most awesome part is she is making bank!

*Cough* Bullsh*t *Cough*

And, here comes the part where I am going to have hate mail in my inbox and a flurry of comments about how effing amazing XYZ company is…

What she is actually doing is recycling the same old ads that everyone else who paid to sign up with whatever company she is promoting did. You see dear reader your friend is a, dare I say it, an Independent Contractor

Your friend signed up with whatever company and paid money to sell their sh*t. Your friend is likely under a contract that says she may only use the “approved” marketing materials, which of course are provided for her as part of her kit. If you ask any of these companies, its a “business in a box” and “perfect” for stay at home moms because its a great way to help your friends and help bring in an income.

No Just No!

The MLM industry uses predatory practices to recruit women who are vulnerable and lonely. Anyone who is home all day taking care of small children can tell you that adult conversation is far and few between. There is often a need for extra cash because kids are expensive.

These MLM owners KNOW THIS. They set up these communities of people (mostly women) just like you for friendship, to make you feel normal again, and ultimately give you what you desire most, to have your own identity again!

They have armies of salespeople making them money by first buying kits that can be up in the thousands of dollars to buy, and then recruiting others to do the same. These folks often have quotas they must meet, monthly fees to stay active and they are under contract to buy everything from the company.

In all fairness, people join MLM for all sorts of reasons. Money, the promise of financial freedom, and the need to work from home are amongst the top. The FTC  states that less than 1% actually make a profit. More often than not, the family goes into massive debt. Some have lost homes, maxed out credit and have alienated support systems.

How do you Know?

image credit: A fellow member of “It sounds like MLM but ok” Facebook group. Used with permission.

I can feel the MLM mamma glaring at me right now. Because mamma I have been there. More times than I want to admit. I was once at the bottom of the Koolaid pitcher just like you. My take was that I realized what I was doing, but I swore by the idea of being around positive minded women/men only.

I felt great about what I was doing and had a whole lot of support from my upline. Then I went to visit a friend, who above all else is always as real as it gets, we will call him D. D said to me, in his usual calm tone “this seems like a cult”. At the time, I responded with “well yeah but, I know what I got myself into”.

D was right, the whole industry is set up to build you up and if you question anything, you are a bad bad human. I quit a few days later and will never recommend another MLM to anyone, ever again.

Don’t get me wrong Mamma/Pappa reading this, I support YOU. I want nothing more than for you to tell me how effing awesome you are doing in whatever side hustle you are rocking. However, D was absolutely right. It’s a f*cking cult.

Think about this rationally Mamma/Pappa
  • Is the owner of your company put up on a pedal stool? Do other reps act like the owner(s) is the second coming of Jesus?
  • Did the person who recruited you show you bank statements of incomed earned? Tax forms? Anything that proves that they are actually making money?
  • When your friend or family member unfollows you, asks you to stop texting about joining or completely ignores you, does your upline tell you they are negative and not supportive? Get new friends?
  • When someone leaves the company, are they referred to badly?
  • If someone says that there are problems with the organization are they are labeled as “disgruntled”?
  • If someone says they didn’t make any money, are they told they aren’t working their business hard enough?
  • Are you allowed to form your own opinions on products/services and say them out loud?
  • Do reps/upline get upset if you question anything?
  • Real talk is perceived as negativity and you are shunned for that?

*Authors note: This actually did happen to me.  I was personally attacked for this article. Not because I left any particular company but because I spoke my truth. This only proves the point that any type of criticism is not taken kindly. Anyone who challenges the programming is evil and must be torn down. 

Did you answer yes to any of these questions?

They are all signs of a cult.

People of all socioeconomic statuses and education levels are susceptible. None of us are immune to the feeling of “wanting to belong”.  We have a psychological need for love and companionship. Humans are social creatures, the “need to belong” theory can be seen in infancy and childhood according to the NCBI.

Cults seek out people who are lacking in this area, they take them in and brainwash them to believe that the cult is like “family”.

Does the term “sisterhood” ring a bell? Can you see how easy it would be for anyone feeling lonely, deprived of adult conversations, in need of a support system, can be swayed into an MLM?

If you are looking at your friends’ post about how awesome their company is-please send them this blog post. You might just save them a ton of money and therapy.

Another idea is to tell them to keep track of the expenses and revenue. A spreadsheet with hard numbers can be a great way to see exactly what the profit margin is.

For instance, if your friend has joined a company where the investment is $40 and added to the kit another $400 in the product, sold $350 worth of product they are still out of $90. They should add in every expense, not only for record-keeping but tax purposes as well.

How much was spent on order forms (many MLM’s require the use of their own forms, which they charge for), catalogs, gas, marketing, etc? As that number gets higher, the higher they are in debt from the “opportunity”.

It is quite difficult to argue with a spreadsheet.

Need more convincing?

Check out this article from Marie Claire: 5 Women Reveal The Moment They Realised They Were In A Pyramid Scheme or take a gander at the Anti-MLM Coalition. How about this podcast on Youtube from “Sounds like MLM but ok”, or this Documentary about LuLaRoe.

The list goes on and on and on of bad experiences in MLM with a simple google search.

Before you blow up my inbox about how awesome the products are, you can get the same products way cheaper on Amazon, Target, Walmart, even the Dollar Tree! You do NOT need to pay $100 for a tube of lipstick!

Of course, many reading this might think I am a dream squasher or negative nelly. That is not the case. I want people to understand what they are getting themselves into when they join an MLM. I want MLM’s and distributors to be honest and ethical. A person in MLM is a distributor, a commissioned salesperson. They do not own a piece of the pie. There is nothing wrong with that! Just be honest.

It’s a hustle.

 

Books, Articles and Further Reading
  • This Blogger was sued by Le-Vel for blogging about his opinion on their Thrive products. He won, and deserves a freaking medal for this article! Read Lazyman and Money’s article here 
  • I uploaded “Merchants of Deception”, the true story of a family who spent a decade in Amway. It is free to download here.
  • Cult Education Institute “How to Get a Friend Out of an MLM”
  • Behind MLM MLM lawsuit News

 

Legalese Requirement

Most products here are of my own creation and on sale at my Etsy shop. However, in full disclosure as an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. This site contains affiliate links for Amazon products as well as products and services outside of the Amazon network.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.