[Red Corvette]: Today we’re starting a series of articles by Ariel, who was embroiled in the MLM Financial Education Services (FES). Here’s a little background about this group.
FES is a privately held company, started by Parimal Nail and Mike Toloff. It launched at first as VR-Tech in 2004. They sell insurance and wealth programs. Their headquarters is in Farmington Hills, Michigan.
While they offer many financial services, from life insurance and financial literacy training to wills and living trusts, their main offering is credit repair. FES charges a one time fee of $188 and then $89 per month for the Protection plan. Since April 2018, this has increased to $499. The MLM is often touted as a cross between Primerica, Motor Club of America, and World Financial Group.
Their consultants are called ‘independent agents’, and there are nine different ranks to aspire to, starting with Field Trainer, and moving up to Sales Director, Senior Field Trainer, Regional Sales Director with Senior Executive Vice President at the very top.
Over to you, Ariel!
[Ariel]: Thank you Red.
Hi, all you anti-MLMers. I’ve recently came out of a cult called Financial Education Services, and wanted to share my experience with you.
How I came to find out about them is innocent enough, since I wanted to learn about finances. I stumbled upon a Meetup group that talked about financial education, and I put my name in the RSVP.
So then I get a call from some guy who is from Haiti, let’s call him Stanley*. He seems like a really nice guy and he talks about how in the United States there is no education about money, how it works etc. I tend to agree with him, and he says asks if it’s OK if I could attend a webinar with him. I say fine, and then he gets on the webinar with his upline, Brian*. Brian is a man from New York who lives in Los Angeles, like I do. He goes through what it means to have good credit and everything that a credit score affects. He talks about things like identity protection etc.
I’m impressed with Brian’s knowledge. The company sells financial protection plans to people with a $99 activation fee and a monthly payment of $89 (total $188 to get started). I really don’t need the services as my credit score is already in the excellent category, yet he told me that credit karma is not an accurate representation of my credit score.
Now here’s where the MLM part comes in. Brian tells me that if I get started as an agent I could give people these services and help them with their finances for just $100 (so $288 to become an agent). I tell him that I was had been involved in Herbalife a long time ago, like eight years ago, and it went very badly. He assures me that this isn’t about selling lotions and potions and such things, because people need good credit and everyone wants financial stability. He himself used to work for the Bank of America.
I still show skepticism, and Brian uses my insecurities against me, like how I spoke about my dad always doing the same thing and complaining about his job, and how I wanted out from my current situation. He tells me that I’m going to see everyone becoming a success except me, and I’m going to be depressed after that. He also tells me that so many things you spend money on like food, clothing and a car will always depreciate in value, yet this opportunity has the power to pay me back. So while he was talking to me I googled the company, and I found pretty good reviews, actually. It’s funny, one of the first videos that popped up said it was a scam, but most videos that said it was a scam actually then went into how it wasn’t a scam, but was a legitimate business opportunity.
I told Brian if I joined I’d probably be bothering them all the time and not stop until I made my money back and more, so this made him excited. Then he gave me the sign up sheet page to sign up under Stanley. I signed up to be an agent and I got the Protection Plan. Brian sent me an email, and I looked at the materials I was supposed to be using. In those materials it said don’t use words like upline, downline, and opportunity, so right off the bat I felt like I was deceiving people. Then I said to myself it’s probably because MLMs are associated with health supplements and products, not with finances, so we don’t want to give people the wrong impression. I believed that helping people get ahead in life with control over their finances and a good credit score was the righteous thing to do.
The next day my field trainer Stanley took me to a hotel near the airport so I could see what they were talking about. At the hotel, I got your typical MLM cult spiel, yet this one had former Bank of America employees, an active mayor, and an actor. In the spiel they talked about how they had something called the YFL Mint that went into schools to teach kids about financial education. Mind you, just because you rob a bank and give a percentage of it to charity doesn’t mean you’re a saint.
So, after all the razzle dazzle,at the end of the “presentation” I went to the lady who said she made a ton of money doing it and told her “Wow you only have a GED [high school education] yet there are people with masters degrees, and they are stuck in debt and you have all this money” and she said “Ya I know, all thanks to FES.”
I wanted to know what she did to get people to sign up etc. She said “I’m sure you’ll have a few of these seats filled the next time you come in”. Well, that wasn’t exactly a strategy. The sales director Brian was there, and he said I’d succeed if I’m committed and coachable. I asked him for a strategy, but only got some vague unhelpful answer.
When I asked my direct upline Stanley for a strategy, he talked about an online funnel through an ebook which I had no idea how to go about getting. Back when I got home I thought about talking to my Facebook friends, and I went into Messenger asking people if they even know what their credit score is.
Some did, some didn’t, and some wanted to improve it. So I must’ve orchestrated about 15 or so people agreeing to attend a webinar with the same person who got me in, by doing a webinar with him. Some people were no shows, some had technical difficulties, some stayed till the end of the presentation, but none of them signed up either as a customer or an agent, so this really got me in low spirits.
I even got this guy who was a millionaire friend of mine to sign up, and he even said after he got all the details he would sign up but, then he found a better deal with other credit repair people who would give him half the profits, and they weren’t MLM — so in the end it didn’t go through.
I was feeling so down and so defeated,and it didn’t seem like this was the opportunity I signed up for. All the while I was still going to the hotel meetings hearing the same old business model story, and getting sick and tired of it because they gave me ABSOLUTELY NOTHING in terms of strategy. So once my warm leads were depleted, and I was feeling defeated, Brian calls me and tells me to get all the people I know, including friends and family, and line them up for a PBR (Private Business Reception) which he wants me to have at his house. I told him that I couldn’t just conjure people up out of the blue.
[Red]: Thank you Ariel! Stay tuned for Part 2, where we will find out what happens at Brian’s Private Business Reception, and whether Ariel was able to find anyone to attend!
Ariel can be found online at his blog, and on YouTube.
Photo credits: Dollar bills photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash; Coins photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash
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