Closing a Chapter, Part 4

Coalition: Linda concludes her experience with MLM, in this final part. Catch up with Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 here, if you haven’t already.

Linda: The only good to come out of this situation is the lesson I have learned. I left a job which made me unhappy and I also have my website, which I changed from being a Company X product promotion site to my own personal blog, and I also post about skincare products I love to use and review.

As posted in my previous blog, I went away to Barcelona on my own, for the very first time, which was a real experience and it taught me a lot about myself. My trust issues are a little low … however I guess someday I will be able to let my guard down a little. Yes, I feel foolish, used, and betrayed and I am mostly angry at myself for falling for it. I keep telling myself that Danni is in the same situation — sadly she has been promoting and recruiting for Company X for over four years now and, in my opinion, is just too brainwashed now to ever leave. However, despite everything that has happened, I do genuinely wish her all the best. If she does succeed, then good luck to her. I hope she doesn’t financially break too many people below her while she climbs up the ladder. I have also since learned that other girls have stopped promoting for Company X, no doubt realising too, just what a con it is.

I think most of the girls cling onto the hope of becoming the next big thing — the same (always the same) girls they see paraded in front of them at the Success Summits or perhaps if they stop, they think they are quitting on their dream.

They fall in so deep and invest some much, not just time or money, that they feel that perhaps they can’t back away, which is actually quite tragic.

If I were to start my own business, then it will be off of my own back. Where I will earn 100% of the profits not just a small commission. I mean seriously, if you purchase stock from a company and you are only earning a commission, this does not make you a business owner. Nor does it make up a business owner when you have absolutely no say in how the business that you buy the products from runs its business. You are totally beholden to them. You are simply a sales rep, there if nothing wrong in this, however that is what you are. You recruit, you sell and you promote for Company X — that’s it. Company X cleverly gets around not actually paying you properly by presenting this as you being your own boss, which I guess is more appealing. And another thing, just because you recruit some poor soul in another country — this does not make you a “Global Business Owner”.

I am not a quitter. I didn’t quit on myself. I trusted my gut instinct. I realised that something wasn’t suited to me and wasn’t making me happy therefore I stopped. I don’t think I have given up on my dream at all. If anything, I am actually pursuing mine. I am content with being back to myself again, not a Company X Clone. I have deleted every post linked to the MLM company and the whole “positive, don’t be a quitter mindset” waffle. Please don’t misunderstand me, positivity is great … but in MLM, it’s jammed down your throat which just becomes too forced. I like that I can talk to people now without looking at them as my next customer or recruit. I feel free from all the pinging messages from the never-ending groups I had to be part of. Free of the constant social media posts and training. I am in the process of looking for a job, something that will make me happy. Despite what the MLM reps say, there is absolutely nothing wrong with earning an honest living working for someone else or not being your own boss. My life is finally my own again and I am truly happy.

Thank you for taking the time to read this. Again, I wasn’t sure I was making the right decision in posting this, however I feel that more people need to speak up about their individual experiences. People shouldn’t feel bullied or afraid. If you are thinking of joining an MLM and would like to message me personally for more information about my own personal experience, please feel free do to so.

Cover photo by Dawid Zawiła on Unsplash


Closing a Chapter, Part 2

Coalition: Here is Part 2 of Linda’s recent experience with a personal care MLM. We’re putting it up in four parts over the next week or so, but you can head over to her blog if you want to read all of it right away! To read how her story started, catch up with Part 1. And now, on with Linda’s story:

Linda: At one of our smaller, monthly group meetings, the presenter gave a little talk about how to recruit people and she spoke of people’s “weaknesses” and their “pain” which made me feel awkward, I mean, yes I want to grow my business however I do also have a moral compass — targeting people who had credit card debit or debt of any kind was so low. I remember raising my hand and actually asking “Well, surely if someone is in debt, they won’t really have the money to pay for these products?” Her response was — “Well, you’ll find that people who are in debt kind of like to spend money regardless, so, in theory we’re only encouraging them to spend with us…” I was totally and utterly uncomfortable with this. I have had debt in the past, and I know first-hand how horrible it is. The fact that I was aiming to get rich off of the shoulders of someone who was struggling didn’t sit well with me. It was then that I started to really question what I was doing. I actually thought that these meetings were a complete waste of time. They were extremely repetitive and I guess, just additional brainwashing.

No matter how much I plugged the products or talked about the business, NO. ONE. WAS. INTERESTED in signing up or buying the products. When you take into account that a toothpaste I was selling was retailing at just over £11+ postage — and you can purchase a well-known, dentist recommended brand for £3–4, you can see why I was struggling. No amount of persuasion, and I have worked in retail/sales on Bond Street and Harrods in the past, could sell the overpriced products. I manged to sign up one old friend I hadn’t spoken to in years because, and I am ashamed to admit it, she was so utterly miserable in her job I guess she was desperate for anything that would help her escape, and I convinced her this was the opportunity she was looking for! I also signed up a nail technician I got talking to, however after a face-to-face meeting with her and Danni, where she voiced her concerns about the fact that she had been advised by her family that this was a pyramid scheme, she messaged me to say she was stopping. I kept my positive vibes up, I kept telling myself it would change; however, I was now beginning to think that I was becoming a clone of Company X. I felt like I was losing my identity. Every time I spoke to someone, I saw them as a potential recruit, as a way of progressing my “business”.

I was incapable of having a conversation with anyone without trying to plug the products in one way or another. If I spoke to warm contacts (friends or family) I risked alienating them and cold contacts (strangers) are very rarely willing to trust a complete stranger. Therefore, you are trained to make cold contacts warm, however in my opinion this is a false way of building a true friendship, as your ultimate goal is to recruit. The whole process is based on making money and pushing your business forward. It reeks of desperation and falseness. I attended several Network Marketing meetings off of my own back (may I also add that MLM companies such as ours had been frozen out of several Networking events in my area, no doubt because the organisers were sick of reps recruiting) I was told it was because there was another rep from a similar company attending, however I truly believe that the organisers where just trying to be nice about the truth. MLM reps are also banned from many Mum and Baby groups, as again, the organisers think the reps simply prey on the mother’s need to find a flexible job they can work around their children.

I kept on wondering how the hell the other reps were receiving such massive product deliveries for their customers. Instagram and Facebook were often littered with people posting about orders, boxes full of products. When I started looking into MLM Scam websites, I found out that reps from other companies were told by their uplines (the people who recruit them) that they should keep any empty boxes and use these to bulk up personal orders to make it look like bigger deliveries. This goes to show just how innocent (or naïve?) I was. I would never had done this! All my posts were genuine, however no wonder my orders were of only a few items, most of which were for me. I couldn’t believe the deceit and it didn’t stop there. I also discovered and again, I laugh at myself for not knowing this — you can buy followers on social media – personally, I think this is a little bit desperate, I mean, surely, if you have followers, it should be because your posts etc. are of interest to people — the fact that you can pay as little as £10 for 1000 followers makes me balk. I then started to wonder, if this was what a lot of the Company X girls did, to perhaps show they had some sort of popular following, lots of customer and potential recruits — attraction marketing remember?

Another niggle was Danni. When we initially spoke about Company X, she told me she had left her full time job, as the money she was making as a Company X rep was now the equivalent to what her monthly salary was…I thought this was brilliant and I knew realistically this would take time. Danni had now been a Company X rep for over four years and as we grew closer, she would admit little things that raised alarm bells with me. The fact that she didn’t earn this all the time. There were quite a few months where she made very little, or that it was a struggle at times and she sometimes looked at perhaps getting another job. She would quickly then retract her statements and say she could never go back to working for someone else, not now that she was her own “boss”.

What happens next? Stay tuned for Part 3 of Linda’s tale!

Feature photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash

Closing a Chapter, Part 1

Coalition: Linda is kindly sharing her experience with a personal care MLM. This is a cross-post from her blog. We’re putting it up in four parts over the next week, but you can head over to her blog if you want to read all of it right away!

Linda: I would like to stress before I continue that the views expressed in this blog are that of my own. These are my opinions, feelings and my own personal experience of a Multi-Level Marketing company. I have changed my uplines name in order to protect her identity. I have also changed the company name to “Company X” so as not to disclose the company’s name. I thought long and hard about writing this blog, especially as it will be open to view on my website – however I truly believe that this is a form of closure for me. I didn’t realise just how much this had indeed affected me, writing this blog will help me close this chapter of my life once and for all. I have also written this blog in order to help people who are perhaps thinking of joining an MLM, hoping that they are thoroughly researching and reading up on people’s experiences and not just basing their decision on the people who are recruiting them, as sadly I did.

My MLM experience was, thankfully, a relatively brief one. I was unhappy in my office job of almost four years and in November 2018, I was invited to my cousin’s house, where I met for the first time his step daughter (who for the sake of this blog, I will call) Danni. We hit it off immediately and although she was ten years my junior, she was very mature in her behaviour and we seemed to like the same things.

We began to follow each other on Instagram and her posts about “living life on her terms” and working from home, based around beauty and skincare intrigued me. I too loved anything skincare based and I was interested in knowing more about what she did. I had absolutely no idea what a Multi-Level Marking company was, nor did I know about Pyramid Schemes. All I knew was that this could be a way that I could get into the skincare industry and I was open minded when I went along to a local business briefing before Christmas and then to a second, much larger “Success Summit” in January based in London.

Both business briefing and Summit were totally and utterly geared towards positivity. The company hosting the summit and the people on stage were training you to think in a positive way, attracting like-minded people and although some of it was a little over the top – lots of punching the air, whooping, motivational speakers etc. (I felt totally out of my comfort zone, as I am a little more reserved) I embraced the positive mindset and I left feeling pleased and happy that collaborating with Company X would be a good decision, after all, Danni was doing it, she was sort of family and surely, I could trust her? She initially said when we first spoke about me signing up back in December that she would never recommend this business opportunity to anyone if she thought it would be bad for them, right?

I am wholeheartedly ashamed to say, I fell for the MLM scam, hook, line and sinker. I totally signed up to the whole positive mindset attitude, The Law of Attraction theory, the “surround yourself with like-minded people”, anyone who doesn’t support you is a “Hater” or a “Dream Stealer” a “Negative Nancy” who is jealous of your success and doesn’t want you to succeed. I quit my job in January 2019 and totally threw myself into building my “business” and to be fair no one told me to do this. I was lucky enough to have savings to enable me to do so, therefore I threw myself into my Company X business 100%. I sold a few products, only to one friend and some family members who no doubt felt sorry for me. Absolutely nobody on social media was interested and the three enquires I did receive came to an abrupt halt once I sent over the price of the products to my potential customers. People were just not willing to pay the ridiculously high prices for a brand they knew nothing about, without being able to properly test the product, or receive some sort of sample. I could of course supply samples of some products, however I would need to buy the full-size bottle, then purchase little sample pots, and the whole process would come from my pocket. Company X did not provide samples and now of course, I realise why. I was also a little deflated whenever I did receive a package as despite the cost of the products the package looked really cheap. I knew I would have to pull out all the stops to sell these products.

I ploughed away relentlessly, I paid for business cards, I created leaflets, I purchased products to promote on social media, I was always positive, even if things weren’t great, we were trained to never let this show, always promote positivity. What you think, you will receive. I improved my mindset – kept my thoughts on success. I called salons, mobile make-up artists, local businesses, business in London practically every day; only to have the phone put down on me once I explained the sign-up process, no one wanted to associate themselves with a pyramid scheme. I was advised by Danni to create a list of all the people I knew. People from the past, old colleagues, family, the people I knew who worked in shops, even the Hermes Delivery guy became a target. To my immense shame, I messaged/and or called everyone. I literally cringe when I think of the people who I contacted…it was so false…I would never have spoken to them again in any other situation…but this was all in aid of building my “business”, therefore I was willing to throw my dignity in the gutter.

What happens to Linda next? Part 2 is coming later on this week!

Photo by Plush Design Studio on Unsplash

My Arbonne Tale

Thank you to Trish for sharing her experience of being a senior distributor in Arbonne:

My journey with network marketing (multi-level marketing) started in 2016. The company I signed up to, Arbonne, was launching in my country. It was ‘ground floor’ and they assured me I would go straight to the top!

It sounded too good to be true, but I’d met a mum through an online mums’ group on Facebook, and her Facebook feed looked pretty real deal. She went to lots of parties, drove a white Mercedes Benz, and at only 26 yrs old she was coaching people to live the life they deserved—and this is what got me most. I am driven to help people and genuinely believe people deserve to live the life they deserve.

She had me hooked. I believed I could do it and I had just had my second baby, so I would never ever have to return to work, ever. So I jumped in, I sold my car to raise funds, and spent $2,300 on product to start my business.

Before we officially launched I spent a couple of months going through my 100 people list and offering them this ‘life changing, ground floor opportunity, and on launch day I had a couple of girls signing up with me. I was on my way to the top!

But the moment I signed up, I felt depressed and I cried, and I had this thought of ‘What the f*** have I just done?’ But that was ‘the fear talking’, you see, rather than listening to my intuition.

My upline immediately said ‘Right, let’s get you up and running by the end of the day!’ And I again thought ‘How the f*** am I supposed to do that?’ More tears—but I ignored them, put my big girl pants on, and went at it like a bull at a gate.

Within seven days I had reached the first level of management, and by the end of my first month I was in qualification for the second level of management.

Then month two—yup, just month two, I started wondering who I was going to ask to get more Pamper Parties booked, and who else could I offer the business to? ‘Just keep asking’ my upline told me, ask everyone. You liked a girl’s service at the coffee shop? Offer her a life changing business opportunity (forget that this makes you feel sick—suck it up and do it anyway). The girl at the bookstore likes make up—ask her if she would like to borrow a bag of full-sized products (that you spent hundreds of dollars on and are praying all gets returned), in the hope she will become a client and place a big order.

It was relentless. I started this online health and wellness business for more time and money, but it took over my life, constantly trying to make sales, build my team, motivate/coach/mentor my team, and be on all the coaching calls.

As I mentioned earlier, I had a young baby, and with a young baby comes a lack of sleep. My first experience of being told off/emotionally blackmailed was when I was relatively new. I messaged my upline to let her know I wouldn’t be on the coaching call that night (with time differences, calls were at late at night in my country) because I was tired and needed sleep. Her response was ‘Oh I’m sorry, do you want to fail?’ Of course, she was right, I would fail by not getting on the call, I’d better not worry about the sleep I really need.

Monkey see, monkey do—and I started talking to my team the same way. It was awful. There was a lot of training, most of it free team training, but some training cost a lot of money. Money my family didn’t have. What I was earning helped my family be able to pay bills, although it wasn’t enough to put money aside. But if I didn’t get to these trainings, I would fail.

That’s when the debt spiral started. I asked the bank to loan me money, and they did. I had to get to this training in another country. I got there. I asked my dad to fund the trip, sold my beloved wedding dress (something I never wanted to do, as I have daughters), and sold all my beautiful eyeshadow palettes (who needed them anyway—they weren’t Arbonne, cruelty free, vegan, or free of nasty chemicals—but I loved them all the same). Then I lied to one of my best friends and I missed her engagement party. It (rightly) took her two years to talk to me again after that. I also spent approx $3,000 (that we didn’t have) on all this extra mindset training that I needed so that I wouldn’t fail.

We were always told ‘You’re only a failure if you quit’. When you hear it enough, you truly begin to believe it. We heard it when we chatted to our uplines.When we saw our team members start dropping off, we’d say ‘I always knew they’d quit’ ‘I knew they weren’t cut it for it’ ‘She was a bit weird anyway’ and so on. When friends and family started turning their backs on us, well, we didn’t need them anyway, we didn’t need their negativity in our lives. It just blows my mind that we would so flippantly be told not to worry about those people who had been in our lives forever.

Things started going downhill for me when I worked my ass off helping one of my team to elevate to the same level as me in her business. It was crazy busy for both her and me. It was exciting seeing her succeed, but it was exhausting—we had to hound everyone for sales! She was then no longer in my direct business, it meant I basically had to start again, from the bottom and rebuild an entire new team.

Now there is nothing wrong with hard work, but for that time and financial freedom that we are promised we can have if we just keep going—that comes at a price. You need to constantly (I am talking multiple times daily) offer the business, share the product, build your team, clientele. This takes a lot of time. I was away from my family a lot, I was checked out from my little girls because I had this big team that needed me and now I had to start all over. I would tell myself I could do it, that I wanted to do it—but the truth is l, I didn’t, and if you don’t constantly do it, your business goes backward … fast. But all the personal development we were encouraged to do was starting to pay off. The fog was starting to lift.

That’s one cool thing I found about network marketing: I was encouraged to grow myself, and I think this was really powerful and beneficial for me. Unfortunately for my uplines, it meant my mind grew clearer. I got tired of growing myself so that I could attract better people into my business, so that I was strong enough to deal with all the hate thrown at my MLM businesses. I started loving growing myself for me. There were people I looked up to in the business like they were celebrities—but they weren’t. They were just really good at selling things and that’s OK, but it was then that I decided that it wasn’t for me.

Of all the amazing women I met and connected with in my time in Arbonne, 90% of them no longer talk to me. I thought they were my friends, but they weren’t. I have however met two amazing women who have become a special part of my life and I’m grateful for that, but finally turning my back on the business was one hell of a mental rollercoaster. It took months to actually decide I was done. Our third baby was on the way, and we could have done with the income, but I had lost all my belief and passion. I watched women throwing thousands of dollars at starting their businesses. I no longer felt excited for them, I felt sorry for them but, boy did it screw with my mind. I left what felt like an emotionally abusive relationship. My self worth was so low, I felt like such a failure and I still have $5,000 debt that I have no idea how I’ll pay back—but I knew I was doing the right thing in getting out.

On the whole, I don’t regret giving MLMs a go. It taught me some really valuable skills, and it really showed me how much I genuinely love to help other people. I still use a few of the products because I enjoy them, but for the most part, they’re just too expensive. Do I believe network marketing can sometimes work, for a small minority—and you need to be unwaveringly ruthless to succeed. A lot of money can be made, if you get in early, like I did, but it comes with huge sacrifices. I don’t believe you can achieve time freedom, because the higher you move up the ladder, the greater your responsibility and the risk. You might have greater financial freedom, but you are always on. This is what I have seen and experienced.

As you’ve probably heard a thousand times, it’s not for everybody, but is it for anybody—however, I’d never encourage someone to join an MLM business to earn money, as they’ll most likely just end up another one of the ‘failures’, in a lot of debt, with damaged relationships. It seems so appealing to earn money from your couch, in your PJs while sipping wine but, like most things, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

The Anti-MLM Coalition: We at the Coalition really appreciate Trish sharing her story, however we don’t think MLM represents the best vehicle to help others. As Trish mentions, there is a need to be utterly ruthless in the way you sell the products and in order to recruit others. To be successful in MLM, you cannot also be truly benevolent to your downline or totally honest with your customers. If you really want to empower and help others, then being part of an MLM will start to sit heavily on your conscience as you watch your recruits begin to struggle, unable to sell overpriced products, paying for expensive training, and passing on the earnings and lifestyle fiction necessary to recruit yet more people.

MLMs also like to use the ‘get in early and get rich’ line to their advantage and say that their MLM is at the beginning and has momentum and now is the time to join and be a ‘founder’ and so on. But the reality is that people only make money if they have a large downline, irrespective of when they join.

Featured image by averie woodard on Unsplash