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MonaVie and FTC Guidelines

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A few times a week, I get an e-mail asking, "What ever happened to MonaVie and their legal multiple threats?" For those who are new to my site, here's the abridged version of the story. My wife went to a meeting of a young adults group that she belongs to. Someone there told her about this $45 a bottle (25oz.) juice called MonaVie and said that it could be good for her. Noting that juice in stores cost around $4 or $5 for twice as much juice, I figured something was up. So I did a little research and wrote about MonaVie. Somehow it got popular and some consumer advocates contributed a lot of information about how MonaVie was a scam. MonaVie, obviously doesn't like this negative publicity ranking so prominently in Google. They realized they couldn't tell Google to remove it, so they went to their lawyers. Their lawyers decided it was better to try bully me into taking the article with potential lawsuits. Unfortunately the lawyers tried to use precedent that was ten years old and ignore the fact it new precedent had been set. It turned into a PR nightmare for them as a pile of bloggers used their considerable strength to support me. The experience led me to work on my MonaVie Scam website with renewed enthusiasm. And that was the last I've talked about it publicly.

To this day, MonaVie legal has never responded to my responses as to why their bullying wasn't going to work. However, I recently did have the beginnings of a fruitful conversation with a member of MonaVie's blogging team. How did that happen? The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) came out with new guidelines concerning testimonials and endorsements. MonaVie, to their credit, was right on the ball with this and put an alert on their blog. Interestingly, one of the guidelines MonaVie warned their distributors of was violated by an employee of MonaVie itself when she called me an annoying douche in the past. I left a comment not expecting MonaVie to publish it since it was a direct attack on them. To MonaVie's credit, they owned up to that mistake.

I decided to also cover what the FTC Guidelines means for MonaVie. If you have three minutes, I highly recommend reading it. For those without the three minutes, here's another abridged version: MonaVie sounds like they are crapping their pants. No longer can their distributors make any medical claims of any kind... a distributor can't even say that they believe MonaVie is responsible for any health benefits they received unless it's a "typical result" for the average use of MonaVie. What distributors say must be truthful as well. A distributor must also say that they are distributor when giving any kind of testimonial or endorsement. MonaVie and the distributors are liable for distributor's transgressions, which is something I predicted long ago when I compared the relationship of MonaVie and their distributors to Napster and their users. Napster's users' actions buried the parent company and MonaVie's distributors' actions will do the same. Lastly, MonaVie itself pointed out in their blog post that the FTC has said "repeatedly" (MonaVie's quote) it is going after acai berry companies that make unreasonable health claims.

At $45 a bottle, MonaVie juice isn't going sell on taste alone. The only hope MonaVie has here is tell it's distributors behind closed doors to comment as they normally would, but pretend to not be distributors - thus pretending to have no financial interest in MonaVie. Of course this is a violation of the FTC guidelines itself. I don't see how MonaVie is going to sustain a business anymore.

On the other hand, perhaps distributors will just ignore the FTC guidelines. The guidelines have been active only four days and I noticed this distributor saying that it helped her with her menstrual cycle and is going to make her rich, two statements against the new guidelines. I think the FTC would also crack down on this distributor who makes the claim of "upto %30 of Active bottle is the freeze dried acai berry" when that's information that MonaVie says they haven't and won't release. While it's not an entire lie, it's similar to me saying my net worth is up to 70% of Warren Buffet's... it just turns out that the number actually far below 1% and not close to the 70%. It's clearly misleading and the FTC would have no problem going after someone with a statement like that.

That's pretty much my whole MonaVie update. I would have posted more this week, but this new development has slowed me down. Also I've been spending time revamping MonaVie Scam so that homepage helps organize some of the major things that a consumer should consider before buying and drinking MonaVie. I politely ask anyone who agrees with me on this topic to spread the word of this MonaVie Scam. For those people reading this on the website (as opposed to my RSS feed), you'll note that I also included the RSS feed of the blog there right here in the right-hand column on Lazy Man and Money.

Posted on December 4, 2009.

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7 Responses to “MonaVie and FTC Guidelines”

  1. Bravo on the update! Glad to hear that you’ve stuck to your guns. Never had any Monavie juice and don’t plan to. Monavie totally made itself look piss poor with the drones coming to your site in truck loads making false health claims and name calling.

    It’s scary to know that companies with a cloak over their operations can gross mega millions with questionable policies to say the least. However, your standing ground gives me hope that corporations don’t have all of the law in their hands. Congrats!

  2. Candace says:

    Very good, LM, was wondering how things were progressing in regards to the “legal” bullying.
    And http://www.juicescam.com/ is looking very nice.

  3. Karen says:

    A couple of friends from my church are using and selling MonaVie. They both insist the juice has really helped them. One of my friends talked me into coming to his house for a presentation and tasting. I’ll admit that I like the taste but when I heard how much each bottle cost, I was shocked. He wanted to sign me up right then but I was broke and had to wait until I got paid. After reading your articles, I am more convinced then ever that this isn’t right for me. Thank you so much for your articles on MonaVie.

  4. Greg says:

    Hmmm….funny that all relational marketing companies are a scam. I suppose that’s why Warren Buffet owns multiple, and The Donald got in on the business model as well. Oh, and then there’s Richard Branson. He too is in on he scam. Luckily we have you – the savior of the world! I wish I could believe your BS, but alas, I have a brain of my own. And somehow, I’m mysteriously capable of making my decisions. I wouldn’t listen to your worthless advice if it came in the form of a Charlie Sheen hooker. I’m guessing you won’t post this, but a little advice for those who have a hard time running their own life and rely on LazyAss to do it for them. Don’t let other people’s emotions and negativity make your decisions for you. Get a f’in backbone and make up your own mind. You’re really going to let someone who won’t give out their name tell you what’s right and wrong in this world? Really? Very unfortunate indeed…

    • Lazy Man says:

      By relational marketing companies, you mean Multi-Level Marketing (MLM), right? Just making sure because I know that MLMs got a bad name since the FTC claims they can be illegal pyramid schemes. Then people started calling them network marketing, because networking isn’t viewed as illegal scheme. I’ve then heard them called, direct selling, which is another misnomer because there’s often very little selling vs. the recruiting. Oddly companies like MonaVie pull people’s distributors license if they “directly sell” on Ebay or Craigslist. Thanks for adding “relational marketing” to the mix. Let’s just go back to MLM, because the other terms could apply to standard companies paying a standard commission sales and paying nothing to recursive levels. We are talking about MLMs, not network marketing, direct selling, or relational selling.

      I don’t why you think that all MLMs are a scam. The FTC is very clear on this topic:

      “Not all multilevel marketing plans are legitimate. Some are pyramid schemes. It’s best not to get involved in plans where the money you make is based primarily on the number of distributors you recruit and your sales to them, rather than on your sales to people outside the plan who intend to use the products.”

      Note that this doesn’t say that all MLM companies are a scam. It says that some of them are. You can’t say that because Warren Buffett owns a MLM that makes them all legit.

      Greg, interesting that you didn’t give us your own name either. Hmmm. I’m just trying to educate people, I’m not asking them for their money. You are the one making strawman arguments so that you can seem intelligent. You are the one who is likely a MonaVie distributor who wants to bring people into the scam to fatten your wallet. Yes, people, make up your minds.

      (If you are wondering why I don’t tell you my name, it’s because I post financial information about myself on this website. It’s a common thing for personal finance bloggers to be anonymous so that they can be truthful about their finances.)

  5. Taylor says:

    have you ever tasted Monavie? And were you ever a distributor or employee of Monavie?

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