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Help, MonaVie Brainwashed My Friend!

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I got a very interesting e-mail this morning... almost 1800 words. I wrote a 1700 word article earlier this week (probably my longest ever) and I can say that writing that much takes a long time.

The emailer, who I will call Buffy, has a friend, who I will call Faith, who had gotten involved in a multi-level marketing program - one that I had written about before - MonaVie.

The story is something that I've heard a number of times... I even experienced it in college with Amway. Faith sets up a "business meeting" (or the less intimidating "tasting" in MonaVie vernacular) for her friend Buffy. This one consisted of 90% MonaVie distributors and 10% prospective members like Buffy. It's in a small setting where the pressure of the numbers can really be felt. Buffy did some research, realized that the value in the MonaVie wasn't there and decided not to join. I can't blame her as I found $1200-$2400 a year for one person to drink juice too much for my wallet.

I'm only getting Buffy's side of the story, but she says that that Faith is obsessed with MonaVie and has been completely transformed by the MonaVie culture. It seems that Faith has bought into the "get rich quick" dream. She's not a distributor of the juice, but she's a distributor of the business model and the dream of getting rich. The idea of getting rich quick is seductive. I can't think of anyone who wouldn't jump at that opportunity. The problem is that it's not that simple. People don't actually get rich (in the case of MonaVie some 95% of distributors struggle to make minimum wage as referenced in the comments of my link above). People instead spend their money for product and training materials to make others rich. While this is pyramid in nature, the "get rich quick" dream isn't always sold that way. When I reviewed, Why Didn't Anyone Teach Me This, I found that there were crazy claims of being able to make 30% on your investment if you paid $1000 for his system and seminars.

Faith has now paid for a couple of seminars, some training materials, and a lot of product. It's making a significant dent in her wallet. The last seminar she wasn't sure how she could afford it, but somehow found a way to make it work. A few weeks later Faith scrapped up enough money to go to another seminar (the "Believe" seminar - a great name if you can't sell your product on it's own merits).

Buffy and Faith's friendship is now strained. Faith thinks of Buffy as being not supportive. I can see how she'd feel that way. When I wrote about MonaVie, many distributors came out and called me a negative thinker. I tried to explain that I'm thinking positively about their wallets and bank accounts. It didn't seem to matter. You were either with MonaVie or not. Some describe it as cult-like.

This leaves Buffy in a no-win situation. If she tries to show her friend how MonaVie is making her poor, she's not supportive and her opinion will be discarded. She obviously can't be supportive of MonaVie having seen what she has seen and read what she has read. It reminds me a lot of people that say, "You are in denial." There's no way to argue that one. If you try, you prove them right by denying their accusation.

I've spend the last few hours trying to think of how I can help Buffy get through to Faith. The best I can come up with is an intervention. I have no experience with them, and not a clue if they would work in this case or not. I'm hoping someone here will be an Angel and come up with a plan to put Faith on the right financial track.

Please leave any comments on my previous MonaVie post: MonaVie Scam?

Last updated on August 19, 2014.

This post deals with: ... and focuses on:

MonaVie

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32 Responses to “Help, MonaVie Brainwashed My Friend!”

  1. kosmo says:

    Maybe round up some folks who have had their finances drained by MonaVie and have them tell their tales of woe?

    Is this a publicly traded company? The SEC filings (10-K) would probably break down revenue by membership sales, seminars, and product sales. An high percent of revenue attributed to membership sales and seminars, this would be a good indication of a pyramid.

    Or maybe just a good old fashioned smack upside the head?

  2. Lazy Man says:

    MonaVie is privately traded, so I don’t think they have 10-K filings. The do publicly post on their website distributors earnings.

    I don’t think the company itself, MonaVie, has seminars, but the top people in the pyramid do. Since they are at the top, it’s probably not unusual to get a group of 5,000 people together. I have to say that I’ve been tempted to go to Blogging conferences, so I’m not sure how that’s different. Maybe it’s just that I don’t ask anyone to buy any product.

  3. Donny Gamble says:

    This guy will just have to learn the hard way. Right now there are no easy ways to make quick money and if there are, they aren’t going to last very long.

  4. jim says:

    It’s really sad but Faith will have to learn, on her own, that it’s a scheme designed to make the founders rich, now the folks at the bottom of the pyramid. It’s the same way with some real estate seminars and the reality is that most of these people will learn the hard way that there is no get rich quick scheme out there.

    Part of the reason is also sunk cost, she’s plowed so much of her money into the program that admitting failure would hurt tremendously. She’s still hoping she’ll turn a profit and it all won’t be down the drain. It’s hard to fight that mentality.

  5. Jim says:

    Its sad and unfortunate that Faith is caught up in such a scheme and has her hopes up about it. Its virtually inevitable that she’ll end up losing money or at best making marginal income on her time.

    Personally if it were me in Buffy’s situation I’d just step back and let Faith do what she’s doing. It will undoubtedly fail and Faith will then realize her mistake. You aren’t going to change her mind at this point since she’s completely convinced of it. Honestly I think the only way she’ll realize its a scam is when she eventually fails at it. Its a bit harsh but if she can’t see it for what it is now, simply telling her otherwise really won’t change her mind and will run the risk of destroying the friendship.

    Jim

  6. Kevin says:

    I am totally with you about your dilemma Lazy Man. However I do think you have a more important issue knocking at your very own door.

    I find it slightly disingenuous to rail against various “get-rich-quick” schemes and then turn about and promote garbage like this:
    http://www.optionssuccess.com/default4text.asp
    in your RSS advertisements.

    I submit that telling an honest, consistent story here is critical to the site’s longevity and success.

    Toe the line.

  7. Lazy Man says:

    That advertisement is not placed by me, it’s placed by Google. Yes, I let Google choose what advertisements are worthy, but it’s no different than many other sites on the Internet.

    Yes, I can block some the garbage, but Google doesn’t give you infinite filters, and if you block one, you’ll have another coming right back. It’s a losing game.

    So in the end, it’s like an infomercial, albeit one I didn’t even get choose, “the opinions expressed are solely of the advertising party and are not promoted or endorsed by me.”

    That phrase goes with all forms of advertisement on this site. It would be hypocritical for me tell people to make the most of their opportunities and not take my own advice.

  8. Jeff says:

    Lazy Man,

    I would highly recommend that you correct your language about the business MonoVia provides. While their product may suck and the over all company might not be very good, personally I know little about the company, network marketing is a legitimate form of business.

    The problem with it is that while some people are making great money, others make little to none.
    The main reason?? Those that make little don’t work like they are self employed people building a sales team, which is effectively what you are doing.
    There really isn’t much difference between affiliate programs and MLM companies. They both promote products for a third party company. Yet for some reason being an affiliate marketer doesn’t have the same stigma that MLM has, yet I would venture to guess there are as many making very little as an affiliate.

    Please do all your readers a favor and post an unbiased review of the marketing.

    Here is a suggestion for your friend “Buffy”… have her talk to Faith and just tell her that she can’t dedicate the time, energy, or money to build a business right now like Faith wants to do, as the timing for Buffy isn’t right. Buffy can still be supportive of her friend, asking how she plans to grow her business, gain more customers as well as business partners. Maybe if she asks real world business questions Faith will start to see a couple things, one this company isn’t cut out to make her dreams a reality, or she will step up and do what is needed to really be successful and that is gather real customers, and find a few people that want to also want gather customers.

    Cheers!

  9. Lazy Man says:

    If you read carefully, I never said any thing negative about network marketing or that it wasn’t a legit business. What I did say was negative is MonaVie. There’s a difference and I explained it in the other MonaVie post that I linked to. MonaVie provides no tangible, measurable benefit to the consumer and prices itself 10 times more than other competing products.

    There is a very big difference between multi-level marketing and affiliate marketing. Affiliate marketing is earning a commission on the sales that you actually generate. Multi-level marketing urges people to “sell the dream of being rich” to others, so that you can get rich.

    In every MLM system I’ve seen, the only way for someone to make any real money is by bringing in people underneath you. Of course, when you are starting out in an MLM program, you have no one beneath you, so you can’t show any prospective people your success. This often leads to people lying or giving some other testimonial that may or may not be true.

  10. Jeff says:

    Now who is being lazy?? Obviously it is I in not reading your post carefully enough. I guess it was words like get-rich-scheme, etc that threw me.

    Personally I believe you are splitting hairs in your definition of MLM vs affiliate marketing. In MLM no one gets paid until product moves, same as affiliate marketing.

    I’m sorry your experience with MLM companies was not a good one. Again I want to stress that few people view such endeavors as the real business they can be and rather approach them as a hobby and thus get hobby results from them.

    Cheers.

  11. Lazy Man says:

    I think there’s a huge difference between MLM and affiliate marketing. Again with MLM you are trying to sell someone on something that likely isn’t working for you.

    Also with affiliate marketing the focus is on the product. In many cases the product is secondary to the MLMer. It’s used to try to sell the next prospective person in your downline.

    Most MLMers don’t sell “the business” as a full-time business. I’ve never heard anyone pitch it as, “quit your job tomorrow and work on this new business full time.” They don’t pitch it that way, because then no one would sign up.

  12. Ugh, my ex husband fell for some many of these. I tried to teach him that you can’t get rich being lazy (no pun intended lol) but that he had to get off the playstation and do something.

  13. I don’t see why people just don’t realize there’s no “free” ride and anything that sounds too good to be true usually is.

  14. Sani Moyo says:

    Money,money, money, always enticing the sound of it, the combination of our greed and laziness does not go hand in hand.

    About time people learnt not to trust any scheme that you have to pay money upfront though.

  15. I spent many a single nights on my couch watching infomercials for money-making schemes on TV. And let me tell you, when you’re alone in a crappy apartment on a Friday night with ice cream all over your face…well, it’s a lot easier to convince yourself that maybe it might work. And maybe is pretty powerful.

  16. Everyday Finance says:

    Wow, a fellow anti-MLM warrior. I wrote articles critical of both UFirst Money Merge (which actually sells something, albeit overpriced) and then Shop to Earn. I ended up with cease and desist letters from the lead cousel and a comment chain 50 people long at EverydayFinance. Quite an ordeal.

    Work hard, spend/save/invest prudently and you’ll do OK in life. No need to scam your friends and families into MLMs and end up ruining the relationships that are actually important in life.

  17. Candace says:

    LazyMan, and anyone else reading,

    I agree with replies #3, 4, & 5. The only other thing I can say from experience, is this: time away. Time away from the people in the upline, time away from all books/tapes/CDs/DVDs/meetings. Cold turkey. If the friend has the funds and the time, a nice long week or two getaway where the one friend can have NO contact whatsoever with her MonaBot friends, her thought process may clear a bit. Sadly, tho, this usually occurs over something more like a 6 month to a year span of absence or cutting off all contact/association.

    The constant propaganda intake is crucial to these types of scams. Tell them you don’t have the money for book of the week, tape of the week, etc, and watch them really freak out on you. “You can’t build the business without the proper tools”, etc. They know very well that without constant indoctrination, they will lose you.

    If there is anyway to remove those influences it would help greatly. I wish them both the best, recovering from something like this can be very very difficult.

  18. Doin' Research says:

    Very unfortunate situation for the young lady in the email that Lazy Man received and I wish her all the best in whatever she does in the future, but you can also find letters in support of MV if you go to the FTC.gov site and do a search. I can’t seem to find any negative letters on the FTC.gov site with regards to MV.
    Is it possible that people are living in fear of retribution from the MV Machine or their hoards of MonaBOTS? Would that be the reason why nobody has filed any actual, non frivolous complaints with the FTC regarding MV? Just wondering.

    It’s truly amazing that people can find the Lazy Man blog and send emails to him, yet they somehow can’t manage to find ftc.gov or fda.gov and send emails directly to where they would actually make a difference.

  19. Lazy Man says:

    Last I checked, ftc.gov and fda.gov weren’t considered authoritative sources on MonaVie by Google.

    I’m pretty sure that’s why it’s not amazing that people find me and not the Federal sites.

    I’d also argue that it makes a difference here, since it probably has more visibility to those who are looking for information on MonaVie.

  20. Junejune says:

    My boyfriend is going to the same path. Completely brainwashed first with PSI (Large Group Awareness Seminar) then Bob Procter which he found out is ‘ineffective’ and old school. Now Millionaire Mind which leads him to be an MLM carrier. Could you image a professional guy who makes 6 figures income will part-time MLM?

    Past couple discussions with him has turned into a bitter argument. What I realized I have done wrong is I make him feel like an idiot. He is upset.

    Any advice?

  21. Bill says:

    Check out PSI Seminars on http://www.rickross.com

    My wife attended PSI in Dec 08 ““ prior to her going in we had a very loving relationship, like all relationships we had our issues, but if there was one thing never in doubt it was the love we had for each other. Pretty much day one of my wife coming out of the process she told me she didn’t think we had a future together, and quoted “with my new inner strength and the love I have for myself I don’t feel you fit in to my future plans, I now feel we have different perspectives on life and I need to follow my own path in life and do what truly makes me happy”.

    We stayed together for the following 4 months (in separate bedrooms) and 1 month ago she moved out and said she cannot be in a relationship as she needs to focus on herself. The post’s here screams out a lot of similarities in what my wife has been saying to me post the PSI process, excluding the recruiting of friends, and the aggressive nature of the Lifespring seminar.

    Post all of this happening I have spent a lot of time studying the internet and have found a lot of negative press around these residential LGAT type programs. What I found was both interesting and scary. The PSI program seems to come from the same stable as EST, Life spring etc – – – as Thomas Wilhite the “creator” of PSI originally worked with Werner Erhard as an aide promoting EST.

    My view from what I have seen is this is a real slick operation that has taken a good look at all of the negative press around LGAT’s, and created an incredibly slick program that minimizes negative press after their process. Ie: Landmark, PSI, and Lifespring rely on re-recruiting attendees to maximize the revenue they would generate, the PSI program maximizes their revenue in one swoop as they offer a 4 day residential program that costs $550.00. People thereafter are focused on aggressively recruiting, and because they are so hyped up from the guided visualizations and meditation sessions naturally want to promote the process to their friends as they are still on a serotonin high.

    My biggest gripe with PSI (as well as losing my wife) is the fact they are not accountable to anyone, they do not truly stringently pre-screen applications, and not being medically trained are not skilled enough to know when people are not suitable for the intense training they are putting people through. I ask you how can you truly assess someone by simply reading an application form – – ..?

    My wife suffered from abuse as a child and bouts of depression; speaking to a qualified psychologist I was told my wife should not have done this process as it seems to have caused dissociation, and has caused her to disconnect from some of her emotions, hence her black and white approach towards me.

    Maybe I’m being a complete idiot and maybe my wife never loved me, but I find that very hard to believe as she often called me her rock, and told me no-one has ever stood by her like I did, and gave un-conditional love and support accepting all her quirks.

  22. Ameri Scam says:

    Why is it that some people can only identify an MLM company as a scam? Traditional companies are bigger scams let me show you how. If you open a McDonalds their are some major risk that after you spend all your life savings that your business may not generate like youw want. The McDonalds coproration wins all the way around and you made the owner rich! If you work for a corporation and they pay you a small salary, you’re working and busting your hump, at the end of the year the corporation wins; you receive a small percentage and come retirement they get rid of their employees to limit having to pay more in retirement. You only get 40% of what you put in. Again the corporation or top 10% make all the money. Now MLM compared to the risk involved with a franchise model you spend a lot less as investment. With business its factors that prevent people from making money, first you have to remove that thought I’m going to be rich from doing A, B, and C. The reason why most fail is: how many people want that product in your city, state, country, and world? How will you market the business? You will not go far with family, friends, or people you run across. People gain wealth from solving problems. Like communications, affordable housing, entertainment. I’ve seen the Monavie presentation and tasted the drink; I’ve tried a competitors too. What I did not see was the need or others need to purchase a bottle monthly at 30 something dollars and I would earn 7 or so. I would have to sell thousands of bottles of juice, especially with all the people joining. Who knows if drinking the juice really benefits you?

    When I look at business today for the common everyday working person to get out of the job that they hate, to create a safety net, or for the unemployeed person its no real option its either franchising, MLM, and the most difficult to think, create, develop, and distribute a product or service on their own the option for most will be MLM.

  23. Lazy Man says:

    If you start an MLM, you also have to spend a lot of money. It may not sound like it at first, but they rope you into the “If you want to be successful, you need to go to these conferences and buy these tools.” The conferences and tools add up to thousands of dollars a year and for that you have little revenue coming in (we’ll compare your revenue from starting in an MLM today and me in a McDonalds and see who has more in 30 days).

    With MLMs, you making the founders rich… roughly 97% of the people don’t make their original investment back (this is with MonaVie)… all the sales go up the chain to make the people who got in on the ground floor rich.

    You forgot about other ideas such as writing a blog or eBook and teaching people the things you know. People will pay for that and you don’t have to buy a pile of tools to be successful – I didn’t. I don’t franchise anything. It wasn’t too difficult to come up with my idea… I simply wanted to do as you say, “Solve problems.” When you do that, it’s surprising how much money is around.

  24. can't decide says:

    I’m with you, LazyMan. Thanks for such an enlightening post. At first I was pretty much excited about Monavie but wasn’t really sure how it’s going to be different from Amway, Herbalife, etc (well, except the grandest advertising of earning biggest bonus of millions of dollars in cash and luxurious sports cars). Finding out how much it costs per bottle, I then kind of figured it’s the same business plan as other previous MLM businesses like Amway and Herbalife that are now a thing of the past. Their products are really expensive and not what you really want to buy in real life. Unlike affiliate programs, which are sound legitimate business model giving out commissions to people selling real products, MLM like Amway, Herbalife, Agel and Monavie give out “diamond” bonuses for recruiting more salespeople to recruit even more salespeople endlessly, along with having to spend their hard-earned savings to buy the company’s expensive products themselves (when they cannot persuade real customers to buy the products) to keep the status of a salesperson. In the end, you invest your own money continuously only to be one of the struggling salesperson (who sells pyramid scheme). It’s no difference from pyramid scheme, or worse, poncho scheme. The only difference that keeps the company’s owner out of jail is the one excuse: they have the “product”! (yeah, the product all members are forced to buy only to keep the status of a salesperson)

  25. Katarina says:

    Thank you Lazyman for your insightful comments – I agree wholeheartedly with you. I am distressed at a close friend’s participation with this company (Monavie). By his own admittance, his entire business model rests on collecting commissions from people in his downline and for whom he has not provided any goods or services. This is the basis upon which Monavie operates – the only demand of this over-priced fruit juice is amongst the distributors rather than members of the general public not participating in the scheme. I’ve participated in seminars held by those higher up in this merciless chain who report outrageous “testimonials” regarding the healing power of this juice such as curing the debilitating symptoms of arthritis, improving blood pressure within a matter of days, improving the symptoms of auto-immune disorders, the list just goes on. Distributors as part of their training are encouraged to share these ridiculous testimonials and these are parroted from one distributor to another. Combined with this immoral behaviour and back to the issue of a pyramid scheme, I haven’t seen a distributor who has a single retail customer, they consume what they buy in order to remain in the scheme and thus continue to collect commissions. Further, once they understand that you have no interest in the business, they certainly have no interest in selling you the juice either. I mean, why would they considering the absolutely outrageous incomes promised to each distributor via the income disclosure statement which is misinterpreted and misrepresented (and which for the record confirms that less than 10% of all distributors make over $100 per week!!!) in an attempt to appeal to the greed of people and who end up inevitably being sold on the whole concept of money for nothing. The money each distributor derives is from the process of earning commissions from those sponsored in their downline – the training program is focused on the recruitment process entirely. This pyramid scheme is merely camouflaged by the product but the fundamentals of it make it no more ethical or any less illegal than the no-product schemes. Unfortunately, authorities are only reactive and they will only react once the inevitable losses most people will make and the deception uncovered. I can’t understand why anyone getting involved with a MLM business (including Monavie) wouldn’t seek independent legal advice concerning the viability of the business model and to ensure that the business is in fact legal (i.e is not a pyramid scheme) – I mean, this is the practice in investing in any business I would have thought. There are reasons why pyramid schemes are illegal – from the massive losses people at the bottom of the chain sustain to the deceptive behaviour used to lure people into them. I truly pity anyone who doesn’t do the full and complete research on a company like Monavie and I pity those who have been brainwashed into believing this company is anything but a farce.

  26. Tom says:

    A guy at work comes up and tells me that he is starting a buissness. He tells me is I sell health in a bottle (Monavie). He pays to go to this and that traning and is TOTALY brainwashed into this product. When I had to take off work due to a illness in the family I ended up talking with him and told him he has liver cancer and has been given 3 weeks to live. He jumps up and said we need to get him on Monavie, it will save his life! They have him thinking every kind of illness can be treated with this junk. Just another scame

  27. juice man says:

    I accidentally spilled some of that magical juice on my grandpappy’s headstone the last time I went to visit the cemetery and now he’s back living with us!!

  28. I fotgot says:

    Hey mv people! I had knee pain last week. I took the following actions to combat it:
    1. took it easy
    2. rubbed my knee
    3. had my wife rub my knee
    4. had my kids kiss it
    5. drank a magic potion similar to mv
    6. wore an underwear from hs that I really liked
    7. took pain killer

    guess what!? after a couple of hours I was able to run up the stairs again!! for that I attribute it to………

    wearing my lucky underwear!! but, of course you knew that! I’ve had my lucky underwear since hs. when I passed the all 7 grades of hs it was with me. so, it must have been the underwear. when I successfully created 2 lovely kids it was when wearing said underwear!! yes, while wearing it! I owned said underwear through 3 promotions in the last 7 years!! so, you know it works!!

    order my underwear today!!!

  29. CollegeFreshman says:

    Lazyman said in comment#26:
    “If you start an MLM, you also have to spend a lot of money.”

    How about I start selling cancer-preventative pine needles? I got a ton in my back yard. No wait, I make 20 people sell ’em for me, and they can have 20 people sell for them, who can have 20 people sell for them, and I can sit back and pick up the pine needles out of my yard.

    It’s amazing how many people wanna sell Cance-Pine (my new product of cancer-preventative pine needles). They can make lots of money just by recruiting people to sell our wonderful product! MLM, anyone!

    (Please note that this is for satirical purposes only and that none of this is for real, for those of you “open-minded” people who believe in “B-type businesses” aka MLM).

  30. Lazy Man says:

    You are getting the idea CollegeFreshman. You need to come up with some kind of plausible story about the pine-needles though.

    As much as that satire is, you can see you were beat to it:
    http://nevadasagebrush.com/blog/2009/11/02/superjuice-acai-berry-sales-mere-marketing-schemes/

  31. SkepticalSue says:

    Unfortunately any agrument that Buffy comes up with to convince Faith she has been brainswashed will fall short. People who are involved in Monavie have websites to answer all objections: http://www.alljuicedteam.com/resources/handling-objections

    • Lazy Man says:

      SkepticalSue,

      Good find on that site. The worst offender is “People do not operate from the truth… They operate from their perception of the truth!” It shows that they are simply trying to scam people.

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