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MonaVie Gaming Google to “Combat Negativity” and “Manage what People See on the Internet”

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Someone emailed my friend Amthrax a letter that MonaVie recently sent out to its distributors about online reputation management. The gist of it is that MonaVie Does Not Want You To Read Or Link To "Negative" Websites. Here's the letter... I'll give my analysis afterwards:

"One of the biggest challenges of a company as big as MonaVie is managing what people say about it online. MonaVie has one great advantage over other companies in that we have countless distributors that wish to support the company and help manage the company’s online image. If you’d like to know how you can help promote MonaVie’s good reputation online, then keep reading!

Why Reputation Management?

All successful companies attract opposition. Online reputation management is the most effective way to combat this negativity. Online Reputation Management consists of managing what people see on the Internet when they are researching the company.

MonaVie’s corporate team is very active in managing our online reputation. Over the last several months, we’ve seen great improvements on the search results pages by promoting some of MonaVie’s corporate websites, which, in turn, push down negative websites. When searching for “MonaVie” on search engines, the first several pages are filled with MonaVie product microsites, social networks, and other corporate websites.

Why We Need Your Help

MonaVie Corporate can do a lot of the Online Reputation Management, but Google looks to see what the masses are saying about a company, not just Corporate. As a MonaVie distributor you are in a unique position to increase the positive content that searchers will find online because you are seen by Google as a third party, and not part of MonaVie Corporate. With the ongoing reputation management efforts of MonaVie Corporate and our amazing distributors, we can be even more successful in managing our online reputation.

How You Can Help

One of the many factors that Google uses to determine which websites should rank in the top positions is the popularity of a website. To determine popularity of a website, they look to see how many people link to it. Google treats a link from one site to another as a vote. The more votes you get, the better.

If you have a website, a blog, participate in forums or other people’s blogs, link to official MonaVie websites and social profiles when you have the opportunity.

For example, if you are writing a post in a forum talking about how you love MonaVie Pulse, make sure to link the words “MonaVie Pulse” to the Pulse microsite (www.monaviepulse.com).

Here is a list of official MonaVie websites and social profiles that you can link to:

[... cut out links for brevity ...]

What NOT to Do

If you link to any negative websites, take down the link. You may have inadvertently linked to a negative site on your website or blog when discussing their website. Just as links will help us promote positive MonaVie sites, they will also help negative sites rank better.

If you see a negative website in the search engine results, don’t click on it. If lots of people are clicking on a negative website on the search engine results page, Google may rank it higher because it sees that so many people are clicking on it.

Avoid visiting or commenting on negative sites. If the negative sites are receiving a lot of traffic and comments from visitors, search engines will think it is a popular site and rank it in the top positions.

With your help, we can make sure MonaVie is well represented online when perspective customers, distributors, or anyone else researches the company.

Sincerely,
MonaVie"

Analysis:

This was to be expected. I've written before that MonaVie Tries to Suppress the Truth and this is just another example.

It would be nice if MonaVie could engage criticism head-on in a public forum. I know if someone were to call this website, Lazy Man and Money, a scam, I would try to understand their point of view and defend the accusations publicly. It's a no-brainer. This is what a reputable person or business would do. MonaVie Consumers and/or prospective business owners should want MonaVie to be transparent and address the issues. Instead MonaVie has chosen to abandon their biggest supporters and try to obscure the criticism. This is what companies do when they know they have no defense for the criticism.

In other words, since MonaVie knows that they are scamming people, they don't even attempt to defend their business and instead take the costly and time-consuming step to prevent people from learning about the scam.

MonaVie wants to play it off that criticism of successful companies is normal. What they don't mention is that the FTC warns consumers that some MLMs, MonaVie's business model, are illegal pyramid schemes. It is not normal for the FTC to criticize an industry as being potentially illegal. When it does, consumers should be on high alert for scams.

Amthrax made a great point in his article:

"For someone thinking about starting a business, you had better get as much information as possible. This includes both the good and the bad. If all you see is one point of view — a one-sided point of view in the case of MonaVie’s 'positive' websites — you’re shortchanging yourself."

This is the kind of wise insight that MonaVie wants to block from consumers. Instead they'd like you to view a microsite, essentially a commercial, for MonaVie.

I like to think that the general public doesn't like to be manipulated like this. In my opinion it's not only bad public relations and the wrong way to do business, but it is also the cowardly way to conduct yourself.

It begs the question, "If MonaVie was trying to improve it's reputation, isn't generating all this negative PR through an attempt to manipulate Google exactly the opposite way to go about it?"

I ask you, the reader to please help me fight back this manipulation. Spread the word of what MonaVie is trying to do and blog, Tweet, Facebook, Reddit (there's a handy button below) the following sites that try to get the best information to the public:

Update: Thanks to CGC in the comments we have the perspective from the company that was hired by MonaVie to game Google in the form of a letter written by MonaVie. It doesn't add too much except for making what seems to be error in saying that they've been "targeted by rogue distributors." I didn't see any in top twenty results in Google.

Posted on July 11, 2011.

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

MonaVie

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27 Responses to “MonaVie Gaming Google to “Combat Negativity” and “Manage what People See on the Internet””

  1. […] from reading this article below. Since I'm within my legal rights to criticize the company they've turned to gaming Google to push this article down the search results… in an attempt to prevent you from getting the information you need to make an informed decision. […]

  2. Traciatim says:

    ” . . . since MonaVie knows that they are scamming people . . . ”

    So you are claiming that MovaVie is committing fraud and not just sucking gullible people out of money? That’s a pretty hefty accusation.

  3. Lazy Man says:

    I should state that it is my opinion that “MonaVie knows that they are scamming people.” There doesn’t seem to be any other reason why they’d take tactics like threatening to sue me twice and gaming Google, if they clear up any issues in a public debate.

    What about the case where a company sucks gullible people out of money with the fraudulent tactics?

    Here are just a couple of the many fraudulent tactics:
    MonaVie Lies about the ORAC score of MonaVie?
    Drinking MonaVie is Not Equal to Eating 13 Fruits

    I believe that all people, even the gullible ones, should be afforded with basic consumer protection.

  4. Hear! Hear! No doubt they are referring to how your negative article on them is doing very well on the rankings. I do think they are running scared, but at the same time, if you were sitting in their shoes, they are probably doing what they can to protect their reputation. It’s an expected response, but should only be one of many things they should do. It doesn’t change the scammy approach they have to their product though.

    Disclosure: I would drink Monavie not for its health benefits but because it tastes good (if I had money to burn).

  5. Lazy Man says:

    In some ways, I think it’s probably the first smart thing that MonaVie has done. In fact, it’s probably the only smart thing they CAN do since they seem to be clearly against actually addressing the issues.

    If you were going to rob a bank, would you spend time trying to convince others that it’s the right thing to do, or just try to cover your tracks and make sure that no one found out?
    If you falsely accused of robbing a bank, wouldn’t you address the accusations and demonstrate why they are false?

    It’s something to think about.

  6. Cyberxion says:

    Going out of its way to bury negativity is a tacit acknowledgement by Monavie that it’s in no position to meet its detractor’s head-on. Unfortunately for Monavie, that tends to have the nasty side-effect of lending those detractor’s opinions more weight.

    If they had nothing to hide, they’d be out there in the metaphorical trenches correcting misconceptions and setting the story straight. Their silence says so much more than they’re apparently capable of understanding, as does the revalation that they’re not above employing underhanded tactics to silence their detractors.

    Basically, they just done screwed up, and there’s no way to spin this that doesn’t make ’em look bad.

  7. CGC says:

    Here’s another perspective on it, from the site of the company MonaVie apparently hired for “online reputation and brand protection”:

    http://www.citizenhawk.com/blog/post/MonaVie-Online-Scammers.aspx

    The blurb there was written by one of the MV’s legal minions, and starts out by with the dubious claim “MonaVie is one of the fastest growing companies in the world, as evidenced by its ranking in the 2009 Inc. 500 list of fastest growing companies.” Yeah, that was debatable at the time and since then MonaVie seems to be on a downward spiral.

    Read the rest for a good laugh.

  8. Lazy Man says:

    Nice find CGC. I updated the article with that information.

    For those wondering MonaVie didn’t make Inc. 500 list in 2010, which means that is no longer one of the fastest growing companies. In addition Inc. Magazine only measures private companies. You can read more about Inc. 500 and MonaVie here: MonaVie and Inc. Magazine’s 500

  9. Evan says:

    The easiest way for them to end this debacle would to just buy all the negative sites lol! Didn’t they buy out one of the sites?

  10. Lazy Man says:

    It seems they did. Purple Horror “disappeared” – http://www.juicescam.com/purple-horror/

  11. Nathan says:

    That corporate letter sounded like something straight out of 1984. “Reputation management” Really??? I don’t know much about the controversy with this product, so I have no bias, but I would be very concerned to be a part of a company that speaks to its clients like that.

    Great website you have here, just discovered it. Look forward to reading more! Cheers.

  12. TruthWillSetYouFree says:

    I am not surprised by this one bit. I worked in the corporate office for two years in customer service, and the company cannot handle negativity internally either. I cannot number the times something would go wrong and all I was allowed to do was sympathize with the customer, note the complaint, and continue forward. The company has made it very clear that negativity in any form is not tolerated.

  13. This sounds like something the Church of Scientology tried some years ago to deal with the popularity of web sites that expose them. They had their cult members set up cookie-cutter “I’m a Scientologist” web sites in an effort to drown out the majority opinion.

    Other than coming clean and operating as an honest, common-sense operation, I can’t imagine a better strategy for Monavie to follow.

  14. SpeakYourTruth says:

    Based on what I read and the experience I have had, it’s not the only thing they have in common.

    Seems they have more in common than not, especially the ‘leadership training.’

  15. Mustapha Mond says:

    So when you do it, it’s called “SEO”, but when MonaVie does it, it’s “gaming Google”??

    Your site is all about financial tools, quick loans, credit, insurance, etc. Tell me — what does MonaVie, or MLM, have to do with any of that?

    I’ll tell you… it draws traffic to your site, which you then monetize with AdSense and affiliate links.

    Seriously, in a purely objective world, how does it make any sense that your article about MonaVie is ranked higher than their official video(s) on YouTube? Or their profile on Inc.com? Or The MORE Project, their corporate charitable project? Or the coverage of MonaVie MX in BevNet?

    Serioiusly, how does that make any sense?

    The fact of the matter is, Google favors squeaky wheels… negative voices who produce a lot of content.

    In any kind of objective analysis, you’re not a highly relevant, authoritative source on MonaVie. The fact of the matter is, YOU game Google to bring in traffic, which you then monetize.

    Lazy Man speaks with forked tongue.

  16. Lazy Man says:

    Mustapha Mond,

    Last time I looked, I didn’t write to a whole bunch of people telling them who they should link to and where they should click on Google. I have never asked people to not engage in an open public debate as MonaVie has.

    I don’t have a problem with my reputation like MonaVie. MonaVie is the one resorting to the trying to bury the criticism because they can’t defend their actions. It would be like BP trying to pretend that they had no part in the huge oil spill. If you make a mistake, it’s okay, just be open own up to it publicly and we will all learn from it and move on.

    The comments on the MonaVie article and JuiceScam.com have provided tons of irrefutable evidence supported by reputable third parties that MonaVie is a grossly overpriced product, with little nutritional value, wrapped in a poor business opportunity that is may be an illegal pyramid scheme, which is itself wrapped in illegal medical claims, supported by nonsensical “scientific” studies, and tied to a fraudulent charity. MonaVie has no logical defense of any of that.

    How does it make sesne that my article is ranked high? I’ll give you an answer to that and then compare the other things that you pointed out. First there are nearly 6000 comments on my article. That represents thousands and thousands of man-hours spent on the information that is available. The article itself is very neutral, I didn’t know one millionth of the scam that MonaVie was when I wrote the article and I gave them the benefit of the doubt. Finally, the article represents a place where both sides can discuss their viewpoints.

    – Why should a MonaVie official video rank high? Is Bernie Madoff going to erase all his crimes by creating a couple dozen promotional videos? How is that unbiased?
    – Inc Magazine? You’ve educated yourself about why the Inc Magazine thing is irrelevant right? Inc. Magazine didn’t put enough time and even Inc. Magazine’s project editor came to my site to leave a comment stating that the points my article made are all fair. If the Inc Magazine mention of MonaVie is ahead of my article, the person reading it would not have the important background information for why the company was chosen in 2009 and why they didn’t make the list at all in 2010 and 2011. Furthermore, Inc. Magazine says that MLM, MonaVie’s business model, is a terrible business.
    – If you’ve read the comments on my article, you’d see that the MORE Project is a very corrupt charity and MonaVie is barely involved with minimal charitable contributions.
    – The only mention I see of MonaVie MX on Bevnet is a press release from MonaVie and Wellmune WGP (this article: http://www.bevnet.com/news/2012/monavie-introduces-monavie-mx-with-wellmune-wgp). Is there something significant that I missed? Sorry a company press release is not that important for the end consumer, MonaVie has issued hundreds of them. They are biased.

    Google doesn’t favor squeaky wheels or negative voices. There’s nothing in the Google algorithm that looks for “negativity.” If there was, that’s the explanation for why MonaVie shows up at top. You can’t get much more negative than the illegal pyramid scheme scamming people out of money.

    In any kind of objective analysis, there is no one who is a more relevant, authoritative source on MonaVie. I dig deeper and bring forth the information about the Inc. Magazine article that MonaVie and its distributors do not disclose. If you disagree with any of the information you are free to leave a comment explaining why it is incorrect and if you are correct, I will change the article. However, as the Inc. Magazine editor agreed, my points are fair.

    I’m just looking to bring the public the truth about what isn’t being said, when you only pay attention to the marketing that MonaVie drums up. When you go to unbiased sources you find the following articles:
    New Rules: No More Claiming Mona Vie Cures Cancer!
    Thumbs Down on MonaVie?
    SuperJuices on Trial (Quote about MonaVie, “That’s not many nutrients, especially at $1.20 a serving.”)
    MonaVie and Other “Superfruit” Juices

    The list goes on quite a bit and all of them should rank ahead of any the articles you suggested.

    As a final note, there are a lot of websites that monetize with advertising and affiliate links. You can find advertising on CNN and USA Today. I don’t charge a dime for my content, which I think is very important to consider. I had the same monetization in place years before I heard of MonaVie and it applies to all my articles equally, MonaVie doesn’t get a special treatment with regard towards monetization. My site isn’t about quick loans (I think I wrote one article about them 3 years ago and suggested that people don’t use them), but I do have advertising for various financial products including those that you mentioned.

    MLM is very relevant to the personal finance space because the average distributor spends $1600 on juice that is shown to be worse than what $100 will buy you. That means that by making the choice to just buy the product (and we aren’t counting tools, conferences, or anything else that typically adds thousands) the average person could save an extra $1500 a year after taxes. That’s like your boss giving you a $2000 raise. If I can give everyone who is involved in MonaVie a $2000 raise by reading my article, what a wonderful thing it would be. This is especially true when you look at the MonaVie compensation plan and see that well over 99% of people lose money.

    I didn’t start out covering MLM as a part of personal finance, but I now see how millions of people are losing thousands of dollars a year with it. That’s significant and if we can help those people see where their money is going, it will make an impact in the US economy, but more importantly in people’s lives.

  17. CGC says:

    @Mustapha Mond

    A MonaVie apologist talking about an “objective analysis”? Ah, the irony.

    See if you can respond objectively to any of the points brought up in LM’s response. In an objective world nobody would buy 750 ml of fruit juice for $35, nor would they engage in a pyramid scheme that ensures losses to over 95% of the participants.

  18. alessandro says:

    I’m from Brazil, and Monavie is sort of a new thing here. I’ve just been introduced to it and have been “invited” to join. I’m seriously considering it more from a business sense than from a get-healthy one.

    I’ve read a LOT of sites in favor of Monavie and many sites against it. I’ll divide my arguments in two:

    Business: There IS potential for money gain in Brasil, as the business is new. Risks are low compared to other investment oportunities: investing 1k dollars in the first month gives you 30 days to invite people and see if you can attract more people to your downline. If you see no real chance to succeed in the business, you can just quit, and not take a significant loss (I have a job, this would be parallel). 1000 dollars will give you a lot of products (even though they are quite expensive). Other benefits include meeting new people which are interested in business. It doesn’t matter if they join Monavie or not, just by participating in a meeting can get your network going. You can also improve social and presentation skills. My friends are doing 1-2 meetings a week with 10 people each, and meeting new people every week. None of my friends have the “let’s wear the Monavie attire” attitude, and view this more as a business or at least learning opportunity.

    Products: You explain in your site that the nutritional value for most Monavie products is good or at least average. The main fault with it is that they’re expensive and the company over-advertises the nutritional value. I agree. Now, if I take this opportunity, as stated, more as a business, I expect the costs to be at least greatly diminished by what I get back from the company. I don’t think most people eat 1 apple a day and most people don’t take pills for the vitamins/etc that you get from the products. I think by joining the program, you will eventually change your habits, because you are already receiving the products in your house anyway. I don’t think they’re miraculous or super-scientific, but if I drink Monavie juice instead of Coke, isn’t than an improvement?

    Lastly, I would DEFINITELY not keep buying the products if I don’t get money off from it, or at least pay the products I buy. They ARE too expensive.

    What do you guys think of this viewpoint? I am definitely open to changing my opinion.

  19. Lazy Man says:

    Thanks for comments Alessandro. When I wrote about MonaVie originally, a commenter from Brazil laughed at the ridiculousness of the product. He said that he can get all the fresh acai that he wants really cheaply: http://www.lazymanandmoney.com/monavie-scam/comment-page-1/#comment-81936. So there’s that off the top.

    Business: This is by far one of the worst ideas I’ve read. Paying $1000 for a 30 day opportunity to invite people and see if you attract more people to your downline? That can’t really be serious, right? There’s no $1000 up-front cost here in the US. If they are pitching that to get you in early in the opportunity, run away. Also since you have friends that already in it and pitching 10-20 people a week, it’s not like you are going to be at the top anyway.

    In the US here, our government warns against pyramid schemes. Here’s a document they have: http://business.ftc.gov/documents/inv08-bottom-line-about-multi-level-marketing-plans

    Some key points include:

    “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.”

    and

    “Avoid any plan where the reward for recruiting new distributors is more than it is for selling products to the public. That’s a time tested tip-off to a pyramid scheme.”

    So if you are getting in for the business, make sure that the number of bottles you sell can really make you a lot of money. In the US, there’s no market for juices that cost $45 USD. Juice is $4 USD in our store. The only reason people would pay that is if they are pitched that it is some miracle medicine or if there’s a business opportunity that will make them rich as long as they buy the expensive juice. MonaVie uses both those techniques.

    I understand improving social and presentation skill. There is a group called Toastmaster’s International that can help you for free with that: see http://toastmasters.org. It is a lot better than recruiting people into pyramid schemes and coercing them to buy expensive juice.

    As for the product, I don’t think I explain that MonaVie is average. If so, that’s probably old information you are reading. MonaVie has been shown to be below average: http://archive.mensjournal.com/superjuices-on-trial.

    The costs of the juice aren’t greatly diminished by the company. Here is the MonaVie Income Disclosure Statement (IDS) for 2009… the last year they put the number of distributors in the IDS: http://media.monavie.com/PDF/IDS/IDS_Mid_Year_2009_Global.pdf. MonaVie costs a distributor around $1800 USD a year. If you read that statement some 87% of distributors made insignificant money back and don’t even rank on that chart. So that’s an 87% that you won’t get much money back. Of the 13% remaining, 50% made $1200 for their $1800 spent, losing $600 to buy their juice. So about 6.5% of people get reasonably priced juice… those aren’t good odds.

    Drinking MonaVie vs. Coke isn’t a good comparison. When was the last time you were thirsty for 2 ounces (60mls) of juice? You aren’t likely to replace Coke with MonaVie. More than likely you’ll drink both. As for it being healthy, it is like having a grape and considering that healthy… the serving size is too small to change your habits that much. I suggest you read: 4 Ounces of MonaVie is a Serving of Fruit, which explains this in detail.

    Listen to yourself when you say that you wouldn’t buy products unless you are getting money back. That’s what other people are going to say as well when they join. I hope you can see this is what the FTC is warning about with the pyramid scheme, where everyone is just trying to get in the business to get in the business and not making sales to people outside the business. If it’s all recruiting, eventually you can recruit people any more and the people at the bottom are stuck losing money. So they do what you would do and quit. And then there is a new bottom just one level up who aren’t making money and they quit. It implodes from the bottom up eventually.

  20. Alessandro says:

    -The $1000 is for the product, not an upfront cost.
    – You can’t get açai cheap in Brazil. Period. I’ve lived here all my life, and the açaí people take here has a TON of sugar, and we eat it usually in an ice-cream-like form.
    -Improving social skills and meeting people at the same time is still a benefit, even if there are other programs that do it for free.
    -I have plenty of friends that would join. I’ve decided to join yesterday myself, and my first meeting already got me 2 people to join in my downline (happened today).
    -I’m not saying on AVERAGE it pays people well. I’m confident I have a social group that would set me apart from an “average” group, and my upline is working professionally to put more people in, which will help me out. I also believe my direct friends are well connected enough to get them money.
    -Lastly, this is not a pyramid scheme, for some reasons. One being that generally pyramid schemes let you put in as many people as you can directly underneath you. Not here. Also, traditionally people cannot be paid more money than their upline. Could and does happen here. Also, there rarely is a product (even if you consider monavie sh**, it still HAS a product and people who like it, even if just for the taste or whatever reason) behind everything, it’s just money going towards the already rich.
    – And I do think I would change my habits, even if I’m just “forced” to do so because the product is already in my fridge.

  21. Lazy Man says:

    I’m familiar with the $1000 for product rate. In the comments at: http://www.lazymanandmoney.com/monavie-scam/ people would say that they spent $1000 to get the lowest price. The problem is that it is still paying $20 for a product that seems like it should be $4 and you are stuck with taking responsibility for 50 bottles of it. Why put $1000 in, buying 50 bottles, before you know how easy it is to sell. Remember, you said you wouldn’t buy it yourself without the business opportunity.

    If other programs offer the benefit of improving social skills and meeting people for free, we can place of value of zero dollars on the benefit of doing it through a MonaVie opportunity.

    Most people who end up spreading the “opportunity” find that they end up with enemies because those people lost money. It ruins friendships and families. See http://www.ftc.gov/os/comments/bizoppstaffreport/00012-57312.pdf section 9-7 and 9-8. “Participants squander their ‘social capital,’ placing in jeopardy those relationships they have spent a lifetime cultivating. It is not unusual for persons who are hooked on MLM to become ostracized by other family members and social groups of which they are a part. The social networks that were built on trust and caring now find them a liability and an embarrassment. We have received reports of numerous divorces due in no small part to MLM involvement, as one partner rejects the other partner who becomes a ‘dream-stealer’ for not supporting him or her. And sometimes extended families become split over MLM involvement.”

    I should mention that most people don’t like to be solicited. People realize that on a basic level, you are a salesman initiating a sales conversation. I wouldn’t put this as truly improving your social skills.

    Someone did a lot of math and determined that a person needed to refer about 33 people into MonaVie before they start to break even. I hope your well-connected friends are really, really well-connected.

    I suggest you read more about pyramid schemes. I’ve compiled quite a lot of information from the FTC at: http://www.mlmmyth.org/mlms-vs-pyramid-schemes/. There’s nothing in the pyramid scheme that says people can’t be paid more than their upline. That’s someone feeding you a crock of crap. That’s an unrelated piece of information that is irrelevant in determining if an MLM is a pyramid scheme.

    Here’s one quote from an FTC document:

    “The Commission’s recent cases, however, demonstrate that the sale of goods and service; alone does not necessarily render a multi-level system legitimate. Modern pyramid schemes generally do not blatantly base commissions on the outright payment of fees, but instead try to disguise these payments to appear as if they are based on the sale of goods or services. The most common means employed to achieve this goal is to require a certain level of monthly purchases to qualify for commissions. While the sale of goods and services nominally generates all commissions in a system primarily funded by such purchases, in fact, those commissions are funded by purchases made to obtain the right to participate in the scheme. Each individual who profits, therefore, does so primarily from the payments of others who are themselves making payments in order to obtain their own profit. As discussed above, such a plan is little more than a transfer scheme, dooming the vast majority of participants to financial failure.”

    As for there rarely being a product and it being money flowing, that is also more lying from whoever is feeding you information. The above quite makes that clear as well. The entire document at http://business.ftc.gov/documents/inv08-bottom-line-about-multi-level-marketing-plans is about MLMs that are sometimes pyramid schemes. The entire document assumes a product and tells you it can still be a pyramid scheme unless you are selling product to people who are not in MonaVie. Key quote: “Avoid any plan where the reward for recruiting new distributors is more than it is for selling products to the public. That’s a time tested tip-off to a pyramid scheme.”

    So make sure that there are no monthly required purchases required to earn commissions. Often this is called autoship. In the United States, there is a requirement unless they changed it recently.

    Why not force your change of habits by buying another juice and putting it in your fridge. Sign up for something like Stickk.com is a great way to force a change in habit without getting involved in a potential pyramid scheme.

  22. Alessandro says:

    If you wish, I will keep you posted on how much work I put into this, and how my rewards are coming along. Maybe it will speak for itself, maybe it won’t. I think 33 people is totally possible. My “2-generations-upline” friend is getting about 3k dollars a month, paying 600 dollars a month in products, and is going for a free trip in August payed by MV, after 3 months in the program.

    We shall see. Thank you for your opinions!

  23. Lazy Man says:

    I’ve had a lot of people offer the same thing and it really doesn’t end up speaking for itself. It speaks to one’s person’s experience which isn’t indicative of the whole.

    There are a couple of other ways I’ve seen it described:

    1. I’ve written about a MLM gas station that sells gas at $8/gallon (typically it is $3-4 in the US). It examines the economy of the town and who wins and who loses: http://www.mlmmyth.org/the-mlm-gas-station-and-8-gallon-gas/.

    2. In another article, It’s Not a Matter of Effort, it’s a Mathematical Certainty, a guest poster explains that it is a little like a game of poker where the house (MonaVie) gets half the money to start and then everyone else competes to try to make money. There will be someone who wins, maybe even a couple of people who come out ahead, but that money comes from the losses of others. In the case of MonaVie, for one person to make money, 20 others have to lose. So even if someone comes back and says, “I made a ton of money”, the mathematics show that there’s generally hundreds or even thousands in the downline that lost a lot of money for that person’s success. That’s really what I’m trying to prevent here.

    I would like your opinion on the pyramid scheme aspect after reading the FTC information available.

  24. Alessandro says:

    I agree with everything you said so far, except I view it in a different way. The poker example you explained is a very good way for me to make my point, so thank you for that.

    In a poker game, everyone is disputing for money and money alone.

    Say 10 people pay 10 dollars each to participate in the poker tournament. Company X gets 45 dollars, and 55 are put up for dispute. On average, “every player will end the tournament with 5.5 dollars”. However, in this example, Company X isn’t really giving anything to the players.

    In Monavie, 10 people pay 10 dollars each. Monavie gets 45 dollars and delivers products WORTH, say, 45 dollars to a supermarket where only participants can purchase products. They can do this because they don’t pay for stores, administrative costs, salesmen, marketing, etc. Each player, on average, comes out of the tournament with 5.5 dollars, and necessarily has to choose 4.5 dollars worth of products in the supermarket “for free” (they already payed 10 dollars). So nobody wins, nobody loses, you just pay for your products.

    What you COULD argue: the products aren’t really worth 45 dollars, but 35, so everyone will come out with 5.5 dollars on average but will necessarily have to choose 3.5 dollars worth of products, thus losing money on average. Well, if I’m above average on the game, maybe I can leave with 7 dollars and still pick up 3.5 dollars worth of products.

    Just so you know how much stuff costs in Brazil (1 USD is about R$1.90 right now):
    Monavie Energy drink = R$4,00
    Redbull = R$7,00

    Monavie Shake = R$4,00
    Whey Protein (not exactly the same, but yeah) = R$300 total, about R$4,00 a serving

    Monavie Cereal/Protein Bar = R$3,30
    Protein Bar = R$4,00
    Cereal Bar = R$3,00

    Monavie Nuit doesn’t really have a substitute people normally drink, and Monavie Active is quite expensive.

    So, if you don’t join the progam and just buy products, it is expensive, but only if you buy Active. If not, it is competitive.

    If you DO participate in the program and perform average, you will get, say 20% discount (which makes you quite bad at the game). That makes the prices quite competitive on the other stuff and Active is still a bit expensive.

    I just think it’s too extreme to say this is a scam. I have many other points to make, but please, let’s leave it at this hahahaha.

  25. Lazy Man says:

    You lost me when you suggested that MonaVie delivers product worth $45. You’d think that MonaVie could provide a better deal to people because they don’t have to pay stores, however, their product of equal value (100% fruit juice) is priced at 10 times more. It’s like if I came up with a way of letting you buy a Honda Accord over the Internet, bypassing the dealership, but charged you $250,000 instead of the $25,000 that it costs at the dealership. Obviously, the dealership is the more efficient method.

    In the poker analogy it isn’t worth valuing the product. MonaVie only gives back 50% of the profits (if we hold them to their word, which is unaudited and on the honor system). Everyone effectively puts in $150 a month to buy a case, gets $15 worth of product, leaving the company to have $135. It keeps $62.50 and pays out the other $62.50.

    The thing that I forgot to mention is that the poker game is highly weighted to the people who got in first. The people who get in early play with all the face cards, and the later people come in have worse and worse cards like playing with 17 cards where the odds for pairs are very unlikely. It is drastic drop-off.

    You (Brazilians) are really getting hosed on Red Bull. In the US it is around $1.60 (using prices on Amazon.com that I can easily quote here) and it looks like it would be $3.68 there. To put that in perspective, MonaVie EMV has a suggested retail price of $3.71 here (http://amthrax.wordpress.com/2009/06/24/monavie-emv/). So someone trying to sell it here finds that it is mostly impossible. In fact, for a long time consumers in America have tired of expensive energy drinks, so you know that if $1.60 is expensive, $3.71 is simply not going to happen. How much Red Bull is sold in Brazil? I know it wouldn’t sell well at $3.68 in the US (which is what it would seem to be if it is R$7,00). It’s quite odd that the prices are switched with Red Bull costing so much more than MonaVie there.

    In Brazil, it seems like they might be competitive. That’s quite a surprise. If its competitively priced I don’t have as much as a problem. This means that you can probably legitimately sell product and avoid it being a pyramid scheme. In the US, the business model seems to be to encourage people to join a “business opportunity” and keep them in paying for expensive product month after month in pursuit of that opportunity. The fact that someone lied to you twice about pyramid schemes is still a cause for concern.

    In the US, I have shown through irrefutable evidence supported by reputable third parties that MonaVie is a grossly overpriced product, with little nutritional value, wrapped in a poor business opportunity that is may be an illegal pyramid scheme, which is itself wrapped in illegal medical claims, supported by nonsensical “scientific” studies, and tied to a fraudulent charity. If you think it is too extreme to call that a scam, I’m not sure what else the company could do to hurt consumers.

  26. Allen says:

    Wait, you “cut out links for brevity”? Wouldn’t it be more honest (as it is obvious) that you cut out the links so as not to transfer any link juice?

    Der der der!!

    F#ck Monavie!!

  27. Lazy Man says:

    I could have just use the nofollow attribute to not transfer any link juice. I honestly didn’t think there was anything to be gained to the story by enumerating all the websites that they want you to link to instead.

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