[Today we’re continuing to celebrate National Consumer Protection Week with more MLM scam awareness via an article from the past. The FTC has some good advice on MLMs from its recent consumer warnings, “Most people who join MLMs make little or no money. And, if promoters emphasize recruiting as the real way to make money, walk away.”]
I write today’s article in response to the thousands and thousands of comments that I’ve gotten from multi-level marketing (MLM) distributors for various products who make the claim that their products helped with such and such medical condition. Some of these include Le-Vel Thrive, DoTerra Essential Oils, It Works, Enagic Kangen Water, Youngevity, ASEA, Plexus, and Beachbody Shakeology. Those are just the companies/products that are still around.
Some of the popular MLMs that have disappeared are: MonaVie, Jusuru, Nerium, Vemma.
As you can tell, I wrote some in-depth reviews on all those companies/products. I think those are about half of the MLMs that I’ve covered in detail on this blog. Over the last 5 years I stopped covering MLMs for 4 reasons:
- They are all 99% the same – Health MLMs copy what makes sales from each other and below can be seen as their marketing blueprint. Once you debunked a dozen of the same scams, it gets kind of boring.
- I had two wonderful boys who deserve my time.
- I got bored with winning defamation lawsuits. Four companies spent over 2 million dollars in lawyers and court fees. It creates a lot of work and time.
- Great organizations like Truth in Advertsing are now around to fill the need.
As Dr. Jonny Bowden has written:
“New Rules: No More Claiming Mona Vie Cures Cancer!
Nor, for that matter, AIDS. Nor lupus, GERD, acne, age spots, arthritis, a balding scalp or sagging libido.
And lest you think I’m picking on poor MonaVie, the same is true of Xango, Mangosteen, Xocai, Tahitian Noni, and all the other ridiculously overpriced and oversold juices promoted by scientifically illiterate multi-level marketing ‘distributors’ who repeat these claims with the sincerity and earnestness of a Kucinich volunteer.”
Dr. Bowden isn’t alone in citing that these testimonials are bunk. Neil DeGrasse Tyson, perhaps best known for the popular Cosmos show, says such testimonials are “the worst form of evidence that you could possibly bring forth.” The key quote begins around the 1:50 mark, but you should invest the 6 minutes to watch the whole video.
Having received thousands of testimonials like Dr. Bowden mentioned and documented them on this site, I think it is safe to say that the people making these claims are typically those who are scientifically illiterate. They don’t offer up the clinical trials that measure the efficacy of the products. The companies themselves never put together large-scale clinical trials to prove their products are safe and effective. They rely on the “worst form of evidence”, testimonies because the scientific process in place would expose the products as ineffective.
Dr. Bowden wrote that article before the aforementioned Jusuru and Asea were around.
When you include the products that Bowden mentioned, we have 8 products that are all reportedly able to cure or aid with almost every condition known to mankind. I’ll add Xowii, Zrii, and Nopalea to round out to an even dozen. Though some of them have overlapping exotic ingredients like acai, there is no single ingredient common to all of them that could provide a reasonable explanation of healing benefits. Additionally, other products with the same exotic ingredients such as Sambazon (which has organic acai) that are sold through traditional retailers have no reported healing benefits. These 12 products only have three things in common (that I can see): they are digested, they are all sold via MLM, they are all extremely expensive. In addition, each company (I think) has hired a doctor (or a scientific advisory board) to endorse their product, which is something you don’t find with Ocean Spray (a juice like MonaVie, Jusuru) or your standard multi-vitamin (similar to some Youngevity products).
Clearly, the only logical conclusion is that selling a product via MLM bestows some magical properties allowing it to cure nearly anything or everything. Wait that isn’t logical, is it? Well, I can’t think of any other reasons for the claims… or can I?
What’s Behind All These MLM Health Claims
There are a number of factors at play with these claims:
- The Placebo Effect – This provides the most obvious answer as to why people feel these products help them. The American Cancer Society says that placebos have an effect in 1 of 3 people. Here’s a great 3-minute video illustrating The Strange Powers of the Placebo Effect. This alone explains why people report a product with no known therapeutic value “works”:
Update: Actually I like this short video better:
Need a little more convincing? Here’s Dove’s Real Beauty Patches campaign that has 20 million views:
Note: It looks like Dove took down the original video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EGDMXvdwN5c. Maybe the campaign ended, I found another version of the video here:
While the product seemed to be effective to the women using it, it had no therapeutic ingredients at all. There’s not really a difference between an MLM miracle cure and this Dove patch. Both have testimonials of people swearing that it works. Neither has the large-scale clinical trials to convince the FDA that the product has a therapeutic effect.
In Time’s review of the campaign, the author says: “I just can’t believe the thinly-veiled marketing ruse that there is a patch that can make us more beautiful. It makes women seem too gullible, too desperate, and overall helpless against the all-knowing master manipulators at Unilever.”
Imagine what happens when the product is a juice or a pill and pitched for some internal medical condition. It’s much more believable than Dove’s patch, which gives you an understanding of the master manipulators of MLM.
Some people try to claim that the placebo effect can’t possibly be a factor because they didn’t believe it would help them. Research shows that even if you know you are taking a sugar pill with no active ingredients, it can make you feel better. So if you find yourself feeling better, you might just want to go to a local CVS and buy the cheapest you can find, maybe a low-dose of vitamin C.
However, it’s worth understanding that it is well-known and well-researched that Vitamin Supplements Don’t Provide Health Benefits. Of course we knew that studies confirm that you shouldn’t waste money on vitamins for years.
Need still more evidence of the placebo effect? It seems that 20% of people can “hear” this silent gif:
Does anyone in visual perception know why you can hear this gif? pic.twitter.com/mcT22Lzfkp
— Lisa DeBruine ???? (@lisadebruine) December 2, 2017
- Spontaneous Improvement Regardless of Intervention – Sometimes things get better over time even without intervention. Many distributors are subject to drawing a causation between taking a product and the condition getting better when no such causation exists. The Latin for this fallacy is Post hoc ergo propter hoc, which means “after this, therefore because of this.” This is sometimes referred to as the “Rooster Syndrome”; “believing that the rooster’s crowing causes the sun to rise.”
- Observer-Expectancy Effect – Since the products are usually pitched with the health claims, one taking the product may have this expectation.
- Conscious Deception – Let’s call a spade a spade. It’s very difficult to convince people to buy $40 bottles of juice when they are used to spending $3 for juice. One of the easiest ways to close this gap is to pitch the product as an alternative to costlier medicines. I’m not saying that every MLM distributor is dishonest, but let’s agree that some are. What percentage? It’s impossible to say.
- Price-Placebo Effect – As the Washington Post reported, people who were able to buy identical energy drinks at different prices showed very significant differences in unscrambling words. Even though the researchers made clear that the drinks were identical, those paying more had better performance. The researchers concluded, “The price-placebo effect comes from the fact that you form this global belief that low price equals low quality.” The article also showed, “A wine connoisseur who pays extra feels different from someone who pays less for the same bottle of wine because the larger financial investment increases the motivation to be satisfied.”
In addition, the LA Times reports ‘Expensive’ placebos work better than ‘cheap’ ones, study finds. An interesting quote:
“Instead of testing a placebo against an actual drug, they pitted two placebos against each other. The only difference between the two sham treatments was their purported price.”
So this study shows a direct correlation as to why even a non-salesman, product-user of MLM products could be convinced that the products “work” while even people using known “sham treatments” would report the same.
Thus when I show that Youngevity products’ prices are 4 times Amazon’s for nearly equivalent nutrition, I get a response from distributors that they “feel” the difference. Let’s go back to the placebo video above (this one). It notes that paying more for a product makes the placebo effect stronger. That’s proof positive that there’s an additive effect to these points.
- GroupThink – Unless you’ve taken a psychology class or two, you may never have heard this term before. Wikipedia explains it:
“Groupthink is a psychological phenomenon that occurs within a group of people, in which the desire for harmony or conformity in the group results in an incorrect or deviant decision-making outcome. Group members try to minimize conflict and reach a consensus decision without critical evaluation of alternative ideas or viewpoints, and by isolating themselves from outside influences.
Loyalty to the group requires individuals to avoid raising controversial issues or alternative solutions, and there is a loss of individual creativity, uniqueness, and independent thinking. The dysfunctional group dynamics of the ‘ingroup’ produces an ‘illusion of invulnerability (an inflated certainty that the right decision has been made). Thus the ‘ingroup’ significantly overrates their own abilities in decision-making, and significantly underrates the abilities of their opponents (the ‘outgroup’).”
In addition Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, puts Belongingness amongst his 8 basic needs of humans.
Both of these dynamics come into play with MLM as GroupThink inhibits the ability to analyze the opportunity. In fact, MLM proponents often suggest that people can “plug into the system” removing all individual creativity, uniqueness, and independent thinking. MonaVie has used GroupThink to send its distributors a message of “you are either with us or against us” and tell them to unfriend distributors from social networks who have moved on to other companies.
I’m reminded of the Funny or Die demonstration of how students tricked into drinking nonalcoholic beer exhibited drunk behavior:Non-Alcoholic Keg Prank of 2002 (Princeton) – watch more funny videos
Groupthink at its finest, right?
- Social Proof From a Trusted Friend – Many of these products are introduced by a friend or family, who are often quite zealous about the product and the “business opportunity.” This enthusiasm coming from a trusted source creates an obvious motivation for wanting the product to “work.”
- Cognitive dissonance – Cognitive dissonance can be thought of a person altering reality to fit his/her perception. Specifically, the Wikipedia article claims, “After someone has performed dissonant behavior, they may find external consonant elements. A snake oil salesman may find a justification for promoting falsehoods (e.g. large personal gain), but may otherwise need to change his views about the falsehoods themselves.”
This is the same kind of phenomenon that is found in those predicting the world is going to end, except at least with those people there is a clear expiration on their erroneous belief… when the world doesn’t end. Unfortunately, with MLM health products, there is no clear and obvious end-result that can be pointed to.
Any of the above by themselves would explain the testimonials. However, when you combine them all together, the result of the testimonials is of little surprise. We humans in general are an optimistic bunch and we all want to believe that these products are the solution to our health and financial security for not only us but our friends (by sharing the “opportunity” with them). To use the Washington Post’s words, “our motivation to be satisfied” is significantly increased by the business opportunity and our desire to help our loved ones.
Let’s run some numbers. If the placebo effect is responsible for 1 in 3 people making a claim the MLM products work, what about all the above additional factors layered onto that? I’m going to speculate that pushes it to 60%, perhaps even higher. I admit this is speculation, but I don’t have a research lab and wouldn’t know how to really conduct an accurate experiment combining all these factors. If an MLM gets 10,000 people to try the product, that’s 6,000 people who are going to come away with a positive experience. The other 4,000 will move on with their lives and probably never mention the product again. A good percentage of the 6,000 will join the MLM to make money and spread the word that the products “work.” They explain away the 4,000 by saying something to the effect of “Everyone’s different and nothing works on everyone.” In actuality, the products haven’t been shown to work for anyone.
(And if my speculation of 60% (due to the factors above) is off, the placebo effect alone still counts for 3,333 people thinking it worked and another 6,667 that continued on with their lives never thinking about the product again.)
Nonetheless, that’s where you get thousands of testimonials for any number of unrelated medical conditions across any number of unrelated products that are all sold via the same MLM distribution method. Maybe it’s just me, but I find it a better explanation than, “Whenever a product is delivered via MLM the product gets bestowed with magical healing powers.”
For these reasons, it really is best to avoid the “Just Try Our ‘Product X!'” pitch when it comes to MLM products. You don’t have the time or the money to try all the health products in the world anyway.
It’s easy for distributors to ignore the fact that if any the products worked as promised, the companies would get their products approved as treatments for such medical conditions and make billions of dollars. Many MLM distributors falsely say that such claims can’t be about supplements, but when supplements work, the FDA allows claims to be made. You don’t have to look any further than calcium and vitamin D which have been shown to help with osteoporosis.
The Appeal to Good Health
Each of the companies that I mentioned makes an appeal that it will make you healthier. Since everyone has a vested interest in their own good health, it is an easy sales pitch to make. There are plenty of news reports citing promising supplement studies, which makes some of the products seem credible. The news rarely reports on the subsequent studies that show that the supplements don’t work. Something “not” working isn’t news and doesn’t bring in high ratings by giving people hope. This NY Times article covers this phenomenon well.
It turns out that there’s extensive evidence in studies involving millions of people that you shouldn’t waste your money on supplements. If you think this article is thorough, I implore you to read that one as I think it is just as thorough.
Still, people seem to ignore it and go with anecdotal evidence instead. That kind of evidence can go both ways though. Here’s a Slate article from someone who grew up doing all the healthy things, but didn’t get vaccinated. The result was that she was sick all the time. The article even makes the point that it is anecdotal and decisions shouldn’t be based on it, yet that’s what people are doing with these MLM products all the time. If you took away the anecdotes from all the reasons above, you’d have a product that no one would buy at the exorbitant price points… unless as part of some kind of misleading business opportunity such as the MLM ones that the FTC describes here.
What is “working”?
You may have noticed I put “working” in quotes throughout this article. That’s because that’s the magic word distributors use when leaving comments on my site. “MonaVie works” and “Youngevity works”, etc. The interesting thing is that there is no consistent definition of what constitutes “working” with these products. I often ask them what clinical effectiveness research is behind the product, because as PubMed says:
“Clinical effectiveness research finds answers to the question ‘What works?’ in medical and health care.”
None of the products that I’ve mentioned have clinical effectiveness research to say that it “works” for any medical condition.
But As Long As People Feel Better It’s All Good, Right?
A first glance this appears to make sense. Many supporters of MLMs have said, “Who cares as long as people feel better?”
There are at least three things wrong with this line of thinking:
- The Economics – What about the people who are paying an expensive price who don’t experience anything special? They might be thinking that they are doing their health a great service, but aren’t. That money could be used for proven health improvements like healthier food or maybe a gym membership. What about the people who actually believe that the product represents a legitimate health breakthrough and invest a significant portion of their life savings in a “business opportunity” where it is extensively shown that 99% of people lose money.
- Placebos are Dangerous – That article make the point pretty clear.
- Self-Licensing Causes An Overall Decrease in Health – This Wikipedia article makes a point about study involving supplements:
“A 2011 study published by researchers in Taiwan indicated that people who take multivitamin pills, especially those who believe that they are receiving significant health benefits from supplement use, are more prone to subsequently engage in unhealthy activities. Participants in the study were divided into two groups, both of which were given placebo pills; one group was correctly informed that the pills contained no active ingredients and the other group was told that the pills were multivitamin supplements. Survey results showed that participants who thought that they had received a multivitamin were predisposed to smoking more cigarettes and more likely to believe that they were invulnerable to harm, injury, and disease… Participants who believed they were given a multivitamin were also less likely to exercise and to choose healthier food and had a higher desire to engage in ‘hedonic activities that involve instant gratification but pose long-term health hazards, such as casual sex, sunbathing wild parties, and excessive drinking… In the ‘multivitamin’ group, the more supplements a participant used, the less likely they were to exercise, and smoking was highest among participants who expressed a conscious belief that multivitamins increased health.”
In my MonaVie article, distributors had erroneously claimed that 2 ounces of MonaVie was equal to eating 13 fruits. They then said that this justified the $40 price for the bottle. As a result, these people were making bad health decisions due to misinformation. That doesn’t even factor self-licensing in.
Are These Claims Even Legal?
It doesn’t seem as if they are. MLM distributors are typically not educated by the companies to follow the FTC guidelines on endorsements. That article states:
“Advertisers still must have adequate substantiation to support claims made through endorsements in the same way they’re required to if they had made the representation directly. In other words, advertisers may not convey through testimonials claims they could not otherwise prove with competent and reliable evidence. But one key revision of particular interest to electronic retailers is the new standard for endorsements that don’t represent the experience buyers can expect from using the advertised product themselves.
Despite the unequivocal requirement that the disclosures must be clear and conspicuous, some advertisers flouted this directive by cherry-picking their best-case scenario, touting those results in banner headlines, and dropping an all-but-invisible footnote with the cryptic statement, ‘Results not typical’ or ‘Individual results may vary.’
No more. As the revised guidelines make clear, testimonials reporting specific results achieved by using the product or service generally will be interpreted to mean that the endorser’s experience is what others typically can expect to achieve. That leaves advertisers with two choices: 1) Have adequate proof to back up that claim, or 2) ‘Clearly and conspicuously disclose the generally expected performance in the depicted circumstances.'”
MLM distributors endorsing the products simply aren’t allowed to give a testimonial that they believe that the product helped with their arthritis… unless the MLM company has demonstrated significant scientific proof. As mentioned above, no MLM company has met the requirement to show the FDA that it works. I don’t know of an MLM company that has even tried.
Not only are these claims a violation of the FTC endorsement guidelines, but they are also a violation of The Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 (DSHEA) where supplements can’t make claims to help with medical conditions with the notable exception of these well-studied claims such as vitamin D and calcium helping with osteoporosis.
As MonaVie CEO said to Newsweek in 2008 about keeping its million distributors (at the time) compliant with these laws, “It’s next to impossible, like herding cats.” Unfortunately, Newsweek didn’t pose the logical follow-up questions to him, “Why did you unleash the cats in the first place? Why don’t you just solve the problem by distributing through traditional means where there are no false claims?” The solution to the problem that MonaVie caused is obvious, it just doesn’t help sell $40 bottles of juice.
I’ve found that most often MLM companies will cover their ass in public with a blog post saying all the right things, but in private they coach distributors to use these illegal medical claims.
It’s not just a few bad eggs either. It’s commonplace. How common? Truth in Advertising extensively show as many as 97% of nutritional companies have these claims. Here are some of their findings:
“TINA.org’s investigation found that out of 62 member companies selling nutritional supplements, 60 have distributors who are making (or have made) claims that their products can diagnose, treat, cure, prevent, alleviate the symptoms of, and/or reduce the risk of developing a multitude of diseases, which means they are making illegal disease-treatment claims.
TINA.org has cataloged well over a thousand such inappropriate health claims, ranging from cancer cures to disappearing gangrene.
Or as I like to put it, “How else are you going to sell $40 bottles of juice?” Perhaps that the reason why MonaVie collapsed. It was never the juice which was outed to be nothing more than “expensive flavored water” by its inventor.
What About Weight Loss Shakes?
A number of MLMs such as Herbalife, One 24, ViSalus and MonaVie sell some kind of weight-loss shake. These products “work” as expected. That is to say that their nutritional label is likely to be accurate. Beyond the label, there’s nothing that special. You can save a lot of money by going with Slim Fast or Carnation Instant Breakfast Essentials that has essentially the equivalent nutritional content at usually less than 1/3rd the price.
Picking one weight-loss shake over another isn’t going to make or break a diet. It’s everything else, eating well and exercising, that has been shown time and time again to work. People normally don’t stay on shakes their whole lives. Without a change of underlying diet and/or exercise habits the weight comes back. For this reason, I’m not a huge fan of meal replacement shakes.
I’ll let you in on a little secret. When I create Lazymandium, a mix of garlic, turmeric, cacao, and chili powder, and sell it via MLM at a price of 30 pills for $50, it doesn’t “work.” I’m simply using known psychology to exploit you and make your wallet a little lighter for my own benefit.
Originally Published: February 16, 2013.
Hmmm, really long yet interesting post. I really don’t like when companies misrepresent their products to gain more money. I haven’t heard of these companies before, but I hope they stop swaying people to buy a product that does nothing.
Sylvan Moir says
Price-Placebo Effect – As the Washington Post reported, people who were able to buy identical energy drinks at different prices showed very significant differences in unscrambling words. Even though the researchers made clear that the drinks were identical, those paying more had better performance. The researchers concluded, “The price-placebo effect comes from the fact that you form this global belief that low price equals low quality.” The article also showed, “A wine connoisseur who pays extra feels different from someone who pays less for the same bottle of wine, because the larger financial investment increases the motivation to be satisfied.”
Well how about a very expensive, long, thorough, gruelling education in science to induct you into a connoiseur group of group-think?
One of the main articles of faith of this group is that, contrary to the entire experience of every civilizaion that has ever existed – so-called “Anecdotal” evidence is worthless and to be laughed at. One needs numbers, measurement, rigorous definition stating exacctly what is being tested with inherent consequent repeatability, and preferably a laboratory and maybe white coats.
Sorry this is just YOUR article of faith – and you particular (very new) religious paraphenalia of belief.
There is nothing BUT “anecdote”. It is ALL anecdote,- in the end. The construction of the HADRON COLLIDER IS for one purpose only : to provide an anecdote at the en of it (i.e. somebody reads a dial or looks at a computer read-out etc – with their eyes – i.e. an anecdote) . If there was no such anecdote there would be no meaning to the whole procedure. In pure maths there are (arguably) no anecdotes. But then to have the maths actually impinge on the world – or vice versa – you require the importation of the irreducibly ineluctably anecdotal . Godel seems to have gone somewhat nuts struggling with realizations of that kind.
Afurther oint is that it is only crazy science-as-religion types who are disoposed to dismiss a certain strength of “anecdotal” support for – eg. a remedy etc. In practice we would not survive a week if we did not learn from the merely “anecdotal” how to conduct our lives.
The caveats about miracle cures and snake-oil sales practices are well founded, but are here taken much too far – as anybody who has learnt to sift mere “anecdotal” information and thus survived long enough to read this for starters should know (if they haven’t been too badly infected by the modern relgion of science).
Slimfast, has no where near the same nutritional value as VI-Shakes. Slimfast has more sugar in it than a piece of chocalate cake. Get your facts right to whoever wrote this. And Cassi, do you believe everything someone write?? Who is this guy that wrote this article?? He is not a reliable source.
Lazy Man says
I’ve addressed Vi-shakes in another post putting together something for 1/3rd the cost that has the same nutritional value as Vi-shakes. Others have done the same.
William Cowie says
The human race needs this post at least once a year, and it should be expanded to include other overpriced products as well. When recruiters tell you that traditional retailing is inefficient and they cite the markups of up to 100%, they never tell you all the markups MLM products go through — 2 to 3 times as much as those nasty retailers.
But… they are living proof that P.T. Barnum knew what he was talking about when he said there’s one born every minute!
Lazy Man says
Thanks Mr. Cowie,
You are correct that I should expand it to cover other products. I’ve already got a number of edits slated to go for it. I might recycle it in a month or so, especially because I released it late on a Friday the first time.
Excellent article Lazy.
lalkb32 if you had take the time to actually do a little research on the articles that Lazyman has written, you will see that he is actually an incredibly reliable source and his goal is to help people from getting scammed. He has written extensively about the Visalus scam and it sounds like you should really educate yourself more on the product you are flogging on your poor friends and family. Educating yourself doesn’t mean just listening to the company propaganda, but digging deeper and hopefully discovering the truth.
The recent investigation into FTHM is proof that the general public has had it with these Pyramid schemes and we need articles like this to help keep the public aware of the damage these scams do.
Thanks again for all your hard work Lazy and keep fighting the fight for all of the single parents and elderly people that get sucked into these horrific schemes. You are their voice.
Brick By Brick Investing | Marvin says
I really feel for MLM reps and salesmen. I feel like they have somewhat of an entreprenuer spirit but get sucked into the scammy MLM products, then get discouraged and never attempt another venture. I agree with you on Monavie, if it was so great why aren’t the big corporations selling it.
Lazy Man says
I feel really bad for them too. Some are so brainwashed that they attack me. They don’t realize that I’m trying to help them.
Wait, you asked why aren’t the big corporations selling it?…
Ok so you have a guy with a pill that says can build your immune system by continually taking it just once a day and you can actually fight off any disease or illness or whatever(Your body actually can, look at the studies) pretty much comes at you, and don’t need any other medications which only suppress the symptoms, not fix the problem.
[Editor’s Response: We generally call this guy a snakeoil salesman. He hasn’t shown anything. He also hasn’t shown it will build your immune system to the point of being able to “fight off any disease or illness.” Charlatan snakeoil salesmen have been for hundreds of years.]
Then, you have a guy who’s selling a pill that doesn’t actually help your body become stronger at fighting things, rather you just take it multiple times a day, it gives your body synthetic chemicals that make you THINK you’re getting better or takes the pain temporarily away, but you have to always buy more and more and even OTHER drugs for OTHER problems coming up, simply because your body isn’t getting the right nutrition it needs.
[Editor’s Response: I think the pill you are describing has gone through clinical trials to prove that it is safe and effective for the condition necessary. It’s been well-proven time and again that people are getting the nutrition that they need. People can and do sick for reasons that are unrelated to nutrition.]
Which one do you think the corporations will sell, the one that actually helps people and eventually helps them become independent of drugs… or the one where they have to keep coming back again and again all the while, now cancer is coming up, now sicknesses are getting worse.
[Editor’s Response: If a corporation can show that they have the magic pill that actually helps all these things, they’ll sell that one. It would be the best product of all time crushing the iPhone.]
But either way they won’t and legally can’t sell good products like Kyani or Xango because the company who MADE the products want to empower the people to be able to help EACH OTHER(that’s the MLM motto) achieve better lives.
[Editor’s Response: Any company can legally sell products as long as they are safe for consumers. Go look in a GNC and see how many products are being sold. It seems to be pretty clear that Kyani isn’t a good product or company. I thought Xango was out of business years ago with Xowii and other similar 5-letter “X” product nonsense. Anyway some good information on Xango for you.]
Now I know all this may sound redundant or maybe it even sounds intriguing, but don’t take my word for it, do your OWN research! You may find something you’ve been missing out on.
I know I did, and boy am I educated on what I THOUGHT I knew…
[Editor’s Response: You probably want to ask who is writing the “research.” Is it the snakeoil charlatan salesmen? Is someone who is writing a book about conspiracy theories – not providing evidence or proof – to make money? Or is it a medical doctor who has done and cited the clinical research and got it published in a reputable peer-reviewed journal?]
Vic @Business Tips says
I believe that an effective product can market and promote itself, and there is no need for aggressive marketers to convince us everyday that their product will work for us. Your post is really interesting and comprehensive. Thanks for all the research you put on this.
FYI People – If Pharmaceutical companies can legally take a drug that lost it paten and tweak the ingredients and then apply and get a new 10 year paten; what makes you think they are going to stop these companies for scamming you?
In case you don’t understand what I am saying. Think Generic V/S Tier drugs.. There can’t be a generic while there is a patent.
This is why Doctors always try to prescribe the newest drug on the market even when they know it is basically the same thing that just went generic.
Lazy Man says
Pharmaceutical companies with legal drugs aren’t running MLM scams. They are two very different unrelated things.
Hi Lazy Man, what are your thoughts on Beachbody’s shake product Shakeology?
Lazy Man says
I would group it into the note I put at the end about weight loss shakes. You can lose weight with them in the same way that gas will make your car go. However, there is typically very little difference between products and the prices vary widely. I looked into Shakeology briefly more than 6 months ago as a high school friend of mine was promoting it on Facebook. I was shocked to see it was even more expensive than ViSalus, which is something that I’ve written is extremely expensive.
When I say expensive, I don’t mean just a little bit like say 20% or even 50% more than competing products… it’s usually 300% to 1000% more expensive. That’s like buying $12 gas or $30 gas being told that it’s better.
Drug companies with legal drugs aren’t scamming us, they are killing us. I think I’d rather be scammed than put to a slow death. As a matter of fact, yes, my MLM health product DOES work and I’ve seen it work for hundreds of people. Even if the effect is a placebo, as you may think, it’s worth it to the people it has helped.
If you want to make money with MLM, you have to treat it like a job. If you have a 9-5 job and don’t show up to work, you aren’t going to get paid. Same applies here. If you are looking to get rich quick, MLM is not for you. The experiences I’ve had, the people I’ve met, and the growth I’ve had as a person is unlike any I have experienced with any job.
I’m going to go out on a limb and guess you are probably a lonely, unhappy, single man. You complain about every little thing and find joy in tearing down other people’s livelihoods. I recommend you get on one of these health products, find yourself a woman, and start finding the positive in things instead of the negative.
Lazy Man says
Drug companies are not killing us. In the cases that they are found to be harmful (Fen/Phen, Vioxx) they are pulled off the market. Still, those products were extensively clinically tested, which is far more than any MLM product I’ve seen done.
What is your MLM health product and can you prove in clinical trials that it works? Sorry, but your biased eyes carry no value…. Dr. Bowden showed it years ago by exposing how distributors make all sorts ridiculous and impossible claims.
As for the placebo effect, it was addressed in the article. It’s potentially very harmful. Not only that, but you and I don’t get to make the decision of “what is worth it” when it comes to illegal promoting products. The FDA and FTC play roles in it.
As for making money in MLM, it is a terrible business and it isn’t a matter of effort.
You don’t need to go out on a limb guessing if I’m a lonely, unhappy, single man…. read my blog and you’ll find that I’ve been happily married for almost 6 years now and have a newborn baby. I really don’t complain about much, and I have a 7 year blogging history of trying to help people with their livelihoods.
You are a classic example of what’s wrong with MLM, providing not proven scientific data, misrepresenting the business opportunity, and then attacking a critic with a bunch of false conjecture that could have been corrected with 30 seconds of searching.
So, I have noticed there is one MLM health company you have not mentioned. Have you ever investigated Shaklee? How can Visalus shakes be healthy when they claim their shakes are meal replacements, last time I looked it said their shakes are 90 calories. I am sorry 90 calories is not a meal. That is starvation. Yes you will loose weight at first, but at the expense of your muscle mass. That weight will just come right back when you are done using their system. That is what they want. It means more money for them.
Kristan, I have know quite a few people who got real sick drinking Shakeology. I tried it since and it was soooo disgusting. They list so many weird ingredients, who knows if they are healthy. Plus it cost 120 bucks a month just for 1 shake a day.
Lazy Man says
There are a lot more than one MLM health that I did not mention. I simply don’t have the space to go into them all. As I said in the article, “A number of MLMs such as Herbalife, One 24, ViSalus and MonaVie sell some kind of weight-loss shake.” That includes Shaklee. When I said, “These products “work” as expected. That is to say that their nutrition information is accurate. However, you can save a lot of money by going with Slim Fast or Carnation Instant Breakfast Essentials that has nearly the equivalent nutritional content at usually less than a 1/3rd the price.” I mean that to include Shaklee as well.
If you read my article and comments on Visalus (which is linked to here) I have repeatedly tore them apart for billing their 90 calorie shake as a meal replacement.
well written.well researched,thanks for effort exposing these Charlestons and sociopathic parasites with there false and misleading claims ,i would like to see a shame/accountability file listing all these criminals/crimes against humanity,maybe sometime in the future put them on trial,thats the problem not accountable for the harm they do to others.
Lazy Man says
Thanks Allan, perhaps if enough of them are exposed, consumers can have the information to make their own informed decisions.
So Lazy, you involve and contribute to this guy’s very attacking assumptions, yet you attack NotImpressed on the education he/she brought to the comments and accused them of false information and straight up accusing them that they’re just another uneducated distributor? Yeah NotImpressed went too far to accuse you of what kind of person you are, but just like you are passionate about what you believe, so is he!
[Editor’s Response: Allan said that my article was well written and well researched. NotImpressed said he was an MLM distributor and claimed the product worked because he had seen it. Then he said it could have been the placebo effect leading us to believe that he doesn’t have proof that it is clinically effective. It’s okay to be passionate about what you believe, but prove it with science, not by attacking a messenger trying to explain the science.]
We’ve got to stop attacking each other! Just because someone involves them self in an MLM doesn’t mean they’re some scams artist or that they’re uneducated!
[Editor’s Response: It kind of does James. Educated, non-brainwashed, people don’t get involved in MLM since it has been shown that >99% of people lose money. There are some people at the top that make money, but they would appear to running an illegal pyramid scheme according to the FTC guidelines here. You might find a small handful who don’t fit these two groups, but for the purposes of this article, any educated person wouldn’t argue with points presented in this article.]
My company as WELL renowned DOCTORS and a lot of Doctors are coming out about how the pharmaceutical industry is actually hurting us! Bro do your research! Like more! Like do some honest research, not being biased already against MLMs and you will find honest and intelligent company’s with honest intelligent people.
[Editor’s Response: Companies pay the doctors to give good reviews. As you can tell from this article, I’ve done my research. It’s honest research. I’ve had a standing ten-year challenge for anyone to show me ANY good health MLM and no one has been able to come up with one yet.]
Just like in ANY company, there are honest, dishonest, defensive, kind people. Writing off all MLMs because of bad MLMs that actually are Pyramid schemes, is like comparing a good doctor to a bad doctor! Not all doctors are good or bad, they have good docs and bad docs, I think on that we can agree, but you can’t write off all doctors. Same goes here, and that’s the fact.
[Editor’s Response: You might want to read Is Every MLM a Scam? If you don’t want to believe me, read how the FTC admonishes the entire industry. Find me ANY MLM that complies with those FTC guidelines and we can analyze if they are good. Please don’t give me Trump’s “many sides” argument, when no one has been able to come up with a SINGLE, let alone FIVE good MLMs out of the 1200 estimated ones.]
I hope you can see from a different point of view…
Denise Ray says
An interesting and informative article about the falsehoods of MLM marketing strategies and the bogus and unsubstantiated claims they make about their products benefits.
I have never attempted MLM as I’m the world’s weakest and most inept salesperson. (If I hawk a product and the person says ‘No Thanks’, I have a tendency to say ‘O.K.’ and leave them alone!)
Your article addressed mindsets I had previously adopted while thinking myself mostly immune to what I call ‘The Cow Mentality’.
Have you ever been on a dairy farm at or near milking time? The cows all get in a line and head toward the feedlot. But, if that line should stall for any reason the cows will not get out of the line, move forward, and perhaps find out what the holdup is or maybe even bypass it. They will invaribly choose to stand in their place in the line, (sometimes in identical order), and wait for the line to begin to move again! Variations of this type of thinking lies at the heart of all us poor dupes just waiting to be scammed.
But this time I got out of the line, moved up to the front, and decided to do a little fact finding of my own. Hence, our communication.
The placebo effect is very powerful and there is no shortage of studies made on the subject. I know I’m not immune to the placebo effect. But I am very, very in tune with my body’s rhythms. Almost obsessively so. I will notice any changes. I’m not a doctor but I have a familiarity with medical terminology and access to high-speed internet for more fact-finding.
My point is that I recently purchased a bottle of Protandim from a neighbor who is an ate-up-in-the-head-convert,( No, I’m not even going to try to talk him out of it, but I will be enough of a friend to steer him to this article), and I’m going to make a determination for myself if this product brings any real benefits to me or if it’s just another example of the ‘Ray Charles Is God’ mindset. (God is love/Love is blind/Ray Charles is blind/Therefore, Ray Charles is God).
I would never try to distribute, (you think you’re lazy!), but I am going to give this product the same chance to convince me of its benefits that I gave Lexapro. Which, by the way, was very effective.
Lazyman, I know that you know that the entity I refer to as “Big Pharmaceutical” is also capable of lying, bribery, presenting slanted, duped studies as fact, false claims of benefit, concealing any evidence of deaths or bodily harm, and committing egregious acts of conflict-of-interest. What’s more, not only do they have millions of dollars invested in R&D/Production, they have a deadline to meet if they want to be the first to make application to receive a patent and thereby any return of investment on their product. In other words, they have the very same primary motivating factor of all the MLM programs: Money.
I personally think ‘Big Pharmaceutical’ is just as full of it as the MLM companies and the lawsuits that have resulted from deaths and damages, exorbitant prices, as well as the many product recalls are proof of this. Reasonably Well-Informed, I Hope.
Lazy Man says
I love the Ray Charles is God logic. I would have got with the Smashing Pumpkins’ Zero lyrics, “Emptiness is loneliness, and loneliness is cleanliness, and cleanliness is godliness, and god is empty just like me”, simply because I hear it more often on the radio.
I touch on the FDA is corrupt in this article: Should You Be Buying Supplements? Most of the medicines that are FDA approved do not death and damages.
I compare it cars. They work and get us from point A to point B and are extremely useful. However, they are also a source of lawsuits and death… and that’s not to touch the environmental implications. The good that we get from having automobile transportation far outweighs the bad. If you didn’t know any better and just watched the evening news, you might only hear of the negative that happens in 0.000001% of cases (or whatever the small number it is).
Americans will consume probably 10 billion (or more) prescription pills this year. They aren’t all dying. In many of the cases, it might not even be the fault of the medication, but the human error of the person prescribing it.
This isn’t to say that the FDA is free of corruption. I don’t know if anything industry can say that. However, it is to show that MLMs pitching to be health cures are 99% corrupt and FDA approved medicine (especially having gone through rigorous clinical trials) is closer to 1% corrupt. These aren’t exact numbers, but you get the idea – they are on the opposite end of the spectrum.
Linda J says
I purchased Protandim for 2 years from a lady I had previously worked with. I paid $50 a month for it. She said it would help my arthritis and help me sleep at night…both of which I welcomed help for. She kept telling me how it was helping her so much that both she and her husband were taking it and selling it. She would occasionally call me and give me a pep talk as to why I should keep taking it. She said it takes a while to build up in your body. I felt absolutely no difference whatsoever in my arthritis or my sleep disorder so finally I stopped taking it. (I am retired and really could have used the money on something else!
Having said that I have just received my first order of products from Youngevity. I paid a whole lot more than $50 for 1 months supply. I have heard Dr. Wallach speak, and read his book. According to him, my arthritis should be gone in about 3 months. I have decided to put off an extensive foot surgery and see if there is any improvement in 3 months. I am drawing the money out of my retirement fund (which is not very big) I thank you for your article and will be reading up more on this product. I amazes me that Dr. Wallach would actually make personal appearances on shows and promise so much if none of it were true! Call me naive!!!
Lazy Man says
I recommend you read this research article as well: http://business.pages.tcnj.edu/files/2014/02/Keep-and-Vander-Nat_MLM-and-Pyramid-Schemes_Final.pdf. MLM companies have been making claims about their special vitamins since the 50s (bottom page 5):
You can read about Money Magazine reporting it in 1987 here: http://money.cnn.com/magazines/moneymag/moneymag_archive/1987/06/01/83883/index.htm:
Comparing Shakeology to Slim Fast or Carnation Instant Breakfast Essentials is laughable. Those two drinks are filled with GMOs and crap. That’s how they are so cheap. Shakeology is expensive because of all the vitamins, real foods and nutrients that go into it.
Lazy Man says
It’s not laughable, all the products are shakes that can and have been popularly used for weight loss.
Vitamins are cheap. The discussion here seems to show that Shakeology does contain GMOs (it doesn’t have a non-GMO label according to the discussion).
There’s also a helpful, unbiased, independent chart comparing many products here.
I haven’t found an MLM product that isn’t absurdly expensive. Every MLMer will say that is because the product is of a certain quality. Yet, every MLM product that I’ve investigated didn’t seem to stand-up to that promise. I’m not saying that Slim Fast or Carnation Instant Breakfast Essentials do either, but at least you aren’t paying the MLM mark-up.
As I’ve written in many articles, this mark-up seems exclusive to MLM. Since the salesforce is most often required (in very rare cases this requirement can be met in other ways) to buy product as a price of admission to run the business (qualify for checks), the companies can price gouge distributors with expensive product. As Harper’s Magazine put it (I’m paraphrasing), MLMs make money by exploiting their distributors and don’t make their lives better.
It is in fact perfectly reasonable to compare Snakoilogy with well established non-MLM products by SlimFast and Carnation.
The most abundant ingredient in Snakeoilogy is ordinary cheap whey protein.
According to an article in HuffPo:
“There are insignificant amounts of multiple plant products mixed in with the protein, none of which come anywhere close to duplicating the health benefits of whole plants.”
It’s basically a multivitamin mixed with cheap protein and trace amounts of esoteric ingredients with negligible value.
As for GMOs, the nutritional info on Snakeoilogy’s website indicates that the only non-GMO ingredient is fructose, and that certainly does not justify a premium price.
with respect to price, it looks like Snakeoilogy sells for roughly 10 times more than comparable products by Carnation and SlimFast. What does that premium price get you? BS and hype, like the comment from Star; nothing more.
I would rather take something with some kind of nutritional value than take chemo if I had cancer.
Someone explain to me how, if I have cancer I can put something like chemo, something that is toxic into a toxic environment (cancer)in my body and get positive results. How does the medical field brainwash you sheeple into believing this.
My body is based on nutrition. With nutrition he body will heal itself. That is my observation. Big pharm only cares about your money, not you.
Lazy Man says
This isn’t a discussion of chemo. However, the idea of how chemo helps isn’t too hard to understand. I think a 2nd grader could pick it up. The idea is to focus on killing the cancer cells and damage as few of the good cells as possible.
Your logic is like asking why we’d do something toxic to a fire burning down our house. By drowning and/or suffocating the fire we achieve the positive result of saving the house.
The “body heals itself” is red flag of quackery. It might be able to heal from a cut, but cancer is very, very different and most certainly has never been been showed to be healed with nutrition.
How do you get brainwashed into believing something that in millions and millions of cases has never been to work?
Seth Bridges says
Have you heard of Kyani? and if so? good or bad? please elaborate. Thanks for your time and opinion.
P.s- Great comments!
Lazy Man says
Never heard of Kyani
I appreciate all the information you post. I’m currently investigating Young Living Essential Oils after being with them for a year. I did fall for the hype because I’m an entrepreneur/dreamer, and was looking for a way to make money independently. Now I’m laughing at myself for buying NingXia Red, and expensive juice drink blend that is designed to heal every ailment under the sun when I can actually just buy all the ingredients at Sprouts and Amazon for $100 and make 4X-5X the amount of the same juice for a fraction of the cost (2 25 ounce bottles of NingXia Red are a mere $71 WHOLESALE).
What I will say, though, is that some of the things seem to work because the body is probably receiving nutrition it wasn’t getting before. A lot of the juices in NingXia Red, for example, are considered “superfruits,” and have known benefits. And I think that’s why a lot of these things seem to work: the nutrition in them. I wasn’t drinking these juices prior, nor was I making smoothies. After using them and making smoothies, of course I felt better. My body was getting nutrients it wouldn’t otherwise get! Of course, I laugh at myself because prior to spending a fortune on NingXia Red, I shunned the idea of paying $6-$8 on a 64 ounce bottle of Naked Juice! *Facepalm* So, yes, that’s why I think they “work”: Because people otherwise eating unhealthy are suddenly getting nutrients they weren’t receiving before.
Naturally, none of that changes the facts that these MLM drinks are severely overpriced, non organic, contain preservatives and can be purchased for fair prices at the local health food store or through mom & pop vendors/farmers at the local farmer’s market.
Again, I love your articles and enjoy reading them! Thanks for posting!
Lazy Man says
As for the nutrition thing, it’s pretty well established that that fruit juice isn’t healthy… and that eating fruit is the real deal. Scientists say that the good stuff is in the skin and the pulp that gets thrown away when juiced. There’s not a lot of research on these MLM juices, but I think it’s worth questioning whether they really provide any significant nutrition. They’d likely be much, much better off by eating an apple. Yet no one jumps up and down claiming that an apple cured this or that.
Thank you for reading and if you really liked the article, do me a favor and send it to 5 friends… and tell them to share it with 5 friends… and well, you get the idea.
Mommy-Brained said: “Now I’m laughing at myself for buying NingXia Red, and expensive juice drink blend that is designed to heal every ailment under the sun when I can actually just buy all the ingredients at Sprouts and Amazon for $100 and make 4X-5X the amount of the same juice for a fraction of the cost…What I will say, though, is that some of the things seem to work because the body is probably receiving nutrition it wasn’t getting before. A lot of the juices in NingXia Red, for example, are considered “superfruits,” and have known benefits. And I think that’s why a lot of these things seem to work: the nutrition in them. I wasn’t drinking these juices prior, nor was I making smoothies. After using them and making smoothies, of course I felt better. My body was getting nutrients it wouldn’t otherwise get!…So, yes, that’s why I think they “work”: Because people otherwise eating unhealthy are suddenly getting nutrients they weren’t receiving before. Naturally, none of that changes the facts that these MLM drinks are severely overpriced, non organic, contain preservatives and can be purchased for fair prices at the local health food store or through mom & pop vendors/farmers at the local farmer’s market.”
Interesting subject! Here’s the thing…these MLM super juices don’t pack the nutritional punch they’re hyped to have. A classic case study example is Monavie juice, an acai berry-based concoction that was covertly touted as a miracle cure by its distributors. Despite BS claims that it was loaded with nutrition and contained exclusively-sourced, freshly picked, ultra-high quality acai berries, it turned out that they were using low-grade preserved acai sludge shipped by commercial bulk suppliers in Brazil to the US on slow freighters, which was then combined and bottled with the nasty preservative sodium benzoate to produce a mundane Franken-cocktail (with an outrageously long one-year shelf life) that the alleged inventor Ralph Carson eventually confessed was “nothing more than expensive flavored water.” There’s no reason to think that any other MLM juice is any better, or even as good.
To make up for the lack of intrinsic nutrients in these MLM juices, the manufacturers typically spike them with ordinary vitamins/minerals. Sometimes the even produce research designed to mislead the public into believing that the juices have beneficial biochemical properties, when in fact any properties that they report are attributable solely to the known effects of the added nutrients (e.g., in vitro studies that reproduce the known antioxidant effects of vitamin C).
In the best case scenario, MLM snakeoil juices provide as much nutritional value as maybe a few ounces of frozen concentrated OJ, or some other comparably mundane juice, and/or a few of the vitamins/minerals that would be found in a 7-cent multivitamin. We know that someone drinking a shot-glass of OJ a day and/or taking an occasional vitamin pill wouldn’t go around raving that a week of their regimen cured cancer or lupus or any of the other diseases/symptoms that MLM distributors refer to in their ridiculous testimonials.
Since we can safely conclude that MLM juices are BS nutritionally, and that drinking a few glasses of juice and taking a few multivitamins doesn’t cure or heal anything, it must be assumed that people (namely self-interested distributors) who make fanciful claims are either lying outright or are deluded. There is plentiful evidence that these MLMs are dishonest to the core, so there’s no reason to not suspect that all or at least the vast majority of these claims are outright lies; even less so when people vehemently defend such claims even after being shown ironclad contradictory evidence. Those presumably rare instances that are not outright lies can be attributed to delusion and the placebo effect, which is powerful in its own right but even more so when its likelihood is magnified by hucksters who set unrealistically high expectations, and when people have a vested financial interest in believing that MLM juices cure diseases.
There’s no secret medical miracle lurking among the plethora of fraudulent MLM super-juices that have come and gone over time (Royal Tongan Limu, Tahitian Noni, Xango, Monavie, etc…all with moronic names and stupidly inflated prices). None have ever been remotely proven to do anything other than insult people’s intelligence and lighten their wallets.
For those seeking the nutritional benefits of fruits, the obvious path is to eat fruit, and if anyone finds putting a few pieces of fresh fruit into a blender and making a smoothie too difficult then they simply lack sufficient commitment. Skepticism would also be justified if someone claimed to have had a medical miracle after a week or two of drinking fresh fruit smoothies, aside from potential indirect benefits due to weight loss or omitting certain types of foods (and maybe food allergens) from the diet. That scenario could be attributed purely to placebo effect rather than outright lying, since there isn’t really a financial motive, unless perhaps the claimant is in the blender business.
Great explanation! I actually traced the NingXia Red gogi berry puree that Young Living uses to a supplier in China, so I’m not surprised about the preservatives, the watering down, and the fact that the rest of the blends are juices from concentrate (i.e, watered-down).
I could easily make this stuff from fresh, organic pureed fruit at home for a fraction of the cost (love homemade smoothies!) and get real nutrition without the hefty price tag.
You should see the devotion to this drink that is endemic to the Young Living cult. Before being called NingXia Red, it was called “Berry Young Juice,” and the story the founder gave to introduce the product was insane, to say the least. The hype hasn’t changed since it’s introduction, and more products under the NingXia name have since popped up.
scot pederson says
Your article presents only 1 side of the Coin. While it’s true some mlm companies have exaggerated claims or made claims they shouldn’t have there are products from some of these companies with real testimonies with real verifiable (non-Placebo) results.
For example, testimonials from people who after being on _____ for 30 or 60 days and without changing their diet saw their Blood Pressure, Cholesterol levels or both drop. The machines don’t lie.
Others who after taking ‘_____’ for ‘X’ number of days were able to get off their medications whereas in the past if they quit taking their medications they would be bed-ridden. The placebo effect cannot keep this kind of result up for very long for people who have chronic illnesses.
You can’t lump every company as a Mona Vie knockoff. There are all kinds of companies that help improve lives in different ways at different levels. Not saying they cure anything, but improve health without the side effects of Drugs.
Lazy Man says
I haven’t seen an MLM company with real verifiable (large scale, placebo-controlled) results. I’ve seen companies try to use small sample size studies as marketing gimmicks. As the article mentioned testimonials aren’t useful.
Machines may not lie, but people might when it comes to changing their diet or exercising more. People’s levels can fluctuate on any number of things. If “____” helped with cholesterol, it should be evaluated by the FDA to make such a claim. It’s easy for them to get started on that.
I’m not lumping every company (I assume you mean every MLM company) as a MonaVie knockoff. However, it is worth noting that Truth in Advertising found that “97 percent of DSA member companies selling nutritional supplements have distributors marketing their products with illegal health claims”.
It’s a systemic problem and the only other side of the coin is supporting Big Pyramid who doesn’t want to prove products work, because it can’t… which would lead to no one buying them. If Big Pyramid can prove it, simply get the tests together. I want to see them!
scot pederson said: “Your article presents only 1 side of the Coin. While it’s true some mlm companies have exaggerated claims or made claims they shouldn’t have there are products from some of these companies with real testimonies with real verifiable (non-Placebo) results. For example, testimonials from people…”
Your side of the coin, the one you feel Lazy Man somehow erred in not presenting, is that we should put skepticism and commonsense aside in favor of testimonials (which ones and from which companies you conspicuously failed to mention). No rational adult should have to be told why testimonials are worthless, but here are some of the top reasons:
1. Testimonials are often straight up lies told by con artists. The history of snake-oil product marketing is replete with such testimonials, which we now know in hindsight through criminal investigations and science were fraudulent and that the products, which did nothing, were designed purposely to steal people’s money under false pretenses. We know it from examples as far back as the traveling medicine show days and as recent as Monavie, which despite being marketed as a panacea, was later revealed by its chief developer to be nothing more than “expensive flavored water”.
The people who engage in these enterprises are eager to prey on fear, the sick and desperate, and those who can least afford to be taken advantage of financially. We know for a fact that virtually every MLM that sells a “health product” routinely uses outrageous miracle cure claims to market the products and only an idiot would believe that they are all telling the truth.
2. Anonymous and unverifiable third-party testimonials have always been rejected as evidence in the most important areas of human endeavor, from the court room to the science lab, because of their inherent unreliability.
3. Testimonials may arise from people who have a financial interest in the product being promoted, which renders the claims suspect at best, since the money aspect can lead to subconscious bias or outright lying.
4. Negative testimonials don’t get published. MLMs don’t tell consumers anything about instances where the product did nothing or worse, caused harm. In fact, MLM companies are notorious for suppressing consumer reports of adverse events associated with their products.
5. Testimonials are influenced by faulty recollection, regression to the mean, confusion of correlation and causality, placebo effects, the desire to believe based on financial interest or external pressure, and a host of other biasing effects. In other words, even if the testifier truly believes that an MLM product did something miraculous, there are numerous reasons why they are probably wrong. This is why science has come to rely on verifiable experimental evidence, like RCT clinical trials. Bias has a huge effect even when people aren’t directly coerced, but in the case of MLM, recruits are often pressured to craft testimonials and use them to sell the product or business; a technique which, incidentally, is expressly forbidden under US law.
6. Consumer protection agencies specifically warn consumers to be wary of testimonials when evaluating MLMs and dietary supplements. In fact, their use in marketing is often illegal and widely regarded as a red-flag indicator of a scam or illegal operation.
scot pederson said: “You can’t lump every company as a Mona Vie knockoff.”
No one is doing that. But since you raised the point, it’s worth pointing out that the number of cookie-cutter companies and me-too products in MLM is staggering. There are probably at least 20 MLM companies selling tropical Voodoo cure-all fruit juices alone; virtually all of them sell meal replacement shakes; and I’d bet at least two-thirds of all MLMs are in the dietary supplement sector.
And it’s not just the products and companies that are unoriginal; they all use virtually the same business model and sketchy tactics – hyperbolic marketing claims, auto-ship requirements, sales tools scams, cult-like greed-stoking motivational meetings, overhyped faux-charities, edification of company leaders, etc…There hasn’t been a truly original idea in the history of MLM.
scot pederson said: “There are all kinds of companies that help improve lives in different ways at different levels. Not saying they cure anything, but improve health without the side effects of Drugs.”
Your statement is so vague it’s worthless. Why? To which companies are you referring? What are some of the “different ways” and “different levels” by which these unnamed companies are allegedly improving lives, and who exactly are these people whose lives have been improved? What do you mean by “improve health”?
Supplements are not recognized or legally marketed for preventing, treating, curing, or mitigating the symptoms of any disease or medical condition. Drugs, in contrast, are recognized and legally marketed for such purposes. Supplements do in fact produce an array of adverse effects. They have been linked to liver damage and other serious adverse events and they may be spiked, adulterated, or contaminated.
Bear in mind that the only reason we know that supplements can cause adverse events is because of post-marketing consumer reports that medical authorities were eventually able to confirm. Not a single MLM dietary supplement has ever proactively undergone stringent safety evaluation like the kind the FDA requires for drugs (and which are the main reason we know that drugs have side effects). Because of their lack of safety testing, no supplement product can be legally marketed with claims about safety or lack of side effects. The supplement consumer is flying blind; even more so with MLM supplements.
More importantly, since supplements are not intended for medical therapy, comparing them to drugs in any way is like comparing a tricycle to an automobile. Only the latter is effective for one’s daily commute, but with a greater, although perfectly acceptable, degree of risk.
There hasn’t been a single MLM product that has ever even been submitted for FDA approval as a medical therapy or disease-preventive agent, which would simply require demonstrating safety and efficacy in properly-designed clinical trials, even though that avenue is open to any company that chooses to invest the energy. Nonetheless, virtually every MLM product continues to be sold using BS miracle cure testimonials, and if a single one of these products could do a tenth of what the testimonials claim, it would be a multi-billion dollar profit generator. To suggest that these testimonials should be given any weight whatsoever is an insult to our intelligence.
scot pederson says
MLM companies are not Pharmaceutical companies so they do not need to do ‘Placebo controlled studies’ which only adds to the cost of products. Big Pharma has no problem doing as many studies as possible that inflate the cost of their products not only to be in compliance but also because the Insurance companies will pay for a large portion in most cases.
When people get High Blood Pressure, High Cholesterol, Diabetes these are conditions that typically do not fluctuate. Once you come down with any of these you have a new found friend for life. So if a Natural Plant-based product helps anyone reduce any of these or bring their body into an ongoing better state of health, this is not a Placebo effect.
The FDA does not require evaluation for Natural-based, plant food products. It’s the claims that a company makes that require evaluation. If their customers give testimonials it is the customer speaking, not the mlm company.
Lazy Man says
It is my understanding that to be able to make medical claims that the products work, they do have to show the proof to the FDA. It’s not about whether a company is classified as “MLM” or “pharmaceutical”, but about the medical claim itself.
Anyone can sell vitamin C, but you can’t sell vitamin C as a cure for cancer. It seems like you are confused with the FDA allowing supplements to sell their products and with the FDA allowing supplements to make unsubstantiated medical/disease claims.
Pharmaceutical companies create natural plant-based products all the time.
In MLM, the customers are quite often also the salesmen. In such a case, I believe that the FTC Endorsement Guidelines on testimonials come into play and that means they can’t give their testimonial once they are a distributor/salesman for the MLM company. Please read the previously article from Truth in Advertising I cited who (presumably) had their lawyers vet their communication about the illegal medical claims.
scot pederson said: “MLM companies are not Pharmaceutical companies so they do not need to do ‘Placebo controlled studies’ which only adds to the cost of products.”
That’s nonsensical circular logic. Any company that wants to market their products for the treatment or prevention of medical conditions is required by law to conduct randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies (RCTs) and submit their data to the FDA for approval. MLM companies do not do this because their products do not treat or prevent anything; if they did, the cost of conducting proper clinical trials would be more than outweighed by the return on investment from having an approved medical therapy. Pharma companies follow these rules because they are successful in the business of developing medicinal products that work. MLM companies do not because their products are nothing more than an afterthought — worthless marketing fodder used as bait for pyramid schemes; and with that comes the exaggerated claims of benefit.
scot pederson said: “Big Pharma has no problem doing as many studies as possible that inflate the cost of their products not only to be in compliance but also because the Insurance companies will pay for a large portion in most cases.”
Your knowledge of what goes on in “Big Pharma” is horribly deficient. Pharma would be overjoyed if they could market their products without regulatory hurdles like the need to conduct clinical trials; for them it’s a financial burden, albeit necessary for consumer protection. Additionally, insurance companies do not fund Pharma trials. It’s amazing that you would say something so ridiculous.
scot pederson said: “When people get High Blood Pressure, High Cholesterol, Diabetes these are conditions that typically do not fluctuate.”
They fluctuate a lot. Don’t try to teach people about medicine when you know nothing about the subject.
scot pederson said: “So if a Natural Plant-based product helps anyone reduce any of these or bring their body into an ongoing better state of health, this is not a Placebo effect.”
Again, you are speaking in needlessly vague terms. If you are trying to convince us that there is an MLM product that can treat any of these conditions, name it and put your evidence on the table. How can we know if it’s a placebo effect if we have no idea what you’re talking about?
scot pederson said: “The FDA does not require evaluation for Natural-based, plant food products.”
The FDA requires it if you want to market your product as a medicinal agent, regardless of whether or not it’s “natural-based” or a “plant food product” (whatever that’s supposed to mean). They do not require it for products marketed as dietary supplements, but the law dictates that supplements cannot be sold using claims of medicinal benefit or safety. The instant such claims are made, the product ceases to be regarded as a supplement in the eyes of the law and instead is designated as an illegally-marketed drug.
scot pederson said: “It’s the claims that a company makes that require evaluation. If their customers give testimonials it is the customer speaking, not the mlm company.”
You can’t even get that part right. The relevant statute under US law (DSHEA) does not require pre-approval of supplement marketing claims. However, if an MLM supplement company or any of its distributors uses testimonials to market their products as medicinal agents, then they are violating the law (enforced by the FDA); and the company is legally responsible. And the FTC requires that all advertising claims must be truthful and supported by adequate evidence. But again, you provided no details whatsoever for us to evaluate. You didn’t identify a company, a product, or a testimonial. Just more pointless tail chasing.
scot pederson says
You are confused about the distinction between Claims and Testimonials. Now if an mlm company posted Fraudulent claims they could get into trouble but a customer posting or being interviewed and giving their testimonial how a product helped them whether it be say ‘Saw Palmetto’ from your local GNC or other Health Food store or an MLM Drink, etc there does not appear to be any regulation holding any company liable for testimonials.
Otherwise there would be hundreds of companies shut down who use Testimonials such as Burt’s Bees. They wont be shut down because people on Amazon gave them a positive testimonial on how it helped their Dry skin or Facial Acne.
Pharmaceuticals yes, do use plant-based products but they Synthesize it.
Claims and testimonials are 2 very different things.
Lazy Man says
No one is saying that Burt’s Bees cures cancer. Testimonials of people saying they like Burt’s Bees products are not typically coming from the salespeople.
The FTC Endorsement Guidelines also hold true for companies about testimonials. I suggest you read that link I sent previously in more detail.
scot pederson says
People who lump every mlm like Mona Vie for claiming it can or will cure cancer is disengenuous.
There are plenty of good mlm companies that have true retail customer testimonials as well as health products sold in health food stores.
Lazy Man says
Well the doctor did that and the excessive research done by Truth in Advertising that I quoted backs it up. Further analysis could be done on the thousands of comments I’ve received on my site.
It appears to be a systemic problem in the MLM “industry.”
It’s very difficult or impossible for someone to tell a “true retail customer testimonial”, but I don’t see 97% of the companies in GNC stores with what can be deemed as illegal health claims (Truth in Advertising’s words not mine). The illegal claims seem to come as a result of the MLM model, not from true customer belief or you’d have it with all the products in health stores.
If an MLM company has a good product, I’d advise them to remove the MLM structure so they don’t get lumped in with that fraud. Plus, the FTC is cracking on the MLM/pyramid model for not being legitimate in general.
scot pederson said: “People who lump every mlm like Mona Vie for claiming it can or will cure cancer is disengenuous.”
What exactly are you saying? Surely we can agree that any MLM, including Monavie, that claims that their products can cure cancer is breaking the law (aside from harming consumers) and that’s it’s not disingenuous to say so, nor to say that there have been scores of other MLMs that have made similarly outrageous and illegal claims about their products. If your objection is theoretical in nature and based on the notion that there may conceivably be an MLM out there that doesn’t follow the Monavie-style playbook, all you have to do is name it and we can investigate for ourselves. It’s pointless for you to continue to be so hopelessly vague.
scot pederson said: “There are plenty of good mlm companies that have true retail customer testimonials”.
All you have to do is point us to the examples and we can assess them for ourselves. Why does that escape you? The longer you continue being so vague, the more you are convincing us that whatever MLM product you are flogging is as scandalous and worthless as the worst of them.
scot pederson says
You are painting a broad stroke by using words such as ‘systemic problem’, very negative.
[Editor’s Response: From the aforementioned Truth In Advertising extensive research: “TINA.org’s investigation makes clear that there is a systemic problem within the MLM industry when it comes to health claims.”
Unfortunately negative things happen, it’s better to know about them and work to make them better.]
As far as testimonials it’s all how its being interpreted because there are scores of Health products such as Tommie Copper, Blue Emu and Smart Relief that use ‘Paid Testimonies’ and the FDA does not shut them down. So whether its a golfer pitching Tommie Copper, Drew Brees endorsing an MLM company or Shaquile O’Neal pitching ‘Smart Relief’ it doesn’t matter if they are paid customers, paid pitchmen or whatever what the FDA is looking for is what the claims are.
[Editor’s Response: Paid endorser would be the FTC as I mentioned before. And it appears that the the FTC is cracking down on them. As you might imagine, with the government deficient, they can’t file and prosecute hundreds of thousands of infractions.]
If the claims have disclaimers such as ‘results will or can vary’, and if they don’t make claims that it will cure you of your arthritic elbow, sciatica, or chronic headaches, etc but they only say it can help, others have seen improvement and so on by using our products then they are typically in compliance.
[Editor’s Response: Again, please read the FTC Endorsement Guidelines that I have linked you to twice now. The FTC has stated that they such disclaimers are no longer acceptable.]
1 of the keys to look for is this “Unlike health claims, dietary guidance statements and structure/function claims are not subject to premarket review and authorization by FDA.” You can go to the FDA website to read all about that.
[Editor’s Response: Dietary guidance statements are not of the form, “‘____’ will cure your cancer.” I’m not referring to structure/function claim with regard to supplements.]
What is your axe to grind with MLM? It is a Legitimate business model and is not a Pyramid scheme. MLM has been legal for decades. It is only Pyramid in shape just as is Every Large Business organization in the world. So should Corporations be banned because there are a handful of people making a lot of $ at the top and the majority of people are working for much less?
1. MLM is not a business .
2. Every MLM I have seen fits the FTC’s definition of a pyramid scheme in my opinion.
3. Corporate America is not a Pyramid Scheme]
You don’t seem to have done any research on the topic and just about everything you have said is the opposite of the established research.]
scot pederson said: “If the claims have disclaimers such as ‘results will or can vary’, and if they don’t make claims that it will cure you of your arthritic elbow, sciatica, or chronic headaches, etc but they only say it can help, others have seen improvement and so on by using our products then they are typically in compliance.”
Literally everything you are saying is demonstrably false. The “results may vary” disclaimer as a defense has been expressly rejected by the FTC since 2009.
Contrary to your other assertion, companies and distributors may not explicitly claim nor even remotely imply that their supplement products “help” or lead to “improvement” of any medical condition or disease symptom. It is expressly forbidden under US law. The only exceptions are a very limited number of approved generic qualified health claims, such as “dietary calcium may help prevent osteoporosis” for products that contain significant amounts of calcium.
scot pederson said: “What is your axe to grind with MLM?”
That’s just a weak attempt at dodging the subject at hand. When did you stop beating your wife? What’s important are the facts, and you are consistently getting them wrong.
scot pederson said:: “It is only Pyramid in shape just as is Every Large Business organization in the world. So should Corporations be banned because there are a handful of people making a lot of $ at the top and the majority of people are working for much less?”
That must be on page 1 of the Idiot’s Guide to MLM because every idiot MLMer says it. We’re not interested in irrelevant musings about things that are shaped like pyramids.
According to the FTC and many reputable authorities, there is a very thin legal line between MLMs and pyramid schemes, and many MLMs have been shut down or fined heavily because they were in fact pyramid schemes in disguise. The FTC lacks the resources to investigate and prosecute them all, much to the detriment of consumers.
When there is inordinate emphasis on recruiting, or recruiting is the only way to reliably generate a profit, then the MLM is considered an illegal pyramid scheme. Most MLMs I have looked at do fit the deifnition of a pyrmaid scheme, and I am yet to see a single one try to prove that it wasn’t, even though it would be easy to do so if they simply provided statistics showing that the bulk of revenue is not derived from product sales to people inside the network No MLMs do this, even though tabulating the data would be simple and could alleviate suspicion. Worse than that, they purposely obscure their data by lumping in customers who merely want a wholesale discount with those who are in the business of selling the product, making it impossible to verify the percentage of revenue from true retail sales — a critical detail that would enable consumers to assess whether or not an MLM is a pyramid scheme.
It also bears pointing out that every last employee at a corporation makes minimum wage or better, and the average income is obviously much higher than that. That beats the averages for every MLM in history, where most participants lose money.
scot pederson says
You clearly know very little about MLM. It is a Legal business, it is a Legitimate business. If it were not all MLM companies would be shut down.
[Editor’s Response: That’s simply not true. Bloomberg published a well-known FTC expert explaining why The FTC can’t shut down MLM/pyramid schemes.]
It is clear you have an axe to grind, you are completely clueless about the industry. Your assertion that the FTC being thin is only partly true. But half truths are what negative people use to twist into full truths.
[Editor’s Response: I seem to have proven almost everything you say to be false and you’ve provided no evidence to support your case. I don’t think I suggested anything about the thinness or thickness of the FTC. I don’t even know what that means. I did present that someone who was an expert at the FTC explained the legal issue they had in shutting down illegal pyramid schemes (see link above). It’s not a half-truth, you can read the Bloomberg article yourself.]
What some MLM companies need to clean up are exaggerated claims about income and some also need to have a better balance of retail customers. Those are different issues than your Hit Piece on Health products using testimonials. But go ahead and twist away.
[Editor’s Response: Yes, MLMs have to clean up those as well. This article isn’t about all the problems that MLMs have to fix, it was just designed to cover the illegal medical claims issue.]
You seem to be on a Campaign but the industry keeps growing because many products do work and these companies choose to use MLM as their platform because their startup costs are much less than trying to take over space at Big Box companies.
[Editor’s Response: Actually the MLM industry doesn’t grow much compared to the rest of the economy. It’s certainly not because the products work as Vemma found when the scheme was effectively taken away. People stopped buying the products when it wasn’t pitched as a way to make income (yes those income claims that need to be cleaned up).]
Just watch Shark Tank some time and find out how difficult it is for start up companies with good products but low financial resources to launch into Big Box stores.
[Editor’s Response: I think I’ve seen every episode since season 2. It’s not an excuse for MLM. Start-up companies can offer straight commissions without recruiting into MLM/pyramid schemes. This is a longer topic that has been covered elsewhere on the site. It isn’t relevant to illegal health claims by MLMs and its salesforce.]
You keep harping on about cancer yet there are very few companies who make those kind of claims and they don’t last long. Focus on a small % to make it appear that all companies are like that shows you know very little about the industry.
[Editor’s Response: Illegal medical claims (not limited to the cancer example) were found in 97% of the companies in the DSA offering health products. That’s not very few… that’s a shade from ALL of them. The companies have lasted a long time. Herbalife is one notable company that is still around today with many of the illegal medical claims brought to light by Bill Ackman.
Please don’t try to spin it as me “focus[ing] on a small %”. That’s straight up misrepresenting the independent third party research of a trusted consumer protection organization.
If you wonder why I might have an ax to grind, it’s because MLMers can’t own up to the facts when presented with research.]
scot pederson said: “You keep harping on about cancer yet there are very few companies who make those kind of claims and they don’t last long. Focus on a small % to make it appear that all companies are like that shows you know very little about the industry.”
Once again your asinine assertion is demonstrably false. Claims about MLM products treating/curing cancer are rampant, and with a few exceptions, the companies who sell them are still in business.
And that’s just a few examples pertaining to cancer claims. If we throw other diseases into the mix, the list of offenders would fill pages. It would be far simpler to create a list of MLM supplements that aren’t marketed with medicinal claims. You would be hard pressed to find a single company that qualifies.
I put my evidence on the table. Do you have any to support your knee-jerk defensiveness and denial?
scot pederson says
As far as the Rant from Vogel you too are clueless about Business in general. The average failure rate of small businesses is close to 75% or more after 5 years and within the 1st 5 years 50% or more because guess what ‘they are losing money’.
Business is a risk and MLM is no different.
[Editor’s Note: I’ve covered the failure rates of MLMs and small businesses before. Please read: Failure Rate of MLMs vs. Small Businesses. The failure rate of an MLM is much, much bigger. It’s like comparing the size of the Empire State Building to Jupiter and suggesting that they might be both called “big”, but are actually the same size. No, they are on vastly different scales]
Some people are just negative thinkers with stinking thinking.
[Editor’s Note: And some people, like scot pederson, seem to be incapable of making statements that aren’t lies when actual research is applied.]
scot pederson said: “As far as the Rant from Vogel you too are clueless about Business in general. The average failure rate of small businesses is close to 75% or more after 5 years and within the 1st 5 years 50% or more because guess what ‘they are losing money’.”
You couldn’t get a fact straight if your life depended on it. According to the Small Business factsheet published by the SBA and the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, two-thirds of businesses are still operating after at least 2 years, about half are still operating after at least 5 years, and a third remain operating after a decade.
And these statistics only reflect whether businesses ceased to operate, not whether the cessation of operations was due to failure or losing money. There are many other reasons for folding a business; e.g., mergers, buyouts, expansion, restructuring, partnerships, name changes, etc.
scot pederson said: “Business is a risk and MLM is no different.”
It’s clear that your risk assessment skills are sorely lacking and your conclusion is contradicted by reality.
scot pederson said: “Some people are just negative thinkers with stinking thinking.”
The force of MLM indoctrination is strong in you! “Stinking thinking” is another hackneyed cliché straight from page 1 of the MLM Apologist’s Handbook. You really suck at internet trolling. We’ve given up holding our breath waiting for you to tell us which moronic rip-off snakeoil pyramid scheme you’re shilling for. It’s no wonder you won’t say; you’re too embarrassed, and you’re compounding the embarrassment factor every time you post.
Throwing away money on a snakeoil pyramid scheme is negative. I am very positive about the value of informing people why they shouldn’t.
scot pederson says
MLM failure rates being higher means very little. The Vast majority of distributors who fail quit after 90 days and their total investment they lost is a whopping 100.00/month or so. I have my own technology business and service the SMB market and you could not find one of those SMBs that invested 300.00 or even 1000.00 to get started.
You are comparing apples to oranges.
Most small businesses take 5 Figures for starting up whether in the initial phase if you need inventory or equipment or 5 Figures for starting up in paying for salaries and other overhead over the 1st 6 months.
You don’t see any MLMs telling you to shell out 20,000, 30,000 or 50,000.00 to start out. Please stop conflating the normal small business examples with MLM. Network Marketing is about the most shoe-string startup there is. And most people who quit soon have not Truly Invested a lot of $. At least not since they outlawed Front-loading years ago.
Lazy Man says
Many MLMs sell a “if you want to be serious” package, that is often a few hundred dollars… even $1000. Then there’s driving costs, tool costs, the pep rally (once or twice a yea) with it’s hotel costs, flight, and food (another $1000 or so). MLMers like to say that these things are optional, but when 99.5% fail, they should be considered mandatory in order to compete with other MLMers who were signed up before you.
You might want to use this MLM simulator to understand that all the hidden costs directly lead to the high failure rate.
If 99.5% of people lose $1000 on average, I don’t see that as a good thing. And typically they just string people along with hope so the losses can pile up year after year.
Please keep in mind that I made money (like nearly everyone else) in my dog sitting business last year. It was profitable on day 1 and certainly not a pyramid scheme.
If you want to say that I’m comparing apples to oranges, then you are saying that MLMs shouldn’t legally be allow to consider themselves business opportunities. I would agree because this is why MLM is not a business. However, until you get all MLMs to agree they are not business opportunities, I think we have to keep on showing why they are not. Thanks for agreeing with me Scot.
I’d like the Lazymandium. Has a nice ring to it. Unlike this article, which is one alarm bell after another.
We have a saying in Dutch (don’t know if it exists in English) that would translate to ‘soft healers/doctors make for stinky wounds’. You don’t fit you that category. Love your efforts, Lazy Man and Vogel.
I thought the MLM scheme doesn’t make financial sense at all, because a company would just sell these ‘miracles’ in the store and keep the sky high profit, if the products actually ‘sold themselves’ as I’ve heard so often. It was truly enlightening to find out the rabbit hole goes so much deeper!
Thank you for all your effort in exposing these unconvenient truths!
Helen Hansen says
Please help stop Kyani run by Mormon Bishop Kirk Hansen.
Is MLM Kyani a SCAM, FRAUD, CRIME, PYRAMID or not ?
Why Kyani fails to pay state taxes,
bonuses to distributors and salaries to employees?
Health issues: http://www.mlm-leaks.org/health-issues-dangers
Tax fraud in Germany and Hungary: http://www.mlm-leaks.org/tax-fraud
How do you call a company which
– has huge debts (since January, 2016) to its distributors ?
– has huge debts (since January, 2016) to its employees ?
– creates a tax avoidance scheme for individuals by using Payoneer system ?
– manipulates with corporate taxes ?
– includes in its CEO counsels former leaders of finance pyramid companies ?
How auditors and accountants from “TMF Group” and “KPMG” assist Kyani ?
Kyani Scam & Mormons Crimes: http://WWW.MLM-LEAKS.ORG
Lazy Man says
Please see: https://www.truthinadvertising.org/what-you-should-know-about-kyani/
scot pederson says
I’m not in Kyani nor willing to defend them, but just the value of Nutrition in general vs Pharmacy Drugs which are chemically made. Let alone the side effects of Drugs, they also for the most part mask the pain, make the symptoms but do not treat most symptoms with some exceptions of course.
As far as Nutrition what really opened my eyes years ago was a movie Documentary that was not made to make $ off of supplements but 2 Drs. who did research across the globe why certain places people lived much longer with much fewer diseases. It’s all about nutrition. The movie is “Forks over Knives”. You can see it on Netflix and parts of it on Youtube.
But most people when getting cancer will not go through the trouble of the extreme diet changes in the movie so the body Can Heal Itself. Yes, our bodies can heal itself with proper nutrition.
The reason some MLM companies are truly good or not that good for you is really based on how their products are made and how much of the superfood ingredients are truly in there. Some superfoods are very high in Nutrition but not something one would eat by itself such as Kale- http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2461/2. Another one is Spirulina – http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2765/2.
For diseases such as cancer there are many known foods eaten all over the world to fight cancer- https://draxe.com/cancer-fighting-foods/
Many of these foods may not ingest well for some so the only other option is to get the food in some pulverized form so that it can get into the bloodstream and begin to help the body heal itself.
So some MLM products may not be so effective because their true Potency (ORAC Value) might only be = to drinking a 32 ounce bottle of Welch’s grape juice. So if they really were to work more effectively they might have to drink 4-5 times the recommended amount or more of the MLM product. If they are educating their customers properly then yes they can get the effective health improvements. But if someone has a very severe disease and they only take the minimum they are not as likely to see dramatic improvement.
If anyone still wants to argue that Nutrition is not effective in helping the body heal itself then you are brainwashed by Big Pharma and not much else can be said.
Lazy Man says
Eating healthy is very different than taking supplements. So let’s steer clear of eating a healthy diet, which is different than taking supplements, which is different than taking medication. Everyone should eat healthy, and that eliminates the need for supplements in more than 99% of people (your doctor can tell you if you fit in that less than 1%, such as being pregnant). If you are in the 1% that have a doctor-diagnosed supplement deficiency, there’s plenty of cheap non-MLM options (folic acid is very cheap)
And let’s not confuse eating healthy with taking medication. You can’t broccoli yourself to a cancer cure.
Your reference to Dr. Axe is very bad as he is not a reputable source. There are many articles on the internet about him scamming people.
And no the foods are sell digested and people get plenty of nutrition. Yes, I cited a real medical journal that reviewed dozens of clinical studies. Try not to faint.
Please don’t scam people with ORAC values. ORAC values were used to scam people so much that the USDA took their table of values down stating:
“ORAC values are routinely misused by food and dietary supplement manufacturing companies to promote their products and by consumers to guide their food and dietary supplement choices.”
I added emphasis to prove the problem.
So don’t get brainwashed by Big Supplement into thinking the products help with medical conditions. Science, like the journal article I cited above, shows it simply isn’t true.
And please don’t suggest that I’m on-board with Big Pharma either. I am very much against Big Pharma too as you can see from this article. The difference is that medicine is shown to be effective, where supplements are shown not to be effective.
scot pederson says
MLM is not a business for those who treat it as a Hobby. And about 95% treat it as a hobby, 95% do not come in at the 1000.00 level or anywhere close. In high #s they come in at around 100-150.00, they go invite a few friends to look at a DVD, website, youtube video and after 3 months of sharing it with a dozen people they say ‘it doesn’t work’. So they are out a few hundred $, that’s not a business. But MLM can be a business for those who take it seriously. And those that do have a higher % chance of making several hundred to several thousands of $ per month. I’m not counting the 1% that make 7 figures as most people are not looking to make 7 figures per year.
Dog sitting is hardly a business, that is just a hobby. A more realistic business is opening up a Dog Motel/Hotel and for watching over dogs for a few days/weeks. And the start up costs to operate one of those is not a few hundred or a few thousand $. Much, much higher. I wont even bother to look at your Slate article. He is a known Ultra Left-wing nut job. Very negative person.
Lazy Man says
Given the 70-90% churn rate of MLMs every year, I simply don’t believe 95% thought it would be a fun hobby. However, please cite where you are getting this 95% treating it as a hobby stat, because my experience in tens of thousands of comments here over nearly 10 years is that it is 95% treating it as a business and only 5% thinking of it as a hobby. In general, most people don’t think being a salesman is a fun hobby… especially very overpriced products.
If an MLM has a picture of a vacation or a beach in their distributor pitch and/or shows an example of someone making more than hobby income, I would consider that dishonest. It seems the FTC does as well.
I haven’t seen an MLM “business” (to differentiate from your “hobby”) that isn’t a recruiting-based pyramid with a downline. Again, that seems to match the the FTC’s description of a pyramid scheme… so we can eliminate those as legitimate businesses.
So it’s fine if you are taking it seriously, but please consider it to be “seriously” about selling product and recruiting-based with a downline. If you are serious about the later, then you aren’t actually taking it seriously
You should tell everyone in MLM to get into dog sitting then, because my “hobby” earned more than 99.9% (and maybe a few more 9’s) of MLMers.
scot pederson says
There are a few reasons for the high churn that has more to do with those who sign up.
A-Since the majority of people who join an MLM get in at the entry level they have very little invested, so if after 90 days its easy to justify why the 300 or 400.00 they invested didn’t work because in their mind its easy to walk away from a small investment. If they didn’t learn how to improve their people skills, marketing skills, etc they only have themselves to blame.
B-Too many people join the Network Marketing industry believing it’s like the lottery. Put in a little money and voila I’m going to be rich one day. But when they realize that 4 hours a week is not going to cut it they bail out. They really weren’t willing to put in the time.
There’s no way 95% of Distributors treat it like a business.
You have 3 types of people for most all MLMs, Retail Customers, Passive distributors and Active distributors. The bulk of these are passive distributors who join up, buy maybe some of the product, put a few hours in a week or some weeks no hours a week, etc. Trust me I had a downline in my last one in 1991 where there were only 2 or 3 out of 30 that were really working the business. The rest were not.
As far as the pyramid accusation all organizations, not just MLM are pyramidal in structure. You have C level people at the top, VPs below, Managers below them and then the majority at the bottom of the pyramid are the worker bees, you name the title, call center agent, factory worker, data entry, you name it. Those at the bottom all make much less than those at the higher levels.
Lazy Man says
I think the FTC did an extensive investigation of Vemma and found that they were being the sold the false business opportunity to get rich recruiting people.
Sounds like you are saying that MLMs are horrible at educating people about MLM… and that’s the people’s fault. I have yet to see the MLM that requires each person to initial a bunch of statements such as 99% will lose money, that it is TON or work, that recruiting is likely an illegal pyramid scheme, etc. Let me know which MLMs do that.
Please, Corporate America is not a recruiting-based pyramid scheme!
Your lies and misinformation are why everyone says MLM are scams.
scot pederson says
Isolating the whole industry as if they all act like Vemma is disingenuous. There are many good mlm’s that do not act in the same manner as Vemma. There have been in the past who did go overboard and most of them are either gone or have been shut down, but you cant put them all in the same category.
Just how is recruiting like an illegal pyramid scheme? You dont know what you are talking about. In the insurance industry for decades if you recruit someone you can get overrides on their commissions but that’s not considered a pyramid scheme either.
You spew a pack of lies, one after the other. It seems you prefer all of America or the whole world to be forced to work for corporate America where most people are never going to get to a decent income and are slaves to their corporate masters.
Lazy Man says
I’ve researched dozens of MLMs over the last nearly 10 years and I haven’t found one MLM that doesn’t act like Vemma. I’ve had an open challenge for anyone to name a good one and the search has come up empty. I think the last attempt serious was ViSalus years ago, which I believe is still in the courts for its scheme. And while some did go overboard and disappear or get shut down, many of them still exist today.
I urge you to review the FTC’s statements to the MLM industry and tell me which MLMs are in compliance with those statements. Show me the good ones that are in compliance with the FTC’s statements.
I again refer you to the FTC’s guidance on MLM and pyramid schemes. You’ll see what they say about recruiting there.
I’m not “spewing lies”, I’m citing my sources largely from the US government that have been around for years.
If you had read my website in any detail, you’d know that I don’t prefer people to work for corporate America. That’s the exact opposite of what my website is about. However, keep on making bad assumptions. It just makes you look bad.
Lazy Man says
Also, this isn’t the place to debate about MLM in a general sense. I have other articles on that that I’ve referred you to.
Please stick to the often health claim violations from MLMs, as cited by Truth In Advertising, here.
scot pederson says
The FTC 1st statement has ‘unrealistic demands’ in their verbiage. I dont have time to list them all but the 1st one is Outrageous and the pattern continues.
The statement that “MLMs must state what distributors are likely to earn” is 100% subjective. That kind of verbiage is akin to the government telling a Stock Brokerage what a stockbroker is likely to earn. It is impossible to prove for any Sales organization what someone is likely to earn. I was a Sales Manager back in the 90s and when I hired people I had a rough idea what they might make based on their previous work history, their attitude, their Work Habits & Work Ethics and I was always right in my predictions for their 1st couple of months, but beyond that it was impossible to predict because some of them perservered for awhile, some of them gave up quickly, some of them did nothing but complain. It was in the 2-way radio business if you must know and selling anything was much easier in those days. But if the government had told every Sales organization in the USA to state what their reps are likely to earn is a ridiculous statement. No one can predict what that rep is going to do until they get in the trenches. They might not like the type of prospects they have to relate to, they might not like learning about the product, they might not get along with the other reps, they might not follow what the Sales Manager teaches.
Some MLM health claims have been exaggerated, but there are plenty that do not and only state that their products help people’s health get better when taken. This is a FACT.
If you take the time to go to your local grocery store you should easily find examples of labeling that is not very different than MLM companies.
ex- Quaker Oats instant oatmeal states ‘heart healthy’, ‘diets rich in whole grain foods and other plant food and low in saturated fat and cholesterol may help reduce the risk of heart disease’. As this Mega company’s message implies eat their product and you may reduce heart disease.
Cheerios cereal- states ‘Can help lower cholesterol as part of a heart healthy diet’
You really think Big Pharma or the FTC is going to take on Proctor & Gamble or General Mills?
Renew Life Ultimate Flora Probiotic- states ‘promotes regularity, supports digestive and immune health’
Nature Made Stress B Complex- states ‘Helps support cellular energy production and the immune system’.
These are just a few grocery items that are saying the same message that their products help improve your health. No different than many mlm health companies.
True, there are some that went over the line and made claims of curing diseases rather than stating their products help improve XYZ conditions. But that is not the case with many companies.
Lazy Man says
If you have a problem with the FTC take it up with them. I’m just the messenger. I do tend to side with consumers, because my site is for the Average Joe (who is a consumer) and has a consumer protection focus. If you disagree with consumer protection, you shouldn’t be commenting here.
I linked to a couple of FTC statements (this one and this one). I may have linked to more, but I didn’t see quote “unrealistic demands” when I did a computer search of the two documents.
Scot wrote, “The statement that ‘MLMs must state what distributors are likely to earn’ is 100% subjective.”
I don’t disagree, but you said yourself that 95% are treating it as a hobby, which is also 100% subjective. Also the FTC quoted the head of the DSA saying that the majority of multi-level marketing participants do not earn more than very modest incomes. So while we can debate what modest is, I think the FTC makes the point clear that MLMs can’t be pushing lifestyle claims of which they cite a few: “images of expensive houses, luxury cars, and exotic vacations.”
As I said before, every MLM I have seen has been a bad actor in pushing those lifestyle claims. As I challenged you before, name a “good” one that doesn’t?
It has always been easy to say what a distributor is likely to earn in MLM as 99% lose money. They could generously disclose that the 99% will make $0. I think we can agree that 99% satisfies the definition of likely? At least it would be a good enough disclosure for an MLM to require the prospective distributor sign-off on.
Truth in Advertising found that 97% of the DSA companies offering a health product had illegal claims. What the companies say and what the distributors both qualify, because an illegal health claim from a salesperson to make a sale is still illegal (by my understanding of the law).
That’s not just “some MLMs”, it is virtually all of them. Go look at Truth in Advertising’s health claim database. I’ll think you’ll find that every company has claims towards aiding or curing a disease.
Please don’t minimize this as something that is rare or only happens with a few MLM companies. That would be a boldface lie on your part, Scot.
The FDA did warn Cheerios – http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/news/20090513/fda-warns-on-cheerios-health-claims
Quaker Oats did agree to change their claims – https://cspinet.org/news/quaker-agrees-tone-down-exaggerated-health-claims-oatmeal-20070417
That’s not 97% of consumer products out there. They addressed the concerns and the claims were minor. In comparison, I’ve seen dozens of MLM pitch themselves as helping with cancer. That’s different than “heart healthy”, which is a structure/function claim that supplements can typically make.
scot pederson says
Your reply is a typical twisting of the facts. I have been in the profession of sales since the late 80s. You can’t pull the wool over my eyes. I’ve seen other manipulators of verbiage try to make straw man arguments such as yours and they dont hold water.
For the last time, ”likely’ is a subjective term and cannot be ascertained because no Sales organization of any kind can predict what any sales or distributor person will do. They have no legal grounds to enforce that part, only the exaggerated claims, frontloading, over-hyping claims of income but they cannot enforce telling any sales org what someone is ‘likely to earn’.
You seem to have a proclivity for throwing a blanket on all mlms. So to compare how products in grocery stores who use the word ‘promote’ are not in any kind of legal trouble here is an mlm example. A company i have a friend that is in this one, a much older lady- https://doterra.com/US/en/p/eucalyptus-oil
Their description of the product ‘Used to cleanse surfaces and the air, Eucalyptus essential oil can help promote feelings of relaxation and clear breathing.’
Notice they use the word (promote). No different than labeling on cereals, supplements one finds in their local grocer.
I could list many other Health companies who do not go over the line either. But you choose to just attack the whole industry.
I personally buy a health product from a Greek online company “concentrated oregano oil”. It has cut down the length of sinusitis by 3-4 weeks and bye bye to taking Anti-biotics which kill not only bad bacteria but good bacteria as well. But Big Pharma doesnt want you to know this.
Lazy Man says
Have you been in sales or MLM? There is a difference. MLM can be selling like when you say that people get into it as hobby to make a few extra bucks. However, MLM can also be pyramiding when people recruit a downline. In a way recruiting can be considered selling, but I’d say it’s selling fraud without explaining how it is a pyramid scheme. Recruiting can’t be considered selling a “business opportunity” because you agreed that MLM and small businesses are apples and oranges.
Likely is a subjective term. I’m not arguing that point. However, when 99% of people make $0, it meets every reasonable person’s definition of likely. If one were to say that is likely that I won’t get killed by a falling anvil today, no one would stop and say, “Hey, ‘likely’ is subjective, you need to define that better.”
At a minimum, we should be able to agree that MLMs could simply cover their butts by saying, “99% of participants will net $0 or lose money.” Then when the FTC calls to enforce regulations, they have a great defense that they told distributors what they were likely to earn. Any “GOOD” MLM would do this. So once again, where’s the list of good MLMs that have done this?
Did you read my article about DoTerra? The claims were so bad that the FDA had to send them a warning letter. Maybe they label their products well, but the problem is that distributors were going around claiming that it could be used for Ebola. The Ebola claims were just the tip of the iceberg of the problems I found with DoTERRA.
And that’s really the problem here… the point of the whole article above.
(By the way, the Now essentials oils that I bought (yes I have eucalyptus essential oils) were less than 1/10th price and didn’t come with any illegal medical claims.)
Can you see the difference now? You can compare labels on cereal and essential oils and most of the time they are fine. Do you think that Cheerios would run nationwide television campaign about how their products help with Ebola? How long do you think that would last?
And again, these aren’t isolated, one-off examples, please refer to Truth in Advertising’s Health Claims database, which “provides only a small sampling of inappropriate health claims being made.” There are over a thousand claims in that “small sampling.”
So you failed in listing DoTerra. Want to try again with another MLM company?
When can get into your “concentrated oregano oil” later, but I think you should read the article again and the science mentioned in it (placebo effect and such). You might not know this but “Big Pharma” can also be “Big Suppla” too. Did you know that Pfizer sells the #1 multivitamin in Centrum? If the Greek online company really had a working product, they can get it approved by the FDA for any condition it helps. That’s why vitamin D and calcium can make claims about osteoporosis. You don’t see “Big Pharma” blocking those supplements. So please leave your unfounded conspiracy theories out of this.
scot pederson said: “The FTC 1st statement has ‘unrealistic demands’ in their verbiage. I don’t have time to list them all but the 1st one is Outrageous and the pattern continues. The statement that “MLMs must state what distributors are likely to earn” is 100% subjective. That kind of verbiage is akin to the government telling a Stock Brokerage what a stockbroker is likely to earn. It is impossible to prove for any Sales organization what someone is likely to earn.”
You seem to have an infinite amount of time to address vague tangents, but apparently not the core issues. It’s not at all difficult to state what distributors are “likely” to earn. Likelihood is simply a statistical statement; it’s not the least bit subjective. Their IDSs do I fact show what distributors are likely to earn (i.e. nothing). Funny though how you take the word “likely” from the FTCs statement and turn into “prove”, as though the FTC is asking for a definitive promise as to what distributors will earn rather than what they are likely to earn based on statistics. Very dishonest of you!
scot pederson said: “Some MLM health claims have been exaggerated, but there are plenty that do not and only state that their products help people’s health get better when taken. This is a FACT.”
Don’t just scream “FACT”. Prove it! Or are you too busy, again? To which MLMs are you referring? And what do you mean by “health getting better”. If someone is sick, and you tell them an MLM product will make their health better, you’re at least implying that the product has therapeutic properties. And if someone is already healthy and not sick, how would an MLM product make them healthier?
scot pederson said: “If you take the time to go to your local grocery store you should easily find examples of labeling that is not very different than MLM companies. ex- Quaker Oats instant oatmeal states ‘heart healthy’, Cheerios cereal- states ‘Can help lower cholesterol as part of a heart healthy diet’.”
BS! According to US law, “labeling” extends to every marketing claim made about a product; it does not simply refer to what is on the product packaging. There are no products in retail stores that make the same kind or extent of therapeutic claims that MLM hustlers make about their products. The latter are saying that the products can cure a myriad of diseases in spectacular fashion. Quaker Oats and Cheerios don’t do this. Incidentally the claims you referred to are known as approved qualified health claims (aka structure-function claims) and they can be made legally by any product that contains pre-specified amounts of the ingredient in question (e.g. soluble fiber).
scot pederson said: “You really think Big Pharma or the FTC is going to take on Proctor & Gamble or General Mills?”
I don’t even know what that stupid question is supposed to mean. Why would Pharma go after P&G or General Mills. Idiotic!
scot pederson said: “True, there are some that went over the line and made claims of curing diseases rather than stating their products help improve XYZ conditions. But that is not the case with many companies.”
You don’t have the spine to name any of these alleged companies because you know that you will instantly be proven wrong. More importantly it’s obvious that there are a lot of MLM companies, if not most, that do market their products using illegal health claims. Your refusal to acknowledge this is intellectually dishonest, as are your vague unsubstantiated claims suggesting that there may exist a few exceptions to the rule. Incidentally, you seem to be utterly clueless about relevant laws. It matters not whether product claims imply the product can cure a medical condition or simply that it can “improve” a medical condition — both are equally illegal. Given how clueless you are, it’s amazing that you pontificate the way you do. You would be better served by shutting up and listening.
scot pederson says
The more I think about it you are not only clueless how natural products are superior to Chemical medicine for the long-term effects on our bodies but you seem jealous of those who are successful
in business. That’s a lot of pent up anger.
scot pederson says
Yes, I’ve been in sales for 20+ years and have been in mlm.
Saw your claim about rogue reps in DoTerra, so no I did not fail with using an example of them at all.
In that article this is how you are cherry-picking a small % of people, so typical of Negative Nellies.
Straight from the article- “When there is a public concern, there’s usually at least a handful of marketers that will try and take advantage of those public fears,” Rich Clelan, assistant director of the FTC’s Division of Advertising Practices, said on Monday.
Notice how the FTC guy stated “a handful of marketers”, hardly a phrase describing massive amounts of distributors. Bro, you are cherry-picking isolated incidents and blowing them way out of proportion.
Plus the website that was censored essentialsurvival.org belongs to on whois.com JULIE BEHLING. She is an indenpendent rep, not the owner of DoTerra.
Once again, an isolated, rogue rep.
I know several people in Doterra and other essential oil companies for years and never once did any of them make outrageous claims, but only how the products can help. So my wife & mother have been buying them for years and they help them in ways just as described, not some miracle cure.
Personally tried a couple of Power juices from people I knew over 10 years ago and even though they did nothing for me at the time I knew the juices were beneficial but I had no chronic illness nor did I take anything beyond the minimum. I was just being cheap.
The Greek online company does have a product that works because before I bought it my Sinusitis would always take 6 weeks or more to get rid of. It reduced it down to 3 weeks, sometimes 2. That is dramatic.
Just wasting my breath. I could show you evidence of a health product that improved someones health in a few weeks right before your eyes, but if it was from an mlm you would still criticize it. Thats just the bottom line.
Lazy Man says
That’s exactly what this article is about. MLM distributors making illegal health claims.
DoTerra, the company, received a warning from the FDA about illegal health claims.
So yes, you did fail to present a good company.
Also if you read my DoTerra article itself, there were citations of actual DoTerra employees (not salespeople) misrepresting the company. So either way, your attempt is failed.
I’m not picking on a small percentage of people. I cited Truth in Advertising’s Health Claims database which “provides only a small sampling of inappropriate health claims being made.”
I have had thousands of comments on my blog alone of inappropriate health claims. It’s why I wrote this article, I was tired of repeating the information in it thousands of times.
You don’t see thousands of problems of illegal health claims with Ocean Spray juice. I have never read that Ocean Spray helps with Ebola.
Do you see Truth in Advertising keeping a database of illegal health claims of juice companies?
Please submit the scientific research (not your testimony) that shows that oregano oil works. If you don’t understand why your testimony means nothing, please read the article above again and follow the scientific sources.
If you show me an MLM with large-scale, placebo-controlled trials that are accepted by the FDA (or equivalent in another reputable country), I would say it could work. For example, I’ll happily concede that an MLM selling calcium and vitamin D supplements may help with osteoporsis. I’m sure that some MLM companies sell such things.
However, you can get the same thing and the same help from many other non-MLM products probably for 1/10th the cost.
scot pederson says
Once again, more cherry-picking. 1 Rogue website for DoTerra, 1 rogue employee, this is such Minutiae but the FTC likes to target isolated situations as they thrive on this sort of thing.
More cherry-picking in your reply here. “provides only a SMALL sampling of inappropriate health claims being made.”
Once again- the word SMALL. Sheesh! How thick-headed can you be?
A small % of bad apples does not represent the whole industry.
Out of thousands of MLMs a small % of companies have had a small % of distributors
going rogue with exaggerated or false claims does not make the industry as a whole tainted.
So how many mlm health websites claimed they cure Ebola?
You have those Stats? I bet not.
scot pederson said: “Once again, more cherry-picking. 1 Rogue website for DoTerra, 1 rogue employee, this is such Minutiae but the FTC likes to target isolated situations as they thrive on this sort of thing.”
Why do you keep repeating claims that are demonstrably false? It wasn’t just one rogue website or one rogue employee. The FDA cited the company itself and documented numerous examples of illegal marketing by a number of distributors:
“Young Living and d?TERRA distributors were reprimanded Monday after the Food and Drug Administration FDA issued warning statements via overnight delivery to CEO Gary Young and David Stirling…d?TERRA consultants made claims that their therapeutic grade oils could treat “viral infections (including ebola), bacterial infections, cancer, brain injury, autism, endometriosis, Grave’s Disease, Alzheimer’s Disease, tumor reduction, [and] ADD/ADHD.”
“Last week, the FTC and FDA sent a joint warning letter to New-Jersey based Natural Solutions Foundation over Ebola treatment claims, and the FDA issued warning letters to two Utah-based companies, Young Living and doTERRA International, for unapproved Ebola treatment claims about their essential oil products.”
scot pederson said: “More cherry-picking in your reply here. “provides only a SMALL sampling of inappropriate health claims being made. Once again- the word SMALL. Sheesh! How thick-headed can you be? A small % of bad apples does not represent the whole industry.”
What we have is clear evidence that the product is being marketed illegally by the company and by its distributors. That’s a fact. You are arguing vociferously that it represents a small proportion of “bad apples”, but you fail to provide any supporting evidence and ignore the fact that the company itself was illegally marketing their products. If one of the bad apples is the company itself, a deeper dive for evidence is unnecessary.
scot pederson said: ““Out of thousands of MLMs a small % of companies have had a small % of distributors going rogue with exaggerated or false claims does not make the industry as a whole tainted.”
Let’s recap shall we. You were the one claiming that not all MLM companies engage in sketchy/illegal marketing and when you were challenged to provide even one example, you came up with the worst example imaginable – a company that was directly cited by the FDA for illegal marketing. You looked hopelessly foolish as a result, and even more so now that you are doubling down and trying to shift the onus.
The DSA has roughly 150 member MLM companies; not thousands. Truth in Advertising documented illegal claims by more than 70 of them.
That’s well more than 50% given that a good percentage of the DSA’s members don’t sell health-related products, and presumably TIA didn’t audit every DSA member company that does sell health-related products.
I bet we could find 20 examples of illegal marketing by DoTerra distributors in under an hour. I have looked closely at a couple of dozen MLMs (e.g., Monavie, Xango, Zrii, Yevo, Dynamic Essentials, United Sciences, LifeVantage, Youngevity, Melaleuca, Young Living, Manntech, Jusuru, Enagic, etc…) that sell health-related products and all of them illegally advertised their products rampantly and brazenly. Do you know how many times I’ve seen someone say that Ocean Spray or One-A-Day products cure Ebola or any other diseases? A big fat zero.
It is overwhelmingly clear that illegal marketing is the rule with MLM, not the exception. And that’s just one aspect that taints MLM – the scandalously overpriced products, grossly misleading income claims, and pyramid scheming add a further level of taint. Not to mention that MLMs seem to draw the dumbest, least literate, and most obnoxious people imaginable.
Given the strength of evidence against MLM, it’s mystifying that shills like you bother to still waste energy making these pathetically inept ham-fisted attempts to defend the indefensible.
I have been following this conversation for a while and it would seem Scot Pederson is finally at the end of his rope.
Scot Pederson said, “Once again, more cherry-picking. 1 Rogue website for DoTerra, 1 rogue employee, this is such Minutiae but the FTC likes to target isolated situations as they thrive on this sort of thing.”
LM specifically showed why this isn’t “cherry-picking” with “1 Rogue website…1 rogue employee”, and yet you blatantly ignore the facts. DoTerra was issued a stop and desist letter for their health claims. That is a documented fact, and if you choose to dig a gigantic hole in the sand and bury your head to ignore it, that does not stop the fact that this event still happened.
DoTerra isn’t alone in getting these treatments from the FTC. Look at what recently happened to Herbalife and their court case. They were told to restructure their compensation plan, kill the false or misleading testimonies of wealth, and pay out $200 million dollars. That is not a “Rogue website” or a “Rogue employee” that is a multi-billion dollar company, and Herbalife has also been caught MANY times with different distributors and different high ranking members making illegal health claims about its products. You can refer to the John Oliver piece for reference from Last Week Tonight.
Scot Pederson said, “More cherry-picking in your reply here. “provides only a SMALL sampling of inappropriate health claims being made.”
Once again- the word SMALL. Sheesh! How thick-headed can you be?
A small % of bad apples does not represent the whole industry.”
Scot, not only did you not correctly read what LM wrote, but you are now completely chopping up and misleading the statement. If you had actually taken the whole paragraph instead of that one sentence out of context, then you would clearly see this is the exact opposite of what you are suggesting.
He wrote and used TINA.org to substantiate that 97% of MLM companies have made bad health claims and that they have a small sampling available on their site. I honestly don’t understand if you think you are being clever, or you have such a strong amount of denial that you have to literally make anything up in an effort to keep your cognitive dissonance intact. This is seriously mind-blogging as LM has been a gracious author in giving you great responses and REPEATED responses after you have done nothing but be reprehensible in nature.
Scot said, “Out of thousands of MLMs a small % of companies have had a small % of distributors
going rogue with exaggerated or false claims does not make the industry as a whole tainted.”
That is not true, has never been true, and has continuously been proven to not be true. How can you say these things after so many sources have shown this to be a lie? Please defer to the previous paragraph I wrote about your ridiculous antics and how inappropriate and fallacious they are.
Scot said, “So how many mlm health websites claimed they cure Ebola?
You have those Stats? I bet not.”
Ah, so now you are taking his sarcasm seriously, but you can’t take his statistics and references accurately. How perfectly fickle of you. We all know that it doesn’t matter if it is Ebola, or cancer, or hypertension, or anything else. The point is the MLM products don’t help with, and can’t help with, any of the medical conditions they claim to be helping. They never have been able to help with them and they never will help with them. These are conditioned lies that have been spread throughout the existence of MLM since DeVos and Van Andel perfected the technique of running a snake-oil scheme from Mytinger and Casselberry who were taught by the original conman Rehnborg. If you actually went through the history of MLM and understood how it started, the bumpy road it has had, and how it got to be where it is today, then you would not be so preposterous with your allegations.
jay adams says
No not sticking my head in the sand at all. A warning/cease letter over 1 rogue distributor, over 1 rogue employee does not equate to the Majority of Distributors acting in the same veign.
You people are totally clearless how the FTC works. They can shut down companies for the violations by just 1 employee (whether known or unknown by the company).
So taking this same scenario if an Automobile maker had just 1 employee responsible for making false claims on a Rogue website about the Safety of their brakes being so good that nobody dies from a crash and this was not known by the Automaker that website would get shutdown and the Automaker would be penalized but does that mean that all employees of the Automaker are scammers/liars.
How much clearer can I make this analogy?
Lazy Man says
Scot Pederson, are you changing your name to Jay Adams, now? LOL
As three people have pointed out to you, it wasn’t a warning letter over 1 rogue distributor and/or 1 employee. Please stop misrepresenting the problem.
Give me an example of the FTC shutting down a company for violations by one employee. It took them years to build a case against Herbalife with thousands of violations… and they still didn’t shut them down.
You can make the analogy clearer by using a correct initial premise. It isn’t 1 rogue employee.
Jay Adams formerly known as Scot Pederson said, “No not sticking my head in the sand at all. A warning/cease letter over 1 rogue distributor, over 1 rogue employee does not equate to the Majority of Distributors acting in the same veign.”
What??? That isn’t what I said at all, that is what you said, which was wrong. It continues to be wrong. It has never been correct! How is someone this deluded?
“Jay Adams” said, “You people are totally clearless how the FTC works. They can shut down companies for the violations by just 1 employee (whether known or unknown by the company).”
What is it that we are clueless about? We have read what the FTC states about MLM and have extensively read multiple issues the FTC has brought up against MLM. Simply saying we are not correct, and then justifying it with a very incorrect interpretation of what the FTC can or cannot do is proof enough that this degenerate troll is concerned only with fighting and not sustaining a valid viewpoint.
Jay “Scot Pederson” Adams said, “So taking this same scenario if an Automobile maker had just 1 employee responsible for making false claims on a Rogue website about the Safety of their brakes being so good that nobody dies from a crash and this was not known by the Automaker that website would get shutdown and the Automaker would be penalized but does that mean that all employees of the Automaker are scammers/liars.”
First of all, your “scenario” is based on what research? This more of your weird troll fiction that has no premise and has completely obfuscated the point of this thread.
Second of all, if you knew anything about GM, Lexus/Toyota, or Volkswagen, then you would know that all three of these companies have had heinous problems in the recent past and none of them are shut down. GM has flat out lied about where their cars are being made to Trump. Lexus/Toyota had a huge issue with bad brakes, and Volkswagen just suffered huge billion dollar loss because they released cars that emitted too much smog. These are just three examples of the companies themselves having MASSIVE issues off the top of my head, but honestly all major car makers have had some problems in the past. The fact that you brought up car makers of all examples further proves how outrageously deluded you are.
Third of all, of course not all employees are directly related to issues their employer may have (Unless it is a company of a handful of crooks). This is like asking, would you hold the janitor at Wells Fargo responsible for the actions of the CEO…This analogy is HORRIBLE. I don’t think anyone here has even suggested that everyone involved in MLM is a knowing scammer or con-artist. Many people involved in MLM are just vulnerable, uneducated, or ill informed. That is why websites like this exists. To help consumers make better decisions with their time and money.
This would be downright comical at this point if it wasn’t so pathetically sad. I’m not sure what oregano oil this “Greek company” is using, but it evidently has some very negative side effects on your cognitive abilities.
Hi Lazyman, I totally enjoy your rational analysis. It’s commendable that you continue trying to educate the hopelessly stubborn. “There’s none so deaf as those who will not hear”. It would be interesting to see the intersection of MLM’ers and Trump supporters. The MLMers I personally know are all Trump supporters — every. single. one. Trump is nothing if not a master salesman. Much as I detest the man, I have to give him that.
People believe all manner of wacky things: Vaccines cause autism, nitrogen is better for automobile tires, hanging baggies of water near a door will repel flies, storing flashlight batteries in the freezer preserves and/or recharges them, the list goes on and on and on. People accept these myths to be true with no critical thinking whatsoever.
As Neil DeGrasse Tyson observes, scientific literacy in our country is dismal.
But MLMers are a step worse. Some of them may actually be scientifically literate enough to know their products are bunk, but their financial well-being (really, just minimizing their loss) requires them to believe.
Upton Sinclair said: “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it”. His quote as it applies to the exact opposite — MLMers “belief” in their products — is just as true.
I weep for our future as a species.
Mayumi Liwayway Espina says
Insightful article. I have been against MLMs, since they are quite predatory to the most desperate of people. They tend to siphon the last remaining hope said people have. All of us should be more aware about this.
Truth teller says
What a about ZILIS CBD and ultracell its a large pyramid scheme that uses most of your principles above its ran by Steven Thompson and Dr Desilva ?
Lazy Man says
I don’t know anything about that one. There are probably a thousand or more MLMs. I’ve stopped trying to keep track of them all. It’s easier to understand the deception they have in common and just avoid those companies when you see it.
Such an interesting read. Here in the Philippines, people referred to MLMs as networking. You will be sales-talked by these ‘open-minded’ people into signing up and make easy money, either by encouraging other people to sign up as well or by selling products they claimed would treat certain conditions. Some of the famous products they sell include skin whitening and acne removal products. They will be offering ‘big discounts’ when you purchase in bulk orders to encourage more sales and send you testimonials from users of the product who say that it works 100% for them. But those users are actually part of the networking business so it makes you wonder whether those products really work. It will make you have some trust issues.
David Gonzalez says
Very interesting article, thanks for sharing. I am very naive about which health products work for someone like me at 66 and semi poor health. I need advice on mlm products that might be beneficial to me? Thanks for advising millions of people on mlms.