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It’s October, which means it’s time for scary stories to tell in the dark – and what could be scarier than buying into a “great opportunity” that ends up costing you money, time, self-respect, and friendships, all of which you’re never get back?
I’m talking about people who get roped into multilevel marketing businesses and, instead of discovering a way to stay home and make money, end up struggling to come out the other side financially intact.
Here are 7 stories from people who have been there and survived to tell the tales.
7. So many scams to keep track of.
“I was with SeneGence/LipSense for a year and a half. I originally joined to buy the lip color for my daughters that dance at a discount. A few people found out I was a distributor and wanted to buy it. I did pretty well and hit some impressive sales goals, got some ‘free’ products and had an amazing ‘sisterhood’ that was always supporting, encouraging, etc.
“But then I had a moment of clarity: Selling a firming lotion for $90? Skin care for $85? Mascara for $28? I didn’t even really like the lipstick. The discount structure wasn’t even very impressive when you pay sales tax on the retail value, plus shipping, plus your shipping costs (like mailers, cute bags, etc.). Plus, there are payment processing fees through services like Square and PayPal. You’re also supposed to get business cards, pay for booth rentals ― hell, they even wanted me to be contracted with David’s Bridal and it was going to be around $200 per month out of my pocket.
“They’d release so-called limited editions that would sell out, so you had to grab them before actual sales were lined up. They would be temporarily out of stock to build hype and then go out again. And the distributors were the lucky ones to pay $55 a year to be able to do this!”
6. Borderline harassment is still harassment.
“I joined Revital U ― which sells ‘smart coffee’ and CBD oil to help you sleep ― in June 2019 and have not yet made any money. Not a dime. I was hoping I would at least get back the amount I spent to join, which was $99, but that has not happened.
“Everyone I sent a sample to since I started has not been interested. I know I’m supposed to keep in contact and send out emails, but that feels like borderline harassment to me. I did it a few times, but I know when someone just isn’t interested!
“I have no idea how people are convinced they can get rich with this company. You would have to have thousands of repeat customers or a ton of ambassadors under you, which seems so sleazy to me.”
5. A relationship ruiner.
“I had a strange experience with MLMs many years ago when I was a makeup artist. Very frequently over a period of time, I would be hired for makeup lessons only to be confronted with a full sales pitch about Arbonne. In the space of three months, I had about a dozen bookings that tried to recruit me and use my established and trusting network to make sales.
“Also, many years ago, I had a boyfriend whose best friend was part of Kyani. This guy’s wife had left a full-time job to become a Kyani distributor and they were inundating us with their stories about being self-employed. I went overseas by myself for a week, and returned home only to find that my boyfriend had decided to sign up to Kyani. He and his friend wanted me to sign up, too, because I’m ‘well connected.’ I told him that if he wants to embarrass himself in an MLM that’s one thing, but if so, our relationship would be over immediately because I didn’t spend years building my own businesses from scratch, with a loyal and trusting client base, only to be associated with this type of predatory trash.
“He didn’t continue, but I still dumped him soon after.”
4. Yeah, that’s not how that’s supposed to work.
“I fell for it: non-toxic cleaning and no chemicals, right? Well no, not exactly. My kids got into a spray bottle fight and my oldest got sprayed with diluted Blue Diamond from Norwex. The allergic reaction was over the top.
“My upline had to give me detailed directions how to find the ingredients to share with the doctor; I reminded my upline that this was supposed to be chemical-free. Their answer? ‘Well, every person reacts differently.’ That was it. That was how I found out they were all liars. And now I can’t get off their spammy email list. I’m preparing to report them to the Better Business Bureau.”
3. This sounds straight-up predatory.
“A co-worker of mine started a new job and was so excited to tell me about it. She went on and on about the ability to earn $5,000 a month, attend luxury dinners and go on trips. Apparently, it was so easy because she was selling something that everyone needed. She hadn’t made any money, but spent about $1,000 on certifications and classes.
“She refused to tell me the name of the company and asked if she could practice her pitch at my place later that day. I said sure.
“Once at my house, my coworker and her sister revealed that the company was Primerica, a financial services MLM that sells life insurance. Mary went on about life’s what-ifs and the cost of burying family members. I told her I wasn’t interested in purchasing life insurance and my family isn’t in the U.S., so it didn’t matter anyway. Then she asked if I wanted to make an extra $5,000 a month by selling. I said no. She talked for at least an hour about how I’m financially irresponsible and ignorant for not wanting to make extra money and live a more lavish lifestyle.
“The worst part was her explaining how it’s not a pyramid scheme because ‘those are illegal.’ She ended up selling policies to some of the poorer kids’ parents and hooked the kids to sell once they turned 18.”
2. I won’t even admit how much of this crap was in my last bag of donated clothing.
“LuLaRoe markets their products to customers like a garage sale ― you had better buy it when you see it, because it will be gone before you know! It’s addictive and creates a culture of ‘friends’ that you buy from. I’m not well off, but spent in excess of $5,000 to $8,000 over the last three to four years buying this shoddy clothing. I bought right into their BS story that I was helping a small business succeed.
“My first purchase was a pair of leggings. They were really soft, and I was hooked. I bought items, won items, traded, sold and searched for my ‘unicorn’ skirt for weeks. I’ve spent so much time and money on LuLaRoe, it nearly caused me to get divorced.
“I finally quit buying as of earlier this year, as the quality and sizing variability was just too much. Not to mention the wasted money, and the fact that you can’t return but only can exchange items, is overwhelming.”
1. There are no words.
“My husband and I were enticed into joining Amway. We had three kids, low-paying jobs and one car.
We did all the stuff, attended meetings and tried our best. Then there was some major event happening in Detroit. Our upline said we needed to be there (we lived near Buffalo). We explained that we had no money for a trip.
So they suggested we SELL OUR CAR to make it ― our only car, despite having three kids and two jobs.
It’s interesting to note that the upline guy owned a used car lot and offered to sell it there.
We bailed when this happened.”
Be kind to your friends trying to sell you stuff on Facebook, guys. They’re likely realizing (or are about to realize) where they’ve gone all wrong.
Has anything like this happened to you or someone you know? Tell us about it in the comments!