Multi-level marketing/pyramid schemes and the people who fall for them -

Cosmos

Soldier of Love and Bitching on the Internet
Supervisor
True & Honest Fan
kiwifarms.net
You've probably run into them before. A friend of a friend, acquaintance, or maybe even a friend or relative of yours sings the praises of some company that they swear will totally change your life. It could be makeup, clothing, essential oils, herbal remedies, weight loss items, or whatever. It soon becomes clear that this person has a vested interest in selling you these products, as they are a "salesperson," "wellness advocate," or "associate" of the company (although this is never an official position and they are not included on the company's payroll). This salesperson may even goad you into attending a sales party/meeting so that you too can make tons of money by doing hardly any work!

You've just encountered a victim of multi-level marketing.

Wikipedia has the best definition of what multi-level marketing is. Basically, a bunch of suckers pay to join a company (although sometimes this isn't necessary) and then buy a ton of a company's shitty merchandise. They then run around hocking the company's shitty merchandise, and the profits of whatever small amount of merch they manage to sell gets funneled up to the company executives.

MLM companies and their followers are well-known for giving off cult vibes. The companies basically brainwash sellers into thinking that they need to be "on" and ready to sell merchandise at any available moment (unlike normal jobs, where this attitude is confined to workplace hours). Sellers are also taught to view literally everyone around them as moneybags, which usually leads to damaged relationships because they won't shut the fuck up about their products and keep begging their friends and family to buy some.

An exhaustive list of multi-level marketing companies can be found here, but here's a shorter list of the biggest offenders and what they sell.
  • Amway: Assorted household products
  • Herbalife: Health and wellness products
  • ItWorks!: Health, wellness, and beauty products
  • LipSense: Lipstick
  • LuLaRoe: Clothing
  • MONAT: Haircare products
  • Nu Skin Enterprises: Personal care and dietary supplements
  • Plexus: Health, wellness, and weight loss products
  • Primerica: Financial services and insurance
  • Scentsy: Scented waxes and essential oils
  • SeneGence: LipSense lipstick, cosmetics, and skincare products
  • Younique: Skincare and cosmetics
I'll get this thread rolling with some examples. If you have any experience with MLM companies or know someone who's become prey, feel free to share your stories here.

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When your dedication to shitty essential oils outweighs your dedication to your own fucking children.

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Because MLM salespeople have to hit up so many people to even find a couple who are willing to buy their stuff, they're usually given a canned copy and paste sales pitch. Some people are too stupid to even do this right, though.

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I'm glad this woman got out of the LuLaRoe cult. Her story just shows how incredibly predatory these MLM companies are. Her husband also commented on this post and gave more insight into what happened.

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If you want more bullshit like this, go down the #purplecard rabbit hole on Instagram or Twitter. It's full of people acting like being able to buy a drink or a shirt with their stupid Younique card is a major accomplishment even though anyone with a real job can do the exact same thing.

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It has saved others with “terminal cancer brain tumor’s” but you have to buy it through this chick messaging you on Facebook who sells it out of her garage while wearing her pajamas. Oh and doctors are just assholes who want your kid to die so they can be rich or something, who cares about the details and motives. But this chick, she just wants to help so much that instead of just giving you something that she’s saying would save the life your kid, she wants to sell it to you.

Fuck these people.
 

MerriedxReldnahc

World's Okay-est Proctologist
True & Honest Fan
kiwifarms.net
I learned about the ItWorks! thing from one of my high school friends briefly shilling for them on Instagram. Basically some kind of saran wrap that you use on your.... voluptouousness...that will magically make you skinny. She DID stop posting about it and ended up losing weight through other means but I can't say the same for my friend who was briefly a "Plexus Ambassador". She was taking some kind of drink mix for weight loss which didn't do shit. You can find people selling it in bulk all over Craigslist along with those other pyramid scheme products.
 

Sword Fighter Super

I hope the princess made lotsah spaghetti!
True & Honest Fan
kiwifarms.net
I learned about the ItWorks! thing from one of my high school friends briefly shilling for them on Instagram. Basically some kind of saran wrap that you use on your.... voluptouousness...that will magically make you skinny. She DID stop posting about it and ended up losing weight through other means but I can't say the same for my friend who was briefly a "Plexus Ambassador". She was taking some kind of drink mix for weight loss which didn't do shit. You can find people selling it in bulk all over Craigslist along with those other pyramid scheme products.
I know somebody who tried that. I had to keep myself from laughing when they told me what it was.

"So you're basically wrapping yourself with overpriced trash bags and rubbing cream all over yourself?!"

:story: HOLY FUCK I've worked events for Herbalife, Primerica, and Younique. It's the most depressingly hilarious thing watching the attendees try and push their scam on hotel staff.
That's the worst thing about these people is that they'll usually go after the people who like them first.
 

BatNapalm

Killed Captain Clown
kiwifarms.net
I don't know why, but I'm endlessly fascinated by MLM scams and the saps who fall for them. It's the perfect genre mix of tragedy, comedy, and from the perspectives of the people who actually think they'll get rich as glorified door-to-door salesmen in the 21st century, high fantasy.
 

registereduser

True & Honest Fan
kiwifarms.net
I swear, a good half of the dumb chicks from my town - who had 1-5 kids right out of high school, if they even made it to graduation - have been involved in at least one of these schemes. It always seems to be a certain kind of person that gets sucked into this kind of thing.

Like, if you want to hawk cheap shit to hipsters at an obscene markup, just buy and resell Aliexpress jewelry or something.
 

ForgedBlades

Milled wedges.
kiwifarms.net
My buddy got into selling Cutco when we were in high school. He gave my name and number to the person above him, and she would call me twice a day for about a month and leave messages trying to set up an "interview".

My mom felt bad for him and ended up spending like $500 on a set. They seem like decent knives, but I don't really know anything about knives.
 

neural

MovieBahb ォ運ム
True & Honest Fan
kiwifarms.net
Oh man, MLM scams.

Never been a part of any of them, but one of my side-hobbies back in the day was to intentionally fuck up MLM sales meetings whenever I'd find one. I remember a friend of my brother's called me and wanted to come to my dorm room for a "business proposal", I said fine, he came at 7 AM on a weekend and pitched this amazing MLM company, I brought out a notebook and gradually drew a branching tree diagram as he went on about uplines and downlines, showed him then surrounded it with a pyramid, the look on his face was just priceless.

Thankfully, he took it like a champ and stayed friends, he later left them a few months later, when I asked him why, he gave me some interesting stories:

Basically, they got ads for a "premium sales training seminar event" hosted by some big-shot in the MLM company (this is of course another ploy to get money from victims), so he and his friends paid up, and when they arrived they found literally no one, so they called their uplines to ask why, they basically got told that they were "too experienced to fall for shit like that".

Furthermore, he was once helping out with another meet-up event, this time on the organizing side and another hot-shot gave him his car keys to get his wallet out of his car (yes, downlines are basically servants of their uplines, especially the big ones up-top), not only was the car a POS one, my friend also got curious and opened the wallet, and it had less than $3 in it. This was kinda his last straw, as both events happened almost in succession.

EDIT: Forgot to mention that the Quatloos forum is a great forum for discussing scams, they are pretty much KF for scam artists.

That's the worst thing about these people is that they'll usually go after the people who like them first.
They also tend to low-key cut off friendships if you refuse to buy-in. That's because MLMs tend to make victims think of people exclusively in terms of money opportunities.
 

Martys_not_smarty

kiwifarms.net
So basically Girl scout cookies and those things schools try and get their students to sell to their friends and family for shitty prizes?
I remember several times during my grade school and jr. high school days they'd have people come in for a day to hock some magazine subscription service on the kids for a bunch of worthless shit if you wore some furry balls with googly eyes on them (the more you sold the bigger the balls lol), long story short it was a scam and the only person who made out like a bandit was this one girl who had legacy subscriptions from her older sister and her dad worked in office supply distribution or some shit and had a bunch of business contacts so the people would just renew through her so hey win/win for getting ahead of the system and looking like a pretentious douchebag while doing so.
 
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FierceBrosnan

The Primal Brat Tamer.
kiwifarms.net
Can you give any detailed stories?
Incoming tl;dr..

I was working one event about 6 years back, I forgot the name of the company though, it was one of those diet drinks and meal plans programs. Everyone in attendance was trying to sign up the hotel staff, the techs setting up the event, you name it. One older lady kept trying to sell me on the meal plans, which started out around 300 bucks for one month of their "food", and she was pulling every single thing she could think of to get me to sign. She was doing the full cougar routine except instead of dick she wanted credit card info. I did not wind up giving this woman any money ( or dick) because it was a blatant scam. Sad thing was she was so desperate to make a deal of any kind because you tell tell she knew this was bullshit and blew waaaaay too much money on this scam too.

The presentation itself was an hour long guilt trip about personal image and body weight clearly aimed at people between the ages of 45-60 years. One of their "specialists" kept asking me all manner of questions about my weight and BMI and then hitting me with "well that's not healthy, you need to lose 30lbs, this will let you do that in 3 weeks". The 300 a month daily meal plan was 2 shakes and a microwave meal adding up to about 400 calories, total, per day. So it was nothing but a high price tag crash diet with 0 benefits. I pointed out that I could literally do this for free by just not eating and they got pissy as fuck.

Came to find out later that the "doctors" that created the program had been busted for operating without licenses and had no medical experience at all and their entire diet plan was the most unhealthy thing you could even consider doing.

Herbalife was an interesting one too. It went the same as above, a mess of people desperate to make quick cash hoping this would turn their lives around getting sucked into a diet pill scam. But their presentations were more direct, more targeted at the individual. The word "YOU" must have been said over 500 times in the first half hour. Just a non-stop barrage of selling each audience member on why they needed to be taking and selling Herbalife. It would have saved time for them to just come out and say "Get high on your own supply and then buy more from us". It was amazing watching the speakers promote their shitty little sawdust pills with a straight face while going on and on about all the miraculous benefits of this cure all superpill. We stole a lot of their catering because fuck those guys.

The financial scams are the saddest though. Mostly elderly people shuffling in and stitting in silence while some bloviating asshat in a suit he probably stole rants on about how giving him money will totally ensure their retirements and set their kids/grandkind/pets up for the rest of their lives too. After the main presentations everyone gets herded out into "workshops" where the only thing they learn is how fast someone is willing to steal their lives out from under them.

All of these fucks will do everything they can to not let you leave until they get your banking info. They will block every exit with a body, they will follow you down halls, they will do everything they can to get your money short of flat out mugging you.
 
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