A pink fluffy reverse funnel
February 27, 2017 2:58 PM   Subscribe

Timeless Vie is a parody-MLM turned blog aimed at exposing the issue within the MLM industry, and particularly in how it targets women. Starting out as a thread on Mumsnet, it aims to debunk claims and share stories.
posted by mippy (56 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
I've had a couple relatives get sucked into these things. One lost her house (I'm not sure that was directly related, but I'm sure it didn't help). These are not stupid women; both have college degrees and one worked full-time. I guess they just saw it as an easy way to make fun money and didn't do the math. Besides the money, one of the real tragedies is how it affects their relationships with friends and family. People stop returning their calls and messages because they're constantly asked to buy stuff or sell for the company.
posted by AFABulous at 3:34 PM on February 27, 2017 [6 favorites]

Is it really almost fifteen years since The story behind the Work From Home signs?

(Spoiler: The story was Herbalife. I guess Facebook posts supplanting highway corflutes is progress... of a kind.)
posted by zamboni at 3:53 PM on February 27, 2017 [5 favorites]

I'm glad for this. For years I have attended spice/candle/jewelry/sex toy/enviro-friendlycleaning stuff/candle/protein powder/fucking whatever the fuck parties in support of friends and family (always women).

The pattern is typical: early evangelizing, sales for a few weeks then people avoiding them on social media and eventual abandonment of the enterprise (with and/or without significant financial losses, not to mention time wastage and damage to relationships).

It's predatory to women and we really need to create literacy around these MLMs. Warning people can feel like shitting on their parade, though. I wish they were illegal.
posted by Klaxon Aoooogah at 3:55 PM on February 27, 2017 [29 favorites]

I am low-key obsessed with watching MLM videos on YouTube, especially for the new trendy ones like LuLaRoe, Honey & Lace, etc. I don't know why -- I have no intention of EVER joining a MLM but I find the first-person "Such-and-such MLM has CHANGED MY LIFE AND EVERYTHING IS PERFECT NOW" SO APPEALING. I guess it's how it triggers my meat-brain fantasies of belonging in a tight-knit community and of Having! It! All! and discovering this One Simple Trick that will make me beautiful and desirable and deliriously happy 100% of the time... yet the homemade video testimonials are so tinged with desperation and need and self-deception that it's also like watching some sort of sad amateur magic show at the same time? Anyway. Humans are weird.
posted by rogerrogerwhatsyourrvectorvicto at 4:00 PM on February 27, 2017 [19 favorites]

Just wait until you have a family drama because certain people start marketing to their cousins on Facebook. The transition between "normal" and marketing posts makes me feel like the body snatchers have arrived.
posted by selfnoise at 4:17 PM on February 27, 2017 [1 favorite]

That site is doing God's work. MLMs are a pox on society.

It's even worse here in Michigan as one of the prime MLM offenders is Amway, based out of the west side of state. The insane amounts of money the DeVos family have scammed from people over the years has allowed them far too much influence in our state politics, and they are more than happy to wield it. More of the world at large has finally been exposed to their insanity thanks to the dimwitted Betsy DeVos becoming Secretary of Education.

You would think folks would easily recognize a pyramid scheme when they see one. Unfortunately, when they finally do, it's already too late to make themselves whole financially.
posted by bawanaal at 4:20 PM on February 27, 2017 [14 favorites]

I have a relative who is doing two MLMs and works a full-time and a part-time job. I feel like she's joined a cult. If I were to directly criticize her decision to join these MLMs and turn her Facebook into a marketing forum I know she would distance herself from me. On some level I feel guilty for not saying anything, but she is privileged enough to absorb the fallout from these terrible decisions. I did tell her, flat out, that I've hidden her from my timeline on FB because I don't give a shit about leggings covered with bulldogs and bananas. She just laughs.
posted by xyzzy at 4:22 PM on February 27, 2017 [1 favorite]

Is Rodan & Fields one of these things? I have a friend on Facebook who is suddenly an R+F evangelist, and I would have sworn there is no possible way she could get roped into a pyramid scheme.
posted by straight at 4:39 PM on February 27, 2017 [2 favorites]

Yes. R+F is MLM and seems to be an MLM gateway drug if my FB feed is any indication.
posted by xyzzy at 4:41 PM on February 27, 2017 [4 favorites]

I feel like there had got to be an MLM name generator out there that everyone uses.

1. ______ & ______
2. Young_______
3. ________Life
posted by soren_lorensen at 4:46 PM on February 27, 2017 [9 favorites]

OP, thanks for the public service of posting this. MLM *is* a pox but I had no idea there was a site devoted to sharing that knowledge. Yay for those hard-working volunteers.
posted by Bella Donna at 4:54 PM on February 27, 2017 [2 favorites]

(So Multi-Level-Marketing not Men Loving Men. FYI. Confused me at first, even looking at the link, until I read the first few comments.)
posted by kittensofthenight at 5:04 PM on February 27, 2017 [18 favorites]

An ex girlfriend of mine was working at the Rodan & Field corporate office for a while.

I'd ask, "Wait, isn't that a pyramid scheme?" And she'd allow as how it was, but that working for the folks at the top of the pyramid meant good pay, good benefits, and medium-lavish work lunches. All that swindled money.
posted by Myca at 5:28 PM on February 27, 2017 [3 favorites]

1. ______ & ______
2. Young_______
3. ________Life

1. Bone Thugs & Harmony
2. Young Thug
3. Thug Life

checks out
posted by AFABulous at 5:45 PM on February 27, 2017 [59 favorites]

One Facebook friend is entangled in a marijuana MLM.

Fuck 2016
posted by ocschwar at 6:05 PM on February 27, 2017 [5 favorites]

Jesus Christ, as a 31-year-old white lady, I feel like one day I had never heard of LuLaRoe, and then the next day every other Facebook post in my feed is about LuLaRoe. Leggings, leggings, boo!
posted by samthemander at 6:15 PM on February 27, 2017 [5 favorites]

I know of 2 marriages that imploded because of Advocare. What a scam.
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 6:21 PM on February 27, 2017 [1 favorite]

Fuck 2016

got some news for you, dude
posted by thelonius at 6:35 PM on February 27, 2017 [18 favorites]

As a second monther of 2017, you already have 12 months of 2016 downstream. And each of those months has 12 months of 2015 under it. I'm going to make third month of 2017 in just a few days, I can feel it.

C'mon errant asteroid, we're ready.
posted by maxwelton at 6:47 PM on February 27, 2017 [12 favorites]

Is there an MLM scheme that sells oil blends? I used to follow some Instant Pot FB groups and for a while there seemed to be a lot of not-very-subtle shilling of "special" seasoning oils and I figured it was probably an MLM situation. I would guess there's a pretty big overlap between Instant Pot evangelists and the MLM demographic.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 6:58 PM on February 27, 2017 [2 favorites]

This is great! Thank you!

I know so many people who have gotten into one of these. LuLaRoe, Rodan + Fields, and Jamberry are the most popular at the moment. Years ago, I actually had to end a friendship over Amway: every time I talked to her, she and her husband kept trying to recruit me, and that's all they wanted to talk about. No thank you!

I'll also give a plug here for Pink Truth, which is listed on the blogroll on this site. As the name suggests, it's mainly focused on Mary Kay, but has information (and discussion boards) about other MLMs too. Some of the regular writers on Pink Truth were featured on a 20/20 segment about Mary Kay in 2015. If you think Mary Kay is "one of the good ones," prepare to have your eyes opened.
posted by SisterHavana at 7:03 PM on February 27, 2017 [6 favorites]

Way back when I was in college, and politically very confused I took a stab at founding a college libertarians club (shut up, my parents are Objectivists, this was an extinction burst), but after like two meetings kind of went yeah, meh, never mind. No harm done to anyone, except that some dude from "the community" (i.e. not a college student or in any way attached to the college) had come to one of the meetings. And then he got wind that I was about to leave on a study abroad trip to China and started calling me about an exciting business opportunity!!!! My first impulse was to run, but then I thought well it can't hurt to meet with this dude and who knows maybe he'll have something interesting to say.

He didn't. It was Amway. Taking Amway to China. Busting that Chinese market wide open!

I hadn't really heard of Amyway or multi-level marketing before (I was 19, and this was pre-useful-internet) but as soon as he started talking about it I started looking for escape routes. It was like a visceral squishy feeling of OMG RUN, RUN NOW, SO SCAM, MUCH SNAKEOIL, WOW. I very conveniently lost his contact information and then fucked off to China.

Which just illustrates how libertarianism has been a gateway drug for MLMs for decades, I guess.
posted by soren_lorensen at 7:16 PM on February 27, 2017 [15 favorites]

(So Multi-Level-Marketing not Men Loving Men. FYI. Confused me at first, even looking at the link, until I read the first few comments.)

Don't worry about it- it's an easy mistake to make if you're not familiar with the context.

However, if the confusion persists, you may want to try some CBT.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 7:23 PM on February 27, 2017 [39 favorites]

I have an extra-tall-and-curvy disdain for Lularoe for two reasons: first, they've got a bogus artificial scarcity thing going on where a consultant will have one, or very occasionally two or three, of any given print/style/size, and if you're not the first to claim it you're shit out of luck. Second, most of their prints are terrible. Some of them are decent and a handful are good, but the overwhelming majority are kindergarten-ass amateur-hour eye-insulting hideousness that may very well have been created with a box of eight Crayolas and an outdated version of PowerPoint. But offer exactly one of them and it turns into a coveted "unicorn" print. Enjoy searching all thirty of your Lularoe Facebook groups for those yellow leggings with red and turquoise bicycles. I am embarrassed to know this much about Lularoe.

The flip side of this is that I suppose I'm more willing to tolerate MLMs with decent products when I really should just shun them on principle, and I don't feel particularly good about that.
posted by Metroid Baby at 7:45 PM on February 27, 2017 [8 favorites]

Huh, nothing about Beachbody on there.
posted by infinitewindow at 8:10 PM on February 27, 2017 [4 favorites]

However, if the confusion persists, you may want to try some CBT

Canadian Banjo Therapy is the best!
posted by leotrotsky at 8:27 PM on February 27, 2017 [8 favorites]

The Edison Twins taught me enough about pyramid schemes that at age nine I could tell the investment scheme my Dad's friend was excitedly gushing about, and encouraging my Dad to get in on, was Not Okay. I guess what I'm saying is, the world needs more Canadian children's educational television programming.
posted by Secret Sparrow at 8:29 PM on February 27, 2017 [8 favorites]

Yeah, I hide these people from my FB feed too. I feel like FB has at least gotten more sophisticated when I say "see less of this sort of thing" it filters out the MLM posts but lets me still see their baby pictures. What fills me with RAGE, though, is when people add me to a "group" for some shitty online facebook sales party they're throwing.

I have one friend (friendly acquaintance, I guess) who is a dermatologist (yes, a real medical doctor, and for a fancy high-end practice) who constantly hawks Rodan + Fields on the side and I have two problems with this: a) doesn't dermatology pay like really well??? it's super-weird when she's always posting videos about how R+F is letting her achieve her dreams; and b) holy shit is there not a medical ethics rule against that?

If I knew I wanted something from Tupperware or Usborne I used to ask around to find out who was selling and buy from a friend or friend-of-a-friend, but now I'm so uncomfortable with it I just won't do it at all. (I suppose I might with Tupperware, they're on the up-and-up, but you can also just buy direct from them.) A company that markets lifestyle products to women and won't sell its products on the web or in stores is almost certainly scamming SOMEONE. (I actually think it's an okay model for personal services where you want to build a relationship with a provider before engaging them, as well as for lingerie and sex toys where some people are just more comfortable NOT going to the store, those wouldn't bother me.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:42 PM on February 27, 2017 [7 favorites]

Oh, man. I have a sister who eats this shit up. She just switched from Pampered Chef (overpriced kitchen junk) to Primerica (overpriced life insurance). I'd say that how these jokers manage to stick around is beyond me but, well, there's my sister.
posted by Big Al 8000 at 8:51 PM on February 27, 2017 [1 favorite]

The other weird thing about LuLaRoe and the other "artificial scarcity" MLMs is that they claim to be "empowering women" with "business opportunities", but by forcing them to sell random prints instead of allowing them to curate their own collections, they aren't learning how to select patterns, materials, etc... they don't educate their sellers on the sourcing of the fabric or even where the garments are made... so it's not even a bridge to starting your own retail shop.

I mean, an Easy-Bake oven actually cooks food -- this is like "empowering" someone to cook by giving them a cardboard box labeled "oven."
posted by rogerrogerwhatsyourrvectorvicto at 8:52 PM on February 27, 2017 [6 favorites]

I check in on Pink Truth periodically to see what's happening, and one of the things I find fascinating is how poorly Mary Kay works out even for those who are nominally successful at it. I mean, most folks get roped in, convinced to buy thousands of dollars worth of "inventory" (why, one might ask, in the age of Amazon Prime shipping is it necessary to buy a package of so many random products when you have zero customers? But since much of the operation depends on many of these folks buying inventory and giving up, that's what they push), exhaust the pity purchase capacity of their network of friends and relations and acquaintances pretty quickly, and then are left with thousands of dollars of junk in their garage.

But you've also got plenty of "sales directors," people who've ascended the ranks pole and recruited others, making less than $20K/year, possibly substantially less (see also these numbers). Here's someone who personally recruited 100 people, had several of them go on to be directors themselves, and won awards for her sales, and she made $13K one year after expenses. Even the pink cars are just leased and they'll make you pay part of the payment if you fall behind your goals. These are the top couple percent of the organization, and this is what they're getting.

That kind of money is not nothing, no, but it's far from the "executive income" they were led to expect was coming, and these are the people who are doing comparatively well. If someone who somehow managed to rope 100 women into the operation is making that little, how much do you think you can expect to outright lose if you're not as "successful" as she was?
posted by zachlipton at 9:10 PM on February 27, 2017 [9 favorites]

start marketing to their cousins on Facebook

Even grosser - So here in Japan where I am for work, Amway has apparently become a thing. Not only have I seen actual TV commercials for Amway, I've noticed many people on OKCupid have actually been compelled to put in their profiles not to contact them for Amway pitches.

I didn't think they even called it that anymore - didn't they change the name a few times because Amway had built up too much of automatically negative name-recognition reaction?
posted by ctmf at 9:49 PM on February 27, 2017 [3 favorites]

John Oliver did a fantastic piece on MLM companies (FF, spanish subtitles).
posted by lmfsilva at 1:53 AM on February 28, 2017 [5 favorites]

Yes this! and as the subtitle says, it is totally a feminist issue (specifically, a parenting one). On a fb chat page I'm on someone asked for information about work from home jobs she could do that were flexible and could fit around kids. ONLY MLM reps replied. It was kind of hilarious, there was a steady variation on 'PM me hun, I can help' 'Hi I work for Herbalife and do this, send me a PM'. But of course there were no other replies, because there IS no other flexible work from home work out there, for people who are not trained marketeers or writers etc. It absolutely sucks to be a parent and have MLMs be the best offer out there.

mumsnet is definitely doing God's work, BTW. The Let Toys be Toys campaign also spun out of a mumsnet thread.
posted by low_horrible_immoral at 4:17 AM on February 28, 2017 [5 favorites]

I despise the MLM industry with evangelical zeal (see my FPP history on Mefi!) after watching a couple of bright and lovely people I knew in my 20s have their lives ruined *and* their personalities hollowed out (similar to my old pals who became alcoholics or drug addicts, which since I was a professional musician back then means lots of old pals lost). I early on concluded that these things were cults and used mind control techniques on depressed and scared people that preyed on their vulnerabilities like any televangelist but worse, because it seemed designed (like Scientology) to separate people from their families and social support networks -- and literally to break their spirits. And intelligence or education don't seem to be defenses.... one of the victims I knew was a fellow PhD student in the early 90s. Another was an Ivy League grad who, ironically was led down the path by her AA buddy/sponsor after she developed a cult-like attraction to AA despite not really being an obvious alcoholic to her friends.

Talk about a chain of evil. I have since learned that 12-step programs are fertile recruiting ground for other cults like MLMs. My friend was probably set up all along. The drug that ruined her life wasn't alcohol, it was Shaklee vitamins. Anyway, she was a brilliant poet before she was an MLM zombie. So weird.

As a result of these experiences I've hate-followed the anti-MLM subculture for years.

The newest iterations especially target immigrants. That's HerbalLife's big innovation. But women were the original targets of the pioneering MLM schemes back in the 50s, with the idea being to exploit their emotional labor.

tldr anyway this website makes me happy and thanks for posting this.
posted by spitbull at 6:04 AM on February 28, 2017 [11 favorites]

spitbull, do you know of any scholarship into all of these things that are cults-but-not-cult-cults? Fringe political movements, MLM, woo health and wellness stuff, Trumpism etc...? Is there a psychological profile for people who are attracted to this stuff, or for people who lead it? Is there scholarship in how to dissuade or deprogram people from these kind of everyday cultish things that are all around us?
posted by soren_lorensen at 6:37 AM on February 28, 2017 [1 favorite]

(I find it interesting because I have a spidey-sense that borders on tornado siren klaxons for all such groups, and I have always wondered where that sense came from and why some other folks seem to utterly lack it, despite them being way way smarter than me.)
posted by soren_lorensen at 6:38 AM on February 28, 2017

There's quite a bit of MLM scholarship, in fact. I don't really follow it as much as the online anti-MLM activist community, which is very active, but here is a broad Google Scholar search.
posted by spitbull at 7:01 AM on February 28, 2017 [1 favorite]

Are there less of these on Canada? or am I just associated with a sceptical crowd. I don't see it much but through Americans posting on social media.
posted by elke_wood at 7:19 AM on February 28, 2017

MLMs are a great argument for math education. Someine tried to get me on the Amway bandwagon in college with the "you recruit five people and they recruit five people" thing. I went home, plugged in the numbers and realized how quickly you'd reach the point of having the entire country be Amway dealers. I tried to explain it to the guy the next time I saw him, but he was already drinking the koolaid.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 7:24 AM on February 28, 2017

Canada is definitely a part of it. I'm in the demo and have had friends doing pampered chef, Stella & dot, scentsy (ugh) and my husband's boss does Arbonne which gets weird. Before my family figured out we're immune we also got approached about some weird Melaleuca thing and a cleaning one I can't remember.
posted by warriorqueen at 7:26 AM on February 28, 2017

This has definitely infected Canada. My cousin jumps from one to another of them, and a supervisor at work tried to recruit me for Arbonne recently.
posted by peppermind at 8:01 AM on February 28, 2017

I am horribly introverted and making friends for me mostly consists of smiling at extroverts and hoping they adopt me into their lives. So I was super happy when an acquaintance I was trying to make into a friend invited me to a 'girls night.' There was going to be other women, wine, board games, movies, etc. It was like the girl night you see on tv all the time, so exciting. I got a hostess gift. I left work early. PS - it was a Thirty One Gifts and some fancy organizational tool MLM party.


When she started talking up those luluroe leggings, I declined all party invitations. Not falling into that trap again. This is why I'm going to die surrounded by 124782947 cats that eat my face.
posted by 80 Cats in a Dog Suit at 8:18 AM on February 28, 2017 [10 favorites]

This is why I'm going to die surrounded by 124782947 cats that eat my face.

You know, you only have to recruit one percent of those cats into this exciting other-peoples-face-eating opportunity, and...
posted by Etrigan at 8:31 AM on February 28, 2017 [7 favorites]

Here's always been my response to these kinds of products: If that $50 Arbonne face wash is so much better than $5 Cetaphil, why isn't the company making money hand-over-fist by selling it on the open market in much greater volume?
posted by slkinsey at 8:35 AM on February 28, 2017 [3 favorites]

Oh yes, def. a problem in Canada as well.

I've said it elsewhere, but having an education does not necessarily mean that one has cultivated good critical thinking skills.

My own feeling is that on some level these MLMs hit the same buttons as and/or intersect with those Tony Robbins/ woo woo/motivational speaker/cult/wish to belong and make life have some meaning aspects that seem to be a part of what makes humans tick. MLMs use many of the same pressure tactics as cults, for sure.
posted by Klaxon Aoooogah at 8:41 AM on February 28, 2017

If that $50 Arbonne face wash is so much better than $5 Cetaphil, why isn't the company making money hand-over-fist by selling it on the open market in much greater volume?
Unnnngh, that is the most frustrating thing about R+F converts to me. They post these before and afters while raving about efficacy and they do look great! But it's all confirmation bias; I don't have the heart or energy to remind these ladies that prior to buying into the cult, their skin routine may have included an occasional half-assed swipe with a Clinique moisturizer they got for Christmas 2 years ago. Of course your skin will look much better when you commit to a routine of cleansing, moisturizing, and exfoliating.
posted by xyzzy at 8:49 AM on February 28, 2017 [5 favorites]

My mom has dabbled in this stuff over the years - Mary Kay and Avon when I was a kid, and now as an emtpy-nester she's been doing jewelry parties for a few years. I haven't needed to go all intervention on her, thankfully; her Facebook activity consists of a post when the latest jewelry catalog comes out and that's about it. She knows the jewelry isn't to my taste so she doesn't bug me about it. But I do wonder how much she's into it in a way that I'm not seeing, because she does go to their conferences sometimes.

I think part of it for her is loneliness/something to do - her own career was sacrificed to raising us kids and having to follow my dad when his job took them to other cities. I know my parents have solid heads on their shoulders and a good budgeting/financial planning process, so I figure that is what keeps her jewelry thing from getting them into trouble (and ironically probably keeps her from any chance of being the tenth of a percent that really makes actual money from it.) I'm fairly certain she gets some pretty jewelry and a friend group out of it, and that's about it.
posted by misskaz at 9:29 AM on February 28, 2017

An acquaintance from high school tried to recruit me to Rodan & Fields. I’m a skincare snob and I’ve done enough reading to know that certain drugstore products are more effective at a fraction of the cost. The only skincare product I pay more for is moisturizer with retinol, because it’s one of the wonder ingredients and I haven’t found a drugstore version I like.

So fast-forward a few weeks and I’m having lunch with a friend I haven’t seen in a while. What I notice immediately is how glowing her skin looks. I compliment her and she says thanks, I bought a bunch of Rodan & Fields from my niece who started selling it! She wasn’t trying to pitch me, she was just genuinely excited about the stuff. And I was stunned, because I was convinced it was just snake oil, and here my friend was and she looked amazing. So she’s going on about her routine and she mentions, almost as an afterthought, “Oh and I started using a prescription retinol cream too.” Well that explains it...
posted by mama casserole at 9:30 AM on February 28, 2017

great argument for math education.

Alas, I have seen highly educated people simply deny math they are fully capable of comprehending.

Venn Diagram something Trump supporters something.
posted by spitbull at 9:38 AM on February 28, 2017 [2 favorites]

To wit, see hedge funds holding Herbalife stock, albeit their denial is that Herbalife suckers will understand obvious math. And so far they've been right.
posted by spitbull at 9:40 AM on February 28, 2017

At a previous job, my manager invited me to a jewellery party at her house. Being somewhat new to the U.S., and to this job in particular, I had no idea that this was going to be a sales pitch meeting. I was desperate to make a good impression on my boss and flattered that she would invite me into her home. I was so uncomfortable during the "party", and felt pressured to spend way more on jewellery than I've ever spent. Was I coerced into buying the jewellery? Well, not physically - no one was literally holding my wrist and forcing me to sign the sales sheet. But, rightly or wrongly, I could not shake the feeling that I would be judged on this interaction, and that somehow it would affect the way my work performance was viewed.

Bosses: Please keep in mind the inherent power dynamic in the relationship if you are considering inviting people from your workplace to a "sales party".
posted by cynical pinnacle at 10:44 AM on February 28, 2017 [3 favorites]

Bosses: Please keep in mind the inherent power dynamic in the relationship if you are considering inviting people from your workplace to a "sales party".

Sounds like your old boss very much kept that power dynamic in mind.
posted by Ragged Richard at 11:24 AM on February 28, 2017 [1 favorite]

It's predatory to women and we really need to create literacy around these MLMs. Warning people can feel like shitting on their parade, though. I wish they were illegal.

I (a dude) was invited by a another male friend to some sort of male-targeted cookout tool party years ago. I think that our entire friend group realized immediately that it was some weird MLM thing and attendance was "light" to put it politely. He never mentioned it again, and promptly dropped out of the scheme.

I think women (yes, a gross generalization, I know) are too polite to go to somebody's "sell you shit" party and not at least buy something. Our neighbor, who went through about 4 different MLM scams herself before realizing that they are scams, now just hosts "parties" several times a year where ladies who are selling LuLaRoe, scentsy, whatever can come and hawk their wares.

The only one I can see as an actual benefit are the sex toy ones, as most middle-aged housewives aren't comfortable buying that stuff at a skeevy store or even ordering online.
posted by Mr. Big Business at 12:10 PM on February 28, 2017

I've said it elsewhere, but having an education does not necessarily mean that one has cultivated good critical thinking skills.

The difference between multi-level marketing and college is that one is that one is a scheme designed to fool the desperate into shelling out vast sums of money, falling into financial ruin in the pursuit of the vanishingly slim hope that they might someday do better than break even, and the other is multi-level marketing.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 2:35 PM on February 28, 2017

Here's always been my response to these kinds of products: If that $50 Arbonne face wash is so much better than $5 Cetaphil, why isn't the company making money hand-over-fist by selling it on the open market in much greater volume?

The internet is what makes this situation so transparently ridiculous. MLM outfits talk up the "personal touch" of having your own salesperson or whatever, and some will allow existing customers to do online ordering once they're hooked up with a salesperson, but they don't, as a general rule, sell directly to anybody online. And their sales agreements usually prohibit online selling. Why exactly in 2017 would any real business, one built on the orderly selling of goods to consumers rather than building networks of distributors and getting them to all take on large amounts of inventory, not take advantage of online shopping? I mean, you have Amish groups selling their products online, but not these businesses. How does that make any sense if these businesses weren't centered around draining away their salespeople's money?

In fact, what you wind up with is thousands of dirt cheap Mary Kay products being dumped on eBay by people who've given up and are looking to unload their garage full of old (if not expired) merchandise on anybody who will take it away.
posted by zachlipton at 5:35 PM on February 28, 2017

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