Friday, August 21, 2009

MLM - No, Please Not Another One!

Having grown up outside of Utah, I feel that I lack an understanding in a foundational Mormon Institution: multi-level marketing, or MLM. In nearly a quarter of the interviews I have with adults, some form of an offer to join an MLM comes up. I've even received Christmas cards with MLM pitches making up the majority of the card's text. Christmas cards! I know that most Mormons likely believe that Jesus was a Republican capitalist, but this is ridiculous.

From an outsider looking in, I've observed the following commonalities in most of these MLM schemes:
  • Smooth-talking salespeople with products who's actual value defy common sense (mystical berry juice from the Pacific Islands, over-priced commodities like vitamins, and many health-related creams and lotions).
  • The requirement that all participants themselves spend hundreds of dollars a month on these products of dubious value, ensuring that the founders have a steady income, regardless of any actual sales to non-members. I'm positive that these required-purchases by the sellers themselves make up 90% of total products ever sold.
  • Pressure for these recruits to constantly harass friends, neighbors and family about 'getting in at the top level,' of one of the hundred new MLM pyramids introduced every month in Utah.

    I know members that have jumped from one scheme to another for years. They've paid thousands of dollars for boxes of junk that still sit in a garage, or pile up in the Utah County landfill. Yet, as soon as the next-new-thing comes out, it's full-steam cycling through the friends again.

    After many years of counseling people in financial matters, here's my advice - avoid MLMs like the plague. The only people making any money are the shady founders at the very top that quickly move on to the next scam. If you want to become financially secure, try the proven method of spending less than you make, paying off debt quickly, building a savings and retirement account, and investing in long-term value. And as a bonus, you'll still have some friends and family left that don't avoid you like a leper.

    1. Bishop, you don't sound like yourself today. This post actually makes sense!

    2. My mother-in-law spent quite a while with Amway as her primary religion (she'd pick Amway-related events over church functions), and even her sons pretty much started avoiding her to avoid the "push it down your throat" sales pitches. She did calm down eventually, but caused a fair amount of stress in the family by not taking "no, I can't afford to pay 3x as much for this item and how does this differ from a pyramid scheme again?" for an answer.

    3. I feel like I've been a bit too negative lately, so please forgive me. It might just be due to all the MLMing that I can't hide from. Maybe I'll start my own MLM company that sells "no-MLM" door signs!

    4. Watch the film "Believe" (which totally makes fun of MLMs) and you will laugh your head off because it's so realistic!

    5. It’s funny, Bishop, that for all the negativity you have toward MLM companies, you sure don't mind accepting my FAT tithing donations which come from my MLM earnings. When I founded the Star-Nosed Mole Milk bottling and MLM company, we erupted into a profit machine in only 11 months. Now people everywhere (mostly Mormons in the 401st ward and surrounding areas) are enjoying the health benefits of this curdled yellowy-brown glass of pure refreshment. Not only are people enjoying the health benefits derived from a daily glass of Star-Nosed Mole Milk, but the church is reaping 10% of the profits. How can you see this as anything other than a win-win? You should be more appreciative of this divine business structure.



    6. Monomo,

      How do I get into this Star-Nosed Mole Milk bottling company operation? Sounds delicious!! If I could get my whole family to drink it as their only source of liquid refreshment, I bet I'd be a millionaire by December! Am I right? Please send more info. ASAP!

    7. Vanessa,

      Congratulations on taking steps to change your financial future! EXCITINGLY, we are currently seeking distributors in your area! I am so EXCITED about this product! It is EXCITING to finally have a product that can literally transform the health of those who consume it. I was so EXCITED about your inquiry that I rushed to get my ward directory to find your home address. I have sent necessary paperwork to you via priority mail. I think you will be EXCITED to learn about our distributorship program. Please complete the appropriate forms and return them with your personal check for $2500 made out to the Star-Nosed Mole Milk Bottling Co. The small fee will pay for your distributor training DVDs and a full month’s supply of Star-Nosed Mole Milk. You will be EXCITED to know that you may either consume or sell your supply of SNM milk! Even better, you can sign up friends and family to become distributors and then you get a 3% cut of everything they sell. Once you have 5 levels of distributors beneath you, you reach our EXCITING Double Diamond distributor status! I know...its EXCITING isn't it? It is a great home business! With your check for $2500, you will be put on our EXCITING auto ship program, and each month you will receive a new supply of our pasty, curdled and delicious Star-Nosed mole milk. The EXCITING paperwork I am sending to you will explain everything! We welcome you to our family of distributors! We are so EXCITED to have you as one of our sales associates!