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How to Turn Down Your Friend's Multi-Level Marketing Program

Vemma

Vemma

There's nothing more awkward than when a high school teacher friends you on Facebook, asks for your address, then sends you a box with some Vemmas in it and a 3-page handwritten note telling you how much Vemma has changed her life. There's no way to gracefully say, "You're an educated woman in your 50's, how on Earth do you not see this is a pyramid scheme?" Luckily, the FTC has got you covered. A couple of days ago, they formally suspended Vemma's business on the grounds of being a pyramid scheme. Just goes to show, sometimes all you have to do is sit in awkward silence for a couple of years, and the government will fix your problems! 

Plexus

Plexus

Dietary supplements are almost completely unregulated. Somehow, despite living at the intersection of "foods" and "drugs," they don't fall under the purview of the Food and Drug Administration. So when the FDA issues a warning about one, it's best to sit up and take notice. Try and find  a diplomatic way to point your friend to that warning about "the pink drink" (which, ew,) or to the fact that some Plexus products are illegal in Australia due to banned chemicals.

Jamberry

Jamberry

Jamberry nail wraps are like those plastic sheaths you can boil around Easter eggs, except for your fingernails. It's every bit as unpleasant as it sounds. Maybe have your friend do some honest math here. Have them take a look at what they're spending every month to be part of this, then have them work out how many sheets they'd have to sell per month to break even, let alone make money. Then remind them that they're going to have diminishing returns each month they push their friends into this because no-one likes to be guilted into buying things. 

Arbonne

Arbonne

First off, be careful posting makeup pics on Facebook or Twitter. That's when they pounce. Arbonne is settling comfortably into the same market niche as Mary Kay and Avon. Promises of white Mercedes-Benzes seem to be their big hook, and they make a nice little sideline by forbidding you to sell from a custom website and making you buy a website from them. Ask your friend if she's really "owning her own business" if they won't even trust her to pick a WordPress theme. 

Shakeology

Shakeology

Beachbody produces the P90X and Insanity workouts, which actually do work for some people. But their coaches often get the short end of the stick, and a lot of their business comes from a MLM (that's multi-level marketing) scheme centered around a shake powder called Shakeology. The one nice thing about your friends who sell Shakeology is that they tend to be fit and tend to post a lot of shirtless workout pics to Facebook, so if that's your thing, maybe just keep quiet about this one.

Amway

Amway

Amway is just a classic, one of the biggest, oldest, and "best" examples of a multi-level marketing business. Based out of Ada Township, Michigan, Amway sells just about everything you could want to clean your home or keep up your beauty routine. The only problem is, they're mostly selling to each other because everyone else is tired of buying it. With revenues of $11.3 billion, Amway is large enough that it can consume someone's life completely, and that $150 million hit they took for fraud a couple of years back wasn't even a blip on their radar. Seriously, if someone you know gets involved with Amway, show them the facts before you lose them. 

Herbalife

Herbalife

A U.S. District Judge dismissed a lawsuit against Herbalife earlier this year, because "Herbalife openly disclosed that it was susceptible to legal challenge precisely because its practices occupy the gray area between legitimate multilevel marketing company and illegal pyramid scheme." Maybe gently remind you friend that "We warned you we were shady" shouldn't constitute a legal defense. 

doTERRA

doTERRA

First off, you're going to have to take a deep breath and count to 10, because looking at that ridiculous, stylized name is going to make you either laugh out loud in someone's face or lash out in anger at the person closest to you. If you must say it out loud, try to avoid screaming out the "TERRA" part the way that caps lock suggests you should. The massage oil peddlers claims that the FDA has labeled their products as certified pure therapeutic grade," but since that's a label doTERRA made up and copyrighted themselves, the FDA obviously did no such thing. Just tell your friend that you have a bottle of baby oil and a decent spice rack and you can create the doTERRA experience yourself, thanks. 

Forever Living

Forever Living

Forever Living sells aloe vera products and bee-related products like royal jelly and honey. Just keep making "none of your beeswax" jokes and bee puns until they tell you that you're being irritating. Then say, "Now you know how it feels!" Sure, you could be adult about it, but you're nine entries into this and you know someone who's gotten suckered into at least three of those companies, right? Aren't you tired of being the grownup?

LifeVantage

LifeVantage

LifeVantage and its signature ProTandim product are both kind of terrifying. Not only can you buy the stuff you need to make ProTandim yourself, your version probably won't have shards of metal in it. (Unless you get really, really confused.) You can always look at the legal posturing and threats they level at people who challenge their claims (poke around at the first link above) to convince your friend that they aren't good people. Or, you know what? To heck with it. You get hit with like 30 of these requests a week. Maybe it's time to pitch in, just not the way they expect you to. Buy stock in the company. It's publicly traded. Make the people hitting you up for cash work for you, for a change.