Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Direct Selling-The Scam That Won't Die

“Hi! I just found out about this great business opportunity. When can we meet to discuss it?”

Ever heard that? And not from one of those Nigerian scam type spam emails, but from an actual friend? Or maybe, less of a friend, more of a college roommate’s cousins’ coworker’s sister’s husband who you may or may not have met six years ago at a wedding where you were really too drunk to remember anything at all? And you, being the naïve/ignorant/too polite to say no sweetheart that you are, agree to meet at Starbucks, and waste at least an hour of your life saying things like, “no, I’m really NOT all that interested in making any money right now,” and “would it involve me desperately flipping through old address books trying to find [suckers] possible future business partners?”

That’s right, ladies and gentlemen: the direct selling [scam] opportunity.

The first time we got a call like this, I was wary, but my husband wanted to give it a shot.

“I just got a call for a great business opportunity!”
“I don’t know about this…what company is it for?”
“They didn’t say. They’ll tell us all about it when we meet for coffee.”
“Uh-huh. See, now that, that’s suspicious right there. What kind of product would we be selling?”
“They didn’t SAY. They’re going to tell us at the MEETING.”
“Now WHO was this who called you again?”
“I don’t know…I mean…he said his wife knew me from…I guess the time I was working at such-and-such…”
“Is this like a get rich quick scheme?”
“No! It’s a great business opportunity!”
“Yeah, you said that already.”

So we went, and spent way too long listening to these nice people tell us how we could make a lot of money buying our groceries online, and convincing our friends and family to buy their groceries online, and convincing their friends and family to convince their friends and family to buy their groceries online. Did I mention it cost $100.00 to sign up? And nowhere in the process do YOU actually SELL anything. You sell the opportunity of selling. It’s very 5th grade chain letter-y. You remember those, don’t you?

Dear Friend,

When I felt like it, I sent a dollar to the first kid on the list and didn't "break the chain," however, I never received $6,000 like I was promised.

Not that these buying your groceries online things don’t pay off for SOME people-they just don’t pay off for YOU. Trust me, by the time this "opportunity" gets to you, whatever money there was to be made has been milked by some guy who heard about it six years ago. Every single person who’s tried to get us to sign onto something like this has really broken my heart. The couple who has six foster children and is just trying to pay the bills. The family whose business is going under, and the dad just wants to spend some time with the kids, and the wife’s lifelong dream is to become a yoga instructor. I just want to shake these people and say, “but don’t you understand? You just lost even more money signing up for this crap! Just because Donald Trump endorses the company doesn’t mean it’s a good idea! He also endorses The Apprentice!”

Admittedly, some of these [scams] opportunities are a little more appealing than others. Take Arbonne, for example. Their products are all natural, hypo-allo-not tested on animals-no more wrinkles or pimples. And you hear the spiel, and you see the paychecks (yes, the big ballers pass around their paychecks as proof that YOU CAN MAKE MONEY TOO!), and you use the product and it really is pretty good, and you start thinking, hmm, maybe I could sign up, you know, then I could have these great wonderful hypo-allo-blah blah blah, and probably I could get my mom to sign up too, and maybe her friends, then I’d have a white Mercedes and a second honeymoon! Then you find out you have to buy $800.00 worth of product to get started, and keep buying a certain amount every month to be “active.” I don't know about you, but not only do I not have $800.00, no one I know does either. And it’s about this point, when you’ve heard several spiels, and tried the makeup, and decided NOT to buy your groceries online, that you realize how this thing really works: you pay to get started. The guy who [suckered] brought you in gets a cut of the money, the guy above him gets a cut of the money, and so on. And the people you [sucker] bring in, you get a cut of their money, as do those on up the chain above you. Deliciously evil, don’t you think? And totally like a chain letter.

And no, I don’t want to hear about a great moneymaking opportunity, thanks for asking.

Why do people come to me with this stuff? I must look a great combination of gullible and poor.


At 3:29 AM, Anonymous Jenny said...

If I had a dollar for everytime someone tried to get me into an amway-like scheme I'd be rich.

Hey...that sounds like a pretty good little scheme actually. From now on anyone who wants to pitch me an idea has to pay me $10 for my time.



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