MLM Companies Think You’re Dumb
In this final installment, let’s look at a couple of the really dirty tricks that MLM companies pull. They try to confuse you about money, and they try to pass exploiting women off as women’s empowerment. It’s appalling how low they will go!
Have you read the first two posts in this series?
First, read All MLM Companies Suck – Even Yours, where you’ll learn what an MLM is and how all of their promises are lies.
Second, read The Deviousness of MLM Companies, where you’ll learn about the big lie that defines MLMs, how they exploit people, and who they target for exploitation.
Then come back here and read this final piece in the series!
MLMs Think You’re Dumb About Money
MLMs want to trick you into believing you’re successful when you are not. They use an intricate collection of misunderstandings, obfuscations, and outright lies about financial practices.
If you are targeted by an MLM, your demographic is more likely to be ignorant about proper accounting practices. That’s why they picked you.
It’s okay to be ignorant. It’s okay to feel excited about an opportunity that a friend shares with you, even if you don’t quite understand the underlying business model.
What’s not okay is being a corporate business executive who does understand accounting and uses other people’s lack of understanding to abuse them.
It would be impossible to list all the ways that MLMs encourage bad financial practices, but here are just a few.
- Participants are encouraged to borrow money, use credit cards, or be late paying bills in order to afford start up costs.
- Participants are encouraged to spend money they haven’t earned yet.
- Participants are pressured to make sales deals on faith without understanding the money involved.
- Training materials intentionally conflate revenue with profit. Participants are never educated on how to accurately determine their personal profit.
- Participants are encouraged to publicize their SALES instead of their profit. They will make social media posts claiming to make amounts in the thousands or even tens of thousands. That number is their sales – sometimes the sales of their entire TEAM – and does not represent their personal bottom line.
- Participants are encouraged to view gifted physical products as earnings, usually with an inflated stated “value” (like a “$200 makeup mirror” that sells for $20 on Amazon.)
- Gifted physical products are usually branded, meaning the participant is a walking advertisement for the company while believing this counts as income.
- Money-related terms are commonly misused. For example, Usborne Books would refer to the 25% “discount” you get on your own purchases. In reality, you paid full price then received 25% commission. That money is income. You are taxed on it, which makes it less than it seems.
- They use “level” language for different levels of participation. These might be purely cosmetic terms like diamond, platinum, and gold level. Or they might mimic business terms like director and executive. These levels are presented as promotions within a company structure. However, they primarily represent how much money you have SPENT, not how much money you are EARNING.
Damaging Women Under The Banner of Empowerment
Of all the things that piss me off about MLMs, one of the biggest is the way they prey on women but call it women’s empowerment.
That is truly disgusting.
They start by targeting vulnerable populations of women – stay-at-home moms, military spouses, religious women, poor women, and immigrant women.
Then they pretend that they are empowering women by making them business owners (a lie), helping them make money (a lie), giving them a job they can be proud of (a lie), and providing a supportive team of women (a lie).
Then they have these women hawk products specifically designed to prey on the insecurities of women, such as weight loss products, home cleaning and decorating products, and health and beauty products.
Then they shit all over you and how you’re “not trying hard enough” and “not taking your business seriously” when it turns out that the dream isn’t coming true.
While all of this is going on, the vast majority of CEOs and executive teams for MLM companies are men.
That means that far from being empowering, the explicit business model is tricking women into preying on other women’s insecurities for the purpose of enriching men.
Just Say No To MLMs
What does all of this mean for you? What should you do now?
First, if you’ve been involved in an MLM, forgive yourself. If your friends have gotten involved, forgive them. Most participants in MLM schemes are victims. Don’t beat yourself up. Educate yourself, and move on.
Second, don’t buy any products from any MLM companies, ever. Not from your mama, not from your neighbor, not from your best friend. Not if it seems like a good deal. Not if you know you love the product.
These companies are actively exploitative and abusive. When you give them money, you are not “supporting your friend’s business”. You are helping a company continue abusing others.
You don’t have to explain yourself when you turn down hosting a party or buying a product. “No” is a complete sentence.
However, it may help you to develop a quick phrase to explain yourself, like, “I don’t support MLM companies.” Then you can just repeat that phrase if they try to dig more out of you. You don’t have to get sucked into an argument.
Of course, you are welcome to link anyone to this article, and I’ll be happy to argue with them!
Concluding This Endless Bullshit
It’s really difficult for me to bring this article to a close, because the list of bullshit MLMs get up to is nearly endless.
I haven’t even begun to cover the lie of the “fun” parties or the dangerous health claims that unqualified people are making on behalf of these shitty products.
But I’ve got to wrap it up somewhere, and here it is.
We can continue the conversation in the comments! Drop me a note and tell me what MLMs are lurking around your corner of the world or any questions you have about their abusive practices.
Issa is a wild and rebellious mama who wants to live a carefree life where that little anxious voice is put on mute. How about you? As a writer she feels successful if just one other person feels any comfort or inspiration from what she’s written.