Tuesday, May 30, 2017

MLM and Team Phoenix...A "New" Con?

***UPDATE*** Check out Pt. 2 here: http://themlmsyndrome.blogspot.com/2017/10/mlm-and-team-phoenix-halloween-special.html ***

Today's blog post is about a recent group of hucksters that has sprouted up on Facebook. They call themselves "Team Phoenix", and they espouse a "new" way to make life changing money from home with "90%" of the work completed. They continuously pump out videos, from various different people, from various different places, about the magnificent lives they are living, and they utilize their camera phones and laptops to appear to be living life to the fullest.  This new group calls their work "affiliate marketing", even though they are part of the MLM Enagic, which sells overpriced water filters that supposedly make miracle alkaline water.

If you are curious about Enagic and alkaline water, then I highly recommend reading Lazymanandmoney's article here: http://www.lazymanandmoney.com/kangen-water-scam/

Or, Ethan Vanderbuilt's article here: http://ethanvanderbuilt.com/2017/02/06/enagic-kangen-water-scam-yes-opinion/

Both of these authors have done a wonderful job summarizing the company, the terrible health claims, and the awful opportunity.

So, Facebook has been utilizing algorithms to help advertisers get to a better target audience, and people like "Team Phoenix" are attempting to take full advantage. As long as someone has done any type of research about MLM, careers from home, or side incomes, then the advertisement will probably pop up on your news feed. Unfortunately for me, because I often write about the problems with MLMs and the spokespersons for them, I get bombarded by advertisements even though I'm the last person they would want to target. I'm not sure there is any way to stop the advertisements or teach the algorithm not to target me, but my news feed regularly shows advertisements for MLMs, Robert Kiyosaki, Tai Lopez, Than Merrill and many of the other house flippers, and even Daymond John (One of the shark's from "Shark Tank") offering seminars.

The "Team Phoenix" advertisement popped up so many times that I decided to pursue it (for purely scientific reasons). The description written for the video talked about all of the wonderful things you could do with their help, such as, "Fire your boss", travel the world, make endless amounts of income, be with your family, start a family, work from anywhere in the world, and work as many or as few hours as you would like. They were utilizing all of the buzz words, and they told absolutely nothing about the actual money making opportunity. Once you click the link in the description of the video it takes you to a new page. The new page asks for your e-mail (to sign up for a mailer), and to choose a time for a free webinar where the opportunity will be explained.

The webinar takes about two hours and it starts like any typical MLM presentation. They talk about the potential of the opportunity, they talk about "Firing your boss", and they talk about traveling the beaches of the world (or some version of that). They did do something slightly different, they said this was "affiliate marketing" (which it isn't), and that it wasn't one of those tired old MLMs. It was stunning as MLMs had to defend themselves against the accusations of being a pyramid before getting to their pitch, but MLM has such a bad stink, that they tried to use a completely different, and legitimate enterprise, to hide behind. They even showed how you can be an affiliate for Walmart and tried to suggest Enagic was the same thing, which it isn't.

Finally, they start to actually talk about the product and how wonderful it is. They spend way too much time trying to be scientists, and they want to appear legitimate by performing a series of magic tricks posing as science. They don't offer any clinical research, any reputable experimentation performed by scientists, or even any actual evidence to support the claims that the water is beneficial (because that doesn't exist).

It isn't until the end of the presentation that they actually reveal the opportunity and how you make money. By then, they explain that you must purchase a unit in order to join the team, and you must copy and paste the same text that was utilized to peek your interest.

The advertisers are extremely clueless about this business, and will constantly respond to any questions with, "Your questions will be answered in the webinar", because that is all they are allowed to say. I couldn't even get the girl to say the company was Enagic until I agreed to watch the video, and after I questioned why it was so hard for her to say it, she replied it was what she was told to do.

Be careful of these advertisements on Facebook. They look very professional to the untrained eye, and the only reason Facebook is publishing these advertisements is the revenue they are generating from them. They are not policing these criminal enterprises and these con-artists. It is very easy to be misled by their propaganda.

***EDIT*** Sorry about the editing for this article. It was written hastily and with many distractions. I tried to go through and adjust many of the grammatical and logical errors in the English.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

MLM and Toxic People

Today's blog post is inspired by another article from my favorite site, Psych Central, and it focuses on a couple key traits that identify toxic people. These traits are consistently displayed by people both inside and outside of the MLM rackets, and are commonly found in people with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD). It is important to note that these traits can be found in non-toxic people as well, but these traits are good indicators to be concerned with any hidden motives.

1. Gas-lighting: this is an attempt, of the toxic person, to cause you to second-guess or question yourself. The person wants to control your thinking by causing you to doubt what you may be sensing intuitively, struggling with within the relationship, or are concerned about.

Gas-lighting is constantly being utilized by the mainstream media and social media platforms. It is an excellent way to confuse people about controversial subjects such as politics, business, religion, gender studies, and any other subject that has differing points of view.

An example of a topic that suffers from regular gas-lighting is abortion. It doesn't matter if you are for abortion or against it because there will always be someone trying to make you doubt your position. If you are on the pro-choice side, then a pro-lifer may make claims such as, "What if you were aborted?", "Doesn't that potential being get a right to life?", "There are other options other than abortion", "Just because the fetus can't speak for itself doesn't mean it wants to be aborted", etc. etc. On the other side of the coin, a person that is pro-life may have a pro-choicer say, "Doesn't everyone have the right to do what they want with their body?", "What if the pregnancy came from a rape?", "Is it fair to burden society with a child I can't take care of?", etc. etc. Either way, there are plenty of inflammatory ways to make someone unsure of their views on topics like this, and gas-lighting is one of the most effective techniques utilized by media outlets to sway people based on hidden agendas from unseen people with deep pockets.

MLMers use gas-lighting like it is going out of style. They are constantly provoking people to question what they have been previously taught, and utilize a prospect's current status as a platform to provide doubt about everything and anything they had previously been taught. MLM gas-lighters can spin anything to meet their agenda, and regularly utilize faulty logic under the guise of mentorship.

An example of MLM gas-lighting is the idea that working for a boss is only going to make the bosses dreams come true. In other words, as long as you have a boss, then you will never be able to earn what you deserve (whatever that may mean). This, in turn, leads to the idea that MLM will give you the
opportunities you never could have had working for the man. MLMers only need one of these gas-lighting ideas to work, because once a prospect accepts one of these claims they will be much more likely to accept many more destabilizing claims.

2. Love-Bombing
: this is often an attempt of the toxic person to control you by “feeding you” with compliments, affection, protection and love, and all of the wonderful things that make relationships desirable. People who engage in this kind of control are most likely meeting criteria for narcissistic personality disorder and some times even sociopathy.

Love-bombing is just as effective at being used for good as it is for bad. Many people utilize love-bombing to help others overcome extreme mental blocks in their lives. My favorite example is personal trainers. These people are some of the best love-bombers in the world, because they can make anyone feel special and powerful. Not only are they some of the best love-bombers, but they are some of the most necessary, as many people need that special attention or they may become life-threateningly unhealthy. Love-bombing is one of the most powerful weapons in the world and it often gets a negative stigma, but there are many necessary situations in which love-bombing is the absolute best weapon for combating a negative situation.

MLMers constantly use love-bombing as a mean to an end. They don't care about the individuals or their dreams, but they do care about the money prospects can spend on the products. Therefore, they utilize love-bombing as a mask to hide their dubious plans of extracting as much money as possible before prospects realize they have been scammed. My former sponsor was the most upbeat person, and he always made me feel like he cared when I spoke. However, when I refused to join he quickly vanished and so did the rest of the people I met.

MLMers are some of the most toxic people you will encounter because they don't care who they hurt in the pursuit of money. They will use powerful psychological techniques to divorce people from their communities and their wallets. They spread like viral infections as they ravage communities leaving broken dreams and sobering disillusions. MLMers may be malicious or blissfully ignorant, but the damage they cause is still the same. If an MLMer is really trying to do what is best for their family and their community while claiming to be pure of heart, then I ask, "Why do so many people suffer when trying to make a few extra dollars with your
business opportunities?"

Source: https://blogs.psychcentral.com/caregivers/2017/05/avoiding-toxic-people-gas-lighting-love-bombing/

Monday, May 15, 2017

MLM and Momentum

Today's blog is not about physics, but rather the psychological version of momentum people go through on a day-to-day basis. Most people realize life has a lot of ups and down, but very few people pay attention to why these situations happen. As Newton's Third Law states, "For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.", and this law not only applies to physics, but rather to life in general. Momentum is one of the most powerful psychological forces as it propels us in one direction or another, and often dictates the intensity of a situation.

Have you ever had a day where you felt like nothing you did was right? From start to finish, everything seemed to be wrong and there was absolutely no way to fix it. Furthermore, after each negative event, did you notice it seemed to propel you quicker to the next negative event which was more intense than the last? That is psychological momentum, and it can last for as short as a moment, or compound for what feels like a life time. We often refer to this momentum as luck, in this case bad luck, but it is really just our way of trying to make sense of a series of unfortunate events that happen to come closely enough together to compound on one another.

One of my favorite examples of psychological momentum is connected with gambling. There is nothing more fallacious than connecting momentum with gambling, and yet every compulsive gambler does it and tries to make the most of a positive swing. In fact, because of momentum people tend to lose their money more quickly than they would if they played consistently. I have personally witnessed people beat the odds in games, such as black jack, and still lose because they begin to raise their bets when they were on a "losing streak" to regain their losses, and yet they bet smaller or the same when they are on their "winning streak". In roulette, they have a screen that shows the previous spins results and what is considered a "hot" number or a "cold" number even though every single round is completely isolated and has no correlation to the previous rounds. This psychological momentum we invent can be extremely dangerous to our wallets when playing games of chance.

Unlike gambling, the worst chance to make money are MLMs as they boast record setting "loser" percentages in the neighborhood of 99%. If there was ever a time to fold, it is when you encounter a MLM. Not only do they prey on the most vulnerable people in society, but they consistently utilize psychological momentum to deceive their consumers. They will say such things as, "Get out of that dead end job", "Don't make a bosses dreams come true instead of your own", or anything along the lines of "We are the answers to all of your problems". They aren't looking for the people on a positive path in life that have many great things going for them, but rather the people that look at their situation and continue to think about all the awful "luck" they have had.

MLMs aim to be the momentum shifter and change all of that negative psychological momentum into a positive. Yet MLMs are some of the worst proponents of true psychological negative momentum. Whatever little a pre-MLMer has before MLM will vanish as they isolate themselves from their work, their community, their friends, and their families. MLMers will disappear from civilization and their money will vanish from their bank accounts. Only when an MLMer loses everything pursuing the "dream" will they realize that negative momentum was perpetuated by their own minds and the MLM was responsible for all of their bad "luck".

Friday, May 5, 2017

MLM and Fake Reviews "Alternative Reviews"

Today's blog post is about fake reviews by MLM adherents posing to be fair, unbiased, and objective authors. There are many videos on YouTube and articles you can search for on Google that utilize provocative imagery or words to attract suspicious consumers looking for more information about particular MLMs. These pernicious articles are designed to deceive, and consistently use faulty logic to further their agenda. Even though anti-MLM information continues to be gathered and published, MLM propaganda continues to evolve and become more clever as well.

Here are some red flags to look out for when reading or watching a review:

1. Always look for a motive behind the article or video. Catchy titles such as, "[WARNING] Don't Join Amway Global before you see this!", or "Stop & Read: The Scam that is Rodan + Fields" are consistently utilized to generate traffic. At first glance, these authors appear to have important information that could help you make an educated decision, but it is important to investigate deeper. Titles are consistently utilized to mislead people and they are also used to fabricate accuracy about MLMs. 

2. If you are reading an article from a well-known source, such as Forbes or the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), then you must make sure the author has credibility! These magazines consistently use "Guest" posters or authors and they do not need any prerequisites to write about a particular subject. MLMers often utilize badly written articles that were published by these magazines as an attempt to prove efficacy of their position.

3. "Non-MLMers" posting about an MLM to drive traffic for their own products. There have been many videos on YouTube from people claiming to have no affiliation with MLM, and then their video will actually be about purchasing their software, literature, or seminar. Do not utilize their information as they will say anything to sell their products! As they say in the cop dramas, "They are not a reliable witness".

4.  MLM adherents posting videos or articles with defaming information about one "bad MLM" to make the MLM they represent sound better. MLMers have no camaraderie in this industry and will utilize information from legitimate sources to further their agenda. They will pretend they are reliable and objective because they do not have any direct affiliation with the MLM they are discrediting. Do not fall for this, and make sure you check the actual information written by the sources they utilize (if available). Again, these MLMers can utilize certain information and then twist it into something different. An example would be an MLMer talking about the old "Binary compensation plans" for MLMs like Herbalife, and yet their new MLM has come up with a "Unilateral compensation plan" that makes earning money better. This is a ruse, and any information they utilize to make their MLM sound great should immediately be discredited because of their financial bias.

5. Professional looking hyperlinks. It is important to look at the content and not just the hyperlink. MLMers will often utilize sources such as, www.thetruthaboutamway.com or www.networkmarketingpro.com, and not realize these are completely biased and faulty. They work very hard to appear legitimate, but it is important to dig deeper into the content and try to find the goal of the source.

As more knowledge surfaces about MLMs, the creativity and deception in these fake reviews also becomes harder to identify. It is important to take the time to investigate the article and the author as well as read the content and identify the motives. Make sure to ask thought provoking questions about the article or video, and also make sure not to specifically look for content that always aligns with your views. The internet is a valuable tool, but it should also be treated with caution as anyone can use it to create anything.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Direct Cellars MLM Scam?

Today's blog post is venturing very far away from the original premise of the blog, but it has become important to take a moment and go over a "new" MLM called Direct Cellars. This blog post has been inspired by Ethan Vanderbuilt's style of writing about MLM mixed with a recent personal experience involving losing a friend to this business opportunity. Unfortunately, my experience, much like others dealing with MLM adherents, has been a frustrating combination of toxicity mixed with denial and cognitive dissonance resulting in a harsh and immediate severance of friendship which has induced a mixture of frustration, rage, and sadness. All of this grievance, in this particular instance, can be chalked up to an MLM called Direct Cellars.

Direct Cellars is an MLM based on wine distribution. The idea is to sign up for this business opportunity, and enjoy lots of different wines that have been carefully selected through their "Wine Tasters". There are four different packages you can choose from when you sign up for Direct Cellars, and each package is designed to suit both your wine and business dedication.

Here is the Direct Cellars Mission Statement: "To enable you to enjoy your wine experience, in the comfort of your own home, having fun with your friends and family. Discovering wines you would have likely never found by searching through hundreds and hundreds of selections at your local retail wine store. With our simple, easy and fast Wine Club selection and deliveries, you’ll never spend hours trying to decide which wines you might like, only to be disappointed. You won’t have to drive across town, or settle for the poor wine selection at your local supermarket, ever again."

Here are the four subscriptions Direct Cellars offers:

Two Bottle Wine Lover ($49.95): You get two random bottles of wine per month based on their "Wine Tasters" selections.

Four Bottle Wine Lover ($79.95): You get four random bottles of wine per month. If you sign up for this program, you will save about $5.00 per bottle compared to the two bottle wine lover plan.

Premium Wine Lover (PWL) ($249.95): You get four random bottles of wine and the opportunity to earn $125.00 for each (PWL) that signs up directly below you, and you can receive commissions based on the "BV" you generate from your weaker leg (This starts to get convoluted and I will link the compensation plan at the bottom). You must also pay $79.95 a month to continue to get your four bottles of wine per month.

Premium Wine Lover Elite (PWLE) ($499.95): You get twelve bottles of wine and the opportunity to earn $250.00 for each (PWLE) that signs up directly below you, and you can receive commissions based on the "BV" you generate from your weaker leg (This stars to get convoluted and I will link the compensation plan at the bottom). You must also pay $79.95 a month to continue to get your four bottles of wine per month.

They also have this statement. "Enroll any combination of PWL’s and earn the Fast Start Bonus associated with that PWL!" This is important because it means if you enroll a PWLE and you are only a PWL, then you will only receive $125.00. This essentially forces you to subscribe as a PWLE, because the most lucrative part of the payment plan is in the Fast Start Bonus, not the commissions based on residual purchases (Unless you are at the very top).

Once you have signed up at least three "Wine Lovers", then you get your wines for free.

Noticeable flaws:

1. We'll start with the inability to actually choose wines that you like. I've been to many vineyards since I live close to wine country and have never heard of a subscription based wine service where you received wines completely at random. Even when you get to choose your wines, you may get some that are disappointing, but at least you have an idea of . There is no way of knowing if the wines they are selecting are good vintages, come from the types of grapes you like, or are even worth the $20 or $25 you are paying per bottle (Which is extremely cheap for wine and probably means all of the wines are going to be low quality. This opinion is subjective).

2. Adding onto the first point, you are restricted to only getting four bottles a month. This seems like an extremely odd stipulation for a subscription based service, and actually seems like bad business by not offering the ability to buy more.

3. There is no actual wine advantage when signing up to be a distributor instead of signing up to be a four bottle wine lover. In fact, the only way to make any substantial money is to continue to sign people up as distributors and earn 50% of their initial sign up cost. The amount of money generated through monthly subscriptions is extremely small, and you only qualify as long as you have recruited at least two other distributors. Recruiting two new distributors is not only extremely difficult once this MLM becomes well-known, but is mathematically impossible to sustain. This business model appears to be inherently flawed.

On a side note, the former friend that joined Direct Cellars claimed the wine values were worth it because he was getting them at "Wholesale prices", however I quickly looked up one of the bottles based on a FB picture he posted as an advertisement and found a website that was selling the same bottle shipped for cheaper.

You can find "12th Blend Eye of the Needle" at their own website for $15.00 (http://eyeoftheneedlewinery.com/product/12th-red-wine/). Needless to say this MLM does not offer a significant perk for purchasing wine through their service.

Overall, Direct Cellars appears to fit the status quo for an MLM and appears to be another pyramid dressed up as a business opportunity. Not only do they not offer a good business opportunity, but the actual subscription service does not appear to appeal to an actual wine enthusiast. I would venture to say a high percentage of actual wine enthusiasts would find this service to be a bad option for both learning about wine and enjoying it with friends and family. This business opportunity appears to target low-income earners as well as beginner wine drinkers, and should be avoided.

Source: Compensation Plan https://www.directcellars.com/content/documents/DC_2PgCompPlan.pdf

Source: About Direct Cellars https://www.directcellars.com/NOID/aboutus