Friday, July 5, 2013

My MLM experiences

Long before I even started my own online business of health products, I used to be the Best in Economics in my senior class in high school. While there were several subjects we were competing for, I made sure that I always landed that award as much as possible, and as I recall, I did perhaps 2/4 quarters in that year.

For me, aside from the language subjects, it was the only thing that had practical application, something I readily see and observe all around me. In almost everything that deals with money and business, I try to apply the principles I learned no matter how basic they are.

This is why when I heard the likes of Network Marketing or MLM, I was very much cautious because until now it sounded too good to be true. 

Perhaps the first time I heard about such were brands such as Amway, Forever Living, and Avon being the most popular. It was perhaps around 2006-2008 when I was at the peak of business where I was invited several times to "seminars" until I finally saw a pattern. Long before I even knew that MLM was somewhat a "legal" version of pyramiding (for the mere presence of a product) I never had a good impression of them at all.

My first encounter was with Herbalife. I was a fresh graduate then and I was desperately seeking for a job. I told myself I should not be responding to miniature advertisements, I took one shot anyway since it was taking Medical City months to respond to my application already. I called the landphone, an impatient sounding man answered:

Stranger: Yes?

Me: I saw the ad about this opportunity for health professionals...

Stranger: Name?

Me: Seth

Stranger: Age? Background?

Me: 21, Nursing Graduate

Stranger: Ok, go to this place on this date at this time....

(call ended)

It baffled me why he sounded like such with no additional details of what company I was applying for at all even when I called twice.

On the actual day itself, I was there at a lobby, signed the guestbook at the reception. There were a lot of people. The man who answered the phone didn't even left his name at all. Almost all of the people were in business attire so I figured I might be at the right place after all? I asked the lady behind the table as to how do we go about the interviews. She simply rolled her eyes at me and said " How will you get qualified if you can't even read the instructions?". Shutangina. Where the hell are those instructions anyway?

It was around 3PM when we were all gathered into a room, and the door was locked. There were men guarding the doors and all of a sudden there was music and cheering everywhere!? WTF!? What the hell am I doing here? I opted to leave but they wouldn't let me until the presentation was over. I honestly felt it was illegal detention but there were no security staff present. The next hour or so was spent on these "frustrated and failed people" in their chosen careers and yet here they brag about photos of their trips and cheques amounting to thousands of pesos.

What followed next was a feature of the product, how wonderful it is and the patents from some foreign lands you can never verify the authenticity anyway. Moving on, came the "business part" and the 8 or more ways of earning.

I don't know what got into me, but I somehow got tricked into attending such "seminars" by friends, friends of friends, someone I just met that wanted to share this "opportunity". 

I remember even attending Fern C where they ultimately bragged about mega dosing on Vitamins and if the representative could explain how the Acid-Base principle works, which he claims is too simple it is a sure shot at convincing people. I was like huh? There is an entire chapter almost 10 pages long in font size 9 before I understood that topic in college? Then came the part where the speaker placed a pill on water, dipped a lightbulb and it glowed. Whatevs. A reasonably prudent science student should know what the body cannot retain extra vitamins that what it needs. Everything in excess is excreted through urine. We're talking about a thousand pesos worth of Vitamin C, supposedly in the alkaline form of Sodium Ascorbate but the box still states the generic name "Ascorbic Acid". WTF is that about? To top it all off, they even had a dose table that depending on your condition, you should take about 3-8 pills 2-3 times a day. No wonder the box that comes in 100s wouldn't last very long?

A client of mine also invited me to try their "Galvanizing machine" that was supposed to make skin look younger, worth 15 fucking thousand pesos. The company was NuSkin in a floor somewhere in Octagon Building in Ortigas. More people in fancy business attire. Red flag waving. So I was given a demonstration. A little clear lotion massaged onto the skin while the small cheap plastic machine is used like a flat iron to even out the wrinkles. End of story, I was not impressed. The "machine" is about less than 100g in weight and runs on 2 AA batteries. The end point touching the skin is made of shiny plastic, similar to the material of robot toys sold in the streets. I feel sorry for my contact person. She bought me a frappe and paid for taxi just to get me there only to face my question: "If I had 15k with me (which I do then), why would I spend it and do it myself when I can seek professionals like Belo and be certain to get results?". Her hopes for a sale died on the spot, or so I thought...

She bargained, I could use my credit card or pay her cash in installments.

Honey, how would I know it even works? Do you personally own and use one?


Ok, here's what, I actually have several clients who may be interested and can afford such, and I can refer you to them, however, since I am placing my own reputation with these people at risk, may I borrow this device, use it for a period of time, and if I am convinced I'll pay for it?

The product is far too expensive...

Alright, how about this then, the product sells for 15k but the seller price is actually 10k right? What if I refer you to my contacts, then when you make a sale, you set aside around 2k for me in virtual commission? What I mean is you get to keep all the money until I earn enough to reach 15k and then you provide me with my own machine and I sign up as your downline? If I don't make it to 15k, you get to keep everything, I don't get a single peso and you also get to keep my contacts as your loyal customers.

She thought about it and then offered to mark up the price instead to 17k.

You can't do that? The price is standard. Even if they bought it at 17k and learned later on they were ripped off wouldn't that make you and I look bad?

She offered me 300 only in commission for every unit sold.

Goodluck dearie.

....and the list goes on, I heard of Goji juice and the silly "Goji morning" dance and greeting. There was another company who hold's office along Quezon Avenue whose products like toothpaste sell for 700. They had this skin moisture testing, and if the perfect score is 150, I was confident enough to come first and be tested, and I faired 120. The speaker applied their lotion to someone who got a 40, and voila! 160 in an instant. Yeah, even Lander Cocoa Butter which sells a dollar per liter can achieve that. ALL LOTIONS CONTAIN WATER. Duh.

Probably the best and the weirdest with the most dramatic photos would be Anion. The blue strip inside the sanitary napkin can decontaminate water and kill germs on contact. Didn't they know the vagina is not supposed to be sterile in the first place?

The worst would probably be Load Extreme. I wanted to sign up not because I wanted to make extra money. I did so because I kept 3 numbers from different networks and it would be better if I could get extra freebies just by reloading myself. So I chose this sponsor who instructed me to deposit 200 pesos to her bank account and let her know the details. She told me then to text a format code to a number. I did.

Me: Ok, so what's next?

Sponsor: Now you're a retailer as well.

Me: How can I tell? Nothing changed on my SIM card menu or anything? What changed? What did I pay for?

Sponsor: The membership. If you want you can also sell the retail opportunity and you're entitled up to 4, you can make as much as 800.

Me: WTF. You tricked me!?

End of story, I was 200 pesos poorer and how I wish I loaded that amount to  my number directly.

As my contribution to Filipinos and mankind in general who have not been duped yet, this is my mini checklist of the usual things all these companies have in common:

WHO: someone will offer you a "business opportunity"

WHERE: venue is usually their own building or they'll make a reservation in a function hall somewhere

WHAT: an overpriced product or something sounding too good to be true

WHEN: sometimes scheduled, some have it daily, the UNO company used to flock daily it's crazy how many people are outside the Podium would not have as much visitors inside.

HOW: they'd smother you with awesomeness, brag about their gadgets, their new cars, new houses, and the large checks they earned.

Now on the other side....

OK. So there maybe a handful of people who are indeed successful in such and they might be really making such large amounts of money. However, what I think what is wrong here at least in the context of the Philippine setting according to my experience is: People are drawn to such investments because of the fantasy of earning large, passive, effortless income.

Selling the product is just one way, or perhaps the most humble way of earning. However, it also happens to be the slowest and in order to "maintain" your membership, some companies require you to purchase products at a particular amount on a regular basis. Some sellers barely break even and some who do, don't get the checks they dream of having... not until you build your network and you'd get almost 10x in returns.

Recruit people and upon their payment of the memership fee you get a commission.

For every sale they make, you also get a percentage of that.

For every recruit they make and the sales your downlines make, you also get some from that.

and it goes on, sit back, relax, wait for the money to knock on your door.

This sounds totally ingenious however, most people who get too excited and jump in fail to consider these:

95% of those who join such never recover their investments.

You may have 100+ contacts on social networking sites, but your networks are  never the same.

Among those people who are possibly capable of purchasing your product will not be interested at all.

There is such a thing as saturation in the market.

MLMs especially those not too popular, are sometimes "fly by night"

Nobody in their right minds will be spending 700 for a tube of toothpaste even if they won the lottery

I am not totally against the idea of MLM. The fact that until now some Avon and Natasha or maybe MSE agents are thriving because they do offer a good honest solid product.

How I wish tricking people into signing up and investing their savings unnecessarily is taken out of the strategy, including the idea of "passive income".

Juan Tamad can never build a business empire.


  1. Went to NU skin kasi a classmate became a success there. tapos i realized, this is not for me

  2. Ahahaha I had the same experience before. Nakakawindang sya :D

    1. IKR. Puro yabangan lang. Pero hindi naman sila lahat mukhang mamahalin? hehehe

  3. hyyy... too expensive ang investment sa NU skin... though I believe na some can really be successful, ok... sila na!

  4. I've been tricked twice. First was USANA, ang sabi sa kin Marketing job ng schoolmate ko na older batch(fresh grad pa ko nun), pagdating ko sales pitch. Nagwalkout ako.

    Second was Forever Living. Hindi daw nya ko ineencourage sumali pero gusto nya kunin ang network ko. Anubuzzz..

    Madaling salita, wala akong tiwala sa MLM na yan.

    1. chrew. pero sa totoo lang, ok naman sana eh? iba lang kasi motivation ng karamihan ng participants kaya hindi maganda reputation ng MLM sa Pinas

  5. I was victimized by these things (things talaga?) Thrice sa UNO once sa DXN. King inang yon?!

    The entire seminar... I was not participating kung magpalakpakan man sila or sumigaw, sayaw, kantahan o mag harlem shake ewan ko sa kanila ako nakaupo lang. Red flag na nga ako sa speaker kasi I caught his attention. Hahaha!

  6. This is very informative. I share the same views. I was close to joining USANA before, since a dear friend is a member. And I have trust in him, so I am convinced. I was ready to borrow 30,000+ fucking pesos from my father, but my mother dissuaded me from doing it. She was into different MLMs before, but nothing good came out of it.

    I also hate how they do their sales pitch. It is fucking annoying! That's why I steered clear from taking a course related to Marketing; I will never be an effective salesperson.

    1. eh bakit ganun, bentang benta ka sakin?

      BOOOOOM! hahahaha

    2. Langyaka Seth, ayos ang hirit mo ah? *hahaha!*

      Uy, nabasa ko na lahat! Yey! Sobrang nag-enjoy ako sa stories mo. Sana lang nakakapagsulat ka pa rin gaya nung unang taon mo. Nakaka-miss. :)

    3. malandi din ako minsan. hahaha

      PS. may screenshot copy ako ng pic mo na nakamask ka. souvenir lang dahil alam kong di yun magtatagal

      PS ulit. pinagpantasyahan ko siguro. mga twice. hahahaha

    4. *hahahahahahahahaha!* I feel violated sa nalaman ko. :P

      Aling pic na naka-mask? Yung naka-tuxedo tas long hair pa ko?

      O yung nasa FB?

    5. naka tuxedo yata yun. nasa lumang laptop ko eh? mac na gamit ko now. basta andun lang yun hehehe.

  7. So true! that's why I hate networking. the moment I recognize it is networking, I immediately say no. I believe in hard earned money. something truthful, something real, definitely fulfilling.

    Great post, I enjoyed reading it.

    1. thanks :) hindi naman pala ako nag iisa hahaha