How ‘MLM’ schemes sell a dream life but can create a financial nightmare

This is part 2 of Yahoo Finance’s Illegal Tender podcast about the predatory practices of multilevel marketing companies or MLMs, and how they harm women’s finances and relationships. Listen to the series here. 

Social media has provided MLM distributors with a new channel and outlet to sell their wares. Rather than the logistics of arranging an in-person party or conversation, all a distributor has to do is fire up a social media platform like Facebook, Instagram or YouTube to reach an audience. 

Often times using scripts or message points disseminated by MLM’s headquarters, each social media video looks and feels oddly similar. Like any other infomercial, the hostess devotes a portion of her airtime to demonstrate the product but then the tone and message switches. 

Her sentimental thesis goes far deeper than the fact that the nutrition powder, leggings, energy drinks, or cosmetics she’s shilling has helped her extra money. The sticking point is always something about how the nutrition powder has helped her become the person she was always meant to be but didn’t know how to get there. Calling herself a “product of the product,” she’s now a better individual, more alert, more mindful. Before the nutrition powder, life was routine, boring, dull. With wide eyes, she tries to convince you that she’s thriving now, whereas before she was merely surviving. 

Independent of product or company, MLM social media posts promote an identical — albeit convoluted — message that raises the following questions: Are you selling a product? Or are you selling a lifestyle? And is the key to unlocking the lifestyle using the product or selling the product? 

But MLM distributors don’t just use social media to sell their products; they use their digital platforms to recruit others into the network. Kayla Imhoff was recruited into Kyani, an MLM that sells nutrition supplements, by a friend who sent her a Facebook Message. Eighteen months later, she spent about $3,000 of borrowed money trying to upstart her business. 

Tiffany St. Lawrence and a woman named Jessica, who has requested her last name remain unknown, are also former MLM distributors. They all share how their friendships were manipulated and exploited so the people above them profited off of their failure. 

Experts say that what MLMs actually sell is a dream, a fantasy, a distraction, an opportunity for a new life.

Stephanie Asymkos: Every social media MLM advertisement kind of goes the same way. It’s a woman sitting in front of her phone or computer and a good portion of that time is carved out for her to share how that product has changed her life. She describes it in buzzy and vague phrases like “clean eating” and “gut health.” You don’t really know what those terms mean, but they kind of give a shadow of health and nutrition. Her sentiment goes far deeper than the nutrition powder she is selling and how it’s helped her drop a few pounds. This sticking point is always something about how the powder has helped her become the person she was always meant to be but didn’t know how to get there. She calls herself a “product of the product” and all that means that she just uses the stuff that she sells. But now she’s a better individual, she’s more alert. She tells you that she’s more mindful. Before the powder, life was boring and routine and dull, but with wide eyes she tries to convince you that she is thriving, whereas before she was merely surviving.

This is Illegal Tender, season four. I’m Stephanie Asymkos. 

SA: All of the metaphors and platitudes about living more mindfully kind of made you forget that she’s selling a powder. Independent of company or product, MLM social media posts promote an identical, albeit convoluted message that as the audience kind of begs the following, what’s happening here? Are you selling a product or are you selling the lifestyle?And is the key to unlocking that lifestyle using the product? Or is it selling the product?

What MLMs actually sell is a dream, a fantasy, a distraction, an opportunity for a new life. Whatever is missing in your life. It could be money or lack of it. Maybe it’s friendship. Maybe you just crave more interaction with adults because you’re raising your children. Whatever it is, MLMs will find it and exploit it and they’ll tell women, not that the company’s makeup, will fix it all, but selling the makeup will fix it all.

So the deal with these MLM products is that nothing that they sell can’t be found in a Walmart or a Target. But when you buy nutrition powder from a Walmart or Target, there’s no associated mindset changing self-help agenda. But when you buy nutrition powder from an MLM distributor, it means you’re buying from someone who believes they’re qualified to become your life coach and wants you to start selling the same nutrition powder because she wants you to feel as great as she does. There’s also money in it for her, but she’s not going to tell you that.

Let Kayla Imhoff tell you about her experience. When she started selling Kyani, that’s an MLM that makes nutrition products, she answered a friend’s Facebook message and the rest is history.

Kayla Imhoff: Finally she reached out to me and it was just kind of, you know, Hey, how are you doing? I really want to catch up. I want to tell you about this opportunity. Let me take you out to lunch. So we went out to lunch together and she really built up this opportunity. She explained to me it was a health and wellness company and she has and she had been struggling with a few health ailments and apparently these products and just like cured her of everything. And she said I think the product can do the same to you.

I have a few mental health issues and she basically said it can cure your depression. I didn’t really believe that at the time. She just said anything that you’re struggling with, like these products help.

So she gave me samples of those and I was kind of like, okay, I’ll try it. And then she said, “you know, actually this is great timing because there’s an event that night and you can come and you can meet some the leaders.” I don’t even know why I went to be perfectly honest, I think it was just, I’m really curious now. So basically I went there and they presented the information, they presented the opportunity and I’m kind of going like, okay, this sounds like something I could do. Basically they’re saying like, you’re just sharing the products. And I think someone said something along the lines of, can you do what the person did to bring you here? Like, can you ask your friends out to lunch? Can you ask your friends to catch up? Well, yeah, of course I could do that. And they’re kind of saying, “Well, that’s all you really have to do. You’re just sharing the opportunity and you’re bringing people to meet the leadership.” Like it sounds so simple. And then I’m going, okay, what’s the catch?

They relate it to, you know, well you would tell your friends, you know, about a restaurant you like or a movie you like. That’s basically all you’re doing. You’re just saying, hey, I have this opportunity and I really like this. Then I’m going to share it with people. They make it sound so simple. But then finally we got to the end and how much does this cost. And I was immediately taken aback. The package they wanted most people to buy was around $600. I didn’t have that money at all. And the only reason I was able to sign up was because one of my upline basically said he would give me half of the money and that’s how I got started.

Illegal Tender by Yahoo Finance is a podcast that goes inside mysteries in the business world. Listen to all of season four: Hey Hun: How MLMs are Leaving Women Broke and Friendless

SA: Tiffany is going to tell you more about how her boss’s wife got her into selling for Mary Kay.

Tiffany St. Lawrence: She kept talking about it and I have always loved to wear makeup since I was a little girl, so I thought maybe if I sign up for it at least I would get some decent makeup at a discounted price.

SA: Let Jessica share why she joined Color Street.

J: I was actually new to this whole new social media aspect of the MLM businesses. The experiences I had in the past with these types of businesses were always home parties. So doing it all online was new to me. And so even though I was reluctant, I decided to go ahead and do my own party. And then partway through the party we talk about the business and the way it was presented to me was that this was getting in at the ground level because Color Street was so new. And being that I had never heard of it before, I really thought that it was something that was new and that maybe, I could have some success with trying to share it with other people since the market wasn’t already saturated. That is what I thought. I think it was around $120 to get this starter kit, I thought about it for a few days, actually had to borrow the money from someone to do it, but I decided to go ahead and go for it. And my thinking was not that I was going to ever get rich with this or, or really progress far in the company. I never had that goal because I don’t want to be a pushy person and I’m just not, I guess you could say I would be good at sales, but I don’t like forcing people to do something they don’t want to do.

SA: So it sounds like everything starts out great and there’s a lot of excitement. There’s this whole world that new distributors are plugged into and it includes Facebook groups and meetups and mixers and group text threads, but it turns out a lot of it’s shallow and superficial. I’ll let Jessica share.

J: In the beginning, I spoke with them several times during that first month and then you’re all in this Facebook group together, which I think gives the appearance of them being there for you. But for me, after that initial period, I barely heard from any of them.

SA: Tiffany shares a similar version of that story.

TS: And they’re also friendly at first. Like they want you to believe that this is almost a support group, you know, a pack of women that are going to support you and hold you up.

SA: At one of Tiffany’s first meetings. She remembers being in a room with 10 to 15 other Mary Kay distributors. She was joined by another newbie and her experience when something like this. 

TS: It’s like they treated us like a mixture between like a Barbie doll where they were just trying to like give us compliments and tell us how nice everything was, your shoes, your purse, your outfit, your hair, your makeup, et cetera. Um, and then, and then just really a large buildup of what an amazing community it is to be a part of Mary Kay.

SA: And Kayla echoes the sentiment.

Using social media as their own digital advertisements, MLM distributors sell their products and recruit others. (Photo: Getty)

Illegal Tender by Yahoo Finance is a podcast that goes inside mysteries in the business world. Listen to all of season four: Hey Hun: How MLMs are Leaving Women Broke and Friendless

KI: Basically you get lunch, you have your sponsor there and an upline there that can launch you. And what they want you to do is just basically send off a bunch of messages cause they’re like, you’re a new distributor, you’re really excited. You know, you keep sending excitement and you just send out as many messages as you can. Just like channel that excitement. There was no instructions on really what to do.

SA: So at this point, all three are active distributors and their three MLMs are still cagey about what’s being asked of them. You just heard say that there was no instruction except to fire off as many messages as she could. If you actually want to learn skills and techniques to better perform your job well in the MLM world, that’s going to cost ya. MLMs sell training seminars and materials to distributors. There are pricey conferences and summits where attendance is basically mandatory and everything is out of pocket. Your travel, your transportation, your hotels, your food. It’s all coming out of your pocket. Let Jessica share more about what really goes down in those training seminars.

J: You’re pretty much in a room with a thousand other people with this very successful motivational speaker in front of you telling you that you can defy the odds and you can be that person that makes six figures. I do think a lot of times people really want to believe that about themselves because we have this drive to succeed, so maybe they see those numbers and like you said, they think, well that doesn’t apply to me. I’m going to be the one that’s successful.

SA: They didn’t know it at the time, but they were being loved bombed. That’s a phrase to describe what it’s like when you meet someone and immediately they’re all about you. You’re the center of their universe, but then as quickly as they entered your life, they exit. Their lights stopped shining on you. The same thing happens when you join an MLM. The energy, the wild fervor, and a little bit of blind ambition that comes from the top quickly fades in the MLM world. Each distributor is asked to write their warm and cold leads. That’s just MLM speak to identify the people in your network and then evaluate how close you are to them. So basically after you’ve talked to everyone, you know you’re still not at the end of your rope. You just got to get creative. Kayla only had two customers. I’ll let her share who those people were.

KI: I think my dad did a couple months and then my grandma might’ve done a little bit longer. It couldn’t have been more than six months, but my grandma had to stop after she got an allergic reaction to one of the products. It was a few family members. I have a few doctors in the family and they pretty much shut me down and they were on my warm list. And then I had put basically my two best friends down and I never really approached them about it, but I was just so scared to message them about this and potentially ruin my relationships with them.

Illegal Tender by Yahoo Finance is a podcast that goes inside mysteries in the business world. Listen to all of season four: Hey Hun: How MLMs are Leaving Women Broke and Friendless

SA: I can sense your concern and Kayla’s grandma and she’s ok. So she relayed what happened to her upline and he gave her some crock of nonsense about how her grandma was detoxing and then he blamed it on her. He said that she used the product incorrectly and that’s why she had a reaction

KI: And he said, well her body was just detoxing. Like she should have kept with it. It means basically that the products were just helping to detoxify everybody from their horrible diet. This was another thing that they kind of harped on, like how horrible our diets are, how infected our foods are with pesticides. So when anybody would say, Hey, I don’t like these products or like our products, I’m having a bad reaction. They would say, you know, tell whoever that is to keep going with the product because their body is just the cost to find from all of the crud that you know, you put in it.

SA: Kayla stayed with Kyani but she couldn’t shake the feeling that she was harassing people.

KI: I just felt like I was bugging people. I was a little embarrassed because I’m like, this isn’t like a real job. I don’t have my own business. I wasn’t really familiar with network marketing as an industry before I started that. I had known people that had done network marketing and they’re just standing and spamming and spamming everybody and I’m like, I don’t want to do that. Like I don’t want to jeopardize my, like my good friendships over the,

SA: There were increasing demands on Kayla’s time.

KI: I think it was either through different Facebook groups or text message or something. Like there would be an advertised power hour meetup at the Starbucks.  You can meet with who’s really ranked within the company and you can just work with them and whatever and we’ll, they’ll help you with scripts and sending out messages. So we would, a lot of us would meet up at these Starbucks or coffee shops or whatever for power hours and these people would be there for like, like eight hours sometimes. And this is what you would do: you would go and you would meet up with people I need would just send out message after message after message and these uplines would be there to help you, you know, walk through conversation.

SA: Yeah, that’s right. She’d spend eight consecutive hours in a Starbucks just hammering away Facebook message after Facebook message and just blasting everyone she knew until one day she went a little too far.

KI: I think that the point I was literally just going alphabetically through my Facebook friends list cause I had run out of people to talk to in my warm market. So I messaged this girl and I think I had, she and I weren’t really close but you know, it’s just one of those people that you have as a friend from middle school or you know. So I messaged that surefire script and I think there’s like a few back and forth here and there kind of about the business. She was a little bit curious and then she blocked me and I turned to my upline who was right there and I was like, she’s just blocked me — what do I do? And he said, “Congratulations! She blocked you! That’s awesome! That’s another person you can cross off your list.” And it’s something that bothered me, I mean pretty much from the start you don’t, when you’re talking to people, you don’t consider them like people. They’re just like numbers on your list. So, you know, I’m not talking to Jane Smith, I’m talking to number 29 and if number 29 rejects me, then I just put an X and I go on a number 30. I could never fully get into that. I’m like, this is a person. I creeped them out enough where they felt like they had to block me, I’m not okay with this.

SA: Don’t forget at this time, Kayla is still in college. She has a full course load, she has clubs, she has friends, she has family. She has all these relationships to balance and those eight hour caffeine fueled Starbucks spamming marathons started to add up. And she estimated she was putting in over 20 hours a week with Kyani and she wasn’t making a dime. All Kyani cared about was that she wasn’t making any money for Kyani. 

KI: They expect you to be all in. Um, and if you’re not, like you’re kind of not worth their time because you’re not, you know, you’re not hungry enough for the opportunity. It doesn’t mean as much to you.

SA: Kayla’s really struggling here. She’s getting berated for not working hard enough, but then somehow it all gets twisted and turned around back on her

KI: Part of launching your business you would write down, they called it “your why,” why are you doing this business? And so they would say, well, you know, your reason why isn’t just strong enough. Um, you know, you don’t believe and your reason why enough. But any time like things didn’t go well, it was pretty much your fault. They, they, they wouldn’t say it in like those exact words. The blame was on you.

Two young women use social media to demonstrate cosmetics. (Photo: Getty)

Illegal Tender by Yahoo Finance is a podcast that goes inside mysteries in the business world. Listen to all of season four: Hey Hun: How MLMs are Leaving Women Broke and Friendless

SA: That’s when the switch flips. Jessica can relate.

J: But for me, after that initial period, I’ve barely heard from any of them maybe once a month or so. But as I started to do poorly and not really sell as much and it started to look like maybe I was eventually going down the path of no longer being a consultant, it was almost just like the radio went silent. It felt very much like they were even going to try with me because they could see that, you know, I was, I was losing it. It would kind of go back and forth. Um, if I was doing something really well, he would be supportive. If I, for example, didn’t show up to a meeting or on a call or something, it would turn into basically like guilt tripping and also when there’d be like a new person and the organization that, you know, one of my other upline, God that he was working with, all the attention would be on that. So it was kind of like, yeah, you would just kinda be forgotten about.

SA: Tiffany reflects on that new group of women she met and how quickly that facade cracked.

TS: It’s so superficial because in the end none of them were really supportive. But as soon as the director realized I was not going to be, you know, 110% into making Mary Kay life my dream, um, she got real nasty with me about just either not being available or not working enough, or not placing enough product orders or, so it was just really, it was just really unusual. I wasn’t prepared for the switch. You know, they’re like, you go to these meetings and they, they treat you like you’re part of some family and then all of a sudden when they realize you’re not going to, I guess, make their pocketbook grow, then you’re no longer worth it to them. I didn’t expect them to be so mean though.

SA: It started with little things. Tiffany explains.

TS: Well with the director, it happened pretty quickly because I did not list that I was a Mary Kay consultant online voicemail. So that bothered her. And I think I missed a meeting because I did have to work and another time because I was sick. So those were things that bothered her.

SA: Conventional wisdom about working in sales is that it’s tough, really tough. The best salespeople need to be resilient, honest, empathetic. They need to have superb listening skills and above everything else they need to know when it’s time to back off. But even with those people, success is never guaranteed. And you need to be prepared for lean times and fat times. The MLM industry thumbs its proverbial nose that all of this and whitewashes the truth about sales, but don’t take it from me. I’ve never worked in sales. I’d be terrible at it. Let Tiffany explain it. She used to work in solar energy panels sales and in hospitality.

TS: Oh, like in a restaurant for example. Um, if you come in and you order a glass of wine and uh, and a meal and your glass of wine is nearly empty as a server, it’s considered suggestive Salem selling to ask the customer if they’d like to have another glass of wine before their glass is empty. And they say yes or no, but it’s a different scenario because people come into restaurant to eat and drink. So you’re not attacking, you know, random strangers and the Whole Foods parking lot asking them to buy lipstick. Um, so that’s a pretty normal thing and it’s not predatory because you’re simply offering something that’s not a forced situation. They say yes or no. Perfect. Um, I would say to cross it with something like Mary Kay, um, you’re in a situation where perhaps you throw a party for people and I can’t imagine, I have to just guess that there must be all types of people that have agreed to come. There’s probably plenty of people who don’t have any money to purchase anything, but you still kind of hound them like, well if you purchase, you know, these three products, it’ll be on a discount and you’ll get a free lip gloss or something like this. And it’s the verbiage that you use is just much more aggressive and now you’re, you’re definitely selling something that people don’t need. And then in some cases, maybe they’ve been talked into something they don’t want to be a part of.

SA: Let’s talk more about sales and recruiting because we know that that’s actually what goes down in an MLM. I’ll let Bill Keep tell you more about it. He’s a business professor, turned interim provost and vice president for academic affairs at The College of New Jersey. Bill has studied pyramid schemes for almost three decades.

Illegal Tender by Yahoo Finance is a podcast that goes inside mysteries in the business world. Listen to all of season four: Hey Hun: How MLMs are Leaving Women Broke and Friendless

BK: I’ve been a marketing professor for almost 30 years now and I can tell you for sure every year, recruiters who have come to college campuses cannot get enough students who want to go into sales. But sales requires a certain amount of comfort with uncertainty. The ability to take rejection often, uh, end the confidence enough to take that rejection set back up and go knock on the next door or make the next call. So sales is perceived by, for example, college students as something they really want to do and but not really sure if they’d be very good at it. So it’s almost the exact opposite message as you just indicated in terms of a multilevel marketing strategy, the multilevel marketing strategies, this is easy. This isn’t really selling. This is going to friends and family members and college friends and others and, and showing them an opportunity.

SA: Things go poorly and we know why they go poorly. It’s because these products are expensive. The markets are saturated because you’re definitely not the only Arbonne or Mary Kay distributor in your area, your best friend or your aunt bought from you as a one time courtesy and they’re not interested in becoming repeat customers. So what happens when you run out of people? Who else do you sell to? Well, it turns out Jessica’s options were pretty limited. There’s no such thing as unlimited potential because there’s a limited amount of people to pitch to. And there’s also clearly drawn territory lines.

J: I was a stay at home mom at the time. My former workplace was already locked down by my former supervisor that started selling. So I couldn’t really go there. I wasn’t involved in any afterschool sports with my kids. I didn’t really have a huge network to begin with and I wasn’t about to start going out and cold calling strangers or just being that weirdo that talks to somebody at Target. So it was also really hard for me to expand that way too.

Oh, I was gonna say, with your training materials that you get, there is a notebook that’s supposed to help you keep track of your progress. They have lists for you to make where it lists off. I think school, uh, you know, your place of worship if you go, um, maybe any activities you’re involved in. So it lists these different things and you’re supposed to start writing down all these people you know, and these different places so that you can reach out to them. And I found that so weird. I never did it because I just felt so gross with the, even the idea of doing that.

A diagram of one upline and their network of downlines. (Photo: Getty)

Illegal Tender by Yahoo Finance is a podcast that goes inside mysteries in the business world. Listen to all of season four: Hey Hun: How MLMs are Leaving Women Broke and Friendless

SA: Here’s when the hammer drops from the top. There’s guilt and shame and ridicule. It might be direct or indirect or it might be in a public forum. I’ll let Jessica explain.

J: They will celebrate you. They will use all kinds of emojis and just all of this praise on Facebook that you’re a rock star and you met your goal and you’re going to get free products from the companies that you feel like a winner. So you just keep going and keep trying. And doing the same thing over and yeah, absolutely. You feel like a failure. And at this point in time I had quit my full time job. I had quit due to health reasons. This was before I had started homeschooling my kids. So I was just at home alone. You know, I was kind of lonely. I wanted to feel like I was doing something during the day. I wanted to feel like I was being productive and contributing to my household and I hate failure. And when you’re sitting back and you’re seeing these other people get praised and you’re not used to start to think, you know, why am I bad at this? Why am I failing? And so you absolutely will start to look at it like, well okay, maybe I can just buy some more of this product. I’ll meet those goals, I’ll get the praise and then I’ll feel like I’m doing something. And then of course you just think, you know, maybe I can actually sell this product and make the money back at some point. But that’s unsustainable. You know, you can only fit so much product and you’re before you have to start selling some of it.

SA: You feel like you’re doing something wrong. Your upline told you is going to be so easy. Your upline told you that you had something that everyone was going to want. If it’s working for everyone else, why isn’t it working for you? I’ll let Bill explain that perception isn’t reality and that leaderboard, it might be fake after all.

BK: The interesting thing about that story is she has no way to verify that the names that were mentioned actually were successful. None whatsoever. They could have just been sitting there making those names up. And in fact, I believe that that does happen. Um, I don’t have enough evidence because this is a particularly opaque kind of industry and business model. Um, but when you can lie to people and it works, maybe we’ll use it, particularly if you believe in social Darwinism.

SA: So the way this works is that distributors get bonuses based on their sales. They also get product discounts. The products are already marked up, but maybe that’s me being too nitpicky. So they’re encouraged to buy, buy, buy and share, share, share how the products are working for them. But that kind of creates this weird dystopian incentive for distributors to buy from themselves. They essentially become their own best customers. There’s also a lot of hidden costs beyond that starter kit.

TS: It was my upline, you know, sign me up. But then it was, I actually did a phone call with her director and she explained to me that, um, for example, something like foundation, um, we all have different skin tones. So if you don’t carry more than a certain set of skin tone, then you don’t have product on hand to sell to somebody who needs product or wants product. And I mean, it’s, it’s a good tactic. It made sense to me. I thought, okay, I’m, I’m white. I know what color I wear and, you know, I live in California, we have everyone here. Um, so it made sense to me that I would need a variety of different colors to offer to other women if they wanted them. Um, so I kind of went along with it. I don’t remember the various packages that Mary Kay offers when you start up. Um, but I think I did buy one of the most expensive ones, so I don’t really have, I can’t really explain why I did that, but it made sense to me at the time.

SA: And the hidden costs don’t stop at keeping just extra product on hand.

Illegal Tender by Yahoo Finance is a podcast that goes inside mysteries in the business world. Listen to all of season four: Hey Hun: How MLMs are Leaving Women Broke and Friendless

J: Cost is like $9.95 or somewhere around $10 a month just to have this website, which without it people can’t make online orders, which is pretty much essential in any sort of business these days. So it’s really not optional. You pretty much need to have it. And then even if you’re not buying the product, you’re a lot of times encouraged to buy, you know, a table cloth with Color Street on it so that you can advertise when you go out to these vendor events, which usually cost anywhere from $25 to maybe even $100 to be part of these and vendor events. And then you’ve got the catalogs if you choose to buy them. I can’t remember exactly how much a pack of catalogs costs. Maybe somewhere around $10 or so, but you only get about 20 catalogs in there. So if you’re someone the uses them a lot, you’re going to start racking up the cost very easily. Then if you go do in-home parties, you’ve got the gas to go out there and if you do anything in your own home, then of course you’ve got the money you spend on the little snacks and sandwiches and the wine and cheese and then all of that that you pay for that too. So you’re easily spending $100 to $300 or more a month just on all of these extra things in addition to the product that you might be buying

SA: MLMs preach “fake it till you make it” and sometimes that rhetoric is taken too far.

J: When you look at the numbers they’re spending all of this time, you know out there hustling if you really want to be successful with meeting these goals, but you’re, you’re barely getting anything back for all of that work. And when you factor in gas money and the money you spend on advertising and just your time, you definitely are in the negative at that point. But that’s not what the company will portray to you. As far as what profit actually made on that. I don’t know. I never really kept track if I ever made any profit because once I started getting real deep into it, it was just kind of a whirlwind. I don’t think I ever really wanted to know if I ever made a profit. I do remember the one time I actually had a meeting with the person that recruited me and other members of the upline.

Sign for Lularoe on sale for 50 percent off. (Photo: Getty)

Illegal Tender by Yahoo Finance is a podcast that goes inside mysteries in the business world. Listen to all of season four: Hey Hun: How MLMs are Leaving Women Broke and Friendless

I remember it coming up in the conversation of how long it took them before they were actually, um, making any profit. And I believe they were saying it wasn’t for about three or four months in that they had been selling, but they also had recruited people too. So that’s a little bit deceptive also. So no, it’s not realistic when you look at it. And I met I think one of these goals because like I said, I spent and I didn’t even spend my own money. I, I opened a credit card and put it like a $300 or $400 order on this credit card behind my husband’s back to do this because at this point I was so afraid of failing that I decided to put my own money into it and still I was at the beginning thinking, well, I’ll make this money back. 

SA: Our third and final episode getting out of these MLMs proves to be easier said than done.

BK: So there is this basic bait and switch con that is to get you in. They will tell you whatever. That’s the bait and then when you get in comes the switch, which is more work than you expected, more money than you imagined that you would spend and increasing demands being made on your time. This is not what you really thought it was in the beginning, but that’s what it becomes once you become immersed in the MLM.

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