Thursday, August 23, 2007

Multilevel Marketing (MLM)? No...

I hesitated before writing this post since it may offend some of my friends who're in the business of Multilevel Marketing (MLM). However, I decided to write this post anyways because I really want to say something about it. So, if you're doing MLM business, please don't take this post personally as I'm just speaking of my general feelings about it.

Fear of MLM people

To be honest, I have a fear of MLM people (people in a MLM business). Why do a I fear them? Two reasons:
  • They make me feel that they're some form of cult
  • Whenever the MLM people contact me, I'll, automatically, think that they're trying to ask me to join them or sell me their products/services
Most of the times I'm just not interested in their products/services and I have to think of some excuse to reject their solicitations.

Rejecting a "friend"

It's pretty easy to say no to a stranger. The problem is that the MLM people are usually my "friends". I don't know about you, but I have an uneasy feeling whenever I need to reject my friends' requests. Sometimes I just don't know if I should treat the MLM people as my real friends or not since I don't like friendship with so much focus on money.

"Using" a friend

My old friend in Hong Kong once described friendship in the following way:
  • if you think of friendship in a nice way, it's helping each other
  • if you think of friendship in a bad way, it's using each other
Yes, what he said is kind of true. Nevertheless, I'm still not fond of the idea of "using your friends", and MLM people give me exactly that feeling (although they may not all think that way). They have every reason to persuade you to join their teams because once you do so they
  1. Get a bonus just because you sign up
  2. Earn a portion of your commission whenever you ask more people to join or sell some products/services

I know, they emphasize on the point that it's a "win-win" strategy: whenever you make money, I make money too. Yes, but this "win-win" is only in one direction. If I am one level below you,
  • You make money when I make money, cool, win-win
  • I don't make money when you make money, oops, no win-win
So, if I sign up at a level below you, effectively I'm working for you without getting paid!

Think about it, in an employer-employee relationship, the employer has to pay for the work the employee does for him/her. In an MLM relationship, a lower-level person works for him/herself, but then a portion of the money s/he earns goes to the upper-level person, no, actually, ALL the upper-level people, even someone s/he doesn't know. How do you feel about that? Do you feel being treated fairly? How about the fact that your "friend" or some stranger suddenly becomes your boss?

And sometimes those "friends" are just acquaintances

According to what I said above, MLM isn't really a win-win relationship. Instead, I feel that I'm doing one a favor if I join his/her MLM business.

Now, the funny thing is that those MLM people usually introduce the MLM business to the friends they just meet, some people they've only chatted for a while.

"Why would I do you a favor if I just know you? How can I not think that you're just using me?"

It's not that difficult to spend some time to get to know the person first before asking for a favor, right?

To friend or not to friend?

Actually what I just said about how "close" a friend is may not matter much: I don't like the idea of "using a friend", what's in my mind when you ask me to join a MLM business?
  • if I treat you as a friend, I can't join since being used or using others violate my definition of friends
  • if I don't treat you as a friend, why the hack do I want to help you?
Initial signup fee is a ripoff

Another bad thing about the MLM business is that people usually need to spend quite some money (usually a few hundred dollars) before they can join it. Some MLM even asks its member to pay a monthly fee.

I just hate these ideas.

I sell stuff for you and you pay me, good, it's fair. But now you're asking me to pay you even if I do nothing. Doing nothing isn't a sin but I've to pay for it? That doesn't make sense to me. If I don't have to pay anything for doing nothing and you only pay me when I help you sell stuff, I may consider joining your team.


Because of the things I mentioned above, I just don't have a good feeling about MLM business in general. What're you thoughts?


  1. Anonymous1:25 PM

    Forgive my frankness. I don't see why you have to fear MLM people. This is because...

    (1) If you don't treat that (annoying) MLM person as a friend, you can just tell him it's a scam right in his face, providing your insights & justifications;

    (2) If you sincerely treat that MLM person as a friend, you are even more than justified to explain and "educate" him/her that MLM is not an appropriate business practice. (in a nice way though)

  2. Thanks for your opinion. If you're a MLM person, I hope that you're not offended since I'm talking about the MLM business in general and not all MLM people are like how I described in the post.

    Regarding your mentioning of MLM being a scam, this isn't really what I meant. The MLM business may be unfair, but being unfair doesn't mean that it's a scam. In other words, it doesn't cheat on you. One still gets paid for his work; it's just that some portion of his/her money goes upward.

    I admit that I don't have the courage to speak out my comments about MLM in front of the MLM people. One of the reasons is that they're usually very passionate about the MLM business (that's why the feeling of "cult") and I can't think of a nice way to tell them my view. I will try to do that next time though.. Thanks! :)


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