“But why aren’t you balanced? What about all the positive stories about incredibly rich (insert name here) MLMers?” In this post, we explain why ‘balance’ is bullshit when it comes to network marketing, and so is attempting to be unbiased.

We get it regularly.

However I do worry that it (Timeless Vie) doesn’t provide a balanced view; there are no positive stories.


On the face of it, that seems a completely reasonable point.

That’s what proper journalists would do, right?

They’d have the sad story and then the happy story so you, the reader, got both sides of the issue.   And what would you think? You’d probably think there’s a 50% chance you could be wealthy in an MLM, and a 50% chance you’d fail.   Fair.  Balanced.

Except….acccording to this study, approximately 99% of people lose money.

If most people lose money, is it really fair and balanced to have 1 story for and 1 against?  Wouldn’t a really balanced piece of writing about MLMs have 99 stories of failure vs 1 story of success?  Wouldn’t that be more accurate?  And wouldn’t a really balanced piece point out that the 1 person who succeeded did so because of all the people that failed?

The idea of ‘false balance’ in journalism has been around for a while, but none of us connected the issue to the debate over MLM until one of us talked to a journalist in New Zealand.  He was interested in what we were doing, and the feminist stance we were taking, and he pointed out that ‘false balance’ could be a problem when it came to issues like MLM.   Read this, about the climate change science and false balance.

And this.

The idea is this: that by presenting both sides of a story and giving each equal weight, journalists inadvertently give people the impression that both sides are equally valid.   They aren’t.

On one side, we have an industry that is making lots and lots of money by selling women false hope, that allows reps to make false health claims, that says one thing in public and another in private (we have so much evidence of this at this point it’s not funny), that in some cases refuses to divulge how much money women will really make, and is largely ignored by government.     For ‘positive’ stories you only have to go to the websites of the Direct Sales Association, Arbonne, Younique etc.

On the other side, there’s us.  We are making exactly zero money from doing this.  We have jobs, families, we do this in what spare time we have.    We’ve researched.  We’ve talked to victims.  We really care about them.  We’ve tried to get answers from the DSA, MLM companies and government, and have discovered that there’s a huge information gap about what effects MLMs really have.

If we were to do positive stories, we’d be giving our readers the impression we think MLM is a valid business model, when all evidence we’ve found so far indicates it’s not.  Would that really be the right thing to do?

This is why we don’t do “balanced” stories about MLM.

Because what matters is the truth.



Timeless Vie Q&A with Kate Dyson of The Motherload

We know all too well that MLMs target women when recruiting and that women comprise an overwhelming majority of MLM victims, so we are delighted that our next Q&A is with the founder of The Motherload, (www.the-motherload.co.uk), a website/community that addresses parenthood frankly, honestly, non-judgmentally and occasionally irreverently.



Kate, thank you very much for being a Timeless Vie supporter and for taking the time to answer our questions.  Firstly, perhaps you can tell us why you and The Motherload team decided to make your community an MLM-free space?


Ah, I’m a loud and proud supporter of Timeless Vie!


Initially, we limited MLM companies from posting on the group to ensure that our members were not bombarded with adverts and the like when we were initially building the community. Unfortunately, where you allow one MLM to advertise many, many others follow and so timelines in groups get increasingly overwhelmed. We want to know about our members, hear their funny stories, allow them to have a space to share advice and support and that is very difficult with a timeline of adverts running through the middle of the group, and eventually members would disengage.


However, we now operate a zero tolerance because the more I researched MLM businesses, the more alarmed I became at their exploitation of women, especially of new mothers and stay-at-home mums.

I feel very protective of our members, and I respect their loyalty to our group and brand. Many of them are vulnerable – whether as recently new mums, single mums, and we have many members with PND, anxiety and other maternal mental health conditions that make them easy fodder for exploitative companies.


We know that pregnant women/women on maternity leave/stay-at-home mothers are heavily targeted by MLMs and that spaces that attract mothers (both online and in the ‘real world’) are like magnets to network marketing recruiters.  Do they attempt to flout your rules and how do you keep them out?


Oh goodness, YES. All the time. We are very careful about checking profiles for new member requests but we find that often MLM will restrict access to their profile as groups are less accommodating/ more aware than they once were. Our members list is like GOLD to a network marketer and they – and we – know it. So we operate a zero tolerance approach to MLM – if we know you are a MLM rep, then you won’t be allowed in, and we delete any posts alluding to the sale of MLM products, recruitment, networking or any other promotion that we find on the group.


It takes a lot of work to manage, from checking every new request to join, to running searches on the group on a regular basis. Despite warnings on our page description, and clear guidelines within the group, MLM often ignore this and increase their activity regardless.

Network marketers will use a variety of tactics and they change all the time. Aside from the obvious ‘advert’, we find that some play the long game, whilst others are more obvious with their networking and will start ‘introduction’ threads to ‘make friends’ on the group and the clincher is always when they ask people to add them as a friend. Regardless of the method, we always remove the member immediately and block; we find without blocking they come back!


We also work with admins on other groups that we know our members like, and pass information and new tactics over to help each other out. Finally, we rely on our members to help us keep on top of this policy as well.


You have over 10k members.  Would you say that they are generally supportive of your MLM policy?


Very much so, and in fact, we have frequent feedback that they absolutely support it and are relieved we have such a hard line approach to it. I think many people are really tired of seeing MLM ‘adverts’ etc on groups and on their timelines, and their feedback definitely acknowledges that.


Why do you think that so many mothers are sucked into MLM schemes and what do you think that we as a wider community should do about it?


Loneliness, lack of income, an opportunity to try something new, or to use the products themselves; how many of us have bemoaned the fact that we can no longer afford all the lovely beauty and makeup products any longer once the baby comes along? But more than anything, I think a lot of mothers would give anything to stay at home that bit longer in the early days and so they look for something – anything – to allow them to do that.


Being an entrepreneur, developing an idea and bringing it to market is a minefield, so I can well understand why women see these adverts and think that’s for them. On the face of it, making new friends, low start up costs and these far fetched but often promised incomes sound like a very low risk way of ‘being your own boss’ and running your own business. If only it was genuinely that easy.


What advice would you give to a woman who is struggling with the eternal work/life balance question and who is considering joining an MLM?


Oh goodness, without a doubt, DON’T. But if you really think this looks good to you, then for goodness sake research as much as you can. MLM companies tell you in their ‘training’ to learn their business inside out – well, you know what, take them at their word and DO that. Look into everything, request information that isn’t in their cheesy front facing websites and emoji-filled ads; find out from the horse’s mouth what you can ACTUALLY expect to earn, what the real compensation plan is and importantly, what the REAL risk is as there is ALWAYS one. But be warned, it won’t be easy to find this information because they don’t want you to know it –knowledge is power, and in this case, the power to walk away.


Don’t be lazy, and for goodness sake, don’t trust Wendy who has just joined up and is posting pics of ‘her’ white Merc and telling you she’s about to move into a McMansion because I promise, she is faking it until she is making it. There are very, very few successful network marketers, and you are unlikely to be one of them. You will most likely be one of the thousands who try, and fail within MLM businesses every year. The odds are proven to be stacked against you – in fact, the business is designed to be stacked against you.


One of the things that keeps us motivated and active at TV are the personal stories people share with us.  We have heard from a lot of women who have been financially and emotionally damaged by their participation in a scheme. Have you been affected personally – directly or indirectly – by an MLM?


It goes without saying that MLM has never, and would never be a business model that I could get on board with so I don’t have that particular tale of woe to share. What  I have experienced, however, is the sheer vitriol of network marketers when we refuse to allow them access to our group, or we pull their posts, or query their motives. We have an ethos on The Motherload of being non-judgemental, honest and supportive (about motherhood!), and this is used against us all the time. My team and I regularly have our Facebook profiles ‘stalked’ and posts about feminism that I have put on my timeline have been used against me because I’m not ‘supportive of women’ and apparently, a ‘judgemental bitch’. I’ve been called names, had threats made against me and recently, was informed by one disgruntled network marketer that she was going to do anything she could to ruin my business – because I removed her post and asked her to refrain from contacting our membership. Eyeroll ahoy. We have around 150 member requests every day on The Motherload group and we block around 15 -20 of these, or member profiles from our group daily. I get at least 2-3 direct messages from MLM reps per week that range from mildly irritated to downright aggressive.


Despite all of this, I don’t blame the individuals. MLM companies are a modern cult phenomenon, with typical brainwashing and herd tactics used on reps. They make it personal, they encourage it to be reflective of the individual in many ways and so it’s understandable that those working within these businesses feel so defensive when your ‘why’ is your children. Leaders of these companies are revered as modern day heroes, and the ‘trips’ promised are nothing more than motivational rallies, designed to further instill the company rhetoric – and after all, if you, as many network marketers DO legitimately – have a little bit of success at the beginning, then of course you will start to believe it is a fantastic opportunity and that you have found your niche.


However, how many reps still believe that 1-2 years later, when their friends have distanced themselves, their income is lower than ever and their opportunity that was once so glittering now resembles a stagnant failure, with the blame squarely directed at them? I’ve read so many accounts where women leave network marketing disillusioned, with low self esteem, sometimes having lost all of the money they put into their ‘business’ and feeling like a failure.


Finally, our position here at TV is never to judge or to blame people who have been sucked into network marketing schemes – it can happen to anyone.  We prefer to directly target the MLM companies themselves and to educate & inform people so that they can avoid being mislead.  What do you think is the best way that we can help women to make more informed choices about MLMs?


We have to get information out there and we have to start talking about the reality of working for an MLM company. Their soaring popularity is based upon a lack of knowledge and fair representation and it’s incredible how quickly a new MLM can spread. I would like to see social platforms remove the ability for these companies to post on them, and to prohibit and fine the companies if they do so. I would like to see governments taking conducting more research into the reality of MLM companies, and ensuring that companies are prohibited from making false claims about income levels and the health and medical claims that these companies make about their products.


Thank you very much for talking to us.  We love The Motherload and hope that we can continue working together to advise and support parents


We love Timeless Vie! What you are doing is so important in bringing about change and understanding of the MLM industry.

25k beauty-lovin’ women can’t be wrong: a Q&A with Julia Langton, the founder of Mrs Gloss & the Goss

Thank you so much for agreeing to talk to us.  We at TV are all big fans of your Facebook community ‘Mrs Gloss & The Goss’, home to over 20k makeup, fashion and beauty-loving women (and men) and its friendly, supportive, informative and entertaining content.


Mrs Gloss has a very strict no MLM policy.  Can you tell us how you became aware of MLMs and why you put the policy in place?


I first became aware of MLMs a couple of years ago. I could no longer shoehorn myself into my size 12s and I lamented this fact on FB. Next thing I know, I’m being inundated with kind offers of detoxes from Juice Plus and Forever Living reps. On a quick read through, I could see straightaway that the claims were a nonsense but I’m very aware that there are those who are less cynical by nature than me who’d be blown away by the talk of support and the promised results. 


When I set up Gloss, one of the very first guidelines was ‘ No MLM promotion’ and this was something I wanted in place to protect our members from spurious claims. 



The Mrs Gloss Facebook group has over 20k members who love hair, fashion, health and make up.  That must make it a magnet for MLM recruiters.  Do you find that they are employing devious tactics to get past your rules?


Gloss has approximately 25,000 members and I understand that this is a great temptation to MLM reps! There’s a huge audience there and they all have one thing in common – a love of beauty, so yes, it’s a bit of a Mecca for reps. We are all very switched in the admin team and our first ‘line of defence’ is to check potential new members profiles, and yes, we really DO check each one. This is despite receiving up to 200 requests to join Gloss a day.  This is a relatively recent thing though, and some will and do slip through the net. The check itself is cursory, but we have a scan through and if we see any hint of MLM, we block the request. Some may argue that how do we know that this potential new member, who just so happens to sell Arbonne for example, will attempt to sell in the group? We don’t of course, but our experience shows us otherwise. The reps themselves can be very devious, we have some who will not mention their products but post a photo captioned ‘do you like my make up today?’ and of course, members will say they love it and ask what products were used. Some of the more wily reps won’t say but they’ll be storing away all of the members names who have complimented them and yes, they’ll then friend request them or send them an unsolicited message, both of which are against our guidelines. This is why we regularly ask members to drop the admin team a line if they receive anything unsolicited. It really does take us just a moment to check. We also ask our members to hit the report button if they see a MLM product being recommended in Gloss. If the person mentioning it is a seller, they are immediately removed and blocked. If they’re not, we politely point them in the direction of our guidelines and keep an eye out for future. 



Whenever we have seen posts on Mrs Gloss complaining about MLMs, they always seem to have a lot of supportive comments! Do your members welcome the fact that your community is an MLM-free space online?


Yes, our members LOVE the fact that we are a MLM free zone. They know that they are free to ask for recommendations without fear of being hounded by people trying to sell them tat products with an agenda or recruit them. 



One thing that always strikes us about Mrs Gloss is that the women (and men) are very respectful and supportive of one another.  MLMs use the word ‘empowering’ a lot but our research has shown that they really do the opposite! How do you maintain a kind, constructive atmosphere in your online community?


Gloss proves that you can have an empowering, uplifting and supportive environment without having to actually ever mention those words. We also do not share ‘motivational’ memes or pointless quotes. We achieve this by ensuring our members stay on topic at all times. This goes a long way in keeping the environment and tone relevant, accessible to all and fun. You won’t find people sharing deeply personal stories or wildly off topic subjects. You really can dip into Gloss at any time and find chat, advice and recommendations centred around beauty, Skincare, haircare and make up. We achieve this by removing anything that falls foul of our guidelines. If it’s something upsetting or personal that a members has shared, we always drop them a line explaining why we’ve removed it. Gloss really does work better when we stay true to what we do best. 


You personally must be a make-up and skin care lover.  We think we can guess the answer to this, but would you ever consider buying/using Forever/Arbonne/Younique/Maelle etc etc etc…  and if not, why not?


The reason I set up Gloss was to share my deep passion for all things beauty! I’m a HUGE fan of all things make up and skin care and this has been a life long passion of mine. I wouldn’t use a MLM product if I was paid to do so or given it for free – and this has happened many times! I obviously have some brave reps contacting me trying to change my mind. This hasn’t happened yet though ; ) 


As for why I wouldn’t use any of these products. I don’t care how good they may or may not be..when you have to rely on harassment, recruitment and exploiting women to sell your product, then I’m absolutely not interested 


Finally, if you knew someone who loved cosmetics/beauty and was considering joining one of the beauty MLMs, what advice would you give them?


My advice to someone who was considering joining a MLM company would be the following .. Do your research.  Make this research independent, not just listening to the ‘upline’ or those already flogging it, these people will have an agenda. Join Timeless Vie and ask questions. Ask yourself this… ‘do I REALLY believe that I can get rich by selling mascara/ face cream / capsules/ etc etc.’ Try and see through the faux positivity and hype..you really cannot make a living in your pyjamas, nursing a glass of wine and fondly gazing at your two year old*. Oh and join Gloss! That’s a given right? 



Julia, thank you so much for your time and your support of Timeless Vie. We’ll see you over on Mrs Gloss on FB, Twitter & Instagram!


*Just a reminder that independent research has repeatedly demonstrated that more than 90% of participants in MLM schemes lose money.  Do not believe reps claims about incomes and average earnings: these figures are exaggerated and do not include personal purchases, expenses, samples, catalogues and publicity materials or training (for which you will be charged).

READ THIS: Most Direct Sellers are women. We have the proof.


Assuming we can rely on Direct Sales’ Associations own data, that is.


united kingdom


We couldn’t find any stats on the UK DSA webpage but happily the EU DSA has them.

linky here

77% are women





USA DSA stats


77.4% are women





Australia DSA


75% are women





Canada DSA


91% are women



New Zealand


New Zealand DSA


69% are women



Still believe this isn’t a feminist issue?

Note: our campaign is against MLMs, NOT single-level direct sales companies.  However, most DSAs are made up of MLMs, hence our focus on their statistics.

We need a real, unbiased study that asks the tough questions: how much money do these female sellers, on average (don’t even start, top of the pyramid Shill Bots, we know you make money off your downlines)…. actually make in MLM, after expenses, success day tickets, etc?  No one really knows.  This is a huge number of women being potentially exploited.



We share a report from the Dark Ages of Direct Selling, 2004, before online shopping really took off. So why is this report still featured on DSA websites? And why were so few women surveyed? And just generally why?


Read this: International 2004 study on “direct sales”

link on NZ DSA


Nothing makes your industry look more legit than having academics study it.  It’s easy enough to do if your industry is willing to support them.




A couple of things.

The sample is very small, and doesn’t have enough women in it





You might be thinking: so what?  So what if there’s nearly the same number of men as women?   Well, we think it matters because most “direct sellers” are women and arguably so are most buyers.

Interestingly, the World DSA does not do a gender breakdown of sellers.  However, NZ, Australia, UK, and USA show similar breakdowns of women vs men – women are the majority of “direct sellers’, which means they are the majority in MLMs.  Feminist issue, y’all.

link to EU DSA info here


The internet has changed everything.



Take a look at the link and the screenshot below.  It’s from a report from the Direct Sales Association of NZ.

Code reports


We think the 2 complaints are very interesting and telling.   Telling, because they show how the internet has completely changed the game where MLM is concerned.   Read about Bots fighting over territory,  then click this, scroll down, and read about women trying to flog their unsold MLM shite online

We are not convinced there is an actual market for MLM products.  Don’t get us wrong, it’s pretty clear that MLMs rely less on actual sales to real customers than they do to forcing their recruits to buy to stay “active”…etc…but the ‘net makes it even harder for the odd ethical Bot to make a sale.   Why?  Other bots offloading stock at discount prices, and the sheer amount of competition from companies selling online.  Why buy an overpriced MLM lippy when you can buy it cheap on Amazon Prime?  And it’ll be delivered tomorrow?

Whatever sales model the MLM industry had, our guess is the internet has fucked it up big time.

The flipside of that is – the internet makes it really easy to reach potential victims and sell them on the dream of owning their own ‘business’ and ‘working around the kids’ and ‘yeah woman power etc’.   Ironic, no?  Which is why we keep demanding that government require MLM companies to tell the truth about how much $$ women can earn.


Where is the real data about MLMs?



We need real data about MLMs.  Not industry-sponsored, biased studies.  Where is it?




A note on the definition of “direct sales”.  Technically, direct sales includes door-to-door selling, Multi-level marketing schemes, and “party plans”.  In most cases in 2016, MLM companies make up the vast majority of ‘direct sales’ companies.  Maybe they should call it ‘direct recruiting’ instead?


Creating MLM-free spaces – how you can help

Creating MLM-free spaces


Following the eye-opening Daily Mail report about MLMs recruiting in branches of Barclays, we decided that it’s time to do something about creating safe-spaces free from MLMs, and we need your help!


Sadly, Barclays is not alone in being hoodwinked by such schemes.  We hear on a daily basis of stands appearing in hospitals, school fairs, village fetes and other community events. Given everything that we know about how theses schemes recruit, mislead, pressurize, bully, and take financial advantage of participants, we are encouraging you to lobby for their exclusion.


We’ve drafted a template letter for you to adapt and use and would urge you to get complaining.  If you can, encourage sympathetic neighbours & friends to do the same thing  – the more voices, the louder we shout, the more likely we are to be heard.


We want to start keep track of our successes, so tell us who you are writing to and what the response is.  With your help, we can protect more people from MLMs.




Template Letter:


To Whom It May Concern


I would like to make a formal complaint about the inclusion of (insert MLM here) in (Insert event name here) which took place on (insert date here).


(MLM Name) is a type of product-based pyramid scheme which relies on recruiting new participants who have to purchase products to join.  They recruit primarily by falsely suggesting that large incomes and dream lifestyles can be earned for minimal time input. They aggressively target people from all walks of life, but particularly the financially vulnerable and mothers of young children. The statistical reality is that the vast majority of victims who join these schemes invest heavily both in terms of money and time and see very little or no return for their efforts. Many participants lose a great deal of money.


I am strongly of the opinion that (MLM Name) should not be permitted to exhibit and recruit in community spaces/at community events as you have a duty of care to visitors and staff that is being breeched by exposing them to such companies and their practices. Whilst technically legal, such schemes regularly misrepresent the truth and emotionally manipulate people for money.


If you require additional information, please visit http://wordpress.timelessvie.com.  I look forward to your confirmation that we will not see (MLM name) at future events.


Yours sincerely,