This particular tale of woe began in February 2014. I was in year two of my university degree, working part time and had become a single parent a couple of months before. I had a random message on facebook from a good friend and former colleague of mine asking me to host a party for her, as she had just started selling a line of beauty/nutrition products. As a former beautician and sports enthusiast, this seemed like a great idea.
Well, out came the famous green table cloth, aloe vera shots and free facials, much to the distress of my younger brother and a male friend who were the only ones to attend! Out of embarrassment at the poor turn out, I listened to the sale pitches, plastered face masks on my brother and dear friend (Note: face masks and beards don’t get along…) and purchased a clean nine.
I completed the programme, and naively believed that it had done me a lot of good as not surprisingly, glugging down laxatives and water for nine days, and consuming meals and shakes that only add up to just over half of your daily calorie allowance per day makes you lose weight!
The friend I had purchased the clean nine from then got on to the classic recruitment pitches. I was an obvious target retrospectively, I had worked with her doing beauty and sports massage therapy some years ago. As I knew she was a fairly successful business woman prior to Forever living, I trusted her. There was of course the added bonus that I would be selling products alongside a good friend. I signed up, parted with my £200 and eagerly awaited the arrival of my box of aloe vera everything.
In my first month, with only two weeks after I joined to make the fabled “4cc” I did 7.5cc in personal sales (rather a lot, in pounds sterling, but I can’t remember how the forever monopoly money translates into actual currency!) I say this not as a boast, I’m not proud I made my friends drink aloe vera gloop to prove how much they truly loved me, but because I want to outline the fact that I am a capable seller and my dislike of this business isn’t down to being bitter because I couldn’t sell anything.
The business model sets you up for failure. (because it’s not a business – Timeless Vie)
I began my recruitment pitches, discovered I was actually pretty good at it and ended up with a team of over 20 people. I got to supervisor level, went to success day, and was stood up to be applauded for my efforts like a small child. I got a badge too. Cool.
Where did it go wrong, I hear you cry?! Well, I always questioned some of the business practices. The first being “PUPP boxes” in which you deliver free products for your friends/neighbours/second cousin’s dog to try and hope to God they don’t use them all or never give them back. Having had a small business before I felt this was a ridiculous idea and simply a way for the people up the line/*cough* PYRAMID to get more money out of you.
The second was the use of “case credit” value attached to products. I felt this was a very clever mechanism to encourage people to forget they are spending actual real money, and get them into buying products to score “points” to get them up the recruitment ladder. The fake it till you make it thing really bugged me too. Horrible deceptive practice. I tried to advise my team to keep records of their incomings and outgoings because I genuinely didn’t want them to lose money. I also discouraged buying products unless they were attached to a genuine customer order. Little did I know, this would be of no help whatsoever in this kind of marketing structure and social environment.
The big issues with the company, however, surfaced when I started to see my friends fail. I remember seeing one of them sat in a pub with all her products around her, with no interest at all. She left having wasted her time and money, feeling totally depressed and deflated because of me. That didn’t feel good.
I saw people I cared about trying to sell products in a saturated market place, getting nowhere. I realised that to get to a higher level in the company, it was necessary to recruit people that you knew were going to fail. Not cool. It was at this point I looked at my own books, despite meeting with sales targets every month since I began and not over spending on products I was at a £300 loss myself.
There were several factors at play, such as cost of postage which forever charges on all web orders, cost of travel to deliver them, marketing materials, websites such as ‘forever 360’ alongside ‘forever knowledge’ and ‘QLS’ training materials. It all built up and blew the feeble commission percentage out the water pretty fast. This had been a total obsession for eight months of my life but my eyes were open. I began watching back videos of the leaders of the business, with a more critical eye and realised how full of rubbish it all was.
I have seen more drawbacks from buying into this ‘business’ than I could count. I saw one lady outside at a success day who had just got off the phone from paying a credit card bill because she had bought her way to ‘supervisor’ level and was still paying off the costs. The social pressure to get sales is that intense she was prepared to put herself into debt just to get a pin badge and certificate. She wasn’t the only one. I’ve experienced immense pressure from uplines, who are no doubt desperate to pay off their own bills, to buy product and sell it on later to get ccs. I’ve seen women back biting and treading on each other like nothing I’ve ever experienced. I’ve seen worse when people leave. It creates a massive blame culture which isn’t unique to forever living, but to the marketing structure it uses and the psychological techniques it implements. It’s ugly.
All I can say is, if you are involved in any MLM, even if you are not prepared to leave. Please be critical and cautious. They tell you to remain positive because if you don’t, you’ll open your eyes and realise you’ve lost friends and money. Many people in MLM are talented, hardworking people and these skills are transferrable to valid business ventures in which you take home the profit and use your talent. There is no way I’d be prepared to face that kind of pressure, stay on my phone 24 hours a day and peddle a product I make nothing out of but lost friends and an empty pocket ever again.