#Stealthbots: All the ways “social selling” bots try to invade Facebook groups, brought to you by The Motherload – and us.

This is the first post of a continuing series about the latest ways MLM bots try to inveigle their way into your Facebook groups, your baby groups, your business groups, or whatever.  We’ve also had some help from @WorcestershireMums as well.   We’re doing this for 2 reasons: 1. to give all of you the heads-up about the new, woman-targeting scams heading your way and 2. for any groups out there, to give YOU the heads-up about the new tactics being used to get into your group.

To join or read more from The Motherload, click here or join their Facebook group here

 

Stealth bots 1: Pearl “parties”

 

pearl

Currently showing live on an FB page near you, someone opens an oyster and pries out a pearl for someone else to much screaming and eeking. No, we don’t get it either.  Some Pearl businesses are MLM, some aren’t, it depends on the company.  The idea seems to be that you buy oysters, and then they get opened live, and then you make jewellery out of them which seems really time consuming and pointless to us but hey.  Anyway, the women who join these businesses are desperately trying to infiltrate groups as we write.  As with any MLM, we recommend avoiding them.

 

Stealth Bot 2: “Lockeys Little Boutique” tries to claim it’s not an MLM….except it is.

 

It’s an MLM.  Appears to be UK-based.  Sells cheap off-brand knockoffs – did a google image search on one of their frocks and you can buy it WITHOUT joining an MLM at other online retailers at a cheaper price.  Hard to see what the draw is.  Has the usual spiel about “joining us” & buying a ‘business starter pack’ which, no doubt, is probably how they make their money.  Women who do join should know they are competing directly with other retailers who are online and who may be cheaper.    Status: stealthbotting everywhere

lockeys1lockeys2

 

Stealthbot 3: “I’m just pretending all innocent like to ask for advice about my little home business that’s really an MLM & will be mortally offended if you point out that’s exactly what I’m doing” Bot

 

kaykate1

kaykate2kaykate3kaykate3a

yeah yeah yeah.  We’ve heard it all before.

And finally:

 

Stealthbot 4: “Swap your doctor-prescribed evidence-based medicines for jelly from an MLM bee’s arse”

 

A mother’s group had a thread on depression.  Here’s the response by an MLM bot – we find the medical claims of MLM bots particularly infuriating because they are deliberately targeting vulnerable people.

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This guest post is by the owner of Sussex Zest.  You can find her on Facebook here.

 

This blog is possibly going to upset some people,  some people close to me even.  But you know what? I am upset!  I am upset because once I again I have received a Facebook message that begins:

 
I’ve just started my own business in the last few months working with a multi billion pound Health & Wellbeing Company promoting products for all the family.
I’m working on getting the products ‘out there’ and as your business is also in this sector….”

 

Yes almost two years ago (with daughters aged 3 and 5) I opened a business, a fitness and Personal Training studio.  I did it because I genuinely believe there is a need for such a product in my area.  I achieved it by writing a comprehensive business plan which I took to the bank and borrowed a large sum (secured against our house).  And that was just the beginning of working my butt off.  I’ve built, I’ve cleaned, and I’ve spent many an early hour staring at my bedrooms ceiling with my brain refusing to stop asking itself circular questions.  Do you see where I am going here?  To compare our ‘businesses’ is incorrect and borderline insulting.

 

Owning and managing a business means there might be times your husband finds you in tears on the kitchen floor when lease negotiations fall apart the week before signing.  It’s about the hours spent sweating trying to nail that one bit of choreography, it’s about some days starting at 06.00 finishing at 22.00, it is about a constant juggle of paperwork – planning, accounts, marketing but somehow walking onto that studio floor shining, and making your client feel like the most important person in the world – BECAUSE THEY ARE!

 

BUT BUT BUT owning and managing a business is also about the look on your client’s face when they realise that 4 weeks ago they couldn’t do what they are doing now.  It’s when you get a text on a Saturday afternoon saying ‘I’m wearing that dress at my friends wedding and I feel great,’ it’s when a toddler peers though the windows and sees people exercising but more importantly having fun doing it and it’s about those 5 minutes at the end of a busy day looking around at what you’ve created and thinking ‘yes, I made this’.

 

To me it’s never about approaching often vulnerable acquaintances (the mother who doesn’t feel ready to return to work, the friend who is unhappy with their weight) and presenting them with a non-descript ‘business opportunity’ or quick fix solution.  It is not about cryptic messages on social media (dm me), faux aspirational memes or ‘faking it till you make it’. 

 

It’s so very prevelant in fitness (and with parents of young children – yay I get double the fun) and I understand this – really I do – that fitness can be a tough industry to earn a living in.  There are many hidden costs – licenses, insurance, music, licesnes to play your music (yes) and of course the ‘on the floor’ hours are only the tip of the iceberg of your working day.  For each hour you train there are many more spent marketing, learning choreography, reading….which is why the idea of a residual income could be tempting.

 

But FITNESS colleagues I ask you this – do you hand on heart believe in the products you are selling, endorsing or recruiting others to sell?  You made the time and invested in yourself, often as an adult – as a career change, studying hard to gain qualifications in sports nutrition, to memorise the anatomy of the human body, and much more ongoing further education.  You are a professional. Never stop believing that and that you have so so much to offer.

 

We have a nationwide health crisis with increasing ever increasing rates of obesity and associated illnesses.  What individuals need right now is not quick fixes.  It is not diet shakes,  vegetables made into capsules, coffee with added mushrooms, 9 day detoxes and so on.

 

They need fitness professionals who are passionate about what they do, but are empathetic and meet them where they are now.  It is about the fitness industry using evidence based information and research to create individualised, appropriate and enoyajable fitness and nutrition strategies.  And they need their friends and colleagues support them through any lifestyle changes with no business agenda.

 


 

Many thanks to Samantha for writing this post and for being an ethical and honest fitness trainer.  If you’re looking for someone who will not spam you with overpriced multi-level marketing products, Samantha’s your go-to.

“I put the whole lot on eBay. It must’ve been worth several hundreds of pounds, and I got about £30 back.” Today: Usborne & Forever Living ex-bots speak

 

In this post, we’re combining 2 stories from some of the women who have come to us.  The first story is from someone in Usborne books, and the second is from an ex-rep of Forever Living.  Read on…

Back in 2013, I had a little part-time business selling gift baskets & pamper hampers, which I used to sell at craft fairs, community events, etc. Whilst at one, I met an Usborne seller, who was keen to tell me about the benefits of working for them & that I could do it alongside my full-time job and part-time biz. I had no experience of MLMs, but have always loved books, and thinking this was a long established, reputable firm, I signed up.

 

I got a few orders from friends & family, but could not do school events, coffee mornings etc due to my f/t job. I tried numerous times to book into local weekend events, but most times, my manager or one of her friends had got there first. I started to struggle, but then got offered (and pretty much told to take) a summer fete at the nursery half a mile from my house. I was delighted and put everything into making it a great event. When it came around, it was a burning hot day & I was based outside. People kept coming to look at the books, but no-one was interested in buying, which was pretty depressing. I then got told by someone that worked there that the manager’s friend had been in that week and secured a several hundred pound order – hence no-one wanting to buy!

 

A few months later, the manager asked me to cover another event for her as she’d double booked, and yep, similar thing happened. Eventually, after months of battling to try & get orders from my locality, I decided to quit. I tried selling my stock at a discounted rate to other sellers, including my manager, but all said they didn’t need it. So, wanting rid, I put the whole lot on eBay. It must’ve been worth several hundreds of pounds, and I got about £30 back. And who bought it? Yep, the manager who didn’t need anything.

 

So yes I was naive, but even with a decent biz brain & lots of motivation, all I did was lose money. The obsession, as with all these companies was recruit, recruit, recruit, but there was no way I would rip friends off, so I lost out. Moral of the story is don’t assume that these long-running companies have any more integrity than the Youniques and Juice Plus Types, because in my experience, they don’t xx.

 

The End.

 

“She wanted me to register my husband as an FBO in order to get the 2cc’s she needed to obtain her promotion and she would pay me and transfer the £199 it would cost to do that.”

 

Hiiiiiiiii Huuuun!
So, just over a year ago I became a victim of the fucking shit “company” known as Forever Living so I thought I would share my (fairly long) story with you. Sorry!!!

 

Having sat on my ass enjoying the high life for approximately 8 months longer than my husband ideally wanted, my sister in law told me about this”ammmmaaaaazzzzzziiinnnngggggg” business opportunity. Fuckever Living as it’s known in my household.
At £199 to initially start up the alarm bells were already starting to ring but being family, I didn’t feel I could back out.

Endless bullshit you tube training video later I was even more dubious – I actually think I’m a fairly happy person 80% of the time and don’t need to watch “the secret” every morning at 6am, I mean Jesus, I have two kids and a husband that require dressing and feeding – who seriously has time for that shit?????
My area was new to FL so I found it pretty easy to sell the products and done pretty well within the first 4 weeks and got myself a “promotion” to supervisor.
I was always a little aware of the ‘higher archly’, being my manager and golden sodding eagle or whatever she was because frankly I thought she was a patronising twat, so I never ever posted anything on the “secret” groups. I was never congratulated for making them shit loads of money because it was made quite aware to me that my face and my Facebook profile didn’t fit and/or meet requirement. (Sometimes I just wanted to tell the world what a fucking shite day I was having!!!!!!!!!!)

I did however enter the every single incentive they did (who doesn’t like a freebie) and never got a single thing.
So I kept a suspiciously close eye on these “amaaaaazzzzing incentives” and found one that I knew I would qualify for:
If you earned 12 cc’s before the 15th of the month you would be taken on a log cabin retreat. I knew that I had managed to do that and low and behold after several messages to the “senior manager” the trip was “postponed due to illness”. I then started messaging other fbo’s who I didn’t know to find out whether they had received their “prize” and guess what NOPE!!!

A week later another bogus incentive for a spa weekend presented itself via FB and so I commented on it telling everyone not to waste there damn energy and for the love of god go and spend some time with their families.
Obviously, after that I had an email from a forever “official” and a few pushed off messages from my team manager (ignored).
After that I pretty much sacked it off until I had a phone call from my then assistant manager ask me for a HUGE favour….
She wanted me to register my husband as an FBO in order to get the 2cc’s she needed to obtain her promotion and she would pay me and transfer the £199 it would cost to do that.
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA – NO!!!!!

The day after that I cancelled my registration with them and now continually spam the sites & pages until I get thrown off of them.
Dickheads, all them!

The trouble with Maelle or why mlm can be worse than a j.o.b.

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We just heard via a million huns that Maelle is to cease selling product ‘for five months’.
Why is this and who knows if it will ever come back?
The statement just issued by Younique is here:
younique
We at Timeless Vie wonder if this is a dispute about a non compete agreement.
In any business that sells a well known lucrative brand, if you are in senior management, you will be asked to sign a non compete clause, so that should you leave, you agree that you will not take any company secrets with you, don’t copy the business that you left and that you don’t use the same factories or work with the same people or set up the same kind of business – become a competitor- for an agreed period of time.
Bobbi Brown just announced she is leaving her same name company and there is speculation she will have a ‘lengthy’ non compete clause in her contract. http://www.marieclaire.com/beauty/n…
Jo Malone (fragrance guru) agreed to not start up another perfume business for five years!  http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/jo-malone-…
Tamara Mellon (Jimmy Choo) agreed to stay away from the fashion trade for only one year, but later discovered that Jimmy Choo made their factories sign contracts stating that they would never work with her. So she took them to court. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/fashion/…
Whilst in their incredibly long prelaunch period, we worked out that Maelle had trousered around half a million dollars from recruits. We called bullshit back then.
Then there was the tragic lack of product. We have been like CRINGE whilst the bots fawn over a nasty glitter make up pouch (that costs more than a River Island handbag) and a solitary blusher. The inability to create a full make up look, the ‘hero product’ that won’t come out of the faulty tube. Awful.
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We are now raising a collective Instabrow at the flood of positivity memes and hashtags
But you can’t use The Secret to make a court of law to rule in your favour.
We can’t have life our own way by, ‘vibrating on a higher level’. Unicorns aren’t real, either. Sorry ’bout that.
‘’The Secret actually requires that you never doubt yourself, never consider negative repercussions, and never indulge in negative thoughts. This is the confirmation bias on steroids and it can be dangerous: taking on risky business ventures or investments, ignoring red flag behaviors from a romantic partner, denying personal problems or health issues, avoiding necessary confrontations, failing to weigh the possibility of failure in decision making, and so on. While this sort of “delusionally positive” thinking may make one feel better in some (or even many) situations, as a long-term life strategy, it is utterly disastrous. ‘’
And we don’t think that UK law on pyramid selling offers enough protection to the recruits of mlms.
The law already states that there should be no pyramid selling without product. Maelle recruited and proposed cash incentives for recruitment, for as long as eight months before the presenter kits were shipped. UK law sets a limit on initial investment (£200) and a guaranteed refund on that investment during a cooling off period. But we think there should be a time limit on ‘prelaunch’. Otherwise what is there to stop other new mlms from doing the same?
We now watch with interest to see if the recruiting continues and if this mlm survives.
Maelle Mentors, if you are reading this now we are here for  you xxx

It’s a war on the internetz

This post was written by one of our supporters.

The other day I witnessed an interesting exchange in the comments section of a Juice Plus sponsored post.

A critic posted a link to the Juice Plus wikipedia page and a distributor responded with “Wikipedia is just a load of crap made up by anyone”.

I am not at all surprised she reacted like that because the Wikipedia page on Juice Plus is negative from start to finish.

Firstly it describes the product as a generic “fortified” dietary supplement.  Fortified means synthetic vitamins have been added.  The page even discloses which pharmaceutical company manufactures these added vitamins.  This goes against JP’s 100% natural whole food claim.

Then in exhaustive detail it shines a very negative light on the scientific research into Juice Plus.  This includes where relevant, the poor design, lack of controls, the small sample sizes, also the fact that most of the studies were conducted by the company themselves and not independently as is commonly claimed.

————

So why doesn’t the Juice Plus company just go and change the Wikipedia entry and put the record straight?

Well they tried.  They tried pretty damn hard actually.

Wikipedia has a system where page content is discussed in a separate page and any changes must be supported with good argument and the necessary evidence.  As you can guess, company representatives were straight away trying to edit the page to make it more favourable.

They had a Juice Plus “medical professional” come in to try to bring credibility to the product but his approach was questionable.

“I am willing to lend my considerable and respected expertise to cleaning up this site and, consequently, will remove this page’s flawed reasoning and present this product in a much better light”

Wikipedia responded…

“The Wikipedia community has no idea who you are in reality. You are entitled to post information regardless of your true identity, but it is no less likely to be edited simply because you claim to be an authority. I refer you to the following page regarding Appeal to Authority.”

And,

“Expert opinions are NOT brought forth with claims of notability, but citations of sources and clear, coherent, and neutral statements of what is true.”

Then other ‘possible’ company representatives appeared who tried to destroy the credibility of the article, the Wikipedia editors, and particularly the reputation of the sources who were against Juice Plus.  It’s difficult to summarise so much content (the archives are massive) but generally it was a lot of personal attacks and not much arguing against the page content.

The exchanges continued back and forth for months and it soon became obvious that there were only harsh critics on one side and JP distributors and other representatives arguing on the other side.  Not much was actually happening.

The critics had convincing arguments supported by solid evidence and the JP side seemed unable to dispute it.

Then a year later in 2007 something quite unusual happened.  NSA (the manufacturer of Juice Plus) got involved and made an official statement on the discussion page (Archive 6).  In this statement they attack the credibility of one of the main wikipedia contributors.

“We are convinced that this contributor is a detractor with competitive ties who is hiding behind the anonymity of Wikipedia in an effort to use the site for commercial advantage”

So here you have the actual manufacturer of Juice Plus making an accusation like this without providing ANY accompanying evidence.

The accused contributor responded with,

“I am extremely shocked that an official representative of the company that markets Juice Plus would include unwarranted personal attacks and libelous COI (conflict of interest) accusations in their debut on this page. I will remind this user that WP:NPA (no personal attacks) is a cardinal rule of Wikipedia”

A moderator added,

“I can understand your consternation for this blockable offense. If it occurs again, take it to the noticeboard”

NSA were quite simply shot down in flames.

In the following years and up to present day, the conflict seems to have died down.  Perhaps the company have given up trying to make the page more favourable and accept that everything on the Wikipedia page is proven undeniable fact.

All discussion archives can be found through this link – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Juice_Plus

DO THEY KNOW? Do you think the top MLM reps know what they’re doing when they suck others into their team?

It’s the question we often ask ourselves at TVHQ and it’s been the source of some heated debates. 

Do the uplines, the top bots, the high-flyers in MLM, know what they’re doing when they pull people into their downline?  Do they know that most will fail?   Or are they brainwashed?  Trapped? Or sociopaths?

 

For those who are knew to MLM/this blog, some explanation.  MLM = multi-level marketing, like Younique, Forever Living, etc.

Upline = persons higher up in the pyramid, who generally appear to have lots of money, large teams, etc

Downline = the people below the upline.

 

As we’ve seen here, some MLM success-stories do work it out fairly quickly and leave because they can’t bear to see people they care about getting hurt.  Their moral compass, their emotional intelligence forces them to go before too much damage is done.  They realise that for most people MLM is a losing proposition.

And the others?  WATCH THIS:

 

Having watched the vido, do you think Emma, the top bot living in a castle, is lying?

Or is she convinced that she’s doing the right thing, using ‘attraction marketing’ to draw others into her MLM?  That she can help others get this dreamlife too?

And her brother – is he lying too, or does he truly believe that MLM is just another way of doing business?  To me, he looks sincere.

The question of Emma’s guilt or innocence, awareness or lack of, has been discussed  by those of us behind TV, along with other top bots.   Some of us believe she knows what she’s doing and is deliberately manipulating people.  Others think she is completely brainwashed and a victim.

The thing is, if Emma is doing everything she’s supposed to do: listening to ‘mindset’tapes all the time, constantly training and reaching out to others to bring them in, while balancing her family,  it’s possible that she DOES believe that what she is doing is right.  MLMs ban what they call ‘negative’ thinking.  Read this. And this.

This kind of thought-stopping tactic is also found in certain religions like Scientology.  An excellent blog to read about Scientology  is this one

Botwatch also wrote a well-researched post about MLM thinking here

Due to the high-turnover of recruits, all uplines have to spend a lot of time focussed on recruiting, which doesn’t give them a lot of time to reflect on what they are doing.   It’s an eternal sad hamster wheel of victims in, victims out.   As we discussed here, it can be very difficult to leave an MLM once a certain amount of time and money is invested.  That’s why we’ve always tried to reach out to the successes as well as those who have been used – in some cases, we think they are victims too.

Some, but not all.

There are also those who we have strong reason to believe know what they are doing and don’t care.  We will have more to come on this story, but for now, here’s an excellent blog about how to tell when people are lying.

How do you know whether you are good at spotting liars? Test yourself  here at the University of Berkeley’s EQ test website.  This test will tell you how clever you are at reading other people’s emotions, which is part of lie detection.

Many MLM uplines post videos on Facebook etc to persuade people to join, to mentor their ‘teams’, etc etc blah blah.  Next time you watch one, take note of whether their facial expressions match what they are saying, whether their smiles are truly sincere, and whether they show true emotional concern for their ‘teams’.   I’m not just talking words here – they should be showing genuine emotion/concern on their faces if they truly care.

People who lack emotion can sometimes appear very charming, smiling a lot, presenting a beautiful appearance, but will also show inappropriate facial expressions at times.   Take note of this.   It’s a red flag about how that person is truly feeling.

And finally, if you are high up in an MLM but want to get out, we ARE here for you.  No matter what you’ve done in MLM, you can make a difference right now, today, by leaving & helping others see through the deception.

READ: Forever Living’s Plans for 2017…recruiting, recruiting, recruiting

#foreverbring it

Here’s the latest leak from our #foreverliving spies & agents.  2017 is here, and guess what! Forever living has a new incentive!  READ ON:

 

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We did a comparison of how often the phrase ‘team/team building’ ‘recruitment’ ‘products’ and ‘sales’ were mentioned in this literature.  We believe it’s an indication of where #flpuk’s priorities lie.

Highest- mentioned phrases:

Team/team building = 6 mentions

Second highest mentioned phrases:

Recruit/recruitment = 2 mentions


Retail sales were mentioned once

There were zero mentions of the products.


Is Nuskin AP24 Tooth Paste as natural as it claims? Our ingredients expert weighs in

One of our viestars has had a lot of experience looking into product ingredients due to her health issues, and she’s agreed to help us out by analyzing some of the claims made by MLM products.  Thanks, M.P! Read on…

 

Nuskin AP24 Toothpaste.

 

Ingredients

Aqua, Hydrated Silica, Sorbitol, Aluminum Hydroxide, Glycerin,  Tetrasodium Pyrophosphate, PEG-12, Sodium Monofluorophosphate, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Dimethicone, Poloxamer 338, Poloxamer 407, Cellulose Gum, Sodium Sulfate, Sodium Saccharin, Sodium Oxide, Flavor, BHT, CI 77891, Limonene.

 

Here are the most common dangerous ingredients in NUSKIN AP24

Aluminum Hydroxide

Aluminum is a naturally occurring mineral. Aluminum hydroxide is an antacid.Aluminum hydroxide is used to treat symptoms of increased stomach acid, such as heartburn, upset stomach, sour stomach, or acid indigestion. Aluminum hydroxide is also used to reduce phosphate levels in people with certain kidney conditions.

CI 77891 – is the chemical name for Titanium Dioxide

Sneaky of Nu skin !! as most people with an allergy or skin irritant will only know it as Titanium Dioxide though it’s usually found in white paint. When added to toothpaste, titanium dioxide has the safe effect on your teeth as it does on walls – it keeps them nice and white (for a few hours, at least!).Which is where some people may see a whitening difference Ingesting titanium dioxide won’t hurt you, but it isn’t recommended  either

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate & Sodium Sulfate

Added as a detergent and cleansing agent, sodium laurel sulfate and its cousin sodium laureth sulfate pose a wide range of potential health risks. On its own, sodium laurel sulfate can damage eyes, irritate skin and lead to labored breathing. Can cause headaches, dizziness

In the cleaning industry, SLS is used in products such as garage floor cleaners, engine degreasers and car wash soaps SLS is used for clinical testing as a primary skin irritant. Laboratories use it to irritate skin on test animals and humans so that they may then test healing agents to see how effective they are on the irritated skin.

Also found in most shampoos including “no tears” baby shampoos, SLS can keep children’s eyes from developing properly, can cause cataracts in adults, can retard healing, and can impair hair growth.

 Sodium saccharin

is the solid form of the artificial sweetener saccharin.Saccharin is non-nutritive and is used to add sweetness to beverages and foods !!!

Now whilst you can find all of the above in other tooth pastes they are not claiming they will take you 5 shades lighter and are a fraction of the cost.

Personally as I have skin problems I won’t use anything with SLS & if you have any skin complaints at all I would advise you to check all your products.

 

 

After researching all of the above I decided to give some people a call enquiring on the NUSKIN tooth paste

 

1 – Beauty Salon

 

Girl on the phone said she didn’t know anything about the ingredients, but could guarantee it would whiten my teeth, I asked her shouldn’t she know what she was selling as I had looked at the ingredients and some were harmful, she said she would get the salon manager to call me back! Still waiting

 

2 – Beauty Salon 2

 

This salon claimed they were skin experts, spoke to the manager, who told me that they had has 100% positive feedback, I told her I had Eczema and other skin complaints, she assured me that the tooth paste would be safe, when I asked about the SLS – Sodium Laurel Sulphate being a well know skin irritant and is on the top 5 toxic ingredients and a skin expert she should know this, she then told me maybe the product wasn’t for me and hung up

 

3- Facebook

I PM ‘d a girl on Facebook asking how much the tooth paste was and the benefits, she told me that the cheapest way for me to get the product was to sign up to NUSKIN & then my friends could benefit to, I went back saying I just wanted to know what was in it, she sent me a full list of ingredients, no explanation, and again I could save 25% by joining her team. I didn’t reply for a day or two, but she messaged me both days asking if I wanted to be signed up and save me money and I could work from home and earn money Is this a pyramid scheme? – No its Multi-Level Marketing.

I asked her what training she had had from NUSKIN regarding product knowledge and what they were actually selling. She told me that they got full support, when I challenged her on the ingredients and sent the the dangers of SLS (Sodium Laurel Sulpahate) she blocked me!

We interview Jane Cunningham, aka British Beauty Blogger, about MLMs, makeup, & her career as a beauty writer.

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Thank you very much for agreeing to join us for a Q&A – we know how busy you are! Could you start by telling us a little bit about your professional background as a beauty writer and why you started your blog?

Thanks for inviting me! I was a beauty writer for print for many years working on titles such as The Telegraph, The Independent, The Daily Express and Metro. I started following blogs – Temptalia and Blogdorf Goodman in particular – and was absolutely fascinated by them. I saw a feature pop up in the New York Times about how blogging was the new ‘thing’ and thought, I can do that! So, I did. I really had no idea quite how it would go or whether it would be a ‘thing’ in the UK too, so it took many years before I had the courage to ditch print altogether. It did offer me an environment that was unedited so I could say what I really think about an industry that on the one hand adores women and yet on the other, is prepared to rinse them for every penny without even a backward glance! Don’t start me!

You are known for your honesty & directness when reviewing brands and products. What prompted your powerful video directed at MLMs – it seemed like the pressure had been building for a while?

As a blogger, I get contacted a lot by MLMs – mainly Younique, I must admit, and that has died off now but at one point it was every day, and I think my frustration comes from knowing that not one single one of the people who contacted me had a clue that everyone else was contacting me. I think there must have been some kind of guideline from the brand on contacting bloggers and how to do so, resulting in a flooded in-box. I’m not frustrated by it (I always speak passionately about beauty!) but I’m sad for the people who have such hopes for it, when statistics clearly show that ‘getting rich’ happens to very, very few. 

How did your followers react to your post? We know that it was very widely viewed and shared, so I’m assuming that what you said resonated with a lot of people!

 

I feel really lucky with my readers – because I’m prepared to be direct, they often are too. I felt they shared my frustration with a model that doesn’t work for many women (and men).

You mentioned in your video that you were bombarded by requests from MLM representatives – much like we all are on social media – have you had any response from the MLM companies/representatives since the video?

Nope! But then, I wouldn’t expect to – people are good at ignoring what they don’t want to see or hear. Although saying that, my FB Live channel is small because it’s fairly new (I swapped from Periscope to FB) and it does somehow seem that the brands I don’t particularly want to see it always end up seeing it! I don’t know how that happens! 

You were very clear about advising people against joining MLMs. We get angry when MLMs state that they ‘empower’ women as we feel that they exploit them. Does your exposure to them back that up?

Really, that whole empowerment thing is silly. If anything, it’s alienating. Nobody wants to hang out with you if they think you’re going to try and sell them something. I had an awful experience with an MLM brand (before I had my blog) and I invited some friends (as a favour to another friend) to a ‘beauty party’ but had said to the person doing the party, please DO NOT go through the whole thing for hours – these are women who can choose their own beauty products with very little persuasion, so no hard sell.

An HOUR AND A HALF later we were all still sitting there in excruciating silence listening to someone who literally couldn’t deviate from the required speech. It was awful. My friends were cross with me for nearly boring them to death for over an hour, felt they had to buy something just to get away, and I was cross with the friend who I did the favour to who in turn was furious with the poor woman who presented the brand. Nobody came out of that experience happy. And that’s what happens.

Out of desperation, people who work for MLMs start off so optimistic and think everyone will share their passion, and apply pressure to friends and family, who comply out of kindness and then it just ends up a mess. The person working for the MLM brand ends up at the hard end of a lot of bad feeling (and being blocked on Facebook!) and that’s not good for self-esteem and certainly not empowering! Beauty can be truly for the good – it can be empowering, it can be so helpful and it can be an absolute joy but MLMs somehow mood-hoover all the good things to leave a joyless and awkward experience.

I’ve seen a lot of bad feeling on line towards women in the lower chains of MLMs. On the one hand, it’s so unfair – they’re genuinely trying to make a little money to support themselves or their families and yet on the other, they’re targeting other women who need their money to support themselves or their families. It’s basically a shifting of money in an environment where that money is hard earned and precious in the first place. I find it hard to condemn anyone who falls for the stories of ‘the dream’, I see how and why it happens but also I see why people get angry when they’re ‘targeted’. 

Finally, we have to ask you for your thoughts on the news that Coty Inc. has purchased a stake in Younique. What do you think this will mean for both companies?

Brands do strange things. Behind the scenes, corporate beauty world is shark infested. It could be that they lose sales from one or several of their key brands to Younique, so buying it to kill it stone dead longer term makes sense if that’s the case, or they could be looking to bring other brands into the model. Mascara is a weird thing – L’Oreal has the patents to most decent mascaras (which is why it’s hard to find really good mascara outside of that stable) so it might even be a patent issue. You just never know. But I do know that it looks like a statement of MLM approval which isn’t the best thing, in my view, for consumers. Just go to Boots! You don’t need to rock up to anyone’s ‘party’ to be sold an overpriced mascara, or even to wait five days for delivery when you can go to the shops or even on line and have it immediately. *bangs head on desk* !! 

We’re big fans of your MUR Fortune Favours The Brave palette – any more collaborations coming our way?

Thank you! No, I don’t have any further plans for makeup collaborations, but I have a few beauty boxes that I’m finalising now for this year. I don’t plan too far ahead on Britishbeautyblogger – beauty world moves very quickly, as do trends, so I’m a commitment-phobe and hesitant to lock down with anyone long term. 

Thank you so very much for your time and your expert input.

You can find Jane’s blog here

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VALENTUS. We give you the skinny on this allegedly ‘skinny’ coffee.

The Ugly Decaffeinated Truth

 

 

Most of us by now will have had the misfortune to encounter one or two of the Valentus crew.  Goals are being #smashed, promotions #nailed, babes being #boss.  Although allegedly in ‘pre-launch’, the product is out there and teams are growing at an enormous and frankly frightening & unsustainable rate.  So we thought it was time to take a good look at Valentus – at the company, the product and the compensation plan and to try to get to the truth behind the over-excited Facebook ‘lives’, the ‘Double Diamond’ promotions, the blurred-out bonuses and the TOTES AMAZEBALLS weight loss products.

 

Let’s start with the Company:

 

It launched in 2014 and the CEO is Dave Jordan, a network marketing veteran who has clearly honed his skills in a number of MLMs, usually moving on to the next just before companies have folded.  Timing is everything, people!  Dave is a expert in lead-generation and recruitment tactics, which is why it is hardly surprising that Valentus is all about recruitment.  Bots talk about Valentus being an ‘established, global business’ but facts about the real size & reach of the business seem pretty hard to find.

 

 

The Product:

 

The star in the Valentus universe is the Prevail SlimRoast Coffee.  It’s a coffee that you drink to make you lose weight.  Cards-on-the-table time: I loathe weight-loss gimmicks like this.  MLMs deliberately target the things most women are socially conditioned to want most of all: friendship, health, beauty and most of all, weight-loss.  Almost every MLM has some kind of weight-loss programme that they use as a hook.  These are generally unproven, short-term, unsustainable & unhealthy, both for the mind and for the body.  And yet we want to believe that just by sipping a cup of magic coffee every day we will miraculously turn into Kate Moss and be so much happier and more valued as a human being.  Anyone selling these kind of false promises and trading on the pressure women are already under to look thinner/younger/more beautiful deserves a special place in feminist hell.

 

Anyway, having got that off my chest, let’s look at the SlimRoast claims & reality.  Here’s the Valentus claim:

 

Formulated with natural appetite suppressants, feel good ingredients and detox components SlimROAST is a great addition to your weight management program. Not only will you find managing your weight with SlimROAST will produce exciting results, but you will love the taste of this delicious Italian dark roast coffee.

 

Now let’s turn to a qualified Nutritionist to debunk some of that.  It’s worth reading all of Abby Langer’s review as she tears the claims to shreds (https://abbylangernutrition.com/slimroast/) but here’s a few highlights:

 

 

Valentus SlimRoast has zero research proving it works. Testimonials don’t count.

 

SlimRoast contains mostly unproven ingredients that likely don’t work – together, or separately – to promote weight loss.

 

It’s pretty physiologically impossible to take a supplement and lose weight just from that, without any changes to your diet or activity. So testimonials that make that claim are probably not legit. I promise – when scientists find the magic ingredient that makes people lose weight while they sit on their ass, I’ll let you know. For now though – you’ll need to do the work. Sorry!

 

Compensation Package:

 

‘Eeeeeek!  It’s the best compensation package of any MLM EVER!’

 

Claims like this combined with blurred-out photos of allegedly ENORMOUS 5 & 6-figure incomes certainly implies that within a very short space of time you will be raking in the money.

 

Here’s the nasty truth.  Once again, it’s all about recruitment and about the bot being the customer.

 

  1. Success depends on bots committing to a monthly auto-shipment of product and in turn recruiting others to do likewise
  2. You cannot progress without signing up to automatically buy over £100 worth of product per month and building a team of other people doing likewise.
  3. You also get paid an additional commission bonus for every new member you sign up
  4. There is minimal information about retailing on the Valentus website and little reward for retailing in the compensation plan. It’s all about autoship and recruitment.

 

Massive red flags here: this emphasis on autoship/recruitment places Valentus on very rocky ground.  In fact, people have analysed the Valentus compensation structure and found it almost identical to Vemma’s – that’s right, the ‘Energy Drink’ MLM that was condemned as a pyramid scheme by the FTC because of its emphasis on recruitment/autoship.  Bar a small handful at the top, most affiliates lost money in Vemma.  Read this for more information on the Vemma case: https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/press-releases/2015/08/ftc-acts-halt-vemma-alleged-pyramid-scheme

 

Conclusion:

 

Stay away.  Don’t touch with a 10-foot pole.

 

This is a pyramid scheme with very little pretense to even try to dress it up with product & retail.  It’s growing rapidly in the UK right now but unless you are one of the top bots, you’ll be paying in your £100 per month and losing money (but not the promised weight!).

 

If you need proof that is a pyramid scheme, we have a recording of one of the top UK bots in a Facebook Live actually stating that you don’t need to sell product at all to succeed.  This is illegal.  This makes Valentus a full-on, undeniable pyramid scheme.  Like all such schemes, one of two things will happen:

 

  1. The authorities will catch up with Valentus, fine it and shut it down.
  2. The scheme will collapse.

 

Either of those end-games are bad news for 95% of scheme members.  They will lose their money.  And those at the top who are boasting about their wealth and recruiting more people in everyday are both immoral and –  in some cases – breaking the law.

 

We’re watching you, Valentus.