Hi, Carolyn: My sister has been selling for a multilevel marketing company for a few years now. It seems to be slightly better than some of them — she "only" has to buy her samples out of pocket, not her entire stock. I have learned to skim the Facebook calls to try this or buy that and cheerfully refused to try the latest 30-day trial of whatever.
What bothers me is: She seems to legitimately think this is her possible future career path; she would like to escape a stressful day job. The MLMs sell this dream because that's the only way for anyone to succeed at them — to recruit lower-level sellers, none of whom will actually make any real profit from selling products. You have to make them believe that it will work for them, if only they try hard enough and recruit, too.
I kind of want to scream, "They are taking advantage of you, and this will never make you money unless you start taking advantage of other people!" but I am pretty sure this will just be met with platitudes about how great and supportive the MLM #tribe is.
Do I keep my opinion to myself because it's not my business, or is that just chickening out because I don't want to rock the family boat?
— Want to Scream
Want to Scream: Keep your opinion to yourself because it’s not your business. And, information on companies with the problem you just identified is available to anyone who asks a search engine for it.
Re: MLM: I think it's a "damned-if-you-do-damned-if-you-don't" situation. If you say something now, you're peeing all over her dream. If you don't say something now, when she loses her life savings, you'll be vilified for failing to warn her when you knew something was wrong.
There is likely a lawsuit (or 50) brought against the company by some state's (or states') attorney general's consumer fraud office. If it were me, I would email that information to my sister, then consider my duty completed and mind my own business from that point forward. If not, maybe it is one of the good ones.
Re: MLM: For what it's worth, I wish more people who do sell stuff like this — often very expensive stuff most people don't really need, like makeup — would really think long and hard before reaching out to their friends. Many friends will feel obligated, even when they don't want to buy this stuff, and others will refuse and then feel kind of guilty.
My husband and I once got into an argument because I wasn't "supporting" our friend's side business because I didn't want to spend $80 on face cream. UGH. Don't put your family and friends through this!
Dear friends: Do not feel “obligated.” Do not feel guilty. Just, no.
Dear marketers: I am your friend, not your business opportunity, and if you treat me as the latter, I will question your sincerity as the former.