[Elle:] The Anti-MLM Coalition are pleased to publish the conclusion of “Say Aloe & Wave Goodbye“, by UK-based guest writer Penny (not her real name). In this tale, she shares her experience of losing a dear friend to the clutches of Forever Living (and subsequently, FM World).
Before reading the conclusion Penny’s story, please remind yourself that all views presented in this blog are as told to us by the authors, and simply reflect their own opinions. Your own personal experiences with MLM companies may differ, negatively or positively.
Take it away, Penny.
[Penny:] Thanks for letting me tell the final part of my story, Elle. As mentioned, this happened in the summer of 2014 in the UK. All views and opinions are my own.
In Part One, I was close to blocking Tawney on social media – “I was growing sick of her shit and didn’t really want to see her anymore.” I really contemplated it, but wasn’t strong enough to deal with a possible fallout as our kids were at the same school.
We rarely saw each other over the next few weeks, as I avoided her at all costs and even made up illnesses to escape her. Tawney then shocked me by announcing on Facebook she was moving house 3 miles away and that her kids “were accepted into a lovely little village school“.
I felt sad but also felt free from her, in a strange way. I decided to be the better person and send her a text saying how happy I was that she’s got herself a house in a lovely little village. Tawney sent a sweet and cheeky message back asking if I wanted to volunteer my services to help her de-clutter her bedroom, and I giggled to myself and I replied with a yes. Perhaps I was being silly to feel annoyed by her…after all, it was her job and if it made her some cash, then why should I feel annoyed? I even accused myself of being jealous.
Several weeks after Tawney moved house, I was still feeling irritated by the constant selfies and status updates – it had been nearly 4 months since she joined Forever Living and she showed no signs of quitting the selfies or daily posts.
My partner, Cai, suggested to “just unfollow her, babe!”
“Wait…what does that even mean??”
In answer, Cai went to my Facebook app on my phone and searched for Tawney… and clicked her profile before hitting the magical “unfollow” button. Genius!
So I was able to not block her and cause a catastrophic fallout, but I was able to stop seeing her bullshit every day I logged on Facebook!
[Elle:] A quick note for the less technologically-savvy – wikiHow has a good article here: “How to Unfollow Someone on Facebook“.
[Penny:] Thanks Elle!
I made us a celebratory cup of tea, as I felt victorious and in control of the situation at last. In all honesty over the next following weeks, I felt a bit bored without Tawney; she hadn’t text me, and I was too afraid to make the first move in case she mentioned her “business.”
To me, a home business is sewing, cake-making or mobile hairdressing, this was not HER business because she was one of thousands of Facebookers selling the same shit, trying to make a few quid.
Even more weeks passed, and my phone started ringing one afternoon – it was Tawney. Surprised, then nervously, I forced myself to answer. I wasn’t met with the usual bubbly “hellooooo“. It was: “oh my god, those stupid, snobby dick heads have kicked me out their group! Did you see the status, have a look as they’ve blocked me!!!!”
Tawney was referring to a local group on Facebook we were members of, where people discussed anything from husbands to tumble dryers. The group had grown rather large over the years and local papers even mentioned it – it ended up having around 10K members, with a team of about 15 admins who kept the peace and organised a lot of local charity events.
I told Tawney I would call her back after I’d had a look.
Sure enough, as soon as I went to the group page I saw a post from Tawney offering her aloe vera crap, along with the silly quotes about how she was “master of her own destiny.” The post had 55 comments, so I scrolled through open-mouthed as people were laughing at her – one woman posted “fuck off with your aloe Vera crap!” The comments were ruthless, the final comment was from an admin saying “that’s three strikes – she’s out!“
I remembered that a group rule was, “if you broke the rules 3 times you would be removed“. It was the last Friday of the month though, so Tawney would have surely been allowed to post her “business” as another group rule was “self-promotion on the last Friday of the month“.
I called Tawney back and gently told her about the comments, as she continued to seethe down the end of the phone. She explained how she had messaged the admin ladies to find out why she was removed, and that she was waiting for a reply. I ended the call and shook my head in disbelief at the comments. Cai found them so funny that he ended up sprawled across the sofa, struggling for breath.
“Babe, you’re a rotten git,” I said, but I couldn’t resist the urge to giggle along with him with a raised eyebrow.
Tawney’s post got deleted, and I enjoyed payday weekend with my family and heard nothing else from her that weekend, which was in all honesty rather nice. It turns out she had been constantly “bumping” her posts by commenting on them all so it was kept at the top of the page!
The following morning I was heading to my local shops, when I heard, “oi, Penny! Did you see that silly cow Tawney’s group post last night? Bloody hilarious weren’t it!”
Not one to mince her words, I turned to see my lovable cockney neighbour Flora puffing away on a cigarette, whilst walking her dog behind me. I stopped and waited for her to catch up.
“Can’t stand those bloody morons who pester people on Facebook, I had to block my sister-in-law for doing that shit,” she continued.
Intrigued, I asked Flora about why she had to block her. She told me her sister-in-law tried selling Forever Living, and that she paid £250 for “a basket full of rubbish” that she used to take to the local pub when they played darts!
My mind suddenly scrolled back to Tawney and that basket she was holding, and I felt flustered… oh no, Tawney, please tell me you didn’t pay for that?!
I assumed everybody was given that basket, with a few bottles of goop for free in order to entice people to buy it – kind of like the local beauty counters in Debenhams that have glamorous assistants with a basket in hand, to give out cute little pots of lotions for customers to try at home.
Flora confirmed Tawney “would have 100% had to pay around £250 for the basket of crap.” I asked Flora why they didn’t put any makeup in the basket, and explained that Tawney had been offended I didn’t purchase a lipstick because I couldn’t test one out. Flora laughed in her throaty smokers cackle, before stubbing out her cigarette.
“Think about it, Penny love – they only put shitty products like goop and hay fever tablets in the baskets, because they don’t show an immediate result like lipsticks and perfumes do. They know the silly cows will end up buying a few ‘essentials’ like lipstick and eye-shadow themselves, as they’ll need to show their customers – by doing that, the people on top of the pyramid have made more money off them!”
Oh my god, Flora was right… it suddenly dawned on me that whoever was on the top of this pyramid was 50% genius, 50% scamming, conning arse-wipe.
That evening I felt awful for Tawney, but also angry. I kept asking myself, how could she be so stupid? She’s not at all vulnerable or naive; she’s an educated, sensible married woman, for crying out loud!
I ended up seeing less and less of her over the following months. Every time we met, she would mention aloe vera and it’s healing properties for almost everything, and it was really fucking boring.
I couldn’t mention anything to do with illness or ailments, in case she quipped in with a sales pitch. I started fantasising about pouring the goop over her head every time she opened her mouth with a “fact” about aloe vera. Cai did make me chuckle though; he changed her name to ‘Vera’ on my phone, and every time we spoke about her, that’s what he would refer to her as.
I had almost forgotten about Vera – I mean Tawney – as I hadn’t heard from her in over 8 weeks, which was the longest we had gone without talking to one another. I often missed her, but never wanted her to get in contact as I knew it would only cause issues because of this aloe Vera nonsense.
I went to visit my neighbour Zura one Friday night, armed with a bottle of wine and a bag of Kettle crisps. We had a right giggle once the vino had gone to our heads, but then Zura mentioned, “oh your friend Tawney messaged me last week.”
Curious, I asked why, as I wasn’t aware they knew each other.
“Yeah she offered me some of her aloe stuff,” Zura explained.
I could feel the blood rushing to my ears as I listened to her say Tawney had messaged her some nonsense about aloe vera being good for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). I felt my cheeks go pink, as I remembered telling Tawney ages ago that Zura suffered from IBS.
I wasn’t gossiping, I just brought it up in conversation as Tawney suspected she’d had it herself at one point – however, once she’d stopped eating McDonald’s breakfasts and Greggs lunches, her symptoms mysteriously stopped!
Luckily, Zura didn’t twig it was me who must have mentioned it, she just shrugged it off. I told her to ignore Tawney or block her, as she was hellbent on selling her products – fortunately, Zura giggled.
As I walked up to my door that evening I angrily muttered “fucking Facebook.” As soon I turned the key in my door, I hurried over to the iPad and grabbed it from Cai as he sat there with half his earphones hanging out.
“Sorry, babe, give me a minute and I’ll explain!”
He sat there watching me in confusion, as I logged on to my Facebook app.
I went through my Facebook privacy settings and realised how exposed and open my profile was, including my friends list.
“BINGO!” I said out loud.
I explained to Cai that Tawney must have rooted through my friends list to target vulnerable people like Zura. He just shook his head, and muttered under his breath “for fucks sake, she’s a nutter!”
I put my profile on lockdown, even hiding my future posts from Tawney, and saved the changes to my profile. I sat on the sofa, shocked and pissed off that she used that information I shared with her about Zura having IBS to try and flog her crap.
I ranted for a few minutes about how she was getting blocked, until Cai told me to calm down and sleep on it. I went to bed seething.
Things went real quiet after that. Weeks turned in to months, as I put my summer flip-flops away and replaced them with a pair of boots.
I still heard nothing more from Tawney, and nobody else mentioned her, so you can imagine how shocked I was to receive a notification from Facebook that I had been added by her to a perfume group!
I rolled my eyes and I looked at this group called “FM World Fragrances by Tawney.”
I had never even heard of this, and again a quick google search told me it was another bullshit sell-over-social-media thing. Namely, overpriced perfumes, shampoo, cleaning products, cosmetics, and even food supplements!
I was very confused though, as I thought she was happy in her role selling the aloe vera nonsense. I then realised I had no idea what she was really up to these days, as I unfollowed her 5 months ago.
I tapped out her name on Facebook and scrolled through her profile to find several bitchy, passive aggressive statuses towards Forever Living reps. Curiosity got the better of me – I needed to know what was going on, so I messaged her asking to meet for a coffee. Almost instantly, my phone started ringing with her name.
I eagerly answered – Tawney told me she was actually nearby. Turns out she had to drop her son off to football practise ’round the corner, and she could be at mine in 5 minutes! Nervously, I agreed and hung up.
I paced up and down my living room tidying away the kids’ crisp wrappers, wondering if she was going to mention anything about Forever Living and these FM World perfumes…and the doorbell went.
Tawney looked dreadful. However, in hindsight I think she actually looked rather normal. Almost like the old Tawney – I had just grown so used to seeing her with the makeup and immaculate hair, that I was probably surprised to see her looking so casual.
She smiled weakly and sat down in my kitchen as I flicked the kettle on. She was the first to mention Forever Living.
Tawney looked almost ashamed and tearful, as she explained she had been seduced into joining by the glamorous wife of her husband’s boss. I was speechless, as I knew how loaded they were; it seemed strange that his wife needed to do this nonsense over Facebook.
She went on to explain that the boss’s wife got seduced into it herself, because she was bored at home and her own sister-in-law had convinced her to take it up, as “it was so much fun, and she would feel independent running her own business like her husband does“.
I almost fell off my chair when Tawney explained that her husband had gone on to have words with his boss about this, and that he was furious when he found out she had spent £250 on this kit, and had made no money.
“You made not a single penny?” I gasped.
She looked at the floor as her cheeks turned pink, and told me she made zero in nearly 9 months. Even more astounding was that the boss kindly gave her husband the £250 back in cash with his wage slip, as he too was utterly ashamed and pissed-off with his wife for getting involved with the scam, and involving Tawney.
We sat in silence sipping our coffee as I tried to make light of the situation by reminding Tawney that at least she got her money back. She nodded her head weakly, before chirping up so suddenly, cockily announcing she “had a new project up her sleeve.”
I knew she was referring to the perfumes, but I took a deep breath and waited for the sales pitch. Her words came spewing out like a copy-and-paste script I could have written for her. I must of started to zone out, because I stopped paying attention almost instantly. I abruptly interrupted her by putting my hands on the table and asking what she was having for dinner. My heart started racing as I realised how rude I had been cutting her off like that, before Tawney stuttered: “oh um…we are ordering a Chinese takeaway, as it’s Friday.”
We sat attempting to make small talk for several more minutes before Tawney announced she was off to run some errands before collecting her son from football. I barely showed her to the door. As it closed, I pushed my fringe back and took a deep breath, instantly regretting inviting her into my home.
That was the last time I saw her.
In that moment, I knew I had lost her. whoever these FM World people were that she’d got herself involved with had brainwashed her, and she just wasn’t the same person anymore.
The weeks passed, and the group notifications continued regarding this horse-piss perfume she was selling. I left the group, and once again selected the option to not be re-added.
As the weeks turned in to months, Tawney still popped up on the local Facebook Buy and Sell groups, and I noticed her copy-and-paste nonsense was still ignored by everyone. Tawney did not contact me at all.
I was gutted, but Cai kept reminding me she wasn’t the same person anymore, and that she would always talk about her “amazing business opportunity” if we saw each other. I received a notification on Facebook from a mutual friend of ours the following week, saying that she had added me into Tawney’s new perfume group – at this point even the mention of her name was enough to annoy the crap out of me, and I’m usually such an easy-going person.
I sent a message to this mutual friend, asking why she had added me to this group. The friend explained she “felt sorry for Tawney as she hadn’t made any sales” and that Tawney had asked her to add everyone she knew, “as Christmas is coming up“.
I realise now that Tawney knew better than to add me herself, as I would have been pissed. I politely asked the mutual friend to not add me again to any of her perfume or makeup groups, as I was not interested in buying anything from her.
Good news travels fast; this mutual friend must have told Tawney about my message – she went on to post a ridiculous meme as her WhatsApp display picture that evening, with something along the lines of “haters don’t pay my bills.”
I must admit, she was correct; “haters” do not pay her bills, but neither did she. In fact, she was increasing her husband’s outgoings by continuing to fall for this “get-rich-quick-on-Facebook” bullshit. I had had enough.
I sat in silence taking it all in.
Facebook – BLOCKED
WhatsApp – BLOCKED
iMessage & iPhone – BLOCKED
I stared out the window, as I knew there was no going back for our almost 2-year friendship. I shed a single tear as I closed the curtains, and ran myself a bath. As I sunk into the warm water, I realised I couldn’t help Tawney; she was still allowing herself to get sucked into these silly multi-level marketing (MLM) scams and would continue jumping from one “business” to another in the hope of getting rich.
It’s funny, because she would actually be better off working minimum wage in a local supermarket for 6 hours a day whilst her children were at school, than continuing to throw money she doesn’t have at these silly scams.
I don’t miss her anymore, because I’ve forgotten who she was before she became involved in the MLM world. I do hope Tawney is happy wherever she is, whatever she’s
[Elle:] Thank you so much, Penny, for kindly sharing your MLM experience. If you have any questions for her, please add them below and we will ensure they reach her.
Further Reading & Support
- For some ideas of how you can help if you find yourself in Penny’s position, take a look at this selection from our General Advice category:
- Perhaps you are actually in Tawney’s position? If so, take a look this selection from our General Advice category: