[Red Corvette]: Today we welcome Alina, from Poland, to our blog, with her experience with FM Group. The FM Group/FM World MLM sells perfumes, cosmetics, body care, household products and coffee. They are widespread in Europe, but also operate in the UK, Canada, Australia, and many Asian nations. Over to you, Alina!
[Alina]: Thank you Red! So, while this isn’t the one and only experience I’ve ever had with MLMs, it’s by far the closest. Avon and Oriflame are incredibly popular in Poland and looking through catalogs left by one or another of my mom’s acquaintances was a pretty big part of my childhood and teenage years. She still semi-regularly gets a bag of Oriflame makeup that didn’t sell from one of them. If something was nice, I would grab a thing or two for myself too. I’ve moved on to more high end stuff since then, but I’ve never had a bad experience with these two (aside from classmates asking if I’d like to be a consultant — a polite “No, thank you” was enough to steer them off, thank gods).
That might be explained by me being, well, more or less a hermit. I’m an introvert with social anxiety issues, so no, I’m not one to have an extensive social network.
Jump to 2012, my second year of high school.
One of my (few) close friends, let’s call her Rachel, got involved with a guy from our school, Ross. She was head over heels, he was funny, smart, charming, romantic… and he started showing her FM Group catalogs. She, in turn, showed them to me.
I laughed it off. I told Rachel not to get into it and be wary of Ross’ intentions… Just for her to please stay safe. She agreed with me — our class had recently seen a documentary on Amway and pyramid schemes, and that rang all too similar to FM — and she promised to be careful.
They ended up together anyway, and, of course, we drifted apart a little bit, me being single and Rachel happy in her new relationship.
Fast forward to summer of 2013. We were finished with high school and had full four months of holidays. I happily burrowed in my room, like a proper hermit that I still am, and pretty much disappeared off the grid for my high school friends. Two months into my happy solitude, I got a message from Rachel.
She said she knew someone who could offer me a job, and I was over the moon! I mean, it was Rachel, one of my best friends at the time, she knew me, the quiet introvert who talked to maybe five people on a good day. She was a little cryptic and asked me to meet up for a coffee, but hey, she’d know a good opportunity for me, right? Right…?!
Ha. Haha. Ha. Oh you sweet, naïve me.
She met me outside of a cafe and after a brief hugging session and “long time no sees” she rushed me inside. Not only was Ross there, but also someone I didn’t recognize, looking very professional with piles of papers strewn across the table.
You see, I had completely forgotten about the whole FM Group incident. Rachel promised me to steer clear of that, she knew my very firm stance on the subject, she wouldn’t do this…
Yeah, no. She did it.
I realized what was going on as soon as I sat down. I refused a coffee, I felt very uncomfortable.
Gotta give it to the recruiter: he was pretty good at what he was doing, some sort of a born salesman. Not only did he act like it was a legit job interview, he fast talked, weaving a perfect success story. I had to cut in to ask about the business model. Not-a-pyramid-scheme, of course.
He seemed genuinely disappointed that I didn’t want to sell makeup to my friends (I had no friends), didn’t want to go around the neighborhood selling cleaning products (I lived in a village, everyone around was poor elderly ladies, I have a heart), didn’t want to earn cars with the company (…I have no driver’s license). I had to be very firm that I wanted nothing to do with that sort of thing, because he just wouldn’t stop insisting. He kept showing graphs from that pile of paper, you know the drill — just recruit five people, they’ll recruit five people each… blah blah… First of all, I did not have five people who I could recruit.
I had to pretty much run away, feeling anxious and smothered, because no amount of polite declining worked.
I ended up having to repeat “No, I’m not interested” while getting up and leaving.
Well, I was genuinely disappointed. With my friend, who completely forgot my values and opinions and tried to lure me in with a promise of a job I would enjoy.
To be perfectly clear: I didn’t write this to brag about how great I am for not falling prey to an MLM. I just wanted to show how incredibly insidious this kind of a thing is and how hard it is to say no — I had a very firm stance against it and they. Still. Kept. On. Trying. If I hadn’t decided to run off, I could have agreed to it, just to make them stop insisting.
By the way, Rachel and Ross are still together, are engaged and actually ended up starting a business from ground up (they do religious designs… It’s not my place to judge, but I guess some people have to be devout about something, be it a religion or an MLM). I don’t know how they got out from the scheme — but good for them! I wish the FM Group incident hadn’t ruined our friendship, though.
[Red:] Thank you so much, Alina, 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 Alina’s position, take a look at this selection from our General Advice category:
- Perhaps you are actually in Ross and Rachel’s position? If so, take a look this selection:
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