Closing a Chapter, Part 3

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Coalition: Here is Part 3 of Linda’s recent experience with a personal care MLM. We’re putting it up in four parts over the next week or so, but you can head over to her blog if you want to read all of it right away! To read how her story started, catch up with Part 1 and Part 2 here. And now, on with Linda’s story:

Linda: By April 2019 I was starting to have serious doubts about what I was doing, however was in conflict about not wanting to damage my relationship with Danni and my cousin and in the back of my mind engrained was the message of positivity and not quitting. I had already committed to a “Product Showcase” event at my home and after having purchased quite a lot of products to showcase (I’m sure, much to my upline, Danni’s delight, seeing as she received a commission) I went ahead with it. Some family and a few people I knew came along, again; I am sure it was out of pity. I made one sale; it was embarrassing. However; I tried to stay positive, constantly keeping my posts attractive and appealing, it was all about “attraction marketing” slightly embellishing the truth, making your life look amazing and fun. You were your own boss: you called the shots!

Ellie Flynn from the BBC documentary Secrets of the Multi-Level Millionaires

On the same day as my showcase party, after it had finished, I watched a documentary which was aired on the BBC about MLMs, and Company X was featured. Danni was still at my place; it was just her, me and my husband and she insisted on staying to watch it also (no doubt to make sure I wasn’t turned against the company). I would like to add also that when I had asked Danni about the documentary a few days before, she said that head office had advised us all not to watch it. It was just “haters” spreading negativity and it was best to be avoided. I am so glad I watched the documentary; it completely opened my eyes and throughout the whole thing I had a feeling of sickness in my stomach which I didn’t let on to Danni. I was poorly the week that followed (my body had no doubt crashed into some sort of panic!) and I spent most of the week online reading about MLM scamming website and the tricks used by reps on social media. I feel slightly sick at myself for posting so many “positivity quotes” which, again, I was posting as a form of Positive Mindset (I deleted them all). I attended a product showcase with Danni on the Wednesday that week, still feeling unwell and uneasy, and the only real reason I went in all honesty, was to hopefully shift some of the products I had from my home showcase. I didn’t sell a thing and it was a complete waste of my time. Surprise surprise …

Deep down I knew I didn’t want to collaborate with Company X anymore. It just wasn’t me. It felt so desperate, the posts I kept on seeing online from some of the girls in our never-ending groups felt so false and forced. People where discounting items and running “Payday Offers” (which I am again ashamed to say I did too — out of desperation to sell something!) on products I was led to believe were high end! I also discovered that products were being sold on Ebay and Amazon too — which I thought wasn’t allowed??! I also discovered online that there were other MLM companies were the uplines who were higher up in the pyramid were part of private social media groups where they shared (in absolute secrecy) tips and tricks on how to dupe their downlines. Honestly it makes me sick to the core how deep the deception runs. I couldn’t trust Danni anymore, I didn’t know what to think, was she part of one of these groups too?? I didn’t know what to believe or who to trust.

I took part in one final group Zoom call which was hyped up to be this amazing way to boost sales and climb the pin title (awards you receive based on sales and how many people you recruit) ladder. We were advised to bulk buy items. We were told about this “great idea” where we should buy sixteen toothpastes at approximately £8 each wholesale, keep one to use and to promote on social media, and sell the other 15… I mean, there was no way on God’s green earth that I would ever sell these, I wasn’t selling anything, let alone 15 toothpastes at over £11, this would cost me over £125! We were also advised to do the same the following month with another product and so on, and that our downlines (these are the people who are signed up under you) should do the same. I can imagine the uplines at the top of the pyramid rubbing their hands in delight. This was the absolute final straw. I had made up my mind to tell Danni the next day I wasn’t doing this anymore.

It wasn’t so much a light bulb moment, more a baseball bat across the face moment where I realised this was all just one big fat con! I had been well and truly scammed. When I broke the news to Danni that I no longer wanted to carry on with Company X and that I was terminating my account, she actually cried. I reassured her that nothing would change between us, we would still be friends (despite the fact that I was actually seething inside) and we were booked to go on another “Success Summit” to Spain in May, that I would still go, however I wouldn’t attend the summit, I would simply come away on a little holiday to keep her company, this was what I was willing to do, despite everything! I tried to be civil and friendly, despite the fact that I had been totally duped by her and everyone else, I didn’t want to cause friction in the family and cause pain to my cousin and his wife, who are nice people.

Let’s just say that Danni didn’t take my leaving Company X well, there was a monumental shift in her behaviour toward me… she told me it was never about the money and that I meant more to her than Company X however you could tell she had changed. She went from messaging me daily, without fail, asking me how I was, how my day had been etc, to not messaging me, unless I messaged her first and even then, her reply which was usually instant was delayed by hours, if not a full day. I invited her to mine for a tea and chat in order to finalise the Spain trip. She kindly arranged for my Success Summit ticket to be sold on Facebook, which I am grateful for. However eventually things got out of hand and without going into too much detail I saw her true colours, especially where money was concerned. I cancelled my trip with her completely and managed to change my holiday to go to Barcelona on my own. I have blocked her on my social media nor do I follow any of the other so-called Company X “friends”. Luckily my Success Summit ticket sold. I managed to return a large amount of the products back to Company X for a refund and I have now cancelled my wholesale account. I ran at a loss; however, I was lucky enough to claw back most of what I had spent.

Despite what people say MLM companies ruin relationships. I have read countless blogs about people who have lost friends, spilt from partners and damaged relationships with family members. Due to this, Danni and I no longer talk, and through this I haven’t spoken to my cousin or his wife. I am truly grateful that I was only part of this embarrassing episode for little over three months and that I didn’t fall out with my true friends and family. My husband stuck by my side throughout the whole thing, despite his doubts, however he knew how MLMs function in that they turn people against their partners for not being supportive and to risk not losing me, he simply supported me. However, when I told him I was stopping, even he breathed a sigh of relief. I truly believe that some sort of brainwashing is involved. You are told to surround yourself with like-minded people, get rid of anyone who isn’t supportive of what you are doing. It reaches a point, especially if you have been working for an MLM for perhaps as long as Danni has that you have pretty much crippled every relationship you have with others, to the point where your only friends are Company X people, therefore you feel that if you leave, you’ll have no one, that you have quit on your dreams. Therefore, people just keep going, they cling onto the “dream” paraded in front of them on social media. No one questions anything, no one asks questions — I think I was the only one that did and I guess I am now a “Dream Stealer” or “Negative Nancy”. You can’t simply be someone who sees it for what it is and cleverly decides to avoid it like the plague. If I had really known what MLM’s and pyramid schemes were — I too would have said no at the very beginning.

Read Linda’s final instalment, Part 4!

Cover photo Photo by Melanie Wasser on Unsplash

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