People who care about you are worried

Someone is worried for you and wants you to understand why this is so.  They are not negative haters. They want you to do well, they really do. They are afraid of offending you or upsetting you or are afraid you will distance yourself from them.  Therefore, I am attempting to put forward some of their concerns. They may be worried about some, or all, of these factors.  Please read them all and take your friend/ family member’s concerns seriously.  They probably agonised for ages over whether to send you this link.


You have joined, or are thinking of joining a Multi Level Marketing (MLM) scheme. There are some concerns about this type of scheme that you may not be aware of. Here are some of them.



A very common theme in MLMs is to ignore any criticism of MLM/ the product/ the specific company.  You will have been taught that these people are negative and don’t understand the business.  They are jealous. You may have been taught about The Law of Attraction where negativity attracts further negativity so you need to cut negative people out of your life.

Please remember that people do have differences of opinion, even friends and family members. Please don’t let this come between you. True friends will tell you the truth, even if it means it is painful to you. These are good friends.


Closed/ Open minds

You may have been told that people who criticise your business have closed minds and that you have an open one.  Please keep yours open. Don’t shut down people without listening to them because you think they have a closed mind. Do not be afraid of differing opinions.


Making money

Statistically speaking, you are very unlikely to make any money in an MLM scheme unless you set it up yourself. Some experts have calculated that 99.9% of people will not make any money in these schemes.

The World Federation of Direct Sellers Association (WFDSA) oversees MLMs over the world and produces reports on them. They are pro-MLM. They produced a report recently showing the sales made by MLMs. The report can be read here. Their facts show that in 2014 there were 99,724,641 sellers worldwide who made $182,823 million (6 zeros) in sales. This works out to be $1,833 on average per person.  This isn’t profit, this is sales. The sellers will only have made a small percentage of that in commission.

Let’s say the average commission for sellers is 40% of the purchase price, each person in these schemes will have earned $733.20. A YEAR. And if some people earned more than that, it means others earned less because that is just the average figure. These numbers aren’t from an anti-MLM source, it is from your own industry.

Some companies produce reports of their own financial statistics. Find out if yours does, and have a look. If yours doesn’t, why doesn’t it?

Here is the one for It Worksitworks

Please note the above information shows that people in this scheme earn on average $189 a month GROSS. This is excluding expenses which  “can be several hundred or thousands of dollars annually”.

Here is the statement and link for World Ventures.


YEARLY average commission was $190.15. The median earned was just $40 A YEAR.

Please search for your MLM for their statement. Google your MLM, followed by the words ‘Annual Income Disclosure Statement’. If your MLM does not make this public, the amount earned by sellers must be very little indeed.


Here is a video where people who were in an MLM (in this instance, Herbalife) tell of how they lost money in the scheme. It is very sad viewing but worth it if you can watch it.



Please keep a record of your expenses. Each spend may not seem much, but could all add up over time.  This is how people end up making a loss in MLM. They spend much more on their scheme than they make in profits. Have you taken into consideration the costs of-

Success days- travel, accomodation

Holding information evenings/ product launches/ parties

Postage and packaging

Leaflets/ stickers/ bags/ business cards etc


Website costs

Facebook advertising

Cost of prices given out as incentives/ raffles

Training events

Mindset training events/ books/DVDs/CDs

There are probably more items that could go on this list, please work out how much this is costing you.


Fake it until you make it.

Have you heard of this phrase? Do you see people in your scheme who seem to be doing really well financially? Do you think it is because of their MLM earnings? Or could they be pretending? You may have been told to pretend you are doing better than you really are doing, so that people think you are doing well and want to join you. After all, if you seem to be doing well, people will join up under you. Be aware of these claims and observe others. Is that house bought or rented? Do they have another income that could be financing their lifestyle? It is common for people in these schemes to be told to sell their lifestyle, make their life seem amazing on Facebook, and completely positive. It is hard to keep this up, it is draining and false. Look out for it in your team.  Are you happy with this?


The Law

Have you been given proper training so that you can operate within the law?  Are you confident you are not opening yourself up for a whole load of trouble? Your MLM may be telling you about the product and telling you how to market it, but are you being told about-

Tax liabilities

Data Protection Act

Advertising Standards Authority rules

Laws relating to selling products with heath claims

Insurance liabilities

Consumer laws.

You need to know about all of these so that you do not break the law.  Often, some of this is covered in your policy documents but not really backed up in any training. The law and your company will expect you to be following all of these rules so will not back you up if you break them.


All of the above are serious concerns, and we haven’t even touched on the obvious concern of MLMs being pyramid schemes.

You will have been told it is not a pyramid scheme. In fact, I bet someone has gone to great lengths to convince you it is not a pyramid scheme. This argument is too big for me to deal with in a few bullet points. Instead, I will leave you with this link to a short video that explains why some MLMs are considered to be pyramid schemes.


Do you feel that you need more information or support?

Please visit these sites-

Bot Watch on Face Book This Facebook page has links to useful sources of information. It also flags up where people have been breaking the law with their health claims and asks that they be removed.

Timeless Vie Blog and Facebook page These sites offer information and support through real life stories of people in MLMs and has articles and threads that use satire to illuminate the issues that may be affecting you.

A more in depth analysis of the issues can be found here in MLM The American Dream Made Nightmare.


If you are reeling from all this information or you need more help or information, drop in on the Mumsnet forum that is very active and join in the chat. Go to Mumsnet Money Matters page here. Look for the most recent thread with MLM in the title. The threads are numbered and usually have the phrase Bot Watch in them (hence the title of this blog).




People who care about you are worried

Why Forever Living don’t sell Aloe Vera products for health purposes

I have established in previous posts that Forever Living do not hold the correct licences to sell products for health purposes. I detailed the laws covering the regulations for this in the UK and stated why it is important to follow these rules. Previous blog posts here and here.

But WHY don’t Forever Living hold the correct paperwork to sell their products for health purposes?  Surely, if the products are as good as they say they are, a licence should be easy to come by?

A possible explanation was put forward by a Forever Living rep on her team’s facebook page-


She thinks- “The reason we can’t make medical claims is because, we as a company would need to hold a pharmaceutical certificate…If you hold one of these- you cannot sell products outside of a pharmacy”.

I disagree. It is possible to obtain a licence called a Traditional Herbal Remedy (THR) from the MHRA (The government body responsible for licencing medicines, medical equipment and herbal remedies.) Website here. This is granted for herbal remedies that are used for minor ailments such as colds that don’t require medical input. Also available are licences for products that treat symptoms of more serious conditions. Theses licences are called a marketing authorisation.

If a product has these licences, they do not need to be sold in a pharmacy. Think of the products you can buy in health food shops, or even Tesco-

These products have been through the proper channels. Evidence was produced that they were not harmful, the strength had to be proved to be consistent and contain what it said it contained. There is monitoring and reporting systems and proper information is provided to users of the products.


Importantly, as part of this registering and licencing process, it has to be shown that the natural ingredient has traditionally been used for this purpose. There is a database for products used in Europe for this purpose. I looked for the part of the database for Aloe Vera on the European Medicines Agency, who hold all the data.

Aloe Vera is allowed to be used as a traditional herbal remedy for constipation. There is adequate evidence that it has been used for this purpose for many years. Scientific studies show that it is safe for this purpose. Link to the Aloe Vera information page here. Here are the conclusions-

V. Overall conclusion Well-established use: short term use of occasional constipation.

There are no clinical studies available, which evaluate the clinical efficacy of barbados aloes and cape aloes in patients with occasional constipation. The postulated laxative effect is mainly based on pharmacological data, experts’ opinions and clinical experiences. Clinical and pharmacological data obtained on other anthranoid-containing laxatives (primarily senna leaf preparations) support the efficacy of these anthranoid-containing herbal substances for short-term use in cases of occasional constipation. The current level of evidence1 of the available scientific data for “the short term use of occasional constipation” can be identified as level IV because well-designed studies with mono-preparations of aloe are missing. The conditions determined in the pharmacovigilance actions for anthranoid-containing laxatives have to be maintained for the moment because further investigations are needed to clarify the carcinogenic risk. The results of the most recent studies are inconsistent. However, a risk was also revealed for constipation itself and underlying dietary habits. 1 As referred to in the HMPC ‘Guideline on the assessment of clinical safety and efficacy in the preparation of Community herbal monographs for well-established and of Community herbal monographs/entries to the Community list for traditional herbal products/substances/preparations’ (EMEA/HMPC/104613/2005) @EMEA 2007 24/24 The use in children under 12 years of age is contraindicated and use during pregnancy and lactation is not recommended. Traditional use Besides the use as a laxative, the use as an emmenagogue and the external use for wounds and abscess are described in most references mentioned above. But as already mentioned in the Dispensatory of the United States of America 1918, it is extremely doubtful whether aloe exercises any action upon the pelvic organs which is not attributable to its cathartic effects. There are no plausible pharmacological data for this indication, nor for haemoptysis, jaundice or gout etc. Furthermore, the preparations used are not described exactly, even for the external use In view of existing possible risks, such traditional uses cannot be recommended and referred to in the ‘Community list of herbal substances, preparations and combinations thereof for use traditional herbal medicinal products’. This is in accordance with the German pharmacovigilance actions for anthranoidcontaining laxatives. 

To translate the above paragraph-

  • Aloe Vera can be used as a herbal remedy for occasional constipation.
  • Children under 12 must not use aloe vera.
  • Pregnant and breastfeeding women must not use it. It has affected unborn rats in studies, and their fertility. (this info is from the main body of the report).
  • There is insufficient evidence that aloe vera is useful as a remedy for anything other than constipation.


I have shown that it is not easy to simply obtain the relevant herbal remedy for aloe vera products for Forever Living. And that you do not need to be a pharmacist to sell it.

Maybe there is another way to obtain licencing? A company could start from scratch with clinical trials and prove that their product does what they say it does.  This would take years and a lot of money. Here is a chart showing how much it costs to do one clinical trial.


This information is from this site.

So, for example, if Forever Living wanted to show that their aloe vera gel helps with asthma and pain (as has been widely reported by FL reps), it would cost $240 million to carry out the research. Then they would have to hope that the findings were in their favour. This would take years to do and there is the very real and probable risk that the product would not have the effect that is being claimed by some reps.

A lot of time and money could potentially be wasted on these studies.

Which begs the question, why bother with all the effort needed to properly test these products when your independent reps will make these claims illegally on your behalf? If they are called on it, they can be blamed as individuals and the company will be blameless because they keep telling their reps not to make false claims. Just like the above rep “our products work”. Do they? Where is your evidence?







Why Forever Living don’t sell Aloe Vera products for health purposes

The Truth behind Forever Living Adverts

9c84aa745cc8d32e79a3b2965cddae86This advert is pretty common and very easy to find on Google. On the face of it, the advert shows Forever Living in a pretty good light, making it look like a good, solid choice for a way of making an income. However, if you look at the claim a little critically, you can see it is not that great after all.

Let’s look at the points one by one.

  1. Uncapped and willable income

Uncapped pretty much means nothing.  You work harder and harder and you get more money.  This is not an unusual concept.  It is capped by your finances, time available, effort put in, opportunities for recruiting, home circumstances, performance of your downline, availability of customers etc etc etc.

Willable presumably means that when you die, the money being generated by your downline can be given to your dependents. People think this is great and it does sound good.  You’ve put in all that work for a few years and built up a good downline and the money is trickling in.  It would be nice if this could keep trickling to your children when you are gone. It’s not true though. The Forever Living Policy book details exactly what the reality is.

9.10. The inheritable rights to a Distributorship are limited and are subject to the following conditions: • Written confirmation from a legal body must be sent to Head Office detailing who the heir is in accordance with any will or probate decision. • The heir must be someone who has been, or can be, registered as a Distributor. 9.11. Since the heir must be an adult individual, a trust or guardianship may have to be established for multiple heirs or minor children. In the event a trust is established, a copy must be placed on file at Head Office and its terms must clearly allow the trustee to act as a Distributor. In this case, the Distributor may be a corporation, if acting as the trustee for such multiple heirs or minor children. However, the Executive Committee must approve the corporate officer assigned to represent the trust. In the event a guardian is appointed for minors, such a person must qualify as a Distributor. The guardian must be appointed by the court of proper jurisdiction and receive specific approval to be a Distributor on behalf of the minors. 9.12. A trustee or guardian shall retain the Distributor status provided the Distributorship agreement is not violated and until the beneficiaries have attained the age of majority, and an heir accepts the responsibility of operating the Distributorship with prior approval of the court of the trust document. 9.13. A trustee, guardian, spouse or other representative-type Distributor shall be responsible for the actions of the beneficiary, ward, or their spouse for purposes of complying with Company Policy. A violation of Company policies by any of the above individuals may result in termination of the Distributorship. 9.14. The inheritable Distributorship position within the Company Marketing Plan is limited to recognition at no higher than that of Manager. However, bonuses shall be paid at the same levels and requirements as held by the deceased. Distributorship positions below Manager shall be inherited at that level. Heirs who inherit a Manager position will be considered Inherited and would have to re-qualify to receive Gem Manager status.”

To reduce that down to simpler points-

  • What is ‘willabble’ is the position in the scheme, not the income.
  • The inheritor will have to work the business to gain any income, as the deceased person did.
  • except the rank is reduced to manager, any extra promotions (gems etc) will be wiped, meaning that a high earning person will be passing on a lower position to their heirs.
  • and the heir has to be 18 or over so if they are a child, another adult has to do the work for them.
  • You have to go through the courts to obtain this position.

It doesn’t seem so great when looked at in detail does it?


2. Time and freedom to build your own life according to your dreams.

Much is made of your dreams and being able to achieve whatever you want in life,


as long as you work for it. If you want to actually make any money at all (and most people make nothing, or less than nothing), you need to spend every minute of every working day doing it.  You won’t be told that at the beginning though. Have a look at this youtube clip that starkly shows the reality versus the image presented to new recruits.maxresdefault

3. Puts you in charge of your income and career.

I would argue that you aren’t in charge of your ‘income’ at all. Firstly, your income is dependent on how your downline perform, how much time you have available and how many of your morals you are willing to sacrifice.  How many people are you prepared to lie to in order to get the CC’s (case credits- a way of counting revenue) and what lies you are willing to spread about the health benefits of the products.

Of course, on  a more basic level, you are set to fail anyway because that is how Multi Level Marketing schemes work. More details here.

4. All products carry a company financed 30 day money back guarantee so no risk to you or your customers.

This isn’t quite true.  If a distributor buys a product and sells it to a customer and they subsequently return it, they do not get their money back from the company. The distributor has to pay the customer with their own money.  The distributor can return the product back to Forever Living and they will replace the product. This could cause problems if it is a difficult to sell, expensive item.

“6.3. The Distributor who originally sold the Products, and who thereby received the proceeds of the sale, shall be responsible for refunding 100% of their retail Customers’ purchase price for any Product sold by them within the previous 60 days if a Customer is not satisfied with the Product. Customers must be able to prove that they purchased the Product originally by returning the retail sales receipt and any remaining Product and packaging (including empty containers) with which they are dissatisfied (this will not affect their statutory rights). 6.4. Any partially used or otherwise unmarketable Products (or empty containers) should be returned by the Distributor to Head Office or to a Product Centre, within 120 days of its original purchase from the Company, supported by retail receipts or other proof of purchase. The Company will then replace the Product. The Company will not exchange it for other goods, offer a credit note nor will it refund the purchase price paid.”

If a distributor buys a product, either for personal use or to make up stock to sell, they do not get their money back.

Any Distributor who is dissatisfied with a Product they have bought will be given a like for like Product. Please Note: the Company will not offer a refund, exchange or credit note.”

Please see the Policy handbook for these terms and conditions.

5. Start part time and build to full time.

See point 2.

6.Global franchise operating in over 160 countries worldwide. 

I fail to see what this has to do with choosing a place to work. The NHS, police and many, many other employers only operate in one country. This does not make it bad to work under them! Likewise, organisations that operate in many countries include Al Qaeda, Nestle, lots of banks and criminal organisations.


7. Established company of over 33 years, cash rich and debt free, so totally financially secure.

Companies a lot older than this have gone bust before. Woolworths had been in operation for 99 years before their shops were shut, TWA 71 years, Pan Am 64 years, Barings bank 233 years.

Likewise, all companies start somewhere and a company that might be new now may well be very successful in the future.

Forever Living Products may be cash rich and debt free but this means nothing for the distributors.  It is the distributors that are buying the new business boxes, the products and they are selling the products. The distributors get a small percentage of this, the rest goes to FLP. FLP do not pay pensions, wages, sick pay, maternity leave, training, health insurance. FLP charge for their success days, trainings, leaflets, post and packaging, samples, in fact, anything. They do not even pay for coffee at the success days that the distributors drive to , pay admission, pay for their own food, hotel stay, childcare and all the rest.

How cash rich are they? A slide that is regularly used by FLP to show their success is this-


Is there any evidence to support this?  There are pro-MLM websites that gather information on MLMs. This one has compiled a list of the top 100 performing MLMs in 2014. FLP does not feature on this list. Number 100 has a turnover of $63 million. If the chart above were to be re-written with the figures from non-biased sources, the last bar would only be a bit taller than the very first bar!

If you look at the above chart closely, you will notice a few things. The teeny tiny writing at the bottom says “based on calculated retail sales of worldwide affiliated companies”. So if a distributor buys a product f0r $10 wholesale and the RRP is $14, FLP has calculated their revenue for this sale as $14. Never mind if this item is never sold on to a customer or if it is used by the distributor. The chart bears no resemblance to actual money going to FLP.

This still doesn’t account for the massive discrepancy between real figures and the chart.  Maybe the ‘affiliated companies’ include the website companies that distributors are encouraged to pay for, the mindset training provided by outside people, the sales of pro-planners?  Who knows? what is clear though, is that none of it is clear.

8. Excellent product and business training- members of the Direct Selling Association and awarded the International Aloe Science Council Seal of Approval.

The Direct Selling Association. What are they? Is it impressive to be a member?  Here is their website.  It is an organisation made up of MLM companies who oversee their members’ conduct. Here are the current council members-

“Current Council Members 
Lynda Mills Director General UK 
Andy Smith Chair and General Manager UK & Ireland – Amway 
Bob Parker Vice Chair and Managing Director – Forever Living Products 
Mimi Bogelund Managing Director – Captain Tortue 
Mark Franklin Marketing Director UK, Europe & Canada – Usborne Books At Home 
Penny Farish Director, Europe – Morinda 
Clive Norton Business Development Director – Cambridge Weight Plan 
Sandra Whittle Managing Director – Partylite 
Lisa Burke Network Managing Director – Kleeneze 
Andrea Slater General Manager – Avon 
Mike Roberts General Manager UK – Mary Kay 
Gavin Aley Senior Director UK, Ireland and Iceland – Herbalife 
Kathleen Mitchell Vice President EMEA – Stella & Dot 
Vicky Beckett UK General Manager – Arbonne 
Simon Bowler Regional Director – The Juice PLUS+® Company “


Membership into this association is granted on only a few criteria. I do not think any MLM will find it difficult to gain membership of this association.

International Aloe Science Council Seal of Approval. Who are they? Is this seal of approval impressive?

You can visit their website here. Their chairs and board members are from companies that sell aloe vera products.


Look at the third name up, bottom right corner.

Have a look at the ‘scientific research’ link and then ‘bookstore’.  There you can find some books on how amazing aloe vera is and a webinar on how to market aloe vera without actually making any health claims. Only one bit on actual science and that is for a conference itinerary.

This association does not fill me with confidence that it is science based. It seems more like a trade organisation aimed at sellers of aloe vera, and run by those same sellers.


9. Unique product range- World leaders in aloe vera products.

What does this actually mean?  Many similar products can be bought from other retailers. Cheaper, more accessible, organic.

They brag about being the largest growers of aloe vera. So what?  Has it had good product reviews? Is the product in demand?  Are the prices competitive?  Are the products backed by science and medical testing with the correct licencing?

10. No joining fee or minimum activity level.

The New Distributor Pack (NDP) costs £199.75. But you don’t have to buy this, you can ‘just’ purchase £100 worth of products at a higher price than people who have purchased the NDP. Once you have purchased enough products, you are then allowed to participate at the same level as other new members.

To be paid anything more than pennies, you need to meet all sorts of minimum activity levels. And you might get harrassed by your upline to keep bringing in the money for them. I’ll just leave this here…

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A final note- The DSA and International Aloe Science Council demand that their members only ever put out truthful adverts.


The Truth behind Forever Living Adverts