Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Rip Offs, Scams, and Get Rich Quick Schemes

Those who know me know several things drive my passions. One such thing is people taking advantage of the poor, or trying to take advantage of unsuspecting individuals under the pretext of helping them, but in reality, more concerned about helping themselves. Many catch phrases that give some of these people away are things like “network marketing,” “a new business,” “opportunities for growth,” “financial freedom” and you have likely heard of others. There is what many of us know as pyramids schemes and get rich schemes. Right off the bat, the operative word in these descriptions is “schemes.” It becomes confusing though, while some of these are legitimate businesses, others are not and in both cases the intent can and maybe should be questioned. Some individuals make a good living, others don’t. Some are good products, others aren’t. I am not going to go into a ton of discussion on this, what I will say, is I have tried my hand in some products because I liked them. I will give a quick review of things my wife or I have done and as a result we have first hand knowledge.

Let me make clear, we never tried to get others to sign up on any of these things, we signed up because we used the product.

The King / Amway: Amway has a great product, I believe especially so in some of their cleaning products, over the years though, things have changed, it isn’t just cleaning supplies anymore, it is everything from cars to jewelry, if you want it, they have it. We did Amway twice, the first time; we lost a friend who never followed through with helping us. The second time, we lost a friend who followed through for awhile, then left Amway and I think felt guilty for their actions, I don’t know despite our efforts to keep in touch with him, we don’t ever hear from him anymore. I did go to a few meetings on Amway, and it was like a pep-rally that to be honest, seemed a little weird. It was all about getting rich, and getting others rich. While I still like some of the products, I have a sour taste and no interest in ever signing up again.

Shaklee: Another product that I got into because I liked the product. I still believe, to this day, the best results of any vitamin I ever was from Shaklee vitamins. The best shampoo I have ever used was from Shaklee. I did sell enough of this product to other people to get a few commission checks. It is a product I believed in and still do. I don’t have a Shaklee membership anymore; don’t even know if they exist. My membership lapsed and I never heard anything about signing back up. I went to a few meetings and unfortunately they weren’t much different than the meetings at Amway, a lot of pomp and show, and people trying to get other people signed up so they could get rich, (that is the person doing the selling, not so much the person doing the buying.) Now with that said, understand, some do get it, when others succeed, it helps their profit margin. I also understand there is likely a few that really do want to help others, but I believe very few are concerned more about others than they are themselves. In other words, the motive is still entirely selfish.

Avon: My wife did this for a period of time and worked her tail off, guess what? While there are items she liked, and still buys, (such as skin so soft the best bug repellant on the planet) she hardly ever made a dime from Avon. By the time she purchased the kits, samples, books and more, she even lost money at times. We know people can make money from Avon, but we just never saw it, even after a lot of work, that is a shame.

PartyLite: Now not all is bad and the next two companies are examples of that. My wife sells PartyLite and guess what? She makes money and has never tried to sign anyone up. It is a great product and one I was extremely critical of before she started, after all, who would pay that kind of money for a candle? What I learned is, I would! The candles and supporting cast of products are simply that much better than other comparable products. My wife and I feel so good about this company that we believe she will make a great supplemental income when she retires from teaching. It is not that difficult, when working 10-20 hours to make a profit of $600 - $1,500 profit, especially after establishing a clientele which isn’t that difficult. Again, it takes a little work, but do the math. One thing we like is there has never been a high pressure push to sell to others the company, although the “networking” or “pyramid” concept is an option to make more money. This is a company I firmly, and honestly believe, can help people make money within certain situations with a little work. There are draw backs, the main thing is that PartyLite changes their product way to often, making it difficult to get rid of old product and thus producing the need to buy new product and catalogs.

Lastly, for us is Advocare: Advocare provides nutritional products and is a product I like and their energy drink, SPARK is in my opinion second to none, with the possible exception of the Dr. Enuf soft drink bottled in my home town, Johnson City, and “the original energy drink.” Advocare provides a high quality supplemental product for people serious about sports performance. While many may not be familiar with Advocare, it has been a product that sells itself. One of the problems with Advocare is there is not a high profit margin, and the truth is, sometimes one can find the product on EBay and other locations cheaper than you as a distributor can buy the product for. I also don’t care much for some of the companies’ policies. On one occasion the company stripped my membership from me for trying to promote and sell the product on line. I see numerous people doing the same thing on message board forums and other locations that are “technically” violations of the companies sell policies.

I don’t think there is not enough training for Advocare as much of the learning takes place from using the product. While there is wisdom here, I believe more training would be appropriate. Advocare did apologize in one instance the stripped me of my membership but not until some damage was done and a sour taste was left in my mouth. It is a great product though, and I still use it. I have never tried to “sign up” people and I have found the product, among elite high performance athletes sold itself because it works. I still use Advocare and while I have never really “made money” from it, I value the product and there has not been pressure to get me to sign people up.

Now there is a new product out I have to say something about, I say something about it because I have some level of concern and believe the product has to justify its cost. I am actually doing this for a couple of products to help make a point, and hopefully drive home some solid and appropriate advice for people considering these products. For example, there is a new energy drink Efusjon, which costs the distributor around $3 per drink. I have had it, and I have had SPARK from Advocare. Spark from Advocare cost the distributor around 75 cents per product and it has a superior nutritional rating over Efusjon. It is why I could support one and not the other, and the sign up cost for Advocare is substantially less. One is used by Olympians, the other is not. I usually sell my spark for $2 per pack, at athletic events to friends I sell for around $1 which is what many people do for friends, and with the new flavors, Spark tastes better. I can make a decent profit and make it available to the consumer for less. Spark sells itself, accomplishes its purpose and is affordable. I call that being consumer conscious while at the same time making a little profit, at least to cover my costs. Of course if the main objective is something other than the quality of the product, say, making money, then one product may be better than another, as a consumer though, I have to question a salesman selling me something for more when there is a better product available for less. I could say something about bailing out car companies here, but I will refrain from those comments.

Now I have to also address another concern I have witnessed lately regarding another product and this one is going to likely cost me some friends at various locations, especially since I have seen this product pushed a lot lately at MySpace and Facebook. Let me be clear, it is not my intent to hurt anyone, it is my intent to help those who are vulnerable, and possibly spending lots of money either signing up for something or buying something that is a “new” or “miracle” product. There are many new products like Efusjon that is going around but another is Mona Vie.

Mona Vie uses the popular Acai Berry and has become a newer networking product that has garnished attention for its supposed medical benefits. I had a friend who got me to try Mona Vie. I did some research though, not just from the company website but from other sites. I would encourage anyone considering networking or getting into “business” to do the research. Don’t take the person trying to sell you the product’s word for it, remember, you buying their product makes them money. I don’t care who you are, this has the tendency to lead to possible dishonesty or deception, even if not intended. For example, it becomes easy to ignore the facts, and to take into consideration that there may be better options for the person who is having the product pushed on them for the benefits. You can normally tell this when the person trying to sell you their product seems to not be able to understand you aren’t interested in “getting rich” or in helping them “get rich.” “No thank you” to these individuals seems to be hard to understand.

Now my initial thoughts about the Acai Berry: I have to admit, the research on the product is quite impressive. What the long term effects are I don’t know. I would like to see a higher standard of research and a broader range of research to support the claims, on everything from healing diabetes to cancer. Those types of claims, especially from people selling the product bother me and are at the best, misguided, at the worst, sinful and dangerous to the life of others.

It amazes me at the number of people who are trying to get rich who in reality have little or no money, and in the process, seem to know more than medical doctors and scientists. They usually are the first to condemn the FDA and other scientific groups and the entire medical profession as a whole. Think about it, if their knowledge is legitimate, they would be doing more and selling more than they are, they would be driving the new Cadillac Hybrid Escalade, not a 1977 Vega. Many hide under the guise of being an entrepreneur, but the evidence doesn’t support their claims. You can tell me about something, but I will always listen when you show me. Otherwise, it becomes very difficult because so many of us have been burnt by fire more than once, we aren’t excited about getting burned again.

Please notice, on the Acai Berry, I am not knocking the berry, just the messenger, who misrepresents the Berry, whoever that may be. When quick fix financial or medical claims are made, be cautious, stay away, and at the very least, do ample research to check out the claims.

Now I have tried Mona Vie, and while it isn’t the most pleasant tasting juice, it isn’t bad. It has a thick texture to it and the side effects for some may be the most disturbing aspect of the juice. Here is what I discovered about drinking the juice for a couple of months as per the manufactures recommendation. I went to the bathroom a lot more, (a realistic way of saying it had an affect on my metabolism) and it caused some side effects related to that which was actually kind of gross. Now please don’t take this wrong, but I think it is important to say things in a way that folks understand. It had a diacritic on me and gave me gas that didn’t have the most pleasant odor. I did feel better and had no problem drinking the product until it was gone. The only problem was the need to buy at least 2 bottles per month, at $40 - $45 per bottle, this is expensive. I later discovered that distributors have to buy so much juice each month. This is a reason I would not consider being a distributor. There is another though; let me explain.

I was recently shopping, (Wal-Mart) and came across another Acai Juice product put out by Genesis Today. The juice looked very similar to Mona Vie so I decided to purchase it and give it a try. Guess what? Same thing as Mona Vie but a huge difference in price. While Mona Vie cost between $40 and $45 a bottle, the Genesis Today costs $6.47 per bottle. A huge difference, even as a distributor, I couldn’t come close to this cost. Here is the other kicker; it became very difficult to find the actual detailed nutritional information for Mona Vie. Even when visiting the forums for Mona Vie this question was asked by a distributor who was apparently getting asked the question by people they were trying to sell the product to. Check out the answer they got when asking for information regarding the nutritional information regarding Mona Vie (please note the following is an exact quote to the question from a distributor):

“In describing to someone the properties of Mona Vie, one shouldn't get caught up in the "nutrition facts" per say. Rather make sure to highlight and discuss the value of the ingredients, and the roll they play in one's health. You want to focus on the merits and benefits each ingredient, Acai, White Grapes, Pomegranates, have, and how they benefit you.”
Did you read that? People are being encouraged to not share the “nutritional facts.” For me the lack of information on the web sites by Mona Vie. Answers like this given on public forums to distributors give me a great deal of caution and concern. Let me show you the difference in what I did find regarding the contrast of these two products.

Both are actually a 100% blend of juices that include the Acai Berry and other juices including White Grapes, and Pomegranates. The overwhelming primary in both products is the Acai Berry. (Note here, I could as a consumer, over a period of time of using both products, could tell no distinguishable differences, in taste, or in effectiveness or side effects of the product.)

Genesis Today Acai Berry Juice: (I discovered this information in 20 seconds)
24,000 mg of Acai per 8 oz serving
Proprietary Acai Antioxidant Blend 262.5 mg
Proprietary Genesis Antioxidant Blend 300 mg
Calories 125
Total fat 2 g
Omega 3 25 mg
Omega 6 250 mg
Omega 9 1150 mg
Cholesterol 0
Sodium 10 mg
Potassium 195 mg
Total carbs 20 g
Dietary fiber 4 g
Sugars 21 g
Protein 1 g

A 10
Calcium 3
Thiamin B1 100
Niacin B3 50
Folic Acid 100
Biotin 100
C 200
Iron 5
Riboflavin B2 100
B6 100
B 12 1000
Pantothenic Acid 50

Now here is what I found after 1 ½ hours of research regarding Mona Vie

Nutrition Facts from the label
Serving size 1 fl oz.
Calories - 20
Total fat - 0 g
Sodium - 0 mg
Total Carbohydrate - 4 g
Sugars - 4 g
Protein - 0 g
Vitamin C - 25 %
Iron - 2 %

That is it, nothing else, it may be out there, and if so, please someone, show it and provide it I for one would like to see it. I did find a number of locations on the web that expressed concerns of how the quality of the berry and product has likely gone down hill since the efforts of Mona Vie to use the Acai Berry for “networking” or “getting someone into independent business.”

Why did I do this posting? There are no get rich quick schemes and there are those who would distort facts. I believe it is vital that followers of Jesus help spread truth about some of these things. There are many good people that get caught up in these things. I have good friends I respect and love that are doing Mona Vie. I don’t get it, and after trying both products, what I will say is the Acai Berry something worthwhile Between the two products though, there is very little difference that I can tell, if any. The only difference is the amount of money it costs. Many will respond with something like “yea but you can’t make a profit margin from Genesis Today.” While this is true, I won’t get stuck with product I as a distributor have to buy either. Neither will I be tempted to take advantage of someone who doesn’t have the money in trying to sell them on the product so I can make more money, especially so when they can buy another product that is essentially the same thing for much less.

There is a lot of debate here, and unfortunately many seem to get caught in these schemes. I sort of understand it but I challenge, not all people want to get rich, and we should never try getting rich at the expense of others. There is something the Bible says about the “love of money.” I can’t help but wonder because it looks that way, there are a many people that seem to have a love of money. I would challenge each person to question their hearts in matters like this. If a product like Spark or Genesis Today Acai Berry Juice provides either essentially the same or a better product for substantially less money, why would we push a product on someone else that costs more? Is it because we want to get rich, want more income, or is it because we really care? I just ask people to be honest.

Here is what I know; I work roughly 70 hours a week. I will be glad to verify that to anyone wanting explanation or proof, (another thing that bugs me about why Mona Vie won’t make their complete nutritional information available, something called integrity.) In 2008 I made somewhere around $15,000. I am not bragging, heck it isn’t anything to brag about, some say I’m poor, financially maybe I am, but you know what? I have everything I need and I believe have things I don’t need. I have eaten at the nicest steak house in Wichita, Chester’s, twice now, at a cost of over $70 per meal for my wife and I. I have eaten at other fine establishments, like Logan’s Steak House, Texas Road House, and many others like McDonalds and Wendy’s. I go to the movies and sit in a room where it costs between $12 and $18 to sit in a nice recliner and it includes a meal. On many of those meals, in fact most all, God used someone else to provide, so I appreciate people with money. However, my experience shows me people who get it right, really do see their money as God’s money, and have no trouble blessing others, not using them. I have nice shoes I have been able to get this year, finding a 75% off pair of New Balance, Tieva’s, or Sketchers for $20 amazes me. I have been to Tennessee twice, Fargo North Dakota, Oklahoma, Colorado and many other places, all of this and more on $15,000 per year. I pay taxes, (in fact in one instance when a former employer took out taxes from my check and never paid the IRS or State, I have paid taxes twice.) I have also been to great plays, great concerts and numerous other activities that were fun dates for my wife and I, and guess what, I have the largest amount of money in my savings now than I have ever had in my life.

I have come to realize, God is my provider, in Hebrew he is my Jehovah Jireh. To the poor, to those who don’t have money, please be careful with the resources you have, take care of your obligations, your obligations first of all to your church if you are in a church, if not, to legitimate ministries that do the work of God. I would challenge, don’t rob God. Don’t be fooled to get involved into something you can’t afford, use wisdom. To those who would take advantage of these individuals, I say, shame on you. I pray God will bless you, but I also pray that the Jesus who became angry of others taking advantage of his children reveal himself and his purpose to you. We need to also remember, there are spiritual children, Jesus’ words of warning about taking advantage of little children I believe applies to spiritual children just as much as it does to age appropriate children. May we all learn to trust in God and place our value in people as opposed to material possessions, when we do this, we will have all we need, because our God already owns it all anyway. Don’t get sold on a get quick scheme, do your research and homework, while there are good companies out there, I mentioned some, there are bad people in even the good companies.

It will be interesting to see the response I get from this one, for some reason, I think some aren’t going to like it, while there will be others who will say, AMEN! AMEN! And again AMEN!

The following is a short video that sums so much of what I am trying to say up. None of us have to get caught in the get rich, fix all schemes that so many promote. To watch the short video, just click on it, if for some reason the video don't appear, just click on the following link:


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