“You see the Porsche parked outside? That’s mine. I’ve just moved into a four-bedroomed farmhouse and next month, I am going on Holiday to the Canary Islands for two weeks. If you follow my lead, in six months this could be YOU, living YOUR LIFE”.
No, I wasn’t in Essex being talked at by a knuckle dragger from TOWIE, I was at a ‘Mid Level Marketing’ conference at a Holiday Inn in just outside Reading.
The woman talking at us like she was on speed was a very well turned out forty something, who had apparently been on full benefits just six months earlier, depressed and not knowing where her life was going. That was until she’d seen a Facebook status of an old school friend talking of, you guessed it, the Porsches, Farmhouses and holidays she had bought from the profits of a Mid Level Marketing Scheme.
I wasn’t there of my own accord – I had gone with a good friend of mine who was ready to sign up for this scheme. I’d gone with her to talk her out of leaving her secure, call center job to join a pyramid scheme that would probably see her losing money (and friends) in the long run.
The ‘conference’ itself was pretty amazing. The turn out was huge and the company had spared no expense with their glossy marketing leaflets, free samples and photographs of their reps standing next to expensive cars with huge grins on their faces. Even I started to think, “wow, maybe this would be a better way to make a living than writing”. I was soon put off by the hard sell however at the main conference.
Have you ever seen the film version of Roald Dahl’s “The Witches”?
Specifically the part where all the Witches are sitting in a conference room in awe of the Grand High Witch and her plans for World Domination. Well, that’s what sitting in that conference room for all the marketing speeches reminded me of. Row upon row of women sat there, excited and clapping at the never ending parade of reps coming on to the stage and telling them that if they harassed their Facebook friends enough with posts about their ‘products’ they this time next year, they too could be millionaires.
The only difference was, it wasn’t the smell of children that hug in air; it was the reek of desperation.
I get how Pyramid schemes work, (although all the speakers went to great lengths to point out that this wasn’t a pyramid scheme, even though it clearly was the definition of one) but unless you are at the top few levels of the pyramid, you are going to be pretty disappointed. There are only so many people you know, or in your town or in you area who would potentially sign up with you – and then what? It all has to dry up somewhere.
I sat and watched as my friend and all the other (mainly) women in the room lapped up promises of free holidays from the company and a life of luxury if they could sit at home and sell, sell, sell and it was all a little sad.
Even though I begged her to see sense, my friend signed up that day. I wish I could say she proved me wrong and is now off shagging Leonardo Di Caprio on a yacht somewhere exotic, but six months on, she isn’t a millionaire with a sports car and a second home in Cannes. She hasn’t even broken even on the stock she bought and half of her social media friends have blocked her due to the hard sell posts she was tagging them all in day in day out.
She also found out, through some other very disgruntled former reps that unless you are one of the few people who started the company and who are living off the commission from the thousands below them, there isn’t much money to be made at all: The sports cars are on expensive leases, the houses are rented, the ‘free’ holidays come with the catch that you have to attend marketing meetings for six hours everyday while you are there and most of the reps are in serious debt trying to maintain their lifestyle and image, just waiting for the mythical payday when they are promoted to ‘team leader’.
It’s a sad state of affairs when people are being sold a lie.
It’s not a pyramid scheme…unless it actually is