Thursday, September 13, 2007

Leave pyramids to the Egyptians.

So on Tuesday night, I went ahead and went to the meeting for this business opportunity. I was finally going to get some more meat—something more than just vague statements on how to make money. Hell… maybe I was actually going to learn the name of the business that I’d be working for.

Kapitano wasn’t the only one who told me to come down with something. I probably should have but considering that this was the second time I was approached, I wanted to know more. This time it was a bit more personal because now they are touching my friends.

So I get there and there are a bunch of people coming in and looking sharp with their business attire. I found out that most of them are IBOs (although at the time, I didn’t know what an IBO was). They are all friendly people. But I notice that when coming in, they are paying money. Five dollar entrance fees from everyone except the newbies—me and a few others who get free admission because we were “guests.” By the way, before I left home, I made sure to leave my credit cards and cash, save for an emergency ten, at home. They can’t bleed me if I don’t have any blood. I don’t care how silver tongued they are.

So I meet up with my referrer, J___. While taking my reserved seat in the front row, I notice the guy and his wife who tried to recruit me last time. Hi! Remember me? Now J___ seems like a nice guy and I had to wonder what got him into this business. But I put that thought on the back burner as a lively and entertaining speaker started his presentation. And boy was it good. It sure got me excited. After a little economics lesson, I got some of my questions answered.

The name of the business: Quixtar. How they do business: a pyramid scheme. Ahhh... but it’s a legal pyramid scheme* since Quixtar doesn’t pay for recruitment (and a few other reasons if you want to read the nitty gritty here.) Think of Quixtar as a store that sells a variety of products. Well it has these distributors called IBOs, or Independent Business Owners, that peddle the products to other customers and try to recruit more people to becoming IBOs. They, in turn, recruit more. If I had joined, I would be a new IBO with an upline (those who were recruited ahead of me) and a downline (those I recruited afterwards). I get a percentage of my downline and my upline gets a percentage of mine. Plus the more income that I generate for the company, I start getting bonuses. But the details aren't terribly important as they would take up a folder’s worth of blog space and I’m going to have plenty anyways.

I was told that the start up was about $200. And it was broken in to $150 to join Quixtar, get registered as an IBO with my account number (to tie in with my downline and upline), and start buying products to sell. Then there was $50 for recommended educational materials. Of course if I wanted more advice and help, I could buy more materials, purchase tickets to more meetings just like this one. And if I was super duper serious I could go on an “exciting” trip to this huge convention for a couple hundred dollars. Swell.

So I would set up my account and site where I would have products selected. I would then go out and start networking, getting people to buy those products through the website (using my code) and recruiting more people to get into the business. After all, I can get a percentage of what they sell. Ca ching. Of course, all this takes “ambition,” “coachability,” “drive,” and a few other exciting words thrown in. And if I got the magic touch I, too, could retire at thirty-something.

At the end, I asked J___ how I could drive traffic to my site so people could buy products. You see, companies like Wal-mart, Best Buy, and Barnes & Noble have got their own websites that people can order from. Why would they go to a website they’ve never heard of to buy products? And why would they do in a manner that even more complicated? (Remember, they need my code.) Plus, it's not as if there is a huge difference in prices. His answer unsettled me. He said that the company frowned on advertising. Instead they wanted to drive business by word of mouth. Now, word of mouth is great but when a company shies away from advertising… well, things are beginning to smell like the docks now.

After the newbies were released, the rest stayed on for more “training.” J___ gave me a sample of the products that he was selling as well as an informational folder… which... I have to return to him. Hmm… He’ll get it back tomorrow.

But I looked at the info packet. It’s still too vague for my tastes. But it did give me the general idea of how the thing worked. It even had some statistics that I’m sure the government made sure were made available. I’d give you the information directly** but they don’t want me publishing the information and this blogger is not protected from SLAPPs in Michigan.

Ah Michigan… It turns out that Quixtar is a subsidiary of Alticor. And who’s my favorite Michigan family? Yes… It’s run by the DeVos family. Remember Dick?

So if someone comes up to you and asks if you are looking for ways to generate more income, tell them to keep on walking.

If you’ve got some extra time, check out the Dateline story:
Part 1

Part 2

h/t to DeipThroat on YouTube.

And if you think it’s biased, get the other side at

*Check out In re. Amway Corp
**But you can get some of the stats here.


Anonymous said...

It's like a damn Cult!!!! Are you sure it doesn't have ties with the FLDS and Warren Jeffs sect?

Kapitano said...

Wow. The power of desperation. All those people willing to believe anyone telling them they can get a slice of that elusive American dream for by letting the market do all the work for them.

I was a victim of Kevin Trudeau's overblown claims a decade ago - I paid for a stack of cassettes that promised to turn me into a memory, reading and mathematical superman. And I was even swayed by the sales pitch that, if I didn't pay now, his courses would be more expensive later. Stupido Kapitano.

The courses reintroduced me to a few mnemonic tricks that I already knew (and had learned for free) years before. Trudeau's courses worked (this was before he started repackaging the Atkins diet or selling "brain food"), just not as well as advertised. A standard rip-off.

But these pyramid schemes - they're something else. They're a scam that just keeps taking and keeps promising and keeps taking more. Rather like a religious cult, I suppose.

The swindlers at the top of the pyramid are the worst kind of scum. They deserve an eternity of the kind of destitution they inflict.

David said...

While I was at a cookout today (technically yesterday) for the Michigan-Notre Dame game, I was talking with a buddy of mine from Grand Rapids which is near where the DeVos family is. I told him what had happened to me and he said that he and a buddy had been approached about too and that his buddy actually went through with it. The buddy actually made a little bit of money but probably not worth the amount of time and effort he put in. I also mentioned that I was glad that I voted against Dick DeVos for the governorship in the last election. He said that he didn't vote period. He said that DeVos and Granholm both were the devil. Like me, I think he's gotten cynical over the inability to choose between decent candidates.

The Brian said...

Run far away!