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A KDakota630 Original Blog - Scam Alert

Recs

27

July 12, 2011 – Comments (19) | RELATED TICKERS: BTH

Yes, believe it or not, I'm posting a blog that has nothing to do with Peter Schiff, Peter Grandich, the Fed, Ron Paul, or precious metals.

I hope I can maintain some coherance with this blog as I've just spend about a half hour of my time "discussing" a product and MLM business, explaining to this person why their business was a scam and intentionally misleading people.  The woman seemed intelligent enough but for some reason my logic wasn't able to permeate her skull.

I probably wouldn't be so annoyed except that this is the 2nd person who's approached me about this in about a week, and despite my rather extreme objections, both of these people persisted in trying to sign me up, telling me about the great benefit package, and so forth.

The product is Body By Vi, or Visalus, which is one of the Blyth companies, not to be confused with the Bluth Company.  Essentially, the program is a 90-day weight loss product where you're taking a couple of their protein shakes (more or less a low-carb, high protein meal replacement powder) per day.

Right off the top, I don't have a problem with with following a diet plan like that.  I know that they can work.  Many people have had success doing programs like that.  EAS had a number of contests largely following that exact strategy, followed by a number of other copycat supplement companies.  Chances are you've heard of them, or even know someone who did.

As a matter of fact, I've actually helped literally hundreds of people follow either similar plans, or rather than relying on a meal-replacement powder I've sold them a protein powder which they've used, sometimes with a number of other supplements, either for fat loss, or muscle gain, sports performance, etc.  As some of you know, I own a sports nutrition store in Canada, and I've had my business for close to 10 years now.  I'm guessing that's why I've been targeted by these two people.

To make a long story short, I did look into the business quickly after the first person approached me.  I really wasn't interested, but I wanted to satisfy my curiosity.  When she got in touch with me via phone a few days later, I laid out my objections, of which I had three:

Objection #1 - I probably don't need to go into detail here, but first and foremost, I'm not interested in getting involved in any MLM business.  Yeah, I'm sure they work for some people, but here's a good website which will save me from typing more than necessary about MLM businesses.

Objection #2 - Did I mention that I've owned a sports supplement store for nearly 10 years?  Need I explain more about how this is a massive conflict of interest with what I currently do?  If for some reason I chose to do this, I would essentially be selling this new product instead of what I've been selling and believe in selling for about a quarter of my life.  I suppose maybe someone would do something like that, but it's highly unlikely.

Objection #3 - And this is the big one... one of the videos on their website is extremely misleading, and to the layperson, might not pick up on it.  Here's the video:

For those of you who didn't catch that, let me explain.  What they're trying to get you to believe is that somehow, they've managed to combine all that food into a simple, cost-saving 170 shake.

However, if you watch the video again and pay attention to the top, they're actually picking and choosing single items which are contained in each of the foods listed as opposed to the entire food.  The average person might think they're getting some super-concentrated food powder that actually contains all that stuff.

How can you be sure it doesn't?  Simply put, the impossibility of somehow combining 8,600 calories into something that is 170 calories and calling it equal.

But let me take it a step further.  Let's take just 1 item from that list.  Let's take just the 13 eggs that they mention in the list of foods.

Conservatively, an egg contains 6g of protein.  So, 13 eggs would contain 78g of protein.  And as each gram of protein is 4 calories, simple math gives you a total of 312 calories.  

So, I've taken 1 macronutrient from 1 item they've listed, and I already have 142 calories more than their entire shake!  

And what kills me is that after I've explained to these people (repeatedly) how their product is misleading, they continue to try to push me into the business.  Seriously, that takes some gall:

KDakota630 - "Your business is misleading, a scam, and quite frankly if you can continue selling this after I've explained how you're being fraudulent, you should be ashamed of yourself."

Visalus rep - "You know, we have an excellent compensation package..."

If you, or anyone you know, is interested in improving the way they look and feel, check out a book like The Zone, or Fat Wars, and then if you're interested in following those up with supplements, go to a reputable store to talk to someone.  I don't think the product itself is a scam, but after talking to these two people I would suggest avoiding this thing like the plague.

19 Comments – Post Your Own

#1) On July 12, 2011 at 4:07 PM, jwebbzor (< 20) wrote:

Gave you a rec because you mentioned the Bluth company!

I ran the numbers on the Bluth company, and it seems that the banana stand is the only profitable part of the business. They bought a useless piece of land (200 acres of lemon groves) that they won't be able to build on. Also, the potential deal with Japanese investors fell through, so this company is going to need a serious cash infusion from Sitwell if it is to stay afloat.

Besides all that, Cramer has it as a 'Don't Buy'.

 

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#2) On July 12, 2011 at 4:14 PM, kdakota630 (29.66) wrote:

jwebbzor

LOL!  Well done!

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#3) On July 12, 2011 at 4:25 PM, TMFJake (75.39) wrote:

Nice post.  BTW, let me know if you want in on this amazing non fat yogurt franchise...

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#4) On July 12, 2011 at 4:39 PM, lemoneater (79.20) wrote:

My sympathy, KDakota.

When I was in my late teens working a job at Sears, someone approached me wanting to use my picture to promote their diet supplement. I got really angry, because at that age I had never dieted a day in my life, but had a naturally superfast metabolism--where did it go?--so I knew it would be false advertising. They were surprised at my refusal.

Yes, I remember Amway which my aunt sold. She ended up buying more of the products herself than any of her customers. At least the cleaning supplies worked great, but they certainly were top dollar.

Give me your Linkedin info so I can invite you to my next pyramid scheme :). I think the internet has probably made pyramids more effective/viral than ever before.

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#5) On July 12, 2011 at 4:41 PM, TSIF (99.96) wrote:

Hmmmm..... you sell sports nutritions and your picture looks like that!!!??? Must be some bad tasting stuff and better for the body than the complexion!!!  ;)

I think you have an alterior motive for coming out of your shell and writing this blog...you're still upset because you've been down over 100 points on your Blyth downthumb the last two years!  ;)  Gotta watch those low float heavily insider owned equities!!  I'd stay away from downthumbing a company with a lemon grove...they will make lemonade somehow and sell it at their bananna stands.

On another note, your timing on POTG.PK was perfect!  I would definitely, however, complain to the spammers that their email was a week late!    20% dump on a day they are buying yet another mine....

Seriously...thanks for the warning.....no supplements of any kind for me...I'm warped enough already!

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#6) On July 12, 2011 at 6:01 PM, kdakota630 (29.66) wrote:

TMFJake

Thanks for the compliment, and I actually already have a low-fat soft-serve frozen yogurt machine. ;)

lemoneater

I don't imagine that you remember the name of the company it would've been for, do you?  I'm guessing they didn't mention it though.

There are definitely a number of shady supplement companies out there, and the ones who promote their products with "before and after" pictures definitely have their techniques, but I can attest that if someone is really following a diet and using a supplement that they can achieve somewhat similar results.  I'm no genetic freak and I have some "before and afters" from 8 weeks of dieting that definitely impress people.  That being said, there definitely are ones that are overly hyped.

TSIF

That avatar was taken while someone was trying to force feed me some wheat grass juice.  Seriously, that stuff is gross.

Argh!  My Blyth call was definitely not one of my better ones.  I've had worse though.

POTG.PK was nothing more than lucky timing.  I actually downthumbed it this morning, after I got the spam e-mail, but before I actually saw the e-mail.  

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#7) On July 12, 2011 at 7:59 PM, dbjella (< 20) wrote:

jwebbzor 

Arrested Development was the greatest TV show nobody watched :(

The funniest thing I ever saw from that show was Tobias's business card for his Analyst and Therapist co-business....Tobias Funke Analrapist 

 

 

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#8) On July 13, 2011 at 1:53 AM, awallejr (85.51) wrote:

Have to rec you because it isn't a Peter Schiff, Peter Grandich, the Fed, Ron Paul, or precious metals blog heheh. 

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#9) On July 13, 2011 at 8:41 AM, jwebbzor (< 20) wrote:

dbjella

Definitely the greatest show ever created.

"I'm afraid I just blue myself."

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#10) On July 13, 2011 at 9:20 AM, kdakota630 (29.66) wrote:

awallejr

Thanks.  I had a feeling you might give me a rec on that alone.

jwebbzor & dbjella

Agreed.  I think I've watched the entire series twice and when I have time I'm watching them all for a third time.  I find they're funnier the second time around because of all the little things you pick up that you missed the first time.  I think the problem with the show was the subtle humour, inside references, and TV business references that some people might not get, and the fact that you really have to be paying attention or your miss half the jokes which usually set up the other half.

To everyone else...

Thanks for all the recs.  I re-read this blog a few times and while I'm happy with it overall, there are a number of things I know I could've improved in a big way had I taken some time to calm down before typing it.  I almost never get worked up over anything, but yesterday when talking with this person I was pretty much as frustrated as a person can possibly be, literally wanting to scream, "What the f**k is wrong with you?!?"

The other main thing I probably should've mentioned is that the main reason I was so disgusted with that video was that if they were willing to be so thoroughly and blantantly misleading with it, what other misleading things are they willing to tell me that I might not pick up on so easily?

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#11) On July 13, 2011 at 9:32 AM, catoismymotor (30.47) wrote:

kdakota630,

The senario you describe is one of the many reasons I left the world of 100% commissioned sales. There is so much pressure to make a sale you must, at times, be willing to misplace your moral compass to deliver the numbers. Thankfully I was never envolved in anything criminal, just high pressure.

In the past I have been approached by pyramid scheme recruiters when out and about with my family. I guess they eaves dropped on the conversations I was having, liked the way I spoke, and decided I could be turned to the dark side. The first time I thought it was a legit business offer. After the first and only sit down meeting I did my DD and found out the truth. I called the contact back and told him I was not interested. He persisted in calling me three more times before giving up. Thank goodness for called ID and voicemail so I could selectively weed him out. I learned alot from the experience. I now know the sales pitch and psychology behind it all. The last time I was approached was at dinner with my wife. I told the lady if she promised to go away I'd give her my name and number. I gave her the name of an old boss and the back line number for his business. *evil laughter*

- Cato

Pyramid Schemes:
Names of Multi-Level Marketing (MLM) Programs that Are Pyramid Schemes

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#12) On July 13, 2011 at 9:35 AM, catoismymotor (30.47) wrote:

envolved = involved

Derp

- Cato

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#13) On July 13, 2011 at 10:04 AM, outoffocus (22.96) wrote:

Yea I've noticed a bunch of MLM companies popping up all over the place lately in almost every industry you can think of. I've been approached about at least 10-20 over the last year and maybe 5 of them were legit.  Its a shame the scam companies make the whole industry look bad.

Speaking of which, has anyone heard of "Numis". I got approached by a "Numis" rep about a month ago.  The company sells numismatic coins.  After talking to this guy my "to good to be true" senses were tingling so I did some research.  Long story short, they make their money by forcing their reps to buy coins every month.... So sad...

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#14) On July 13, 2011 at 10:28 AM, kdakota630 (29.66) wrote:

catoismymotor

If they can convince a person that their product is legit, you won't feel bad applying pressure as you honestly believe you're trying to help someone, and that's a big part of any high pressure sales business (like high-priced vacuums) or MLM.

I'm like you where I know the sales pitch, techniques, and psychology behind how they do what they do.  I've heard them all repeatedly in the past, as well as over the last couple of days.  Between these two women you wouldn't believe the number of times they wanted me to do a three-way call with the two of us and their upline professional B.S.er.

I'm still stunned, especially after yesterday that she continued to try to sell me after repeatingly telling her that it was all a scam.  As much as I maintained my composure, I did at one point literally tell her, "Don't you understand?  This is all bullsh!t."

And I love that you gave her a phone number of someone you didn't like.  LOL!  Priceless.

outoffocus

The thing you looked into sounds like Treasure Traders, which I had a number of people approach me about years ago. I don't understand how anyone got suckered into that one.  The sales pitch was basically, "We sell you overpriced fake gems that you mark up ridiculously to sell to other people.  Guaranteed profit!"

As for legit MLMs, I think I've found two.  The first is Pre-Paid Legal, which I know is not a popular stock on CAPS. I've had the service for years and it's more than paid for itself, used repeatedly, and I've only had one very minor complaint with them (I thought the lawyer had a bit of an attitude with my question), and Debt Freedom Canada.

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#15) On July 13, 2011 at 10:56 AM, outoffocus (22.96) wrote:

kdakota630

There are quite a few legit ones out there.  Probably the best website I've seen for a list of legit MLMs is directselling411.com.  But just to give you a few examples outside of the ones you mentioned: Primerica (former division of Citigroup), Amway, and The Pampered Chef. You can typically tell a good mlm by checking their history.  The good ones have been around for a long time.  The rest havent been around for long and wont be around much longer.  

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#16) On July 13, 2011 at 11:35 AM, kdakota630 (29.66) wrote:

outoffocus

I had an experience with Primerica a long time ago. I didn't think it was a scam, but they really rubbed me the wrong way as I found them to be a little too high pressure for my liking with a lot of the same types of techniques I mentioned in my reply to Cato.

Plus they had a fishy sales pitch.  As I recall they wanted me to sell insurance policies which would be purchased later by "rich Japanese with gobs of money".  I didn't understand the logic to that and granted, I didn't ask either.  Far too many red flags for me, especially at a time that I was just looking for a job that would pay me an hourly wage.  And now that I think about it, that was another one of my red flags.  While I was looking for a job, somehow the Primerica guy found out about me and made it look like he was offering one, until he got into his pitch.  Rubbed me the wrong way, never forgot them.

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#17) On July 13, 2011 at 2:09 PM, jwebbzor (< 20) wrote:

kdakota630

I know just what you mean about Arrested Development being better the 2nd time around. Tell you what... its even better the 3rd time around. I've probably watched the whole series through 6 times, and I can still catch subtle references.

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#18) On July 13, 2011 at 3:20 PM, FleaBagger (29.63) wrote:

Amway is actually pretty bad in most cases. They declared bankruptcy and changed their name, and then eventually changed it back after most people had forgotten how horrid they were and presumably market research showed that people had a vaguely positive response to the name because it simply sounded familiar.

Amway is overpriced products, overemphasizes greed at the expense of the product or how to sell it, and they take money from gullible "independent sales reps" or whatever they call them, and give that money to the poobahs to compensate them, because nobody makes money from the honest side of the business.

Also, certain Amway groups have become cults. It is profoundly sad: those who waver in their Christian faith sometimes become devout Amway cultists.

You might be right about Primerica, and I did Pampered Chef for a while. I sucked at it, but I can vouch for their legitimacy.  

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#19) On July 14, 2011 at 10:43 AM, kdakota630 (29.66) wrote:

FleaBagger

I don't think Amway is a "scam", but I don't think it's a good business for some of the reasons you mentioned.

You actually reminded me that I was involved in Amway, but an extremely limited experience.  To make a long story as short as possible, against my better judgement I figured I'd give it a go by easing into it mainly because the guy who signed me up was so positive (as were all the people at the meetings) and so many personal stories of how well they were doing with Amway.

I literally did nothing with it for months until I thought I should probably at least place an order for some stuff I wanted, and found the forms to be a bit much.  So I attempted to get a hold of my upline guy.  He didn't return my calls for a few days, until eventually his phone was disconnected.  A few days later I found out that he'd moved back in with his parents. 

I went there to meet up with him to get my money back on the whole thing and he never showed up.  I did meet his mom who was extremely nice, took care of my request, but expressed disappointment that I wasn't willing to try it longer.  

Somehow, after a year of this guy doing Amway, his idea of "doing well" included being forced to move back in with his parents with his wife and newborn baby, and despite this fact, he was still actively pumping Amway, as were his wife and the parents he moved back in with.

So after all that, yeah, I'd have to generally agree with you regarding your "cultist" reference.

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