Network marketing is out of control

Network marketing (AKA multi-level marketing) and most people participating in it are getting on my nerves lately.

Back when it was just Mary Kay, Avon and Tupperware, and social media was many years away from its inception, I'm sure it wasn't that bad. You had your Avon lady, she gave you a catalog, you placed an order, and you picked up your order at her house, or she dropped it off at yours.

Or you would be invited to a Tupperware party and buy the two things you actually really wanted because you had never seen them before and thought they were going to change your life, and then you took them home and they actually were pretty cool, and even though they didn't change your life at all, it was still a pleasant experience because you got to see your friends and eat some snacks.

I'm not interested in talking about the economics of multi-level marketing companies or the success rates of the people who buy into them. I just want to talk about how completely and totally obnoxious it is to be friends with someone who buys into the madness.

This post is specifically about but not limited to:
  • LipSense
  • LuLaRoe
  • Beachbody
  • LegalShield
  • doTerra
  • Shakeology
  • Scentsy
  • Young Living
  • Norwex
  • Nerium
  • Herbalife
  • Thirty-One
Those are the ones I could think of off the top of my head because I have way too many social media friends involved in them.

I'm not sure because I haven't looked into it that far, but I think these companies are probably providing sample social media posts where you're just supposed to swap in a few relevant details and post a picture of yourself using the product, or just a selfie of how happy you are now that you're using the product. 

Every post, regardless of company, sounds exactly the same and is, perhaps most infuriatingly, coated in a guise of "realness" that makes me want to vomit. There is a very predictable formula, and it is "I used to not do X because Y, but since I've tried A, I love X now! And you should too!"

Here are some samples:
  • I never thought of myself as a "lipstick girl" because I could never be bothered to reapply it four times a day, but a friend of mine had me try LipSense because she said it was fantastic, and she was totally right! It stays on forever and looks as good when you take it off at night as it did when you put it on in the morning! (To be posted with a smiling selfie with lipstick on)
  • I always stayed away from wearing patterns because it's so complicated to make sure things match. LuLaRoe totally takes away the stress because if you just buy one of every pattern and one of every solid you always have something to match! I am literally incapable of resisting buying a new item of LuLaRoe, so I decided to sell it to save some money, haha! Oops! (To be posted with a smiling selfie in a LuLaRoe tunic and leggings)
  • I used to not exercise because it's hard and I'm not good at self-motivating. Beachbody makes exercising so much easier because it's totally brainless and like, yeah, sometimes I just put on a video and stare at it like *how do they do that* and *ouch* but I feel better when I have the videos playing so it's okay. Let me know if you want to get on this workout video train and you don't know how YouTube works! (To be posted with an auto-timer photo of you during your workout)
  • I've always hated cleaning. (Am I the only one? Haha, I can't be. Raise your hands, all my secret Messy Bessies!) It's harrrrrrrdddddd to doooooooo and I have baaaaaaaabiiiiiiies taking up all my time, okayyyyyyyy? And chemicals, boo! (Sad face) So anywho, I tried Norwex and wowzers, it really is as amazing as everyone says! Buy it from meeeeee instead of all your other friends who are selling it! (To be posted with a photo of yourself holding a cleaning rag)

It's gotten so bad that I've started unfollowing people immediately when they post their "special announcement" that they've decided to "join the (insert company here) family" because they're "already spending enough" buying every single one of their wonderful products, "lol smiley face."

And even worse, I think strategy number one now is to add every single person you've ever known on Facebook, because basically every friend request I've gotten in the last six months that wasn't from someone I actually just met has been followed immediately by an inundation of posts about their new business. 


And I'm not even going to get into the people who send MESSAGES asking if you want to join their fitness challenge or sign up for a lash serum and one-step mascara that aren't available to the public yet. Those are the worst offenders, and you can just see them sitting in their living rooms copying and pasting the same message to every single woman they know. (Oh, oops, I guess I got into it.)


"She's fifteen, so it matters."

Disclaimer: I try really hard not to give parenting advice on this blog, because I am not a parent. But this one was just too much.

Old Navy had a sale on compression pants a couple of weekends ago. They were $12, which is a really great price because they’re in the $30 range normally.

A woman came through my line with four or five of them, and she was understandably very excited about the sale. She was saying how great they are and how the quality is actually surprisingly great too, and I was agreeing with her.

Then she told me about how she “had” to buy some *insert very popular, incredibly expensive yoga pants brand here* yoga pants for her daughter a few weeks ago, and she had spent about $250 for two pairs of those pants.

I reacted in the way you might expect me to react to the concept of spending $250 for two pairs of yoga pants. I said something like, “Oh my gosh, I cannot imagine ever spending that much on yoga pants. Wow.”

She agreed, saying “Yeah, it kind of blew my mind a little.”

I didn’t want to press too hard but I was very curious, so I said something like, “It surprises me that you would buy the expensive ones since you’re obviously into deals like this one!”

Her answer made me so mad. She said, “Yeah, I would never ever spend that much on myself, but she’s fifteen, so, you know, it matters.”

Guys, I almost died right there at the cash register.

Let’s talk about what you do and don’t have to do with your money.

Yes, you are required to clothe your child.

You are absolutely, positively not required to clothe them with designer freaking yoga pants that cost more than $100 each. 

And the sigh of resignation that went along with her account of why she bought the yoga pants was so infuriating. Despite how you’re acting, your hands are not tied here. You are absolutely allowed to tell your daughter no. Tell her she can work for the money the yoga pants cost, tell her to use her allowance that I’m sure she gets to buy the yoga pants, maybe even offer to split the cost with her.

But no, you are absolutely not required to buy her whatever she asks for or whatever her friends dictate she has to have. 

You simply do not have to give your child everything they want.

And this is where it gets into murky parenting advice territory, so I’m only going to dip my toe in, but like, maybe try passing on some of your money values to her. I obviously understand that teenagers just don’t get it sometimes, no matter how much you might try to teach them, so I’m not saying having a bratty teenager is a parenting flaw. 

I am, though, saying this could have been an opportunity for a serious life lesson, but instead this mom gave in and spent as much on two pairs of yoga pants as I would have spent on groceries for an entire month.

And that makes me sound like I'm against spending your money however you want, which I'm not. I'm against her spending her money in a way she didn't want to just because her kid is “fifteen, so, you know, it matters.”


Here are some pennies, I taped them up for you and everything.

This happened in January of 2015, but I never blogged about it and I still had the picture, so here we go.

A customer paid for a purchase with cash and included these pennies.

She had taped them into groups of ten. With tape!

And of course, because she was cheap enough to do this in the first place, she was also using the cheapest tape possible, which meant it was actually quite difficult to get the tape undone.

Like, just count it there, right? That would be fine. I will even help you count it. Peeling tape off of four columns of pennies is just not a thing I want to do with my time.


Come work at my event for free!

Matt is freelancing, so we spend a lot of time on Craigslist these days. Craigslist is a really great way to get legitimate jobs. At the same time, Craigslist is also a flaming crap pile full of jobs promising “no pay, but a great set experience” and “IMDB/copy/meals” as if that is actual compensation.

Working for free is a tricky thing. If you know your craft but have zero set experience, it can be helpful to go ahead and work for free once or twice to get credits. Of course, if nobody was willing to work for free, nobody would have to work for free, but there’s always going to be someone willing to do so for the experience and to get contacts and exposure, so there are always going to be jobs offered without any compensation.

Whether or not things like this are okay, it’s only tangentially related to the topic at hand, but serves as a necessary introduction to the concept. The topic at hand is this: When people try to get staff for free for things that don't actually help anyone's career.

During these past few months, we have seen several posts including and similar to the following:

Yes, they are trying to get event staff for free.

Guys. Excuse me. The only reason anyone ever works for free is to get experience in a field that is hard to break into or to gain contacts within a field that is hard to break into.

Event staff is not a field that is hard to break into because it’s not generally something people aspire to. (Event planning is, obviously, but that’s different.) Working events is something people do for money while they’re otherwise un- or under-employed.

But like, only for money.

Asking for event staff who will work for free is like asking for restaurant or retail workers who will work for free. It is simply not a thing.

The only situation where this would be okay is if the event was for a nonprofit and the nonprofit was using its own regular volunteers for the event staff.

These Craigslist posters try to get away with it by saying things like, “The event is from 6:30 to 10 but you’ll only need to work from 6-8 and you can mingle afterward.” Oh, really? Thanks. So I get to attend the event for the last two hours in my event staff uniform after everyone has seen me working for the first hour and a half? Cool!

But I even saw one listing that said, “Note: This is not an event where networking will be an option.” So like, please tell me, what’s in it for me? At all? Why would I not just sit at home? Because there is nothing about this listing that is going to benefit me whatsoever, even monetarily, which is the only reason I would be interested in the first place.

Just, as a general rule, people need to get it together and realize what people are and aren’t willing to do for free. If you can’t afford to hire event staff, you can’t afford to host an event. Sorry!


A smattering of problems with chip cards

Chip cards are a thing and they are a constant struggle and people have a hard time even when you walk them through it step by excruciating step. I honestly thought about doing a whole week on chip cards but there would have been a lot of minutiae involved and I didn’t want to bore anyone.

At Old Navy right now, if you’re using a credit card or running a debit card as credit, you use the chip, but if you’re using a debit card as debit, you swipe the card. I’m not sure of the reasoning behind this, but it’s how it is, and because it’s a little complicated, I’m very specific with people throughout the transaction.

Because there are different protocols for debit and credit now, we have to select which one it is on our end before the swiping / inserting step. So if I see that a person is using a card, I ask, “Is that debit or credit?”

If they say debit, I tap the debit button and say “Okay, you can go ahead and swipe it.”

They inevitably say, “Oh, but it has a chip!” And I say, “Yeah, you can just swipe it, we’re only using the chip for credit right now for some reason.” And that’s usually good enough.

But if they say credit, I say, “Okay, if it has a chip, insert it at the bottom where the blue light is.”

And at this point, several months in, that is usually good enough. People have started to understand. But it’s taken quite awhile to get to this point.

When people do it wrong, the most common reaction is to just swipe it anyway. Then they ask, “Did it not work?” I ask in return, “Did you use the chip?” “No, I swiped it.” “Oh, right, it wants you to use the chip.”

Like, we were having a conversation and I told you to use the chip. Did you think you were special and could choose not to? I’m sorry, not the case. Or were you just not listening? Also not cool.

There are also awkward exchanges sometimes when they ask me “Chip or swipe?” before I have asked them “Debit or credit?” 

I have had this conversation many times:

“Chip or swipe?”

“Is it debit or credit?”

“I asked you first.”

“... Sure, but my answer is dependent on yours.”

Also, probably eight or nine times a day, I have to lean all the way over the counter and teach someone how the chip card works. 

My favorite people are the ones who childishly hate using the chip and complain about it the entire transaction. Like, please grow up. It’s going to be fine. You’ll get used to it. Or you could start using cash all the time.

But finally, the worst offender ever and what finally tipped the scales for writing this post, was a guy I had last weekend. 

I said, “Debit or credit?”

And his answer was, “Whichever one makes me not have to use the chip.”

I said, “Okay, we’ll run it as debit then.”

He answered, seriously, “Oh, but it’s a credit card.”

… Okay, so not whichever then, right? If you're using a credit card, you have to run it as credit, and I’m sorry, but you’re going to have to use the chip.


But wait, I seriously want a prenup.

I had a couple come through my line at Old Navy last weekend and they were obviously in a fight but trying not to fight loudly in front of me, so it was on a soft pause, which I appreciate. I say the fight was obvious because they had been doing that quiet but angry talk while they were walking up, but once they got to me, they both stopped talking for a minute.

Quick side note to say: I understand that some conversations are important, but they can almost always wait until after your interaction with another human is done. It is nearly always awkward when you try to either have a conversation during a transaction, because it forces me to interrupt you, or involve me in a conversation, because there is usually quite a bit of backstory that I would need to be brought up to speed, and generally not enough time to cover everything. This is any conversation. Multiply the effects by about three when it's an argument.

Okay, back to this fight. The pause didn't last very long at all, unfortunately. For awhile I couldn’t tell what it was about, but I figured it out eventually because they awkwardly involved me (see above).

I’m going to spare you the details of exactly how our conversation played out so that I eventually gained all this information, because it was very piecemeal.

Here is the gist. The couple are engaged, and she wants a prenup, but he doesn’t. This is something they have been fighting about already, but the fight at the register was something more specific.

I’m assuming he has already laid out all the reasons he doesn’t want a prenup and she has detailed all the reasons she wants one, and now they’re at the point where they’re arguing to make a decision.

So here’s what she was mad about: He said something along the lines of, “It’s weird that you’re the one who wants a prenup since I’m going to be the higher wage earner.”

*record scratch*

This is the point at which I got involved in the conversation, because the woman turned to me and said, “Well maybe now that Hillary is going to be in charge we can get that pay gap sorted out and I can earn just as much, huh?”

I agreed wholeheartedly.

Ladies and gentlemen, let me give you some life advice. Unless your plan in life is that one of you is going to be a doctor and the other is going to be a stay at home parent, do not ever -- EVER -- even think about saying or implying to your significant other that you will be making more money than them. It’s a huge mistake.

And it's honestly just dumb. Even if your fields have incredibly disparate earning expectations, you really never know how your earning trajectory is going to go. You could be in the mid-range of a lucrative field and your wife could be at the higher end of a middling field and she could end up making significantly more than you. Or one or both of you might change careers a few years from now.

You just never know, and even if you're not trying to be condescending, "You're going to make less money than me long-term" just can't be taken any other way.

Toward the end of the transaction, the wife-to-be said, "Oh my god! I should start recording you so you know how rude you sound."

This was an accidental paraphrase of Emily Gilmore, who tells Richard during an argument that she is going to get a tape recorder so he can "hear how pompous and condescending" he sounds.

I wanted to mention the Gilmore Girls parallel, but it wasn't a good time.
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