When I first started using the DoTERRA products in spring 2017, I loved the way the oils smelled. My husband and I both had trouble sleeping, and we rubbed a few of the oils on our feet. Initially, we found the oils relaxing and calming. During the day I diffused citrus oils to help invigorate my mood. I noticed the oils not only made the air smell better, but they helped me feel better. The better I felt using the oils, the more I wanted to buy. My friend I bought them from convinced me to sign up as a Wellness Advocate and sell the oils. I had no idea by doing so I would get involved in a Pyramid Scheme.
After a one time purchase, I decided to sign up as a Wellness advocate. I figured I could sell a few oils to friends or family to offset the cost of the oils. My friend that introduced me to the product became my upline. I knew very little about oils at this point. However, I knew a lot about sales and marketing due to my career in sales. Selling the oils didn’t feel like it could be that hard. I knew I could apply my years of sales experience, and I felt like I could be successful.
My first month my sales were outstanding. I had some friends and family interested in purchasing oils. However, the next month I found it impossible to sell anything. My friends and family didn’t have much interest in buying oils every month. Because the oils are so concentrated, a single bottle could last for years. My upline told me to instruct people on ways to use the oils to increase their consumption.
I made videos, wrote blogs, and did everything I could to push the oils. Unfortunately, people didn’t need oils, or they had someone else they knew that sold oils. I tried everything my upline recommended, and nothing worked. I couldn’t believe that with the amount of sales experience I had that I couldn’t sell the oil.
Finally, I opened up to my upline and shared my frustration. I told her I didn’t like harassing my friends and family to buy products. Additionally, I expressed my frustrations that I couldn’t make money by selling the products.
At this point, she dropped a bomb on me. She admitted that the only way to make any money at DoTERRA was by recruiting new members to become Wellness Advocates. She said the goal was to create a team. I was instructed to recruit people to sell under me. Then I could earn commissions off their onboarding packages and any sales they made.
I asked her how adding friends to directly compete with my sales would improve my sales. She promised me that we all had different circles of influence for selling. However, my uplines sphere of influence and my own sphere were intertwined. I found it next to impossible to reach new customers because we knew the same people.
If I had trouble selling by having a person above me, how would I sell more oil by having people below me? None of this made sense to me. I know market saturation is not a good thing. I mean McDonald’s doesn’t put 3 restaurants on the same block. Why would I ask my neighbors to sell oils that I offer?
What she told me about DoTERRA made it seem like the company may be a Pyramid Scheme. When I made the realization, I felt sick to my stomach. I had always been critical of anyone that got involved in these scams. Somehow despite my best efforts to avoid these companies, I ended up working for one.
In order to verify my concerns, I did a quick Google search and landed on the Federal Trade Commission website. There I found an article called the Telltale signs of a Pyramid Scheme. The FTC outlined three examples the company was a pyramid scheme
- The income you earned is based primarily on the recruitment of new salespeople to the company. The income you make on products is minimal.
- You are required to buy a lot of inventory
- You are forced to buy products you don’t want or need to stay in good standing with the company
I reviewed the commission chart for DoTERRA. After reading it, I realized the commission worksheet was confusing and complicated. Additionally, I learned the most significant commissions given out were through “Power of 3,” bonuses. These commissions are received when you and 2 of your recruits hit specific targets each month. The rewards were substantial at up to $1500 per month. A Power of 3 Bonus was far more than the 10% in the commission that DoTERRA offered for the sales of the products.
Also, the chart said I needed to purchase 100 product points every month to be eligible for the highest bonuses. Product points were supposed to be one point for one dollar spent. However, many times this formula of 1:1 wasn’t accurate. I noticed with the most expensive products that the points were significantly less than the product cost. Additionally, to be eligible for commissions, I had to spend more than $100 a month or $1200 a year. YIKES! $1200 is a lot of money to spend on products that I don’t even need.After reviewing everything and comparing it to the FTC article, I knew I got involved in a Pyramid Scheme. I can’t even tell you how humiliated I felt. Not only did I feel embarrassed, but an incredible amount of shame came over me. My family lived on a tight budget, and I had wasted hundreds of dollars. I had been lured into selling with the pitch that I could help my family by earning extra money. When I did the math over the two months I had been selling, I had spent $700 more than I had made.
After I did the math, I felt sick to my stomach. My family lives on a single income because my son is medically fragile. When I had to tell my husband about the money I lost, I felt petrified, embarrassed, and full of shame. I had always been the responsible one with money in our relationship. Admitting my carelessness to my husband, was a bitter pill to swallow.
Thankfully, my husband was incredibly understanding. He didn’t get angry or upset. In fact, he told me he understood my intentions. I felt relieved he didn’t get mad. However, I was so angry with myself.
After my husband and I talked, I let my upline know that I had to quit selling. I was too afraid to tell her what I uncovered, and I knew she wouldn’t believe me anyway. When I left as a consultant, our friendship ended on bad terms. Not only did I get scammed out of money, but I also lost a friendship. My heart was shattered.
Today I still have a box of over 100 oils that I no longer use as a reminder of my mistake. Each time I see the box, I feel a tiny sting to my ego. I had always prided myself on being astute and intelligent in business. However, even I got suckered by a Pyramid Scam.
If it can happen to me, it can happen to anyone.
My best advice is to stay away from all Multi-Level Marketing companies.
All of them are a scam. Some just do a better job at looking legitimate.
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