Just What The Heck Is MonaVie, And Should I Sell It?

An anonymous reader asks,

I’ve been approached by a friend to join up with MonaVie acai juice—it’s a “superfood” juice that’s sold through “network marketing.” I actually do like the product, and this is a friend I trust, but my alarm bells are still going off. I don’t want to get sucked into a scam, obviously. There’s nothing about this company on your site, so I thought I’d drop you a line and see if you had any advice.

Here’s our advice: don’t do it! When you look at the business details and filter out the friend-of-a-friend stories, it’s not worth the hassle.

MonaVie—a concoction of acai and other fruit juices, and sold in wine bottles for $40 a pop—is the latest in a long line of mysterious and exotic cure-alls, and no, no you should not “sell” it. We use quotation marks because the majority of distributors are their own primary customers, according to Newsweek’s Tony Dokoupil. The juice is loaded with good things and is certainly not unhealthy for you. But before you decide to shell out $40 on a bottle, or help your friend reach his or her sales quota by becoming another member in the company’s multi-level-marketing (MLM) business model—funny, when you chart that model, it looks like a pyramid!—you should find out more about how the sales look from the top, and what’s actually been verified about its health benefits.

Dokoupil points out that those people reportedly making millions of dollars in sales commissions are members near the very top of the pyramid.

Most of the million-strong sales team is really just drinking the juice, according to MonaVie’s 2007 income disclosure statement, a federally required printout of their distributor earnings. More than 90 percent were considered “wholesale customers,” whose earnings are mostly discounts on sales to themselves. Fewer than 1 percent qualified for commissions and of those, only 10 percent made more than $100 a week. And the dropout rate, while not disclosed by MonaVie, is around 70 percent, according to a top recruiter.

So that’s the reality from a profit perspective. As far as health benefits go, most of the claims about its ability to cure cancer, eczema, general pain, anxiety, autism, and a case of the stupids, is gossip and hearsay. (In fact, it may cause a case of the stupids, we’re guessing.) Newsweek points out that because unsalaried MonaVie salespeople are out making the ridiculous health claims and not the company, MonaVie stays within FDA guidelines, and doesn’t have to worry about backing up such claims.

Wikipedia cites a few nutritional studies that place acai berries somewhere in the mid-to-high range on antioxidant protection. It’s definitely a great fruit, and if you can find an affordable source of acai berries, go for it.

But even if acai berries were filled with God’s own tears, it turns out that a $40 bottle of MonaVie isn’t 100% acai juice, and the company won’t disclose the ratio of acai to its other ingredients. In fact, their product page presents an amazingly content-free but fancy description that avoids any real details:

While the açai berry serves as the foundation for each of MonaVie’s vital formulas, with literally thousands of phytonutrients and antioxidants found in nature’s fresh fruits, MonaVie didn’t want to focus on just one at the expense of others. This led to MonaVie’s scientists and product development team selecting additional fruits whose synergistic union would reach far beyond what any single fruit could accomplish. These specially selected fruits have been exclusively combined to create MonaVie’s premier balanced blends.

In other words, “Just trust us!”

We think instead of lining the pockets of MonaVie’s savvy head promoters, you should just shop around for 100% pure acai products, which will be much cheaper. Or just keep eating a variety of cheaper fruits, buy a decent $12 bottle of red wine, and lay off the health food fads altogether.

“MonaVie Acai Juice: Cure-All or Marketing Scheme?” [Newsweek]

Comments

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  1. humphrmi says:

    Unless you become totally committed to the MLM (like in a freakish way) they generally don’t work. At first they start out as just “yeah, it’s a great product, help us sell it and make a little money on the side”. Then, it becomes “This is such a great product, why aren’t you asking your friends to help sell it?” And pretty soon its all about getting more bodies into the MLM.

  2. The variety, and flexibility of people to create new Pyramid scams constantly amazes me.

  3. Alexander says:

    Sounds like “Noni Juice” that is popular in the hispanic community here in the So Cal. Total scam….

  4. Not Alvis says:

    Or go with the red wine and mix in some kind of fruit juice for added antioxidants.

    I vote for half Cabernet Sauvignon, half cranberry juice (not the mostly-apple juice cranberry juice cocktails)

    • ideagirl says:

      @Clold: in this house, we skip the juice and just go for the red wine…

    • Parapraxis says:

      @Clold:

      you want the MOST antioxidants?

      1 cup of blueberries.

      Hell, half an apple has more antioxidants than a cup of acai.

    • BytheSea says:

      Agree that pyramid schemes are no way to get rich. Sorry, OP, but no matter how desperate you are — and you’re certainly not alone — there’s gotta be a better way.

      If it’s the health benefits you’re interested in, the food network shows are saying pomegranite juice is the best antioxidant for your money. You can find the juice reasonably priced in grocery stores.

  5. agnamus says:

    Chris: “it’s certainly not unhealthy for you.”

    Given that they’re willing to engage in Amway style multi-level marketing, I’m not so sure that you should be that confident in this product’s innocuousness.

    • Coles_Law says:

      @agnamus: Actually, the FDA has determined MonaVia is 85% more likely than a placebo to result in hemorrhaging $40.

    • @agnamus: Don’t even get me started on Amway, or Quixtar, as they’re called here in Canada. I had some guy try to sign me up to that, and it seemed okay, until they asked me to pay 100$ up front to become a “rep”. I said, I’m not pushing anything on my friends, and they said I wasn’t “ambitious” enough to be part of their company. I’m sorry, but I never knew ambitious meant being a scammer.

  6. ironchef says:

    multi level marketing = pyramid.

    • Parting says:

      @ironchef: Nope, difference is :

      Multi-level marketing = you can make money from selling the product, there is no obligation recruiting new people.

      Pyramid = It’s impossible to make money from selling the product, but you make loads of money recruiting new people.

      • mzs says:

        @Victo: But with this MLM you would need to make money by buying bottles at $30 and selling them at $40 after your initial investment. how many suckers can you find that will buy $40 non-alcoholic juice cocktails? It sure doesn’t look like you can make any money selling this product to me.

  7. kittenfoo says:

    Last year I visited a doctor because of heart valve problems, and he gave me a bottle of MonaVie. Maybe he gave them to all his new patients in hopes of rounding up a few bodies to sell the stuff. I have to admit, it tasted really good and healthy, but there’s no way I’d give $40 for a bottle of it.

  8. Kevin says:

    MLMs are carnival religions. They emphasize big returns for small investments and encourage you to spend more, more, more for just one more chance to make it big. What sounds crazier than this: “Want financial freedom? Sell this funky berry juice!”

    You’ll find that nobody wants your product; nobody wants to talk to you about your product; you’ll loose credibility because you’re selling the product; and you’ll be broke.

    Furthermore you’ll realize that no matter what they told you in orientation, the whole point of the gig is to sign up other suckers to sell for you.

    Better to encourage your friend, but tell him it’s not for you. That way you’ll save your friendship and your money.

    • vdragonmpc says:

      @Kevin:

      You know I sent this “Monavie company” info in to the consumerist months ago. What you say is the truth. I have a friend that wanted me to buy some of this stuff. The article barely touches the scam/ripoff of this company. Its 144$ to order your monthly commitment (40 per bottle in a case o 4 with a ‘distributor discount’) I couldnt believe it was so expensive.

      I tried some that he brought over. Know what I got from it? A bad case of acid refux I had never had before. It was odd and awful. It also was almost able to stain a glass purple. (added benefit?)

      The reason I sent it to consumerist was that people were getting sucked in and it reminded me of the “amway religon” or thier satanic offspring “Quixtar”

      Where is the protection for gullible people?

  9. Tristan Smith says:

    Cracked.com has had some extremely useful articles lately:
    5 Retarded get rich quick scams people still fall for

  10. satoru says:

    1) MonaVie is a MLM. You have a better chance at winning the lottery than making money off of it. If you REALLY want to spend the money on something, just blow it on the lottery. At least that way some of your money goes back into the community.

    2) MonaVie, Noni Juice, or any of these ‘super fruit juices’ have almost none of the actual anti-oxidants that they claim to have. The FRUIT may have such anti-oxidants, but it’s usually in the skin or some other part that’s inedible. So you can make the claim that the fruit has tons of anti-oxidants, but the juice you are drinking has none of it. They just throw the first claim out and imply that the juice must have the anti-oxidants when it does not.

    [www.choice.com.au]

    Basically every ‘super’ juice tested has less anti-oxidant content than a regular apple! So if you want anti-oxidants, eat an apple. It’s cheaper and better for you.

  11. Clobberella says:

    An old coworker of mine was involved in this nonsense a few years back. He was constantly rattling on about how it would cure cancer, impotence, AIDs, death, and pretty much anything else he could think of. So one day I was having a pretty bad migraine, and he offered me some, saying it would cure me. Of course I knew he was full of shit, but I was thirsty so I accepted his gift of wonder juice. And what do you know, my headache disappeared… two days later. What a magical elixir!

    • JulesNoctambule says:

      @Clobberella: I’m reminded of when I used to work at a health food shop. The owner was this raw-foods cultist and she had the nerve to suggest to a co-worker of mine that a raw-foods diet would ‘cure’ his asthma. . .the day he got back to work after being in hospital from a near-fatal asthma attack. I had to convince him that punching her wouldn’t be worth the paperwork.

  12. rubberpants says:

    Remember, with any MLM you are the product, not the juice. The people above you want you to make money for them. The people at the top make out like bandits, and the people at the bottom lose. It’s just a legal ponzi scheme.

  13. BluesFan says:

    As satoru said, just eat an apple, or regular grape juice.

  14. joellevand says:

    A woman actually came up to me on the street when I was doing a promotion a year ago and asked me if I’d be interested in making more money with her company. She gave me her card, and when I checked out the site, it was for “Tahitian Noni Juice”, sold through an MLM. I immediately knew what it was, but said I’d go to her sale pitch meeting and let her sponsor me, as I assumed it’d be an interesting experience to sit in a pyramid scheme pitch meeting.

    Unfortunately, the woman never called me, possibly because I enthusiastically said, “I’d love to be in a pyramid scheme! Yes, please call and tell me more some time!”

  15. dynamix10 says:

    You can buy that stuff everywhere! Why would they buy it from you at 40.00 a bottle when they can get it for 5.00 a packet at a health food store?

  16. foodporncess says:

    After getting a million requests from friends to sell this, or buy it from them, including one friend who told me that it’s supposed to help prevent cancer (I’m a cancer survivor), I got fed up and wrote this blog post:
    [jayejoseph.blogspot.com]

    Funny, it’s the top hit on my blog for some odd reason.

  17. toolverine says:

    A family member is currently selling it and it tastes terrible! It’s very expensive, crappy juice that you take with a shot glass because drinking it normally is unappealing to the taste buds.

  18. BeeBoo says:

    Anytime anybody wants you to sell something, anything, to your friends and acquaintances, say “No”.

    I have had a couple of people I know try to involve me in something like this and it is the most repulsive thing you can imagine to have someone you know at socially or at work treat to sell you something and worse yet to have them try to get you to involve you in a MLM scheme.

    Just say, “Thank you, but I’m not interested.” Don’t give any other explanations or excuses–they actually memorize possible objections they may encounter and how to talk you into it anyhow.

    Skeevy. Skeevy. Skeevy.

  19. Julia789 says:

    Never buy from “multi-level marketers” it’s a scam. My EVIL father-in-law sells this stuff and jokes about how it’s “crap” but he makes money not off the JUICE but off all the other idiots he recruits to sell more bottles of juice. When those idiots recruit more sellers he makes even more money in this pyramid type scheme. He mainly sells it to members of his church, who are all little old people. He tells them it prevents Alzheimers and Parkinsons, and hands them glossy brochures he’s had printed himself with fake doctor testimonials about how it cures everything. I really want to bash him over the head with a bottle of this stuff.

    If you really want this type of juice, you can get it at the health food supermarket without the insane markups and fancy glass bottle. I think even Trader Joes supermarket sells juice with this berry in it.

    • Parting says:

      @Julia789: I kinda disagree, not all multi-level products are bad. It’s just important to always compare them with similar products on the market. (As a customer, NOT seller, I tried Herbalife, and *some* of their products are better deals than pharmacy equivalents. Just need to use judgment. And your brain ;)

      In this case, equivalent, and even better products are available from grocery stores to pharmacies. For example, acai juices are priced around 7$/9$ depending on the brand. So this product IS a ripoff.

  20. altryan says:

    You know I’ve been running into alot of these Scheme Selling Slimeballs all over the place lately. There is this one guy that hangs out in the Borders by my work, and he is always in there trying to talk people into some scheme. It’s ridiculous that people actually fall for some of these.

    Though, I have to say, Mona-vie is a cool company. They sponsored the first Queen of Wake series, the first national all women Wakeboarding Contest. It was nice to see somebody finally step up and bring womens wakeboarding some legitimacy. I didn’t realize that it was a pyramid scheme company. Sad.

  21. Pasketti says:

    If the dropout rate is 70%, you could argue that at least THEIR cases of the stupids were cured…

  22. INsano says:

    Ha, Trader Joes. I was in there last night and they’re STILL selling “Airborne”. I can’t believe they actually had “Invented by a Schoolteacher” on their front label. You don’t see Serta advertising their latest mattress, “Developed by an oceanographer”. Wtf.

    • regenerator says:

      @INsano: Uh, the class-action lawsuit against Airborne didn’t require them to stop selling their products. So yeah, you’re still going to see it in stores, just like before. The product isn’t hazardous in any way, and there’s no evidence that it doesn’t live up to their claims; there’s also no evidence that it does, which is why the class-action was filed. Point being, a class-action lawsuit does not automatically mean a product can’t be sold anymore – sort of like how a company can claim bankruptcy but keep running, or how a president can be impeached but stay president (don’t get me wrong, I like Clinton – just an example).

    • SunnyLea says:

      @INsano: It’s hardy just Trader Joe’s. It’s still in all the drugstores here.

      And yeah, that label cracks me up.

  23. smint says:

    One of the gas companies that does business in Georgia and other states is also making a pyramid scheme marketing system to try to get people to sign up for gas from them with deregulation coming. “Hey, you pay your gas bill, dontcha? So, why not make money getting other people to do it too?”
    The right type of mind can make money at this, but these things always make me think of this beat-up Escort at my diddle-a-doop college job that has “3to5yearplan.com” on its bumper and “TRAVEL MAKE $$$” on its doors. I think “yeah, that looks like it’s working out great for you.”

  24. MomInTraining says:

    Last year at Christmas my husband’s family was up on Mona Vie. They were doing tasting and trying to get us to sell. The stuff was pretty nasty and had some intestinal ramifications for me. Now we are rolling up to this year’s Christmas and none of them are selling any more. They did drop a grip of cash on samples for their friends and family and on the marketing materials.

  25. Snarkysnake says:

    Don’t know about the business of selling this stuff because I set my phaser to “kill” when any of my friends try to talk up their get rich quick MLM schemes,but trust me, this stuff doesn’t mix well with vodka.(If you wake up next to a German Shepherd in a negligee, DENY EVERTHING)…

  26. Quill2006 says:

    Huh, there’s an old guy who sells this shite at our farmer’s market. Doesn’t seem like anyone’s buying!

  27. CalvertGanado says:

    Stay away from Multilevel Marketing schemes. They have no need for you after you’ve burned through FFR, Friends, Family, and Relatives. You barely if you’re lucky make minimum wage.

  28. Wokcus says:

    If you’re interested in Acai juice check out the “Tropicana Pure” juices. My wife drinks them and one the flavors has Acai juice in it. (She just likes the taste and the variety, she doesn’t think it cures cancer.) They’re more expensive than normal orange juice, but I’m sure they’re a bargain compared to MonaVie.

  29. cheera says:

    There’s some total jackass that comes around our salon every few weeks trying to get my poor rheumatoid arthritic boss to buy this bullshit to help her “feel better”. Thing is, he has no tact and no shame and will try to get her to buy it while she’s with a client.

  30. RogueSophist says:

    All anyone need know is that the company uses the word “synergistic.” As we all know, “synergy” and its variants are favorites of web designers and bullshitters the world over. MonaVie is not a web design firm.

  31. Triborough says:

    Sounds like a classic pyramid scheme.

  32. Parting says:

    Costco has acai and blueberry juice : 2 bottles for 15$.

  33. thewriteguy says:

    Maybe if they sold this juice out of the back of a white van then I might be interested…

    I think in a year or two (maybe just a matter of months), we’ll encounter many more of these MLM scams, with the way this economy is going.

  34. I just love MLM. Yum, yum, making $ off of your friends scamming others.

    Sorry for the sarcasm.

  35. RonDiaz says:

    Friend of mine has been bugging me about this stuff for weeks. It looks fine, but $40 a bottle. Errr no. And it doesn’t seem like any magic miracle. As the good Rev Brown said, just drink a bottle of Newman’s Own dressing and save $38.

  36. SamsonJahoovafat says:

    “MonaVie and Other “Superfruit” Juices”
    http://skeptoid.com/episodes/4086

  37. jhurley03 says:

    Don’t do it. MLM is a scam, plus you can get 100% Acai juice for a lot cheaper in health food stores. My parents own a health food store, and they don’t sell any products that can be gotten through MLM.

  38. nathion says:

    Parents used to do Amway/Quixtar. They dropped out a few years ago, and after Amway started imploding, everyone in their ‘group’, aka pyramid, moved over to this. Ran into the leader earlier this year and he tried to sell me juice. I’m only assuming it was this company. Stay away.

  39. RedwoodFlyer says:

    Reminds me of how Cutco shilled on Modern Marvels by showing how awesome their knives were vs. another knife…but if you looked closely, you could see that the competition was a freaking butter knife…

    • indiegeek says:

      @RedwoodFlyer:

      depressingly, before someone I know got into the Mona Vie scam, they sold cutco knives way back in the day.

      I’m sad to say that the one cutco knife in our drawer is actually of the “cut through brick and then neatly slice paper” variety. I still find the MLM method of selling reprehensible, but boy howdy is that one helluva knife.

      • Powerlurker says:

        @indiegeek:

        As scammy as Cutco is, at least they/their parent company make some reasonably legitimate products, such at the KA-BAR.

      • RedwoodFlyer says:

        @indiegeek: I know people like to rip on Wal-Mart, but I bought a set of Wolfgang Puck high-carbon steel knives there for $65 and a set of WP Santoku’s for $20…cuts just as good, minus the butthurt from paying for Cutcos (plus I go out of my way to discourage companies like this from surviving).

    • @RedwoodFlyer: Hmm, another scam I came across when I was a broke university student. These pyramid scheme people tended to flock around campus, trying to get vulnerable students to shill their crap to family and friends. I went to their “interview” thinking it was a normal job, but when I was told that I had to put up 300$, and make a sale before getting paid…you guessed it…I hightailed it outta there.

  40. indiegeek says:

    Ugh. I have family selling this snake oil. Sadly, they’re part of the small percentage of people making obscene amounts of money off of it, but I’m to the point of saying “If you bring this to another one of my parties, or I hear you shilling it at one of my parties, you are leaving immediately.”

    Anyone selling this stuff has checked their ethics at the door, then had them stolen, then had the thief get hit by a runaway Mack truck loaded with poorly packaged drums of kerosene and strike anywhere matches.

  41. maevro says:

    Plenty of people love it. My buddy left the insurance business and is moving this full time. last year he earned around $250,000. My close friend does it part time and is making about $600 a week.

    They send you on trips and lavish you with gifts.

    You need to do some work with it, I just don’t have the time. they host tasting parties and other regional events.

  42. chatterboxwriting says:

    I’m glad no one’s ever approached me about this MLM. I have a friend (who was very close to becoming nothing to me due to his tactics) who is in an MLM that sells different health and home products. He kept trying to get me to buy these overpriced supplements. I’d say, “I can’t take any supplements; I have chronic kidney failure and can’t have extra potassium, phosphorus, calcium, etc.” His response? “These supplements will cure your kidney failure.” Um, no they won’t. My kidneys have been in the crapper since I was 6 and they aren’t going to magically get better!

  43. PlanetExpressdelivery says:

    Love of The Office + Dislike of MLMs

  44. deweydecimated says:

    There was a great article in the Summer 2008 issue of Brain, Child magazine on MLMs: most people leave within a year, and lose money, friends and sometimes family in the process.

  45. Ajh says:

    I have a friend that sells this stuff, but only because she and a few of or friends actually like it. You’re certainly not going to make money with it.

  46. For anyone needing a refresher on MLM’s, [skeptoid.com] Great podcast/article. Brian Dunning takes no donations, so he’s not in anyones “pocket”.

  47. mike says:

    Anytime a friend comes to me saying that I can make a lot of money by becoming his employee, I slap them and say, “YOU’RE BEING SCAMMED!!”

  48. startertan says:

    Does anybody here watch King of the Hill? There was a GREAT episode that showed just this type of “marketing”. Peggy was buying these chocolate nutrition bars to sell and Bill was doing a great job. She decides to go for the gold level of sales and sell 2000 bars. During a meeting luncheon she tells her distributor “I need 2000 bars”, the distributor very excited turns to a man at the next table and says “I need 2000 bars!” and then he turns to a guy at another table and says “I need 2000 bars!” It was highly comical.

  49. vastrightwing says:

    40 years and counting: I have never been delighted with any purchase after being solicited; Telemarketing, door to door sales, MLM, friend’s home “parties”, direct marketing, timeshare, etc. The only purchases I’ve ever been happy with are the ones I look for and research.

  50. HogwartsAlum says:

    My aunt got sucked into the melaluca oil (some tree from Australia)thing a long time ago. I was living in CA at the time, and she came out to visit family, and stopped by to see me on the way. Our whole entire visit was her trying to convince me to sell this crap. I was so ticked because we only had a few hours to be together, and every time I’d ask her about the cousins or something she would say, “Oh, everyone’s fine,” and then go off on the melaluca crap.

    Those things are almost like cults sometimes.

  51. mariospants says:

    The system is totally fucked. It’s *possible* that at some point these fuckers *might* get shut down for running a pyramid scam but in reality the worst that will probably happen is that they may be forced to weaken some of the language of their claims. Meanwhile, the guys running this show are preying on the gullibility of these poor saps and becoming extremely wealthy as a result. I suppose I’m bitter I didn’t come up with it first.

  52. Rev-E says:

    A buddy of mine got into this through the Amway splinter-sect he was already a part of. I’ve been avoiding his sales pitches for a year now.

    Also, at a wedding I had a cousin try to draw me into his MLM, all the time saying “It’s not a pyramid scheme!” When he drew a little diagram on the back of his business card to describe how the business worked he drew a…wait for it…pyramid!

  53. Jesse says:

    When I was a freshman in college 6 years ago, I went to a couple presentations for this MLM organization that sells a product called Reliv. I knew better than to get into it, but the structure of the presentations were still somewhat interesting.

    What struck me about the people I talked to who were already in this was how brainwashed many of them seemed. A few of them were amazed that I was “getting into this” at such a young age (18 at the time). It was interesting.

  54. LadyER says:

    Definitely a pyramid scheme.

    I’ve tried the product (for free from a ‘friend’ who wanted me to sell for them). It tasted OK, but was no miracle cure for my ailments…however, some people I know swear by it and claim it has cured everything from depression to helping them lose weight. I say it’s the placebo effect. Regardless, it’s not pure juice and definitely NOT worth $40 a bottle!

  55. chenry says:

    I’m astounded that people still fall for these MLM scams.

  56. theblackdog says:

    I had to deal with a guy who was pushing for me to sell it, also claiming that he was taking the stuff and he was feeling better and he was expecting it to help with his cholesterol.

    His doctor gave him the reality check smackdown about 2 months later when he got bloodwork done and was shown there was no improvement (some numbers may have gotten worse)

    So he finally dropped the MonaVie and now takes kung fu and tai chi classes instead for his health :-)

  57. econobiker says:

    The issue with MLM I have seen is that most “uplevel” or higher ups (or whatever you call the earlier people who buy in) always seem to have these side lines of selling motivational materials or sales aids etc which they sell. That alone convinced me that they were not making the huge money from the product but the recruiting and selling the motivational crap.

    Last Amway err I mean Quixtar (or whatever it is) folks I encountered I shut right down when I asked about the product profit margins to me. They had no clue so I had to explain that if I couldn’t buy for 66% or less of the sell price I wasn’t interested…

  58. hhole says:

    When I first started reading the article I thought it was describing Mona Vie Anal juice.

    Guess I was right after all.

  59. jcargill says:

    A woman I worked with was having this stuff shipped in by the case on a regular basis. Then she got fired last year for embezzlement. And her creditors continue to call our office. These observations are probably not coincidental.

  60. BobCoyote says:

    I’m not getting the whole “shaped like a pyramid == bad” reference. Aren’t most large companies shaped like a pyramid, just from each employee having on average more underlings than bosses (low level employees excluded)?

    • Ben Popken says:

      @BobCoyote: The difference is that in a company the people on the bottom make a living wage, instead of $0 or a negative amount.

    • @BobCoyote: One difference is that in these schemes/situations, the main customers of the business is the business itself. Most comapnies are structured employee wise like this, just like an army, but their business plan isn’t. Ford employees don’t make money based on how many Fords they themselves sell. Plus, they don’t have to pre-buy the cars before they sell them. The “employees” in this “business” buy the product up front, then have to “recruit” employees of their own, whom purchase their product from the person who recruited them. Then the process has to be repeated for the new employee to make money. The only ones who make real money are the people who move MASSIVE amount of product, which are the higher levels.

  61. JaniceEosphorus says:

    I am a distributor for MonaVie but I’m just a consumer. I will say that this product had near miraculous results for me. I have Lupus and since beginning to drink MonaVie I have been able to get up in the morning without muscle stiffness and pain that I had before. It really is a good product, but I don’t buy into the hype of the “business”.

  62. Has anyone here heard of “SomaLife”? Yep, it’s another vitamin brand being sold by a MLM. I had a friend who kept trying to push these on me, until I told him off. For some odd reason, these scams seem to be quite rampant in Ottawa.

  63. BytheSea says:

    If the dropout rate is 70%, you may be able to buy the bottles cheap on ebay. Pyramid schemes usually involve requiring members to buy large ammts of stock that they can’t sell; PinkTruth.com says lots of “recovered” Mary Kay sellers unload their stock on ebay.

  64. lowercase says:

    Hmm, same story here- parents did the Amway thing for about 2 years, maybe a little more. Spent far more on motivational conferences, seminars, books, and tapes (dear god the tapes) than they even did on product or ever sniffed in profit.

    Back then at least, the Amway system was basically, Buy everyday products for 10% over retail. Then, if you buy enough, we give you 2% back! Con enough OTHER people into buying for 10% over retail, and you’re in for a taste! Are you listening to tapes?

    I know the S hit the fan a little while ago when it came out that the muckety mucks were making more on tapes than they were on the actual system.

    I know they lost a few friends on the way. But they’re trained to just shrug it off- well, a friend who won’t listen and make a smart decision isn’t really a friend, is he?

  65. squidbrain says:

    network marketing = Stuff won’t sell on its own merit

  66. sonneillon says:

    I went to whole foods and bought a bottle of Acai juice for 10 bucks. Tasted way to funky to drink on a regular basis but 40 bucks is significantly too much.

  67. howtragic says:

    Aren’t these people who get into these things embarrassed? I would be so humiliated going to my friends and family and asking them to get involved. Is it really worth the shame of being a jerk to (possibly) make a little extra money on a fly-by-night operation? I really just don’t get it.

    I mean, I suppose I could go to all my friends and family and get $20 out of each of them and walk away with some extra cash. But you see, I still have SOME dignity left and so I’m not going to do it.

    People are just so, so sad.

  68. RedwoodFlyer says:

    Conversation with an MLM jackhat at a gas station, as he fills up his old Lexus with gas: “Hey man, noticed the out of state liscence plates…nice! I just bought this car today, made a ton of money from a business opportunity, need to spend it so I don’t give it all away in taxes (what??)! You interested?”

    Me: “Car dealers aren’t open on Sundays and you’re a dumbass”

    Nice way to relieve stress after wasting my morning explaining why plane-spotting isn’t violating any laws to a GOAA rentacop!

  69. stands2reason says:

    “The juice is loaded with good things and is certainly not unhealthy for you.”

    Uh, Chris, how exactly do you know this? Most of what’s assumed about the drink is nothing more than technobabble. And the fact that it’s being sold through pyramid schemes doesn’t really help with anything. In fact, the pyramid scheme makes perfect sense, because people who lack critical thinking skills (potential buyers) might be swayed by anecdotes about the drinks’ “mysterious powers.”

  70. aguyinphoenix says:

    It’s only a pyramid “scheme” if you want it to be. The guy that’s scamming people and lying about it to sign up more people under him should be ashamed. A friend of mine ‘sells’ it and like the article says he’s really just a reseller so he can buy it himself at the discount rate… I assume most people that sign up do it this way. He gave me 4 bottles and told me to try it; if I liked it pay him and if not dont worry about it. I told him I’d be interested in signing up under him so I could sell it to my friends as well and he didnt really seem interested… He said I could just go up to the website and sign up. Some people may give MLM a bad name but the idea is sound.. think I’m joking??? How many times have you convinced your friend to buy a product because you used it and thought it was great?? That’s MLM, you just didnt get @*#% for your testimonial and helping a company sell a product… NOW who’s crazy!?

    P.S. I havent signed up with MonaVie yet… I might, I might not… I didnt think the juice realy did anything for me (then again I’m a healthy 26 year old that’s active and already eats very well) I just needed to comment because it annoys me when people knock MLM (and no.. I dont belong to ANY other MLM either)

    • narc1 says:

      @aguyinphoenix:
      your a shill, how many times do you buy something and then give it to someone telling them they can pay you back if they like it. Its a pressure tactic and you got suckered in and now will prob do the same to others.

  71. cerbie says:

    I tried some of this stuff (local convenient health food store does sampling of crap), and, OK…it’s $40 per bottle, with no nutritional info, no studies, nada? And, you’re trying to get me to be a member of some MLM? Uh…yeah. I’ll take my Aloe and Dr. Bronner’s, and leave now. Bye.

    If I want good juice, I get a Knudsen “Just “, which are expensive, but nothing like $40 per bottle!

  72. fonfa says:

    While I was in the USA a coworker tried to convince me to join and be the first brazilian seller of monavie – Selling a $40 açaí juice bottle on the land where açaí is from, where more than 30% of the people are below poverty line… And where you can get the same ammount of açaí juice for $1.50 in every corner. Go figure.

    Btw, açaí is great, tastes good, but it’s not magical.

  73. Anonymous says:

    I was appraoched by someone and was very skeptical as well. I gave him the benefit of the doubt and did my research. I put together a spreadsheet with the following assumptions – I recruit 1 distributor below me each month, they do the same. Attrition is about 75% each month. I assumed each person below me buys 6 bottles a month. I moved the numbers around just to see the possibilites and none of the realistic numbers came out favorably. In the end I showed that it takes 12 months to break even and at the worst point I am over $2,000 in the hole. By twelve months I started making a decent montly income but that assumes I have over 500 distributors under my pyramid which I considered unlikely given the people I know that are willing to buy this and the flood of people selling it in my area right now especially given the hefty price tag. There is the possibility to make a lot of money but you need to recuit over a thousand in your chain to make up for the people that quit or don’t produce. Just like any MLM or pyramid, the people above you make money as long as people buy the product and you have to buy it to give samples and market it. The numbers that were in the brochure showed that 90% make $83 a week or less. For the few it is very profitable but for the rest they will find themselves well in the hole and quit before making a profit if they ever do. I also showed that through the first year my hourly rate was about $5 an hour.

  74. Anonymous says:

    Oh cool, the MonaVie Active study is published on PubMed.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/entrez?db=pubmed&cmd=search&term=monavie+active&log$=activity

    Couldn’t find any studies for any other nutritional beverages, what are the odds :)

  75. David Cook says:

    funny thing is is not a pyramid scheme..Im a distributor and i can tell you its no scheme. Most people are not going to put in the work to see the benefits. But i do, and make money and i am not at the “top” i just got in 2 months ago and am already making money. People that have never tried the product cannot bash it, you have no clue what you are talking about. Do you think the Boston Red Sox would have it as their official drink 2007-2009 , and proudly shout it for all the world to hear? Do you think Tomas Sheketer would be driving the No.19 Monavie Racecar in the Indy500[ was a distributor and drink before he became sponsored] & Its not 40 a bottle unless you buy 1 bottle..one case[last one month] is 130..thats less than 5 dollars a day if you break it down..i dont see you people bashing the people that spend 5 dollars or more on a pack of cigarettes that will more than likely give them CANCER! You are telling people not to take a product that is one of if not the healthiest drink they can possibly take? Or go buy a couple red bulls everyday..get real people and quit bashing a product you know nothing about except the crap you read from other people who have no clue what they are talking about..