Story Time: I Was in a MLM (Part 3)

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Source: Reddit.

Note: This is a multi-part series of my time spent working for a MLM company. I was in it for three weeks before I got out. This post documents some of the crazy (and at times disturbing) instances that I witnessed while employed. I’m writing these posts to shed light on just how dangerous MLMs can be, and hopefully to prevent others from getting sucked in. These are my stories.

Story Time: I Was in a MLM (Part 3)

1. High turnover rate.

When I got hired for this job, the MLM team was at a pretty-notable size (around 25-30 people). However, by the time I was ready to quit, it shrunk to about half. People I saw in the beginning of my time there disappeared within a few days, never to be seen again. And I had no idea why.

At first, I thought it was because they were on business trips, or at their territories that were too far away from the office. And as I went through the days of training and found out it was a hard job, I also thought some just weren’t “cut out for sales.” But that’s exactly what MLMs want you to think: that those who quit gave up too easily, that they “didn’t want the dream badly.” I believed in that lie, and I was no quitter, so I continued to persevere despite the fact that, really, it was a losing battle.

Among the six people at my orientation, four of them (including myself) stayed past the second day; I think those two who didn’t show up afterwards already knew it was a shady business, which was wise. By the end of Week 2, only another guy and I were left. He also ended up leaving by that week’s end, because he didn’t hit the quota for the probation period (6 sales and 2 memberships in 10 days). I ultimately ended up being the only one left from the original orientation group.

Besides noticing people from my orientation leaving, I also saw that others who had been in the MLM longer than me (ranging from two weeks to several months) drop out like flies. Which baffled me, because I thought they were good salespeople who would make more money and be “crushing it.” Wasn’t until later that I realized that they discovered the company’s scammy nature, and they just quietly left.

While I’m aware that any sort of job– legit or not– has turnovers, it was sad and crazy to see just how ridiculously high it is for MLMs. I mean, it’s good for those leaving, but seeing people come and go every day is depressing as heck. If you’re able to make it past one month, you’re considered a “veteran.” Promotions also happen really quickly, since the goal is to recruit more people to join, i.e. pyramid scheme. Thankfully, I left once I picked up my paycheck at the end of Week 3, so I wasn’t in the scam for too long.

2. Sexism, racism, and homophobia.

Oh, this is going to be juicy…now, jobs in the U.S. are adamant about zero-tolerance for any misconducts on the basis of sex, race, sexual orientation, etc. Basically, discrimination and harassment are illegal. It was even clearly stated in our contracts about this “zero-policy” rule, and we would be fired if we did so. But it was evident that no one followed this conduct, and the things I saw and heard were just plain fucked up.

Let’s start with sexism. It was during my Week 2 training: the “CEO” (“G”) was leading the training, and he was teaching us how to overturn objections in sales (basically, what to say when the client says “no” to our sales pitch). He decided to give an example, and he picked on two of my coworkers– “C” (guy) and “R” (girl)– to illustrate it. Somewhat important to note is that C has a long-term girlfriend and R has a fiancé.

G gives the example of C picking up R at a bar. C would ask if he could buy R a drink and, if she says no, C is expected to persist by “overturning” her objection. So if R says she doesn’t drink alcohol, C would say he could offer a non-alcoholic beverage. If R says she’s not interested, C would ask why. And if R says she has a fiancé, C would comment where her fiancé is, and that would be an excuse for him to flirt with her. And on and on…

I don’t know how my others in the room were feeling, but I was feeling super uncomfortable for C and R, who were the subject of G’s awful analogy. It was also around the time that I started to realize the scammy nature of the company, so I was also internally laughing at just how horrible this was. C and R were looking super uncomfortable, and I felt bad for them. #MeToo movement, much?

I actually talked with C afterwards when we were out of the office, and I asked him if he felt uncomfortable in that situation. He definitely was, citing how the whole situation felt “rape-y.” Wouldn’t be surprised if R felt the same way. Sexism at its finest!

Racism and homophobia were also at play, although I saw it less. Now, the office was a decent blend of different races– white, black, Hispanic, Asian– but it didn’t mean that racism didn’t happen. I clearly remember one instance during my third week that one guy (who was kind of a jerk) hollered jokingly to the token black girl, “Hey yo, Maleeka!” and her name wasn’t even Maleeka, just some stereotypical black name. So disrespectful and messed up…

I remember one case of homophobia, and it was so subtle that it was too easy not to catch it (but I did). It was my last day before I quit, and I was at Team Night. We were getting dinner and drinks together after a long day, and we usually keep it lighthearted and fun. Some of my coworkers like to tease and make fun of each other, but it’s usually mutual and harmless.

HOWEVER. We somehow brought up the subject of being gay. One of my coworkers (“JO”) is openly gay, and he’s considered the “token gay” of the MLM company. He brought up the subject, as we were gossiping about our other coworkers. He asked us if we thought “CR” (who wasn’t at Team Night) was gay, based on the way he talked and mannerisms. My coworkers fed into the conversation, saying yes or maybe, etc. I just kept silent, because I didn’t feel comfortable partaking in this gossip; I only joined in to say that CR had really nice eyes, or something like that.

Now, it wasn’t the gossiping of CR that made it homophobic, but rather what “JG,” another coworker said afterwards. Basically, he was teasing JO about whether he wanted to hook up with CR, and saying that for him, he could never imagine “getting with a dude,” saying it with a slightly-disgusted tone in his voice. Now, JG is as straight as one can be, which is fine, but the slight put-down of JO’s sexuality was not okay. The comment was so brief and off-hand that I don’t think anyone else notice, except for JO and I, but seriously, JG stepped out of line.

So yeah. Sexism, racism, and homophobia was rampant at my MLM.

3. No compensation for gas money, no health insurance.

To finish off, the MLM company definitely didn’t want us, as salespeople, to be too successful in the business. Which meant not compensating us for gas money, as some of us had to drive MILES all over Los Angeles to our assigned territories to make sales. Even though I was assigned to a territory not too far from the office, I burned through fuel like crazy from the constant back-and-forth every day, along with sitting through traffic and moving my car every couple of hours due to limited free parking in my area (gotta hate LA for that). I could have a full tank of gas on Monday, and by Wednesday I would have to fill it up again.

Likewise was for health insurance. Considering that I recently turned 26 and was immediately off my parent-provided health insurance, I wanted a job which could offer me that. Unfortunately, this said-job did not and when I asked, I was told that only when you get promoted would you receive something…but it was really vague, so I doubt even my higher ups got healthcare coverage. And the fact that we were driving through crazy LA traffic and sometimes put up in seedy neighborhoods, it was kind of terrifying not to have health insurance in the case we were to get into an accident or altercation, respectively. Basically, the MLM doesn’t give a shit about its salespeople (*ahem foot soldiers) to give them benefits for really-grueling work.

…more tea to spill in Part 4!

— The Finicky Cynic

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