I have a very good friend, I’ll call her Sally. She has been a stay-at-home mom for several years and now that her kids are in school, she wants to get back to work and earn some money. She used to be a physician’s assistant but doesn’t want to go back to that type of work so she has decided to try something totally new. That’s great, but unfortunately she has chosen a “career” that makes me worry about her.
She is involved with a company called Nerium and they sell skin care products. She gave me some to try and I didn’t notice any change in my skin, good or bad. When I told her I wasn’t interested in buying anything, she didn’t seem to mind at all, and said that what she really wanted was for me to sign up to be a distributor.
I told her I wasn’t interested in that either, and she got pretty upset with me. She said if I couldn’t be supportive of her maybe we weren’t as close as she thought we were. Now we haven’t spoken in a couple weeks and that is very unusual for us as we usuallly talk every other day or so. I’ve heard from some mutual friends and they report the same thing.
How do I fix my friendship without getting sucked into her business? Also, should I tell her I think it might be a scam?
I’ve seen a lot of this lately. Let’s talk about your friendship with Sally first, and then the business venture she has begun.
I don’t know Sally, so I’m about to give you some really shady long distance armchair analysis based upon me and my feelings. In case any of you out there have forgotten, this blog is really all about me – I just pretend to care about the problems of others so I have a vehicle for my (unpaid for) musings.
Sally is going back to work (yay, Sally!) but is taking the giant leap of doing something new. Giving up doing what you know and jumping into something outside your comfort zone is really exciting, but it’s also really scary. Sally likely thought she could count on her friends to support her in this business and she probably didn’t put a lot of thought into what that meant. Specifically, in order for Sally’s friends to support her, they need to either purchase products from her or sign up to distribute those products.
That’s asking an awful lot of a friend, especially if (as in your case) those products aren’t effective.
Back to me, because duh. I know how she feels. Having recently lost my mind and starting this advice blog, I have been deeply moved by the support of many friends, family and strangers. I have also been deeply disappointed that many people I thought would be on Team AskDesCamp have chosen to remain on the sidelines. It hurts. Like, a lot. Sally is probably really hurt by what she sees as a lack of support amongst her friends.
For me personally, just the fact that some friends I have known for years haven’t even liked one blog post on Facebook, let alone share or comment on them, makes me really sad and brings up all sorts of feelings of insecurity and the knowledge I am not now, nor will I ever be, one of the “in” crowd. I guess that makes me an outie, which is cool in some respects. I’m so uncool I’m cool.
So yes, feeling unsupported by friends can bring up painful feelings. Then again, I’m not asking anyone to buy anything except my bullshit, which happens to be free. Sally is pushing the boundaries of friendship by taking the position that if you don’t purchase products from her or join this organization, you aren’t being supportive. You say she has done the same with other friends, so I think Sally is really in need of a sit-down.
If she is burning valuable bridges left and right over this deal, that tells you Sally is in a bad place right now. Maybe her financial situation is dire and she feels enormous pressure to make money. I know from my handy-dandy google machine that she spent a good deal of cash to purchase product up front, and likely has unrealistic expectations about the financial gains she can make selling this scam because of the full-throttle marketing machine that is Nerium. They really should rename the product “Delirium,” because they whip people into a frenzy with promises they can get rich fast and work at home.
By the way, this product is crap. I did some research; more on that in a moment.
My advice regarding your friendship with Sally is put yourself in her stilettos for a moment and try to understand what’s happening with her. Get her on the phone, take her lunch (replete with Chardonnay, of course) and ask her what’s going on. Tell her you love her but you did some research via www.AskDesCamp.com and you are worried that she may have made a bad investment and should probably look into it. Give her a link to this blog, because if you can’t support her, at least you could support me. And thanks!
So here’s the deal: Nerium, and a shitload of other multi-level marketing companies like it including Scentura, Primerica and Vemma, is a scam. It’s a classic pyramid scheme in which poor fools like Sally invest money that they usually can’t afford and are stuck with a product they can’t sell. The only way they can get their money back is to recruit distributors of this worthless goo, and so on and so on and so on.
Nerium makes claims that simply aren’t true, and refuses to provide scientific data to back up those claims. In addition, the company trumpeted that it was endorsed by the prestigious MD Anderson Cancer Center in Texas. That was bullshit, and the cancer center finally had to post a disclaimer on their website, which you can read here: http://www2.mdanderson.org/cancerwise/2012/08/setting-the-record-straight-about-md-anderson-and-nerium.html
Nerium, like most other MLM scams, requires a large investment not only in “product” and on-going fulfillment requirements and fees, but also rakes in the cash by luring hungry desperate people to their sales seminars, which can cost thousands in fees and travel. It operates with a very culty mentality that reminds me a lot of Scientology.
Because I am feeling lazy today and don’t care to break it all down for you, here is a link to a very good article on how to spot an MLM pyramid scheme: http://www.consumerfraudreporting.org/MLM.php
If you want to be a good friend to Sally, tell her to stop throwing good money after bad and walking away from friendships over skin care product that is worthless and actually contains poison (oleander). Remind her that the two of you have been close for a long time, and any “job” that would come between you if you don’t participate financially is not legitimate.
Basically, slap some sense into this silly woman and offer support by having a conversation about what she can do to earn money. There are many ways you can be supportive if she needs to find work: offer to help with her resume (unless you suck at that, in which case I totally suggest you send it to my mom because she rocks), take care of her kids when she’s interviewing, or maybe just take her shopping for a new interview outfit.
mmmmmmmm…shopping…here’s some boot porn:
If Sally continues to shun you over this, you’ve lost her to the MLM cult. Don’t worry, she’ll be back once she loses enough money. At that point, you can decide whether to continue the friendship. Best of luck and let me know how she reacts. And don’t put that shit on your face: it doesn’t work and it may actually hurt you.