34 Comments

  1. Lizzy

    Thank you for being such a caring teacher!!!

    I hate MLM schemes! Years ago I joined one. After spending a fortune on skin care products, makeup, lotion, etc. etc. I was told I needed to spend one hundred dollars a month on beauty care products for my own personal use!

    • That’s brutal. I’m always so fascinated to hear people’s perspectives on selling or working for them. Some seem to have horror stories like this, but others seem to genuinely love it!

  2. Kat

    I am a bookseller with a love of kid’s books and this is INFURIATING. My favourite thing is finding the perfect book that will turn a reluctant reader into an avid book devourer, but this is EXACTLY the wrong thing to do. I don’t have anything constructive to add here; just a seething rage at the woman who is going to turn that kid off reading. Gods, i don’t think i would have been able to stop myself from calling her out publicly in the group.

    • I honestly think that’s why I haven’t left the group yet. I was tempted to just add a few suggestions in the comments. “When you’re done with those books, check out x, y, z.” But that seems really rude of me. Oof.

      Booksellers are such special people. You all are a bit part of why kiddos come to my class already excited about books!

  3. PREACH IT, SISTA.

    I got an invite to join a book selling party for a friend that’s expecting. I told her I would buy her books or make her a quilt like I promised her years ago. She went with the quilt. I just hate feeling pressured, bullied, or obligated to buy crap I (and they) don’t need!!

    • Is this the quilt I was drooling over on Instagram all weekend?! It’s beautiful!

      I am totally that person who goes to the parties and buys something purely out of obligation. I’ve gotten much better at declining. I have a few friends, on the other hand, who think nothing of going to the parties, eating, drinking, and leaving without buying a thing. That makes me uncomfortable, too!

  4. I HATE MLMs. I’ve had so many friends fall for them (it seems to be more prevalent with stay at home parents). It’s like they can’t see that they’re part of a pyramid scheme. Oy. :/ I had a friend who did those Pure Romance parties. At first I did buy some of their perfume because holy crap, it smelled amazing. But then said “friend” only wanted to hang out if it was under the guise of me buying something from her. She also tried to get me to sign up for a gym so she’d get a kickback (unfortunately she didn’t know I’m anti-gym).

    MLMs bring out the worst in people and often drives them to make spammy, disingenuous attempts at selling to people they sort-of know.

    Everyone: if you’re short on cash, please consider avenues other than selling Tupperware, makeup, or anything else to your friends and family.

    • That’s why I try to tolerate MLMs…with the exception of this one. I do think a lot of people join out of desperation, and that’s problematic. But when people turn from friend to full-time sales rep, that’s not fair, either.

  5. I have yet to be invited to a book party, but if that’s the next new thing, I’ll be on the lookout 🙂

    I do get upset especially with some of the “health” products sold in an MLM. Whether it’s shakes or supplements, buying these things from someone with likely no credentials freaks me out.

    • I was so optimistic. Buying too many books totally speaks my language. I thought maybe I could stock my classroom. No dice.

      And I just starting thinking about the health MLMs. I’ve not been invited to any of those (yet), but that seems like a recipe for disaster, especially because everyone’s nutritional needs are so different!

  6. Daisy

    Excellent topic! No one talks about this and so many people seem to join the parties/groups that sell these products. I decided years ago that I would not attend these parties nor purchase products. I live minimally and usually the products don’t fit into the parameters of what I need or want. (So far I’ve survived not purchasing special leggings, expensive makeup, eyelashes, or press on nails.) I like your idea of sending the person inviting you a message to catch up and quietly leaving the group.

    A new one I was introduced to recently is one that helps people with “personal development” and getting out of debt and being happier – but the materials cost $120. That amused me but didn’t amuse the guy telling me about it. He also was stumped when he found out that I have no debt, am happy in my job, and take regular vacations. (His product is aimed at people in debt, unhappy at work, and having bigger goals like travel that they haven’t fulfilled.) He said to me, “Why are we here?” Good question!

    • Oh, wow! I’ve not heard of that yet. On one hand, it sounds kind of like advice given on blogs (guilty). But I don’t charge 😉 $120 is a pretty steep way to find out if something would work for you or not!

      And you’re so right about streamlining and minimalism. They don’t mix well with MLMs.

  7. Ugh, that’s horrible! The one that really makes me crazy is World Financial Group, I’m not sure if you have them in the states, but it’s basically MLM for financial advisors. They do a training course and then go out and try to sell insurance / investment products to all their very best friends.
    I hate having that automatic reaction of ‘what are they selling’ when an old friend reaches out.

  8. I sold books for 17 years. Yes, if you want a reader, let the kid pick out their own books.

    Heck, my hubby learned to read from Mad Magazine, because Snappy Answers to Stupid Questions totally captivated his sarcastic sense of humor. My kid picks up tons of vocabulary from Captain Underpants. Would I pick them out for her if she hadn’t fallen in love with them first? Heck no! And while I’d really love to carry on with Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone, she seems far more interested in a science book that’s covering genetics, molecular biology and organic chemistry (at least on an elementary level.)

    MLM always seems sketchy to me. Ask your friends to buy stuff, mostly that they’d never buy on their own. I get that Mary Kay gave tons of women opportunities when opportunities for women were scarce, but most MLM schemes now seem to be for items that can’t find a market niche at their price point otherwise.

    • Jan

      It was the same in our house. My momn was an elementary school teacher who specialized in the first grades and teaching kids to read. So guess what she always bought at the store for my brother? Mad magazines and Archie Comics. I got teenage romances. She didn’t care so much what we were reading, just that we WERE reading. I am now a voracious reader and read everything and have adopted the same methodology with my kids.

      My little man loves anything Harry Potter and the like, and my little miss loves fact books, riddle books, nature books and world records books. I would love for her to get into novels more but she struggles with retention of the stories right now. So it’s all about the smaller bits.

      I used to volunteer at my kids school with reading and I would get so frustrated by the kids being forced to read above their levels. And their frustrations. And then they just give up. And fall behind.

      I tell my kids, if you can read, you can learn everything.

  9. Wow, that’s crazy! I wonder if it’ll be doubly worse because the mom will push the books on her kid anyways…she spent so much money on them, after all.

    I had no idea so much thought went into book progressions for kids. I LOVED reading when I was a kid. I remember how I got started out too – we had these laminated pamphlets with just a few words per page that we had to sort through and read a few every so often.

    I remember seeing a word spelled out in one, K-I-T-T-E-N or something, and I didn’t know what this new hyphen thing was so I put it back. Thankfully my reading skills have evolved a lot since then!

    • I think it totally depends on the kiddo, Lindsay. For some kids, they take to reading like they’re always been able to do it and are excited about it. And then I have some students who tell me that 7th grade is the first year they’ve finished a book cover to cover since Dr. Seuess. It’s really tricky!

      And that’s so sweet that you remember being put off by the hyphens! 🙂

  10. I had two “friends” become more of an acquaintances after they started selling for MLM companies. It seemed no message or interaction would occur without pressure to attend the next party, host one, or at least buy something. Needless to say, I started keeping my distance.

    • That’s so hard. I don’t mind buying if I genuinely need something, but I would be hurt if anyone’s job consumed our friendship.

  11. I try not to hate on MLM companies. Partly because their is a fine line between pf bloggers and MLM’s and partly because I have lots of awesome friends who do that and I like to support them. Plus the Rodan and Fields lip stuff is like crack for my dry Montana lips. =)

    But I get what you are saying about people not being super qualified. Although, I shop at used book stores and Barnes and Nobel a lot, and I’m not really sure if those sales people are any better qualified. I find the service hit or miss. Sometimes its a literary book genius, other times some minimum wage college student.

    Next time I am in need of some kid book recommendations, I am totally hitting you up! I’ll even email you the IEP. =)

    • I agree mostly. Normally, I think of MLMs as a nuisance. But this instance totally rubbed me the wrong way. And I think you’re right about a bit of a correlation between blogging and these kinds of sales. I suppose the post, in general, would have been better boiled down to the fact that I dislike when people paint themselves as experts when they aren’t.

      And oh my gosh, YES! I love talking books. I can’t wait until summer when I have time to really read grown-up books again regularly.

  12. So sad. I see it with health-focused MLMs too. People so desperate for a cure that they’re willing to listen to the spiel about how essential oils will cure cancer or autism or how this pill will regrow your hair or how this shake has all of the nutrients of 7 trips to a salad bar. People can’t afford to see a doctor and address the cause of their health issues, but they’re willing to spend their money on literal snake oil because they’re desperate. I really try not to vilify the people who push this stuff, but there are certainly some “true believers” who will prey on low-information consumers at any cost.

    • Yes! I definitely think there are MLMs that are relatively harmless and then there are others that cross a line. And it does seem predatory to me, too.

  13. There’s definitely a right way and a wrong way to go about MLM. Unfortunately many MLM salespeople leverage peer pressure and ‘faux-expertise’ to max out sales. However I don’t think there’s anything wrong with doing MLM with an attitude of genuinely meeting people’s needs and wants without using sleezy sales tactics and while making a legitimate income in return for your work. Doing so is no different than running a micro-franchise. Sure, the compensation structure is slightly different, but the point is essentially the same.

    • I think the start-up investment in MLMs is bananas, but you could argue there are all sorts of investment “costs” will any job, especially those in sales. I have nothing against sales people. But there’s a way to sell sincerely and there’s a way to take advantage of people. And sometimes the line gets really fuzzy.

  14. Oh how I wish my little cousins had teachers like you!
    Some of them LOVE reading and a trip to the library is the highlight of their week, but others just don’t have any interest. I wish there were a way to share with them how a book can be like a trip to another country, planet, or life, though nowadays they can get the same thing with Netflix on their phones…
    I love it when the batteries are low 🙂

    • You just described my classroom perfectly. It really is a challenge to get some kiddos to unlock that love of reading. And the older they get, the harder it is. Which is why seeing people make a problem worse instead of better for profit made me blow a gasket.

  15. Bonnie

    The big thing when I was in my 20s was Pampered Chef and the “fun” parties (ahem). Had zero interest in either of them so usually declined, and I could tell the people were annoyed. I’ve personally had more of a problem with pushy MLM-obsessed coworkers than friends, though…one coworker let me have a sample of the Nerium face cream (which did work) and then a week later asked how I liked it. I said, “Well, I like it, but I’m not going to buy any at this time. Thanks for the sample.” She blew a gasket and demanded that I return the sample. It was really weird. Then she kept pushing me to buy some for months afterward and started talking like a robot instead of a human being. Avon and Tupperware are at least established and quality products, but I just don’t like being pressured to buy stuff. I do understand the need/desire for a side hustle, but there are many that don’t involve MLM. PS LulLaRoe is now in trouble for the bad quality of its leggings, too. It’s gonna end soon, I have a feeling.

    Related: coworkers/FB friends being extra-pushy about buying crap processed food or stuff like flavored popcorn for school fundraisers. It’s not that I don’t care about your kid’s school–but I don’t need that stuff.

  16. First, BOO MLM schemes. Second, book expert? Ha ha ha. Third, luckily my MLM book specialist around here doesn’t hard sell and is actually an elementary school teacher. I have actually purchased the activity dry erase cards because there are INSANELY AWESOME for airplanes… but DO NOT try to sell me your fancy pants, eyelashes, nails, etc etc. Or even sell me book. I come to YOU, you get me? 🙂 Though I’m the one that got stuck at a Mary Kay party in college where they individually take you into the other room to hard sell you. Them: “What kind of facewash do you currently use?” Me: “Well, if I wash my face at all, I use shampoo that drips down in the shower. If I’m feeling greasy, I take a microfiber towel and get it wet and wipe my face off with tap water. Don’t mess with perfection, amiright?”

  17. I’d like for all MLMs to go up in a fiery blaze, simultaneously. Can’t even begin with how despicable I think they are but I’m also Lazy Man and Money’s friend so I can point you to his site and suggest that’s where my abhorrence level begins.

    My trainwreck sibling got into them back in the 90s and they’ve earned my undying hatred since.

    And this particular one chaps my butt for all the same reasons. I’m a lifelong reader who devoured every book and hell, every word, I could see and I understand that many people who COULD be voracious readers never became them because they never had the right entry point. And like you said: a love of reading is so amazingly important. What that MLM is doing is horrible.

  18. Years ago a cousin of mine got involved with an MLM selling magnets. It was such an unpleasant experience for her and her family that I’ve been repulsed by MLM businesses ever since. Damn, those magnet people were scary. They were half cult, half walking dead.

  19. Woah! I never even thought of the consequences of this. I hate MLMs, I find them incredibly annoying (even though I love me some Beachbody On Demand, whomp whomp – I’d just never sling it;)) but I didn’t realize the dangers of people believing they’re experts on stuff they know nothing about. This was eye opening – thank you!

    • That was always my perspective, Leah. They were like mosquitos. Shrug them off. But this one seems to really have some other consequences. I hope it’s just the teacher in me overreacting, but I could also see this happening with health and fitness MLMs.

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