Wednesday, 29 June 2016
How much more evidence is needed that 'Herbalife' is the corporate front for an unlawful enterprise and part of an ongoing criminogenic phenomenon of historic significance?
More than half a century of quantifiable evidence, proves beyond all reasonable doubt that what has become popularly known as 'Multi-Level Marketing' is nothing more than an absurd, cultic, economic pseudo-science, and that the impressive-sounding made-up term 'MLM,' is, therefore, part of an extensive, thought-stopping, non-traditional jargon which has been developed, and constantly-repeated, by the instigators, and associates, of various, copy-cat, major, and minor, ongoing organised crime groups (hiding behind labyrinths of legally-registered corporate structures) to shut-down the critical, and evaluative, faculties of victims, and of casual observers, in order to perpetrate, and dissimulate, a series of blame-the-victim closed-market swindles or pyramid scams (dressed up as 'legitimate direct selling income opportunites'), and related advance-fee frauds (dressed up as 'legitimate training and motivation, self-betterment, programs, recruitment leads, lead generation systems,' etc.).
Wednesday, 15 June 2016
Why IS Barclays letting pushy salesmen flog £100 diet pills in its branches?
US-owned firms hijack community programme
- Salesmen from controversial health schemes setting up stalls in branches
- Most of the firms involved are US-owned and known for pushy sales tactics
- Barclays set up its scheme allowing small businesses to operate pop-up stands in its branches in 2014
Salesmen from controversial health schemes are setting up stalls in Barclays branches and pouncing on people waiting to be served.
Customers are being flogged expensive face creams and diet pills — and asked to become part-time sales staff themselves.
Most of the companies involved are U.S.-owned and notorious for pushy sales tactics.
They have hijacked a Barclays community programme that was designed to give small local businesses a cost-free way of reaching High Street shoppers.
Shopfront: Salesmen from controversial health schemes are setting up stalls in Barclays branches and pouncing on people waiting to be served
The revelation has sparked concern that elderly customers who depend on branches are at risk of being targeted.
Witnesses say salesmen are telling elderly customers that the products, which include £100 diet pills, energy bars and £30 herb-infused face creams, can ease ailments such as arthritis.
Stay-at-home mothers are being told they can make an 'easy' £300 a month if they sign up to become saleswomen.
Yet most of those lured in will be unaware of the dubious health benefits of the products. And those recruited as agents can face enormous pressure to sell — and stinging costs if they fail to hit monthly targets.
Forever Living, Arbonne and Herbalife all appear to be regular fixtures in Barclays branches. They are dubbed 'multi-level marketing schemes' because they work by signing up customers to flog expensive cosmetics or health products to friends, family and neighbours.
Typically, recruits work as and when they want — as they're technically self-employed — to supplement household income. Often they're promised promotions and extra cash if they regularly sign up new sellers.
Pushy: Most of the companies involved are U.S.-owned and notorious for their sales tactics
Critics have accused the companies of having a similar selling style to pyramid schemes — illegal businesses that promise staff rewards for enrolling others, as opposed to offering income for selling products.
Mick McAteer, founder of consumer rights organisation the Financial Inclusion Centre, says: 'It seems a real shame for Barclays' efforts to help entrepreneurs to be ruined by a failure to make the proper checks on the firms allowed to sell to customers.'
Barclays set up its scheme allowing small businesses to operate pop-up stands in its branches in 2014. You can apply to a local branch to put up a stall and the bank makes no money from the arrangement.
However, Money Mail has discovered that instead of helping local entrepreneurs, the spaces have been seized on by big overseas businesses.
Representatives of Forever Living have been spotted in Barclays in Horley, Redhill, York, Stafford and Leominster.
The Arizona-based firm, which raked in £120 million in Britain last year, sells beauty products and health foods containing aloe vera or beeswax. Items offered in Barclays include a £109 nine-day diet kit.
The firm's 40,000 UK sales reps, known as Forever Business Owners, are charged £199.75 for a box of products when they sign up.
Recruits say they're encouraged by senior distributors to push items on Facebook and lure in friends as it can be costly if they fail to meet monthly targets.
Laura Jones, 39, a former distributor in the North-West, was left £1,000 out of pocket after six months working for Forever Living.
The new mother, who'd been suffering post-natal depression, was introduced to the company by a friend. She says she was told she could earn £300 a month for five hours' work a week. But she was unable to sell enough.
She says she was forced to buy the products herself to meet her manager's expectations. She says she was also told to target new mothers and online forums. Forever Living says it does not enforce sales targets.
Laura says: 'There is no way Barclays should allow Forever Living into the branch to sell. It offers a dream to the vulnerable, which turns out to be smoke and mirrors.'
Callous: The firms have hijacked a Barclays community programme that was designed to give small local businesses a cost-free way of reaching High Street shoppers
Forever Living was criticised by the Advertising Standards Authority watchdog last year for false claims about the health benefits of its products.
Herbalife sales staff put up huge signs in branches offering 'extra cash and flexible hours' to those who sign up. A sales rep who claims to tout regularly for cosmetics firm Arbonne in Barclays says long bank queues make it easy to sell.
'I'm like the entertainment to the customers waiting — a bit like in Disneyland,' the woman, who asked not to be named, told Money Mail.
Arbonne reps are also encouraged to recruit more staff — called in jargon 'growing their downline'. Distributors in banks are offering a pot of face cream, which is listed at £30 online, and face powder at £31.
We found examples of Herbalife stalls in Kendal, Leamington Spa and Richmond, North Yorkshire. Salesmen for the Los Angeles-based firm, whose sales increased by $12.6 million (£8.9 million) in Britain in 2014, were flogging jars of chocolate weight-loss powder costing £28.40 online.
U.S. watchdog the Federal Trade Commission is investigating allegations that — in the style of pyramid selling — Herbalife's profits come mainly from signing up more distributors, rather than product sales.
The firm says distributors are not rewarded purely for recruiting staff but receive a royalty from any products these recruits sell.
Furious Barclays customers have bombarded the bank's Twitter page demanding it bans the firms. Amy Ip, from London, wrote: 'Why is there a Forever Living stand in your Camberwell branch?'
A contributor to website Mumsnet overheard a Forever Living seller in Barclays telling an elderly man that its aloe vera gel could help his arthritis.
She says: 'It's inappropriate. It gave the impression that the bank approves and endorses this scheme.'
A spokesman for Timeless Vie, which campaigns against multi-level marketing company recruitment, says: 'Barclays has a duty of financial care towards its customers and discovering they are allowing these companies space in their branches is deeply troubling.'
A Barclays spokesman says: 'Clearly, in these examples raised by Money Mail, the companies have not met our guidelines. Following a review, we will now be prioritising the scheme for local community groups to ensure they continue to benefit from the free space in branches.'
A Forever Living spokesman says the firm is not a pyramid scheme and is legal. It says it 'rewards endeavour' but those who do not thrive can leave and get their money back.
Gavin Aley, senior director for Herbalife in the UK, says: 'Herbalife has been trading in the UK for 33 years, which has helped customers to maintain a healthy lifestyle.'
An Arbonne spokesman says: 'A pyramid scheme is illegal and Arbonne does not operate such a scheme.'
Ruth Lythe (copyright Daily Mail 2016)