12 November 2010

Multi-Level Marketing: The Friendship Crusher

I was on my way from work on a one fine evening when I received a phone call from a friend with whom I had not been in contact for such a long time. His voice was jubilant and enthusiastic. 
‘Hello my friend! How are you? It’s been awhile huh? I’m sorry I’ve never contacted you ever since I started dating again. I’ve been busy you know? I really wanna make it work this time. But here I am, calling you! I’ve never forgotten you my friend. What about a cup of coffee tonight?’

I okeyed, thinking how long we had not seen each other. Deep down below, I was glad that he still remembered me.

He later texted to tell me that I needed no to drive because he would be coming to pick me up at my place. Oh well, I’ve always liked the idea of sharing a car. With so many things to say to each other, it was going t o save a lot of time to begin it all inside the car.
Not long after, I found myself riding in his car. It was good to see him again after such a long time of MIA. We swapped stories and life updates and it was good. The night was gonna be fun. Or so I thought.

“Oh well, before we go for a drink, there’s one place I wanna bring you to”.

The place that he took me to was a house in some housing area. The house seemed to be ready for a little bit of celebration, almost like a party. There were chairs arranged in rows to face down to a long table at the front. On another table was a spread of some simple refreshment.

I didn’t know any of the people there but this friend of mine did. In fact, he seemed to be so close with most of them. They’d hug each other and shook hands in the weirdest handshake I’ve ever seen.
I still had no idea what was there for me. This friend of mind would say ‘just hold on’ every time I gave him a quizzical look.

When everybody was finally there, somebody come out to the front with some sort of – ok, I think you’ve seen this before. 
Apparently I was brought over to a demo session of some Multi-Level Marketing business and thanks to this long lost friend of mine, I was there totally against my will. I felt cheated, betrayed and I was deprived of what was supposed to be a fun night out.
I had to be there watching the demonstrator sprinkling his saliva in the air trying to convince everybody that the thing would make them rich within a matter of a few months or so. You know, it was far worse than watching a Wakil Rakyat fooling a group of people with his empty promises.
I couldn’t get a single moment of slumber, I couldn’t walk away and I couldn’t do exactly the thing that I had in mind which was to go home and zzzzzz. Being a newcomer there, I noticed how this friend of mine and a few others would look at me every now and then, trying to read the slightest interest out of my expression.

Oh well, I wouldn’t be rude not to give them even a glitter of hope. I’d smile, clap my hands accordingly and nod my head in approval of whatever that damn demonstrator and his other speakers would say. Of course, deep in my head, I cursed myself for being so stupid to fall victim to this very good friend of mine.
It was such an endless session. There must be at least a dozen or so people being invited to give their speech of testimony, on how they owned a big house and big money and how they have travelled to many countries, something that they had never dreamt of doing before they got into that business.

I remember one of them even stressed out “We traveled on Malaysia Airlines OK. Not Air Asia but Malaysia Airlines!” he said with a disgusted look at his own mention of ‘Air Asia’ as if travelling with Air Asia is like cleaning the toilet at the LCCT or something.

When the suffering had finally ended, three hours were already gone. By the time we pulled out of the housing area, it was almost midnight.
“OK, time to go for a drink..!” this friend of mine said happily as if being so content for having brought another potential downline to a potentially rich camp of people. “So.. where do you we go for a drink my friend..??”. Before I come up with a suggestion, he already came up with his own. “WE go to Starbuck at the Warisan Square lah OK? At least it has that business atmosphere. Easy to talk”.

Again, being so nice to this long lost friend of mine, I agreed.

Right from the housing area right to the Warisan Square (an upscale shopping mall in Kota Kinabalu), he kept talking about how the dreams of some people had been fulfilled. He even mentioned a list of people who started out poor and eventually made it rich.

“Because they believed, you know?”

He said as if he was already one of those people who have struck a fortune.

“Oprah came from a poor family. She took all the courage to do all the things that she believed in. And look at her now. She is one of the richest women in America, if not the world”, he looked at me with a proud look, as if he was gonna be the next Oprah.
I nodded. I didn’t want to spoil his high-spirits.

“You know, I have only been in this business quite recently and I’ve already managed to rake in a considerable amount of money. I’m far from rich, but I know I’m heading there” he continued, again with the proud look.

I kept nodding.

“My girlfriend was against this at first but when she saw how well I was doing, she began to support me. Oh well, you know how girls are. We buy them things and they’ll shut up. They are all vulnerable to the sound of money. I mean, we all are right? ” he said with a mischievous smile of contentment on his face.

Again, I nodded.

“Have you heard about this book called ‘The Secrets?”. I said I did hear about it from one of Oprah’s shows.

“You have no idea how they integrated the book into MLM and it really worked. A lot of people have already made it rich I TELL YOU. It really is a sure thing”, he said while he was parking his car outside of the Warisan Square building.
I forced an OHHH?

“Yes. Hey, I’ve got a copy of the book. I can actually lend it to you if you want”, he offered while taking the book from the trunk of his car.

I told him it wouldn’t be necessary because my housemate had a copy of it. (and I was telling the truth).
Remind me to return this to my housemate. LOL!
He brought it nevertheless, together with a stack of folders and compiled papers. I knew, it was gonna be another long session of MLM, only this time probably the theory part. Apparently, the MLM thingy was far from over.

Later at the Starbuck counter, it was time to order our drinks. I ordered first so I picked the usual Ice-blended Mocha – the regular size. He ordered something but I can’t recall what it was and he went for the biggest.
But I remember his drink was more expensive than my regular size Mocha by at least a few ringgits. When it was time to pay, this almost rich friend of mine, who spoke about thousands of ringgits a month for an income and an aim to make it to millions in a few years time, leaned over to me and whispered..

“My friend, can you pay it for me? Thank youuuuuu…”

And there I was, paying the drink for this friend of mine, a potential millionaire who would rather go for a Starbuck instead of some cheap mamak stall around KK.

The nightmare continued as this friend spread out his papers of business masterplan on the table, sketching diagrams with interconnected circles and expanding figures with big RM in front of each of them. There were repeated ticks to highlight on some of the figures and of course the highlight of the whole thing was the pyramid itself.  
Again, I was forced into another hour of smiling and nodding and of course, cursing on the inside. He dragged me into it up until the closing time of the Starbuck. By the time we pulled out of Warisan Square it was almost 2am!

“Hey, here are the forms. You should fill them up by tomorrow so that you can start earning like how I do now. The sooner the better. Remember, BELIEVE” he said as he handed the papers over to me with the millionaire look of his.

I muttered an OK.

Sure enough, he called me again the next evening but of course, I ain’t fool not to say No thank you this time. .

You see, it really is such a happy feeling to have a long lost friend coming to us after being totally out of contact for such a long long time. Just when we thought that they have forgotten us, they suddenly come out of nowhere and begin to call us ‘my friend’. It’d surely bring an air of relief to think that they still remember us after all.


It really is frustrating that they come back to us not in the name of friendship but for something else, namely, MLM or probably to be more specific MONEY.  

For me, if they really want to do it, they should take it slowly AT LEAST. One or two sessions of yada yada and only then they come up with this sure-rich-one business talk. Don’t make it too obvious even though we’re not that stupid not to come up with our own assumption after that.

The story didn’t really end there. About 1 year after the ‘Hello-my-friend-long-time-not-see’ incidence, he sent me a text message. It went something like this.

"Hello my friend. Is there any chance that I can join your current company? My current company sucks laahh. It really is giving me a hard time. They promised me to raise my salary but up until today I’m still earning the same damn amount that I earned when I first joined them"

Now you see why I think MLM is a crap.  


chegu carol said...

i dont say it crushed my friendship with that friend who approached me (exactly) like what your friend did...but yeah, in a way, our friendship doesn't feel like how it used to be before. somehow, every time she called, i will have this assumption that she has agendas other than for the sake of friendship.

JIPP said...

yupp, that's it. We can't help but thinking he/she's up for something we already kena once.

Ellen said...

Oooh Jipp...pyramid schemes, MLMs etc. etc. whatever guise they go under, I just wouldn't touch it with a 10 foot pole.

I really enjoyed this post, even though it was actually rather sad. I feel sorry for your time wasted, but I sorry-er for your 'friend' for how gullible he was. Pandai saja caci perempuan, tapi sebenarnya sendiri juga yang mata duitan. Usahlah put the blame and shame on other people!

aud said...

'Old' friends that suddenly come out of the woodwork deserve to be treated suspiciously, especially if they are overly persistent in trying to meet up.

I find the 'Can-you-pay-for-my-drink-pleeeease?' part in Starbucks highly amusing! That part I pity you lah since a Grande is not cheap!

I don't mind being approached in a direct manner since they are trying to make money, and I do expect them to respect my decision not to join/enrol. If they can accept that then they remain my friends, otherwise, they go back to the woodwork :P

JIPP said...

Ellen: LoL! The funny thing is, how he described women as 'vulnerable to the siren song of money' - it really stuck in my head up until today. It'd become one of my fav quotes. hehe. What a choice for words. LOL.
Aud: You're right. In my case, he didn't need to be persistent. I was more than happy to meet him. But then.. it kinda frustrating in the end. But lesson was learned. I would now say NO right away. NO time wasted on both sides right? :-)

vince giorno said...

Hi Jipp,

What your so called friend did was extremely rude, disrespectful and misleading. it is people like him who give a vary bad name to the network marketing industry.

His actions however should not cause you to make a broad brushed comment that network marketing is crap. It is a legitimate business model that can make the average person a great deal of income.


Vince Giorno

ken said...

i would have left the place without saying anything.. not worth listening to that.. haha :)

Kelvin said...

MLM is nonsense lol. And if u think of it, the book 'secret' is another nonsense.

fufu said...

wow like that also can?? but friend is friend...dont over the bottom line ok lah...

Ambit Energy said...

Would it say a little experienced of...


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