Monday, May 11, 2015

Pills, Potions, and Lotions

My new neighbor, Juliet, came up to me on the street yesterday while I was pushing my daughter in her stroller, and asked if we could talk. She asked me a lot of questions – where was I originally from and did I like it here and on and on – until I said why should I answer all this. "What about you?" We were standing near the front windows of a small coffee shop, so she asked me if I wanted to have a drink. She thought she had an idea I would be very interested in.

   Well, since she's kinda cute and charming, I thought "Oh, why not." She might even be a good friend to have. Then we went inside the coffee shop and we both ordered iced latte. My two-year-old daughter was calm, but observant. I gave her a small cookie to keep her busy for a while, and then Juliet and I went on to discuss our little "business".

   We talked about our families, the bad coffee we were drinking, and the weather. Then, just ten minutes or so later, in a strange twist of events, she segued into a recruitment presentation. She pulled out her iPad, and, with several swipes of her fingers, she found the file that made our meeting unbearable. In this presentation, she asked me how I would like to have so much money that I would never need to worry about it again. It turned out that Juliet is into multi-level marketing (MLM) and she wanted me to join her cult. Ever been suckered into participating in one?

   Herbalife, Amway, Health and Wealth, Mary Kay, and a bunch of other MLM companies guarantee their members that they can get rich pretty fast if they join in. They brag that being a "business associate" is a great way to smash your alarm clock and never work from 9 to 5 again. But, the reality is, only the owners and very few people on top of the pyramid make money.

   Juliet works for Royale, which is currently the top MLM firm in the Philippines. Members buy Royale products in bulk, and can then either use them or try to resell them. They are paid based on a multi-level marketing model, meaning that their income comes not only from the pills, potions, and lotions they vend, but also from bonuses related to sales by new members they recruit.

   After some wasted time and uncomfortable closeness, I wanted to leave. Juliet was real pushy, and I can't stand pushy salespeople. They are the aggressive ones who use a range of techniques to persuade you to buy their product or join their scheme, and they don't take "no" for an answer. They have different agenda: they are using questions as a way of convincing you that they are trustworthy, and that their claims are real. I played along for a few more minutes out of respect... and lust, and stayed totally still. That Royale thing was a complete surprise. Dear God, how have I sinned to deserve this punishment?

   She went on with her sweet talk, and told me about their wonderful products: food supplements, glutathione, whitening soaps, deodorants. "Hmmm… okay. But no." If their products are so great, then why aren't they being sold at leading drugstores and supermarkets? Why do they need to resort to a "special marketing" scheme? In most cases, people join these MLM companies not because they really believe in their products but because there is a system designed to allow them to earn money if they play the game 'right' (or should I say 'wrong').

   She talked to me for like half an hour but I was just gazing at her nice rack and pouty lips. After sensing that I had no interest whatsoever in her business proposal, she finally gave up. "I can't commit to this as I have other priorities at the moment," I told her. Saying "no" isn't easy for most people. However, dealing with individuals who talk excessively, are uber determined, and use manipulative tactics is exhausting and frustrating.

   Juliet thanked me for my time, stood up, handed me her business card, and told me to call her if I ever changed my mind. I thanked her for the coffee (and the 30-minute erection) and then we walked out. I didn't want her number. Hmmm... maybe I did, but I definitely didn't want the pile of flyers that were in her hands. 

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