The Curse Of The MLM Private Message

by Jessica Payne
Originally Published: 
A woman holding her phone with an annoyed facial expression because received an MLM private message
maurusone / Getty

It starts off with the most innocent of PMs: “Hey girl! Saw that you were celebrating a birthday! Hope your day was great. You have such beautiful children. It’s been ages since we connected. Wow. How long has it been? Five years?”

Your heart jumps into your throat and you groan aloud. Because you know this cheerful banter is about to take a dark turn.

“I hope that you took some time to pamper yourself on your special day! I know such a fun way to celebrate YOU. I am going to do something I don’t normally do and share my extra special discount with you this month because YOU are worth it!”

It’s the dreaded MLM private message.

It will come from someone you haven’t spoken to in years. Someone who has never before private messaged you to ask about your life, or comment on “those pictures of your adorable kiddos.”

Because if it were a close friend, someone already in your inner circle, you would already know what she sells. You would’ve been there when she discovered the secret skin care that took 10 years off her face or the magical wraps that erased her stretch marks. You would have put your heads together to discuss the pros and cons of her becoming a distributor so she could get an awesome discount on the products she’d come to love. And you would already have in hand her secret, special discount codes.

No. This is someone else. Someone who saw your post about your miscarriage. Your family’s bout with the flu. Your pregnancy mask. Your insomnia. Your flabby mom stomach.

And saw dollar signs.

I’ve heard it all before. Women should support women who are working hard to bring in a little extra income. Is it really that hard to spend a few dollars to support someone else’s dream? And bring home an amazing product at the same time?

Two things are wrong with that premise. (1) I need to first think about my family, who I am trying to support by saving money. And (2) Does every MLM seller forget about the literally thousands of other distributors, not only from their brand, but also from every other skin care, oil, wrap, nail, jewelry, accessory and clothing company, who are also begging to slice off a sliver of my shrinking nest egg?

I’m no fool. I’m sure that a $100 night cream will do a better job on my face than the $20 one I spent 15 minutes convincing myself I could afford. But I’m on a budget. One that doesn’t include a monogrammed tote bag that costs as much as my car insurance payment.

The bottom line is, it’s not my responsibility to keep your family afloat. So if I let you know that it’s a (hard) pass, please peddle your wares elsewhere and stop harassing me about the joys of buying sticky nail art.

And MLM sellers: please stop pretending like sharing a discount with people makes you a good person. We all know that you still turn a profit. And so does the person above you. And the person above them. And up and up, up to the tippy-top of that pyramid in which you operate.

An actual good person looks like the friend from college who reached out to me last month when she found out that I suffer from postpartum anxiety. She sent me a product that she said had helped her when she was in the same boat. She told me how to use it, messages me every few days to ask how I’m doing, and has never once made a sales pitch. MLM distributors, that’s the way to do it. Now I know what that product does for me, I know how to use it, and more importantly, when I run out, I know exactly who to buy it from.

Please for the love of all that is holy: Stop it with the transparently insincere private messages. I know what you’re doing and I don’t like it. Ask me once and I’ll politely say no and pray you move on. Ask me again and I’ll block you.

It’s 2018. We’re all online. We see your posts. Nobody who finds herself in desperate need of a diet drink is flummoxed about who to buy it from. I’m not kept awake at night wondering where to get that expensive eyelash serum that will make my lashes so long that I’ll have to trim them! Distributors, we know who you are and we know how to find you. And no, we probably don’t want to throw a party.

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