MLM 101

Written by Dr Stephen Barrett:http://www.quackwatch.org

Don't be surprised if a friend or acquaintance tries to sell you vitamins, herbs, homeopathic remedies, weight-loss powders, or other health related products. Millions of Americans have signed up as distributors for multilevel companies that market such products, from person to person. Often they have tried the products, concluded that they work, and become suppliers to support their habit.

Multilevel marketing also called network marketing is a form of direct sales in which independent distributors sell products, usually in their customer's home or by telephone. In theory, distributors can make money not only from their own sales but also from those of the people they recruit.

Becoming an MLM distributor is simple and requires no real knowledge of health or nutrition. Many people do so initially in order to buy their own products at a discount. For a small sum of money - usually between $35 and $100 -- these companies sell a distributor a kit that includes product literature, sales aid such as videotape, price lists, order forms, and a detailed instructional manual.

Most MLM companies publish a magazine or newsletter containing company news, phylosophical essays, product info, success stories, and photographs of top sales people. The application form is usually a single page that asks only for identifying information. Millions of americans have signed up, including many physicians attracted by the idea that selling MLM products can offset losses attributable to managed care."