I found this blog\forum while doing a simple search about MLMs and what they are all about because my sister has recently become a consultant for Arbonne International. I wanted to get some information on how companies like hers can impact families and relationships.
Judging on the rules of the site I assume the first thing I should do is introduce myself and the reason I am here, so here goes…
I am in my early 20’s, I have a BA and am currently working towards an MA. I work full-time in the Environmental field and love it so far, although as I’ve heard many times over, this is bound to change after I’ve been working full-time for a few more years! =P Favorite things: I love to travel, especially to urban areas, I snowboard, read anything and everything I can get my hands on, and love to be outside doing anything (or nothing) at all. I also value and love my family very much, which brings me to why I joined this blog.
My sister and I have not always been close because we are about 10 years apart in age, but we have become very close in the last 6 or 7 years. I usually speak to her a few times a week and we live near each other, so I visit when my schedule allows… not as often as I would like, sadly. I used to live with her and her family on breaks from college. She is a stay at home mom and has a husband and two children.
She has always been a positive force in my life, sometimes more of a mother figure than a sister really… but has always been a great sister!
Months ago, she told me that she was going to become a consultant for a company called Arbonne International, which I had also heard of through a college friend. I honestly told her to be careful and to make sure she did background research on the company before she got in over her head. She probably didn’t like getting advice from her little sister, but what’s done is done. Maybe I shouldn’t have said anything, but I was worried that she was getting caught up in something that could turn out to be a scam. At first, she seemed to be doing so well, she always sounded excited and happy… she was making a lot of new friends, and other women she is friends with were also signing on. She invited me and my coworker to her “Launch Party” and gave me a catalog to look at before the event. I arrived early to give her a hand with food/drink preparations, and was excited to see her friends, who are always a lot of fun.
The “Launch Party” turned out to be something completely different than I had expected… the women were very concerned with selling the business, not the actual products. The business was pushed for over an hour, and it just confirmed my suspicions that the company might not be so shiny and wonderful. I was trying not to be negative though… I thought the women getting carried away with the Mercedes Benz and the chance to get together to have wine & cheese once or twice a week and the chance to do something different was maybe causing all this buzz.
So I tried to keep out of it and just let her do her thing.
I came over one day and saw all the inventory she had purchased.
She asked me if I would want to become a consultant for the $29, and that I would get a discount, etc. I said No. I reminded her that I am but a lowly Graduate Student making an entry-level salary while paying an outrageous rent. She didn’t mention it again for the rest of the day. I helped her format her e-mail and listened for what seemed like hours about the company and the products, she was excited… I was happy for her, but still wary of what might happen.
Each time I visited or talked to her on the phone after that, she tried to get me to become a consultant or to get my friends to become consultants. I told her to forward me the e-mail she was planning on sending out to her friends and that I would pass it on to the women in my address book. She did, and I did. Still the pushing continued.
Every conversation was ruled by Arbonne… she had gotten a Blackberry to manage all the e-mails, everyone in her neighborhood and all their friends and relatives were becoming consultants, she was printing business cards and pamphlets and getting a briefcase and more inventory and a travel case for all of it and attending what seemed like a dozen parties a month.
I felt like I was losing my sister entirely!
Then I was diagnosed with a heart problem. I was told that I would be undergoing an exploratory surgery to determine the cause of my heart’s irregular beating. I called my sister. I cried a lot. I told her I was scared and that I was skipping work for the rest of the day to come over. I was there for about 15 minutes before the conversation turned to Arbonne. I knew my sister must be “drinking the Kool-Aid.” Why else would she be so preoccupied??? I couldn’t explain it.
The surgery was on a Wednesday, my dad had flown in the night before and we were to be at the hospital at 6 AM. My sister had called earlier in the week to tell me that although she felt bad, she wouldn’t be able to make it over to my place much during the week after the surgery. She hoped to at least come to the hospital for a little while, but she was so busy with Arbonne that she wasn’t sure. My dad was staying in town for the week to help me out and I was happy, I hadn’t seen him in awhile. The surgery went fine, and the night I returned home, my sister brought dinner to my apartment (she hadn’t ended up coming to the hospital).
My sister had also brought a get-well present. Three of the five pieces of a face wash kit. She also brought her breifcase with her binders of information and I could tell she couldn’t wait to start talking about the company whenever the moment arose. She had already talked about it 5 times by the time we were cleaning up after dinner…
and at one point I said to her that I was happy she had given me the products, that now I could try them out and tell my friends, that mybe they would buy something. She again started pushing them becoming consultants. I told her what I had always been telling her about it.
My friends are young and just starting out. A lot of them are in Graduate School, the others are in entry-level jobs. They do not have money to spend on expensive skin care or on buying an inventory. They do not have time to spend on building up a customer base or a “Downline ” They see Arbonne as a Pyramid scheme.
I had said the WRONG two words. The rampage that ensued at this point cannot be adequately described in words. She screamed in my face for the next 30 minutes. In front of my dad, on the night I returned from the HOSPITAL. “Just as my job had trained me to do what I do”, her job had trained her that people with my attitude are negative and closed-minded. She stated this with an anger and force that I had rarely seen in her before. I was ignorant. I was closed-minded. I didn’t support her. I wasn’t proud of her. I was an immature brat. I couldn’t be happy for someone else. If I didn’t support her, then I wasn’t someone she wanted to be around. (!?!) I could barely get a word in… and when I did, I used the chance to state this fact. She said that I always had to be right. At one point she told me that my friends would have to buy thousands of products to make a difference and to even begin to help her out at this point, me and my “two friends.”
That one really hurt. She knew it had been hard for me recently… that I had only a few close friends in our area… I had graduated, my college friends and I all moved to different cities!
I am shocked that my sister could be so rude and act so horribly toward anyone, let alone me! I feel as if I don’t know her any more and we haven’t spoken since the blowout. I felt terrible for calling what she was doing a Pyramid scheme… I felt that I shouldn’t have put down something she was so excited about and maybe I should just call her and take the blame for what had happened.
Then I spoke to the college friend I had first heard about Arbonne from. She said that a close friend of her parents’ had become a consultant and that she had done a complete 180. She was no longer the unique, informed, well-spoken and well-liked person she had been only months before. She was now pushing my friend so much that the friend had to be rude back to her. She was forced to be completely rude to a long-time friend of her family, which made her feel extremely uncomfortable. I realized then that maybe I hadn’t been entirely at fault for the argument…. and then I found an entire message board on AOL! called a “survivors” club! This has backed up my initial reaction to Arbonne.
So this is why I decided to join this message board. Phew! If anyone is still reading this by now… I just wanted to get my story off my chest, and to see if anyone had any advice on how to deal with the situation. Should I try to repair the damage by apologizing?
Should I give her time to realize that she’s lost a sister and a friend and maybe she will come around?
I really have no experience with MLMs or anything similar. I’ve read conflicting stories about Arbonne… I don’t know WHAT to think about the company itself. From what she said they “taught” her… it sounded like brainwashing and I was shocked she’s be taken in by it! Please let me know if there are any articles in particular I should read about it or if anyone out there has some advice! Thank you so much!