Multi-Level Marketing (MLM) Can Be a Drain on Your Wallet

Consumerism Commentary had a timely blog post on friends who are Multi-Level Marketers and sell their Tastefully Simple, Pampered Chef, and Mary Kay wares in social situations. Just a few days prior, I attended a small Mary Kay “party” at a good friend’s house — she was the host, and an acquaintance of hers conducted the evening. In order to protect the contents of my wallet, I usually avoid these things like the plague. That does say something about my willpower, but also speaks to the sales skills of the multi-level marketer.

It was three of us and the marketer, and we snacked on puff pastry appetizers, chips and salsa, and some wine. I and my two other friends are all mothers of 1-year-old children, so having some “mommy time” is always a good idea.

There was no hard sell, but the MLM salesperson was very proud of her line and explained a lot about each product as we were led through a skincare regimen. Afterward, we were encouraged to provide her with contact information for 5 other people in order to “win” a makeup-application brush, which we did (sorry, IRL friends).

In the end, I walked away with $80 in Mary Kay products — cleanser, moisturizer, primer and foundation. Does it make it any better than I paid by check rather than credit card? Slightly. Did I spend the least money of the three of us? Absolutely.

At least I demonstrated minimal restraint — right?

Appropriate Pitches and Inappropriate Tactics

While I try to avoid the all-out “parties,” I always fail when it comes to the food-related sales in the office, which are generally school fundraisers for co-workers’ children.

First of all, there’s the Girl Scout cookie sales. While most troops sell around the same time in my area, they tend to overlap. And if I buy from one person, I feel morally obligated to buy from everyone (but honestly, I just love my Samoas). This happens twice a year, I believe.

Then there are Easter candy sales, specialty foods sales (think cheese, crackers and smoked meats), and holiday gift-wrap sales. These I don’t mind so much, either, because a portion of the money goes toward the schools. And Mr. Not-So-Frugal just loves him some sticks of pepperoni.

One of the commenters on Consumerism Commentary mentioned she was forced to endure a sales pitch in the middle of a bachelorette party — it was worked in, supposedly with the blessing of the bride-to-be. Now that’s sneaky — and inappropriate, in my book.

I’ll continue to minimize the number of MLM pitches I attend, because I almost always wind up buying something. But there was that one time I walked away from a PartyLite even with nothing but freebies…

READERS: Do you feel pressured to buy something when you attend these parties? Or do you leave empty-handed and guilt-free?

2 comments to Multi-Level Marketing (MLM) Can Be a Drain on Your Wallet

  • I hate home-sale parties. The big ones in this area are Scentsy, some tea company, and some jewelry company. I will do my best to avoid going to these types of parties because I always feel guilty about not buying something, because the stuff is usually overpriced, but I also hate that these types of businesses target women almost exclusively.

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