my new coworker is pushing a pyramid scheme on us

A reader writes:

A relatively new coworker of mine has been secretly approaching people in the office one by one trying to sell them memberships into what can only be described as a pyramid scheme. (Pay a sign-up fee, then $X per month and gain money for each new person you recruit, and they recruit, etc., with the promise of money in your pocket and the opportunity for discount luxury vacations.)

Up until recently, I had only heard other people’s accounts of this person’s behavior. Usually it involved inviting someone out to a casual lunch that turned into an hour long sales pitch, or inviting them to an evening to learn about a business venture they started with some friends. The people already pitched to kept telling me “you’re next,” and they were right. I was invited to an evening to learn about a business venture, and the description of the event given to me was incredibly vague. I was busy at the time they asked, so just said I’d get back to them. I have no intentions of going, but from what other colleagues have said and continue to experience, this person is very pushy and relentless with the sales pitches.

There are at least 5 people who have been approached by this person thus far. I’m ok to keep shaking these sales pitches off for now, but others have said they’re getting uncomfortable from the pressure to join. Should HR be made aware of what is going on? This person is otherwise very good and capable at the job they’re hired to do, and I don’t want to do anything to jeopardize their position in the office, but it’s becoming pretty disruptive for some.

HR probably wants to know and almost certainly would want the opportunity to tell your coworker to cut this out. And I’d bet her manager feels the same way.

That said, you could also say something directly to the coworker if you’re inclined. For instance: “I’m not comfortable being solicited for this at work. Please don’t ask me again.” And you could also add, if you’re up for it, “I don’t think you should be approaching coworkers about outside business schemes, particularly one that appears to operate like a pyramid scheme.”

Can we have a rule that bans any pressure tactics designed to get people to open their wallets at work? It’s particularly distasteful in a work context because coworkers/employees are a captive audience and also are generally trying to preserve harmonious working relationships (and thus don’t always feel as free to tell an aggressive money-seeker to buzz off).

{ 249 comments… read them below }

  1. Kerry

    The fact that your coworker is approaching people secretly about it implies they definitely know they’re doing something dodgy.

    1. Elizabeth West

      Either that, or they’ve done it at other jobs and gotten in trouble for it, and just don’t want anyone to know. I’ve seen people involved in these things become completely bamboozled by them and think they are 100% legit even when faced with evidence to the contrary.

    2. Valar M.

      I know exactly what company this is by the description because I have a friend that fell into this mess. This company literally brainwashes people. It’s almost cult like and it’s very frightening.

      1. von bomb

        All direct sales /MDM type things are cult like really. I was part of one for a while and in the best of intents I nearly made a massive mess of my relationships in my life. They’re very “rah rah” though

      2. TheSnarkyB

        There are so many that operate this way and sound just like this that it’s pretty much impossible to tell which one this is. They seem really handful across the board though, so I’m not sure it even matters.

    3. TAD

      I would definitely check with HR because it may be against policy. At least I hope it is. The person is probably doing it in secret because they know they’re not supposed to.

  2. Hlyssande

    Many workplaces have strict solicitation policies. If you work corporate, I’m guessing yours has one too.

    In my workplace, we can’t even use the company email to let people know that someone has girl scout cookies for sale. This was discovered after coworkers asked about putting up a bulletin board in the department where we could post things like that. The HR rep didn’t even realize the policy was so strict until he was looking into the possibility of the bulletin board. Whoops!

      1. Jazzy Red

        The Thought Police at my former workplace wouldn’t allow anything to be posted on the bulletin boards without their OK. I was involved in The International Association of Administrative Professionals and when I asked to post an invitation to our monthly meeting they acted like we were a terrorist group. This place was The Most Controlling place I ever worked at. It was my 13 months at hell, extremely cultish, and 10 years later, still is.

    1. NK

      See, I think the bulletin board idea is a great one. I too don’t like the solicitations via email/in-person, but I think a bulletin board in a break room is a perfect, unobtrusive way to handle this. I remember the year I had to hunt down girl scout cookies at work because I didn’t know who was selling them!

      1. Woe is me

        A bulletin board is a great way to say “hey I’m selling/offering this” without being pushy about it. If you’re interested, you look at the bulletin board. If you’re not, then you don’t. I hate being bombarded by parents selling wrapping paper, nuts, etc those first few months after school starts. They come over to my desk, slide the order form over to me, and wait there while I look through it. Grrrr! Nowadays I have school aged children of my own so when one of these sales pitches starts I pull out the stuff from my kids school and do the same!!!

        1. Annie

          When I worked for an association we were allowed to put up the Girl Scout Cookie, Boy Scout Popcorn, school candy/wrapping paper/calendar/whatever, fundraising items in our cubicle/or on a table outside an office and weren’t allowed to solicit, though it was definitely hard to find the Girl Scout parents when the time came (also because I worked in the DC Metro area and had people from 3 different Girl Scout Councils who sold at different times).

      2. Hlyssande

        We really wanted a bulletin board! That way there was no harassment, no pushing, etc. It would’ve just been posted that so-and-so was doing girl scout cookies, otherperson was doing the wrapping paper thing, etc.

    2. Bea W

      Same at my workplace. You can post an ad or announcement in the weekly employee newsletter. Other places I’ve worked have offered a physical bulletin board or some place to electronically post things, but it’s really not cool to go around to your co-workers and pitch or hand out flyers in the work place or solicit through email.

    3. Jamie

      I love this policy and I think the idea of a bulletin board is great.

      The info is there if people want it, but no one has to respond. I wish we had one – some days I wish I had a coworker selling candy. And I really wish I had a coworker with a daughter in girl scouts – but I have to wait for the little stands outside of the grocery store.

      1. hildi

        When I was 14 I was an after school worker in my mom’s office. I remember they had a guy that came around (Mountain Man candies? or something like that) who had a traveling candy/snack mobile. I can still remember him bringing the bags of candies and snacks into their office and people would buy some. I that was was so novel and have never seen anything like it since. It reminded me of the Schwans’ man but with candy and snacks!

        1. chewbecca

          We have something kind of similar in our office. A group of adults with developmental disabilities make snacks and go around to different offices selling them (they’ve made arrangements beforehand). They come to us on Wednesdays – just left actually!

      2. Mallory

        At a previous job, we used to have a chair-massage person who would come set up and do massages every other Friday (our paydays). She was a former employee who went to massage school. She set up at the end of a hallway and did 10-minute sessions for $1/minute, and most everyone loved it.

        I wish someone would start doing that at my current workplace!

    4. Elizabeth West

      We have the board too. Or you can leave your flyer on the break room table. It’s up to individual coworkers then if they want to buy whatever you’re selling.

      1. Hlyssande

        Sadly, our policy is strict enough that we can’t even have the board. I wish we did. :C

    5. Samantha

      At my previous job, we each had a special mailbox called Watercooler that we could send these kind of messages to – along with things like requests for boxes if you were moving, and other kinds of non-work related items. The emails didn’t pop up on your screen the way regular emails do, and you had to actually click on the mailbox to see if there were any new emails in there. It was really unobtrusive and not in your face – I thought it was great.

    6. HR Director

      Bulletin boards are nice and convenient, but the policies banning them usually have to do with banning all solicitations so that the employer can also ban certain types of solicitations by union organizers as well. In case anyone is wondering why HR people seem to hate bulletin boards so much, lol.

    7. ChiTown Lurker

      My former company had a table in the break room where you could place Girl Scout cookie forms, band/baseball candy or other items you had for sale. One of my coworkers used to completely sell out all his kid’s school candy to hungry programmers. Definitely a win-win! For company sponsored events like March of Dimes, the admin would send out a note listing the names and office extensions of those who were walking.

  3. ThursdaysGeek

    If it truly is a Ponzi scheme, it’s my understanding that is illegal. That adds a dimension to whether HR should know about it.

    1. Dan

      “Multi Level Marketing” systems aren’t illegal. Slimy and high pressure? Probably. Illegal? Not so much.

      1. ThursdaysGeek

        MLMs are not illegal, true. But it’s not clear (to me) whether it’s a MLM or a pyramid scheme.

    2. Kerry (Like The County In Ireland)

      This is actually a MLM sales marketing scheme. Ponzi schemes rely on constantly getting new people to give you money so you can pay off people who are already invested and whose money you’ve diverted. The Madeoff investment firm was a Ponzi scheme. Shakelee/Amway/the like are MLM marketing.

        1. Dan

          Well… what happens when people stop joining MLM systems? I’m not sure that anybody loses anything.

          IMHO, there’s a huge difference between being out your life savings (which a ponzi scheme will do to you) and not making any money in a sales venture.

          1. Jamie

            Vector knives prey upon kids – mine were all approached within a month of high school graduation. They pitch it as if it’s a real job and get them in for an interview.

            Fortunately after the eldest told me about this and we investigated the others were forwarned to tell them to get bent. But the people who get suckered are out money they can ill afford to lose only to be told to pressure friends and family to buy.

            I didn’t let my kids hassle family to buy crappy candles and wrapping paper when they were in grade school so it annoys me that a company has it’s business model of getting adults to guilt their families into shelling out a lot more.

            And there are other schemes too, where they have to put up money for the stock they sell and it’s unsellable. Because unlike what they claim, not everyone can sell. To be good at sales is a special skill…to be good at sales selling crap cold calling – those people are born not made.

            And some of the loss isn’t financial – it’s social. People invite you to a “party” or a bbq and don’t tell you that they’ll be badgering you about Amway the whole time. I’ve been asked to Pampered Chef parties and some other things, but they tell you upfront that it’s a sales party. I don’t know if Avon is an MLM, but I know that people just leave the books around with their name of who to contact for an order – they don’t lie to you.

            They don’t with Amway – at least the 3 times when I was young I ended up at these things with other hoodwinked guests…and there are others that operate the same way. It’s the way a certain financial institution calls people with posted resumes pretending to have actual jobs and schedules interviews…only when you get there you find out its a sales pitch to take their class and sell whatever.

            People have lost friends and been estranged from families over Amway – that thing is absolutely cult like to me as I’ve known some people involved who were incapable of discussing anything else and it was their mission to convert everyone. I’ve seen less fervent religious zealots.

            But absolutely people lose money on their initial investment and they burn bridges with their network.

            1. Sunflower

              At this point I think there is an MLM company for literally every type of product you could want to buy. The newest I’m seeing is Stella and Dot which is for jewlery. At least 3 of my friends are ‘consultants’ or whatever they call them.

                1. Jamie

                  Yeah – I would definitely not recommend issuing those invitations to co-workers either!

                  Some things you just really don’t want to know about the person sitting across from you in the budget meeting.

                2. Sunflower

                  In fact, I was just a bacherlotte party and the woman mentioned several times that some of the items were favorites of the ladies in her office…

                  We all just kind of looked around and went ‘umm what’

                3. Nina

                  My own sister suckered me into going to one of those parties. She hosted it at her house as a favor to the host. It was nothing but her coworkers (all of whom were a lot older than I was at the time) gabbing about adult toys and I didn’t know a soul except for my sister. Very awkward.

                4. AnotherAlison

                  Sunflower, your comment about the bachelorette party reminded me of this. . .a lady was going to buy a big-ticket item from us from Craigslist, and she gave us a deposit in a sealed envelope. Well, tucked in there were two business cards for her adult MLM business. WTF??? Sure, total stranger, I’d love to get involved in this with you. (She also ended up backing out of the sale.)

                5. KerryOwl

                  There is! We had someone come do a thing for a bachelorette party a few years back. In retrospect I probably would have chosen a different activity, but it was a lot fun at the time. (There was much alcohol involved, obvs.)

                  (And while most of the stuff I bought had dubious utility, some of the stuff was really legit and I use it to this day.)

                6. chewbecca

                  I have a friend that is a rep for one of them. She’s very successful at it, but the thing I love about her is that she never pressures us to buy from her or join her team. I did host a party for her once when she was just getting started, but that was the end of it.

                  It probably helps that I love their body wash and lotion, so she has a regular customer in me.

                7. cuppa

                  I got a little heart filled with gel that has a self-heating element in it (like a self-heating hot pack) that is the greatest. thing. ever.

                8. Kelly L.

                  I got a vibrating hairbrush from one of these once.

                  I know what it’s “really” for, but darned if it didn’t feel really nice on my actual scalp!

              1. Elysian

                My brother had an MLM company on his wedding registry. You had to buy the stuff from his friend, the consultant. I thought it was all very tacky.

            2. AnotherAlison

              I dated a guy in high school who got sucked into the knife selling. That was one of the things that confirmed he was an idiot. (I realize it’s easier for kids to fall prey to this, and some of them are actually good at it, but he was just one of those people who didn’t want to work too hard and this was a way to say that he had a job. . .)

              We now have a couple we’re friends with who is ALWAYS into some new MLM scheme. She was a Premier Beauty “consultant” and now they’re both trying to sell some supplements. I spend a shit ton of money on supplements anyway, but I won’t buy from them. I wouldn’t mind just buying the product, but I don’t want to join your gang.

              1. The Other Katie

                I actually did the Vector/Cutco knives things the summer after I graduated college. I grew up with my parents in Amway (they aren’t now) so it didn’t seem that unusual to me at the time. I actually ended up making quite a bit of money (they pay you to just make the appointment/sales pitch regardless of if you sell anything) and got a huge set of Cutco knives that I still use today, for free and from prizes/awards. I get that they target college kids, but it wasn’t bad for me.

                1. The Other Katie

                  I will specify – the “quite a bit of money” was compared to what I was earning delivering pizzas.

                2. Moxy

                  I also did the Cutco/Vector thing, and was also promised to be paid for appointments– except my boss managed to find a way to disqualify almost every appointment I had, so that I got paid for something like 1 in 5 of them.

                  But I did manage to use the limited success I had at Cutco to get the next job (telemarketing) which in turn got me an internship I actually wanted (more through a track record of work and reliability through related skills, thankfully).

            3. fposte

              I think it’s pretty common for MLM structures to treat the product as less significant than the signups, too. That gets reported a lot for Mary Kay, for instance.

              1. Jazzy Red

                I used to use the Mary Kay products, and the people I bought them from were the ones who didn’t pressure me to have a party or buy more than I wanted to. I don’t know if they were considered successful by the MK people, but I was happy buying from them.

            4. Nina

              I had a high school friend who was selling the Vector knives. He asked if he could try his pitch on my mother, who took pity on him because he wasn’t selling any. So she bought something like a beginner’s set; two knives, a cutting board, and a pair of scissors.

              In all fairness, those were pretty good knives. Ivory handled and very sharp. And we still have the scissors and the cutting board.

                1. fposte

                  It would have been legal pre-1989; however it’s also possible that it was bone or horn labeled as ivory.

                2. Jazzy Red

                  “ivory” is mostly used as a color name nowadays. I always thought it was disgusting to have items that were carved elephant bones.

            5. Dan

              I dabbled with Amway a bit when I was unemployed several years ago. I thought many of the products were actually decent, and not just something to make the company look legal on paper.

              You can see from my other comments on this thread that I got out because of the cult feeling. Drove me bonkers. With Amway, the only thing I think I lost was my $100 registration fee (which was supposed to be refundable, ha ha) but the company certainly isn’t getting rich on registration fees.

              That’s a little different than the MLM’s where you have to buy a ton of product up front, and if you can’t sell it you’re screwed.

              Let me be clear… While I do think the Amway model is legal and not a “wink wink nod nod” skirting of the law, the cult stuff is absolutely terrible.

              1. ChiTown Lurker

                Yes, I wish that Amway would just sell their stuff and not try to brainwash you. They have an awesome floor stripper product which I will never have again because I absolutely refuse to attend their indoctrination sessions.

                1. Prickly Pear

                  This!
                  If your whatever you sell is so great, why can’t I just buy some instead of having to want to sell it too? You need end-use customers, people!

            6. R the Manager

              My Cutco story (well, they called themselves “Vector Marketing”): Literally a day after graduating high school I received a letter inviting me to an interview. I asked my dad to drive me but the interview was scheduled for 7:30 at night and he refused (plus, I think he knew it was a MLM pitch). Naturally, I put up a good sulk. When I found out what they were about later on, I couldn’t believe I threw the teenage equivalent of a tantrum just to be “interviewed” for a MLM scheme….

              Interestingly, in college I knew someone who worked for them as a “recruiter” one summer and she said the bulk of her job was fending off angry and inquisitive parents.

              1. Jamie

                Yes, they did this to my eldest son and he set up the interview but as I was teaching him interviewing 101 of how to google a company so you go in informed blood started pouring out of my ears.

                They called him daily for months after that – I could easily have been one of the angry parents but having seen the stuff online I knew people had their number so after he finally told me how often they were calling I showed him how to block the calls.

                The thing that bothers me so much is the specific targeting of people who won’t see it for what it is and the literature that expressly says to sell to friends and family. It’s absolutely also preying on the emotions of family members of wanting to help someone just out of high school and the guilt in not wanting to buy things to do so.

                It’s very deliberate. They may have good knives, I don’t know, but it doesn’t matter how good the product is when their marketing practices are predatory.

                Seriously, who would buy knives door to door from a stranger? No one. How many people does an 18 year old know that is in the market to buy kitchen knives…which means they have their own place and a kitchen. Family and family friends for the most part.

            7. Observer

              But that’s not inherent to the MLM idea. Shaklee, for instance actually sells a decent line of products. I had a vendor who made a decent living for years – not from the sub sellers, but from actually selling product.

              Ponzi schemes are essentially different. There is no product, and the pyramid nature is only known to the folks on top.

              1. Jamie

                When dinosaurs roamed the earth and I was young child my mom had a friend from church who sold Shaklee. I always thought she was a nice lady for years, until something changed and every time she saw me she no longer asked about school or whatever, but she’d talk about weird shakes and suggest some new vitamin regime to my mom for our family.

                She left some packets of some kind of chocolate shake for samples and as a kid I drank it – yay a shake (although with no ice cream you shouldn’t call it shake – more like a knock off Carnation Instant Breakfast) and it was so gross I can still taste it. And she also left some carob bars at the house (don’t know if Shaklee or not) which immediately spring to mind whenever I watch the Friend’s episode where Monica makes them eat the mockolate chip cookies. “This is what evil must taste like!” is right.

                I think this stuff just takes over a person’s mind and in some cases taste buds.

            8. Elizabeth West

              Avon is just direct sales–you order from the catalog and get the product from the rep. They’re good products (though a bit expensive sometimes). But like you said, it’s not easy to sell and many Avon reps quit because it’s really difficult to make money that way.

              I wish Avon would go to just online sales. They have good stuff–I wish I could just order it without the middleman.

              1. Jamie

                Yes – that’s why I didn’t know if Avon was an MLM because that is something I consider a legitimate product.

                When I was a kid a neighbor worked there and she would give my mom free discontinued stuff and what my mom didn’t want (most of it) she’d give to me for dress up – it was awesome. And I know people who use their stuff and are happy with it – I’m just far too lazy to order in advance.

                But by far they are the least pushy of all people I’ve ever met selling stuff. When I was a kid I loved the Mary-Kay cars (pink!) but as an adult having known people who joined I now get you have to basically sell your soul to get one.

                I mean it was a light pink caddy and not the hot pink Corvette that my Barbie’s drove which I so coveted, but it was still pink.

                Although I still want a hot pink Corvette. I fear I’ll never fully grow up – although maybe I am an adult since thinking about driving one now my second thought went to how high my insurance would be and how I’d be a magnet for speed trap cops.

              2. Mallory

                Way back when I was in my early twenties and working at a sewing factory full of women, I sold Avon. I didn’t even have to do anything more than bring a stack of catalogs to work and the orders would come pouring in.

                I went to a couple of Avon sales reps’ meetings where they encouraged building up a small stockpile of regular customers’ regular orders, but they didn’t push that very hard; they just presented it as an option to provide faster customer service.

                I liked selling Avon because I got 50% (if I recall correctly) off the price of my own order.

                When I left that factory, I quit selling. I was assigned a “route” afterward where I could go door-to-door and get customers, but I think I went to maybe 3 – 4 doors before I realized that wasn’t for me.

            9. Kelly L.

              We had one call my old (academic) job and claim to be offering “internships” to college students. Nope, it was just regular ol’ selling the crap, like all the other sellers.

            10. Liane

              Ah, yes, Vector Knives. My 18 year old son got a letter from them asking him to apply. The letter made it sound good & he showed it to me. By the time I opened my mouth to tell him “a lot of offers like that are fishy, check it out” he was Googling it. In under 2 minutes, he was telling me, “Not a good idea.” I was so proud of him!

            11. Anon55

              Cosign on all this. I have a special hatred of Amway in particular because I broke up with and moved out from a boyfriend of three years due to him not only getting suckered into Amway, he replaced all our vitamins, cleaning products and other household goods with Amway’s junk that cost way more than what we were currently spending and performed far worse. Alas, I was labeled a dream killer who always wanted to work for the man while he wad an eagle destined to soar, so our relationship could never be (darn the luck…). Thankfully I was able to get off the lease so his financial problems didn’t become mine.

              What surprised me was that even though we were living in Michigan at the time (early 00s) my ex had never heard of Amway (they were calling themselves Quixtar then due to all the negative connotations with the name Amway) despite Amway being huge in the western part of Michigan. When we moved to Michigan in the mid-80s my dad would constantly get hit up by one specific coworker for mysterious out of work meetings about a secret OMG Amazeballs business opportunity (Amway), so I always had my parents as a sympathetic ear when I ranted about my idiot boyfriend.

              I have a friend now who’s gotten into Beachbody as a coach, which is a legit company that appears to be sliding into MLM territory. She actually asked me to set her up with my friends so she could train them (I live 500 miles away), I declined. Yesterday I got a FB invite from her for a webinar she’s hosting on how to save and make lots and lots and lots of money. I shudder to think what she’s gotten into now but I’m also morbidly curious and may participate so I don’t spend a bunch of time on Google trying to parse her vague non-description and determine what she’s now shilling. If it gets horrible I can just feign the internet going out and disconnect.

              This one in the question to AAM sounds like a full on Ponzi scheme without the pretense of buying overpriced junk. Now that I’m older and have stopped giving a hoot if I offend someone who is pestering me or trying to neg me into doing what they want, I have tons of fun on the rare occasions when someone tries to get me to sign up for a MLM or outright Ponzi scheme. Lots of incredulous questions delivered completely wide-eyed in a super sweet voice, lots of hard math questions and questions about why they haven’t technically made any money despite doing this for X years and are still working at a FT job (can’t say for the insurace anymore!).

              I’ve had some hellish jobs in the past but even my worst boss has never pestered me to bring five new people to our weekly team meetings.

              TL:DR you need to let HR know now. A lot of people in these schemes won’t take no for an answer, will badmouth those who don’t join and it can become a huge problem if Bob in Accounting won’t cut a reimbursement check until the recipient has sat through a 30 minute presentation on Bob’s side-business.

            12. Jazzy Red

              Yes, Amway knows people won’t attend their recruiting events if they know who’s running it. I know lots of people who get invited to parties or bbqs and walk out when the sales talk start.

              If you’re ashamed/embarrassed to say who you are up front, you should be involved in it!

              1. Jazzy Red

                Correction to last sentence:

                If you’re ashamed/embarrassed to say who you are up front, you should NOT be involved in it!

          2. Lily in NYC

            People go into tons of credit card debt in many MLMs because the focus is front-loading inventory instead of retail sales. Check out pinktruth.com – it’s a fascinating site that looks into Mary Kay mainly, but other MLMs as well. They have tons of detailed articles that really break down the finances and show how it is nearly impossible to make any money and how easy it is to go into debt.

          3. Kelly L.

            The thing is, they have high-pressure techniques to convince the salespeople to buy massive amounts of product, and then the salesperson finds out the hard way that nobody wants it. That’s how you lose money.

        2. fposte

          ‘Zactly. They’re just two different words that both mean “things I don’t want to be anywhere near.”

    3. Ask a Manager Post author

      I had incorrectly thought the words were interchangeable! I just did a little reading, and it looks like they’re not. I’ve changed the headline and my advice to “pyramid.”

      1. Rye-Ann

        I thought pyramid schemes were also illegal though. I could be wrong, but my understanding is that “pyramid schemes” are illegal while “multi-level marketing” is not, because the latter involves selling an actual product. It sounds like the situation in the letter is not multi-level marketing, because there’s no mention of actually selling a product.

        Someone with more knowledge on the subject should feel free to correct me.

        1. sam

          I’m not an expert in this, but I think whether a multi-level marketing scheme can be considered fraud or a genuine business enterprise really depends on whether the a significant enough amount of its money is made from the actual products being sold to uninvolved third parties, or if the bulk (or entirety) of its income is derived from “members” (either through membership fees or buying products from each other).

          This is actually the crux of the entire Herbalife controversy. A hedge fund guy has shorted herbalife stock by, like, a billion dollars on the theory that it’s got no outside customers and is nothing but a pyramid scheme. Herbalife claims that it has “real” income derived from sources other than its members.

          1. fposte

            Here’s the FTC on this: http://www.ftc.gov/public-statements/1998/05/pyramid-schemes

            Relevant section: “There are two tell-tale signs that a product is simply being used to disguise a pyramid scheme: inventory loading and a lack of retail sales. Inventory loading occurs when a company’s incentive program forces recruits to buy more products than they could ever sell, often at inflated prices. If this occurs throughout the company’s distribution system, the people at the top of the pyramid reap substantial profits, even though little or no product moves to market. The people at the bottom make excessive payments for inventory that simply accumulates in their basements. A lack of retail sales is also a red flag that a pyramid exists. Many pyramid schemes will claim that their product is selling like hot cakes. However, on closer examination, the sales occur only between people inside the pyramid structure or to new recruits joining the structure, not to consumers out in the general public.”

            1. Mints

              Very helpful!
              I had been too close to both kinds of companies right after high school graduation, even though I was lucky enough (lazy enough) to not have ever signed up

          2. Todd

            I’m glad that someone pointed out the difference between multi-level marketing and a pyramid scheme. Multi-level marketing can be a perfectly legitimate business as long as revenues actually originate from a product or service. A pyramid scheme, however, can cause financial harm to many people and, unfortunately, may be “dressed up” as a multi-level marketing operation. Also, one of the above posters called the original post a Ponzi scheme. A Ponzi scheme is not the same as a pyramid scheme, and the original poster very clearly describes a pyramid scheme. It’s very important that people be able to recognize and identify these schemes, otherwise you run the risk of being taken advantage of.

            1. Todd

              I should also say that, unfortunately, a company could easily be primarily a multi-level marketing operation with elements of a pyramid scheme, or vice versa. Some of these companies will have extremely convoluted rules/policies concerning compensation that can make it very difficult to identify to what extent the company operates as a pyramid scheme. I think that a reasonable approach to take would be to assume any company is a pyramid scheme if you suspect it is, or if you cannot find concrete evidence that it is 100% legitimate.

              1. Not So NewReader

                The first thing to watch is how much you have to buy to get started. That is the first red flag.

            2. MLM

              MLMs are pyramid schemes. The products and services exist to launder the investments in the pyramid.

  4. Kay

    Yuck! I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this OP. I fully support a rule that bans pressure tactics designed to get people to open their wallets… and not just at work, everywhere. If you’re business is truly all it’s cracked up to be, you shouldn’t have to push it on people. They should come to you wanting to buy in.

    1. Dan

      Yup, I’m a smart guy. Or at least I think I am. If your product provides *me* value, I will be able to ascertain that on my own. I certainly don’t need *you* to tell me that I can’t live without it, blah blah balh.

      I know the deal of the century when I see it. And TBH, those deals aren’t pushed on me, I have to go find them. (I travel all around the world on frequent flyer points that I get from signing up for credit cards. This hobby is *work*.)

    2. Lynn Whitehat

      Me too. In the meantime, I wouldn’t be shy about telling him straight out that you have no interest and please don’t ask again.

  5. Jezzy

    Ugh solicitation at work is the worst, even if it’s for charity. My office on at least a monthly basis sends around multiple emails for their latest cancer run or bake sale etc. It’s a noble cause, but I already make peanuts, am saving for a down payment on both a car and a house, and a some-day wedding. I really don’t want to have to hear about this repeatedly. It really should be banned in all work places.

    1. Dan

      I thank my lucky stars every day that the two jobs I’ve had in my professional career don’t do any charity solicitation with their employees. There have been no work-place sponsored events asking me to open my wallet. Ever. (Except for the boss saying his kid has girls scout cookies at the Admin desk, please be honest about your purchases. I can live with that.)

      The one that did paid everybody $10-$12/hr, in Los Angeles. It was a riot watching charity solicitations getting pushed on people who were actually benefiting from those services.

      1. Jamie

        Now that I think about it the only time I’ve been solicited for money at work were my lowest paying jobs when I had just entered the workforce.

        Not for charity – but both (temp) jobs came to me within a week of starting to take a collection for a gift. One was for a manager and another for someone in another department I had never met. Each wanted 10-15 dollars and I was making 10 and 12 per hour respectively. I didn’t need to do the math to know they were asking me to hand over more than an hour of my net to buy things for people I didn’t (or barely) knew and who made a lot more money.

        It was ages ago and I’m still pissed when I think about it that they had the audacity to ask and their chagrin when I declined was completely out of line.

        My company is great about acknowledging personal things like weddings, babies, birthdays, retirements, etc…but it’s along the lines of buying lunch and providing cake on the company dine. They don’t pass the hat.

      2. Bea W

        My last employer did some charity solicitation, but it wasn’t really intrusive or high pressure and often in conjunction with matching. In that particular workplace culture it was something the employees were interested in and encouraged management to engage in on occasion, particularly related to major disasters and raising money or donation of goods needed for immediate disaster relief. They also sponsored a group for a particular 5K run/walk every year. That was the one regular event. The others were as need arose and not frequent to be a bother, and no one pressured anyone else. There would be a global email announcement, and that was that. You were free to either contribute or ignore.

        1. cuppa

          I like the way my current workplace handles it — unfortunately there is no company fund for parties, gifts, etc. Someone volunteers their locker or drawer and puts an envelope in there for a collection. You can contribute as much or as little as you would like and no one knows who has contributed and who hasn’t so there’s no pressure.
          I realize that in some places this would be a security issue, but we haven’t had an issue here at all.

        2. Elizabeth West

          Mine does that too, and the company charity drive org has pancake breakfasts every so often. They just make pancakes and sausage in one of the break rooms and you throw $5 in and get breakfast. The money goes to charity. That’s my kind of donation. :) They had biscuits and gravy not long ago, but I missed it, darn it.

    2. Vanilla

      I agree – it’s the absolute worst!

      I give on a monthly basis to chartities/initiatives that I care about. I allocate money in my monthly budget for it in fact. Like you, I’m saving for a home and wedding, retirement, and just trying to pay my bills and *maybe* save a little bit for a rainy day.

      Don’t get me wrong – there are a lot of wonderful charities that are doing work that matters. But please – don’t ask me to donate to your charity because I feel like if I donate to one, I should donate to all. Honestly, I can’t afford to do that, so I just say “no” to all.

      My good friend works at a corporate office and her boss (who makes well over six figures annually) actually sent her subordinates an email recently that said something along the lines of “Hey, my daughter is participating in XYZ Charity Walk. I’ll be collecting money for her. I will stop by your desk at 10 a.m. tomorrow to pick up your contribution.” My friend was appalled but felt compelled to give. Situations like this are just. so. gross.

      1. majigail

        I have a personal rule that I’ll only do those things if the KID asks. Sorry Mom. Except for Girl Scout cookies. I will always buy Girl Scout cookies from anyone who has a hook up.

      2. Clerica

        You know…I used to have so much trouble saying no to people. I don’t know what happened recently, but it’s like I hit critical mass and decided that I’ve given enough and the answer will be no henceforth. However? If I’d gotten an email from a boss with that same obnoxious wording, I think even at my most timid something would have taken over and given her a Look of Contempt she’d remember the rest of her life.

        God.

    3. StevenO

      I really can’t stand what has now become a near-monthly request for “voluntary” contributions for someone’s birthday, someone’s baby, someone leaving, someone’s engagement, etc. If you don’t voluntarily contribute, you get at least two follow-up letters.

      1. Not So NewReader

        wow. I wonder how many hours go into that??? Are the letters paper? Then there is also company supplies.

        Don’t bother celebrating my birthday/anniversary/anything if you have to make people participate. I mean, what is the point.

      2. Jazzy Red

        I always thought that there would be party for me when I retired. However, I got laid off at the end of Oct ’13 and retired in Mar ’14. The only person who acknowledged my retirement was my insurance man. (Yes, I bought my medicare supplemental insurance from him, but he’s a really nice guy and would have congratulated me on my retirement even if I got my insurance elsewhere. He’s good like that.)

        1. Callie

          The last school where I taught, I was there for 14 years. Not retirement length, but I had been there longer than all the other teachers except for 2, and the secretaries. I was leaving to go to graduate school on the other side of the country. I got a hanging basket, which I had to give away because I couldn’t put it in a moving truck because it would have died. That was it. No card, no nothing. Made me feel pretty crappy.

    4. University admin

      my office has an annoying habit of taking up gift collections for extremely high-paid people or just for no good reason. In the <2 years I've been here, we've done collections for:

      *our former Dean who was demoted to a full professor with the same salary
      *a retiring professor whose pension will be 4x my salary
      *a retiring associate dean who also made 4x my salary
      *our interim dean who is going back to being a professor, as planned
      *an admin who worked with us for 2 months

      seriously? so annoying. I didn't really mind giving to the admin, since she was a sweetheart. But enough with the gift collections for the highest-paid people in the department already.

      1. TheSnarkyB

        Ugh, that’s so frustrating. Bosses at that level should refuse gifts, IMHO.
        You should check out the AAM archives and print out some of her awesome posts about gift giving (especially to people senior to you).

        1. University admin

          The retiring professor didn’t know about the collection, but when he found out he made us donate it to charity :)

  6. MR

    This sounds more like a ‘MLM,’ which anyone who is involved with one will be ADAMANT that it’s not a Ponzi scheme.

    But it works the exact same way as one, as the only people who ever make money are the ones that get in early, then they (and everyone else), loses once that particular MLM dies out and others rise up to take their place.

    People get suckered into these bogus things AAAAAAAAAAAALL the time, which is why new ones are always popping up. Just stay away and don’t be another person who loses an evening or two of their time and perhaps $100.

    1. Dan

      Well, in a true pyramid scheme, the *only* transactions that occur are new members funding the prosperity of old members. Take away the contributions and the system falls apart.

      MLM (multi level marketing) such as Amway has been around forever. Amway really is in the business of selling products, the only real money anybody puts in is a $100 sign up fee or whatever. If new members stop joining, they still have products to sell, and some of them are quite good.

      I dabbled with Amway a bit a long time ago, but got out of it because of the sleazy assembly line pitching you had to do. Every “open” meeting felt like a cult, not my cup a tea. But I won’t go so far as to say that MLM is a ponzi scheme. Slimy and cultish? Sure.

      1. MR

        What is the only way that MLMs continue to exist? They keep suckering people to come to the meetings, get people to buy a few of the products, before 99 percent of them move on.

        It may be legal, but it’s total operation depends on the constant inflow of new people.

        1. Kay

          But really isn’t that the way anything works? A business only runs if it continues to have customers. If everyone stops buying their stuff, they no longer make $. As long as Amway and Mary Kay and Tupperware and a whole host of others have products people want, they will stay in business. Yes people at the top make more than people at the bottom, but I have no problem with the idea of MLM… It’s the pushy nature that these people take that tends to make me shy away from them.

          1. MJH

            The focus isn’t mainly on customers, though, it’s on building your “team” (which is the network of people under you who also sell the product). In some MLMs, like Mary Kay, Avon, or Tupperware, the quality products can make you some money. But with most MLMs, the big bucks come from finding people to *sell* the products, too.

            It is not a Ponzi scheme or pyramid scheme, technically, as long as there is a product. But some of the so-called products that these businesses come up with are b.s. that let them slide by legally, while still being a pyramid scheme in practice.

            1. Jamie

              Exactly. If you make more money by recruiting other people than by selling the product it’s a pyramid scheme in my book. The product is just there to keep people from going to jail.

              1. Dan

                But you don’t actually make money by recruiting people alone. At some point someone has to sell something for there to be money to flow through the business.

                1. fposte

                  To be legal, yes. To be sustaining, no, so long as you keep drawing people in–in a lot of these, very few people earn in any significant way from sales. The MLM Wikipedia page has some interesting stats–note, for instance, that under 1% of the Mona Vie participants earned any commission at all.

                  For a lot of these, the product is the membership.

                2. MJH

                  No, that’s the thing. Say a company offers $1,300 in “personal improvement tools” (this is actually a thing). Some books, some DVDs, etc. Now, to join the company, you have to pay $1300. You get your tools, of course, but they are essentially useless. Your $1300 gets passed up to your sponsor. Then it’s on you to sell these same personal improvement tools to your friends, family, online contacts, etc. Of course, no one actually wants the books/DVDs, so they make promises of big $$$$, leaving your job, working for yourself, getting paid, etc.

                  Now, miraculously, you manage a sale. Somehow. You get $650 of the $1300 and the other $650 gets passed up to your sponsor (in some cases, the whole $1300 of your first sale gets passed up). Now, though, you have someone working under you. If they manage to make a “sale,” you’ll get money without actually having to do anything.

                  Money flows because people are willing to pay in. Of course, as with all pyramid schemes, you run out of suckers. Generally this leads to a rebranding or relaunch of the company with a new name and new products.

                  If you’re in the MLM community long enough, you start to see the same big names over and over again. These men (almost always men) will leave one company and take their entire downline to another company. The company they move to will pay them for this. This is how they continue to make big bucks. Hardly anyone else will ever make $$$ in this industry.

                3. Dan

                  MJH: Call me a sucker (read my other comments first) but I found some of the books on the Amway list to actually be decent, if not good reading.

                  Amway audiotapes? No thanks, but most of the books were certainly decent.

                4. MJH

                  I am not talking about Amway. I am talking about organizations for whom the entire product is “personal development tools.” There is essentially no product.

                5. Kelly L.

                  Dan, the new recruits are the customer. Many of these companies do not even track sales to the end user. They don’t care if anything ever gets sold to an end user. They track sales from the company to the salespeople only, and the upper levels make money on the commission from this. Meanwhile, the stuff just sits on people’s shelves because it’s all overpriced for the quality. It has to be–all those levels of commission add overhead.

                6. ser4ph1m

                  MJH, that is a *perfect* explanation. My dad is on his 4th or 5th of these companies. The only way they make ends meet is by my mom working 3 jobs.

            2. Stephanie

              My friend won a Mary Kay party from a drawing at her gym and invited some of us over. We got the sales pitch and some trials (although the consultant only did one eye for some reason, so I left looking kind of funny).

              I bought some products and was kind of underwhelmed, to be honest. It lasted about as long as the drugstore stuff. My hometown is the HQ of Mary Kay (Dallas), so there’s a loyal following there. I don’t get the hype, especially when you factor in the cost and dealing with a salesperson. Admittedly, I have a bit of a problem finding makeup (only the fancy stuff really seems to cater to us swarthy folks and I need full coverage due to hyperpigmentation).

              1. fposte

                I went to a Mary Kay party, hosted by an actual friend as a lark. We were not a good match for her pitch, but we had a good time; however, the promise that we wouldn’t be contacted afterwards proved to be untrue, and in fact I had been put down as being very interested. Yeah, no.

                1. Kelly L.

                  The one I went to, there was a questionnaire, and there were questions on the top sheet but it was really a carbon that marked a bottom sheet. The bottom sheet had different questions.

                  So you’d check the box for (I’m making these examples up because it’s been about 10 years) “I love hanging out with my girlfriends!” and on the bottom sheet it would mark you down for “I’m really interested in selling MK!”

                  (There were the same kinds of questions for the product. I got a million recommendations for products for senior women because I’d checked a box for wanting to get rid of skin discoloration, by which I meant acne scars, but the questionnaire meant liver spots. I was about 25.)

                2. Jennifer

                  In my experience, you are not allowed to say that you’re not interested. You are either VERY interested or somewhat interested. Never mind that I’ve said I literally don’t have the people to invite to parties.

                  My roommate got talked into throwing a candle party once. She invited me (the only one with a job) and a bunch of college students who had no money. Guess what: you’re obligated to sell a certain amount per party or else nobody gets paid, so guess who felt guilted into buying almost everything sold? Ugh, those parties.

        2. Katie the Fed

          “What is the only way that MLMs continue to exist? ”

          People like to think they’re going to beat the odds and make it big, I guess.

          1. Valar M.

            Yep. These companies have ridiculous conferences, and so much hype, and show how well their best sellers are that people get drawn in by everything sparkly and shiny.

            1. Kelly L.

              And if you don’t make money, they tell you you’re a lazy looser. No, not loser, looser, because for whatever reason this misspelling is endemic.

        3. Observer

          Not necessarily. I know that Herbalife is in trouble, and I’ve heard from people that Amway is cult-like (supported on this thread), but even Amways sells product and not just in these “parties”.

          I used Shaklee products for years – I stopped for a number of reasons which all came together when my Shaklee vendor retired due to illness. No high pressure tactics or anything like that. And, at the time I was using the products, it was well worth the money for me. It’s an MLM, but it’s not, from what I can see, unethical, and it does make most of its money from sales of products, including repeat sales. And is definitely NOT a Ponzi scheme.

  7. AVP

    I have a friend who is into something like this (I think it’s about weight-loss supplements). He wants to quit his job to do it full-time. When someone told him it sounded like a Ponzi scheme, he had never heard of that term and asked what it meant.

    It amazes me that some people make it to adulthood!

    1. Vanilla

      You would be surprised at how these MLMs “hook” you though. I have a friend who is very well-educated, smart, and sharp. She recently signed up with an MLM that shall remain nameless because she’s *heard* that she can make more money selling their products than at her day job (which is very well paid, all things considered). She is a new mom and would like to spend more time at home with her son, which is why she is considering working at the MLM full-time. It’s pretty sad because I know a big part of it is out of desparation and wanting to make her family her first priority.

      1. Katie the Fed

        They’re really, really common among military spouses (wives really). You basically end up with a cabal of people selling crappy merchandise to each other. On the one hand, it’s infuriating and illogical. On the other, these women have limited career options because of their husbands’ careers and want to contribute to the family and finances. It’s just crappy that these companies seem to prey on that.

        1. Vanilla

          That’s true. Another thing I learned in my research on MLMs (yes – I like to research things) is that they prey on women who don’t have a large social circle/that many friends. Many of these women are not only trying to make money, but are also lonely and are seeking friendship. I think we call agree that MLMs are kind of slimy and to me, this adds another layer of yuck.

          1. fposte

            I think this is true. I dug deep into the ranks of disgruntled Mary Kayers on the net not long ago (which you may have as well), and it really seemed like some people felt betrayed because people who’d embraced them as family were now punishing them for not being a good money stream.

              1. fposte

                Ooh, looks good, thanks.

                The one taste I had involved the saleswoman pushing signing up as a Mary Kay whatever because then we wouldn’t need a man to get ourselves a diamond ring like the one she wore. Since we were all professional women earning good salaries who bought ourselves jewelry whenever we pleased, this was a wildly unsuccessful gambit for us, but it was pretty revealing.

          2. Valar M.

            Which is strange too, because in order to make money in these MLMs you have to have a wide enough social circle that you can talk a decent percentage of people into it to actually become successful at it.

            I’ve also definitely seen them sell these things to moms on the idea that they are setting their kids up for the future and getting to spend more time with their children.

          3. Kai

            Yep. A cousin of mine who is a young mom set up a Facebook group to try and sell those “Younique” eyelash things. She really wants to be able to focus on parenthood and stop working full-time, so I understand the motivation, but no thanks.

        2. Stephanie

          A family friend tried to get me to join a MLM that sold prepaid legal services. I think you would buy legal services on retainer? At the time, I was still working in the legal field, so she was like “This would be great career development! It would look great to potential employers.”

          1. Ruffingit

            I always thought prepaid legal services was weird because really, few people are in need of legal services to the point where they should prepay for it. Most people might get divorced, need a will, or maybe to beat a traffic ticket. Other than that though, the majority of people don’t need legal services. So buying those things in advance just seems weird. Maybe it’s just me.

            1. Stephanie

              Well, right. I agree. That was the first red flag of many. How often does the average person need an attorney? I also figured for a divorce, a prenup, a will or trust, or some dispute like a traffic ticket. Those all seemed like one-off times (uh, I hope no one would need a divorce attorney on retainer). And those who would need an attorney on retainer probably wanted something more legitimate than an MLM contractor. I went home and I’d some research and realized it was an MLM and ran the hell away.

              The family friend kept badgering me. My dad was in town and she was like “I keep telling Stephanie about this opportunity and she’s not taking it!” My very blunt father was like “Please, Stephanie’s not interested in that sh*t.”

    2. cuppa

      I have a distant family member that is selling weight loss supplements. The constant marketing and sales pitch is starting to get annoying.

      1. chewbecca

        I’ve had to hide one of my Facebook friends because all she ever posts anymore is propaganda for that crazy wrap thing (their words, not mine). It got annoying to constantly see “I never thought I’d (X) but with It Works it’s so easy!!!!1!”.

    3. PJ

      I used to work for one of these companies — as in, I was an employee, in their office, drawing a salary. I will tell you that making money as an “independent consultant” is a rare and difficult thing. It takes more work and way more time than a full-time job.

    4. fiat lux

      One of my neighbors sells “green” products. She has totally drunk the Kool Aid and talks about how “revolutionary” the products are and how foolish people are for not “seeing the value.” She has a full-time job, but she’s always trying to sell the products in her spare time, creating facebook pages for her “business” and hosting “parties” in her home to sell this stuff. AND, as a representative of the company, she’s also committed to buying x dollar amount of product per month herself. She is clearly spending tons of money on this product and getting very little in return, but she’s convinced that if she keeps at it, she’ll eventually get rich. :(

  8. Jamie

    I don’t know how other businesses work but I’d be in serious hot water if I knew something like this was happening and I didn’t bring it to the attention of HR.

    I don’t care how good an employee is in other way, this is unconscionable and if they don’t immediately cease and desist after being told to stop they should be fired. I know it sounds harsh but shaking your co-workers down for money is a very big deal. Work isn’t a social group you can opt out of and people who are just trying to earn a living shouldn’t have to tap dance around this stuff.

    This kind of scummy behavior shouldn’t be tolerated and I can’t imagine why none of the coworkers who have already been approached haven’t said anything to tptb yet.

    And invitations to something like this aren’t something you politely decline or defer to another tbd time. Invitations like this should be met with the same kind of incredulity as invitations to an orgy, or a initiation to a religious cult issued on work time.

    Stamp this out like a bug.

    1. Katie the Fed

      “This kind of scummy behavior shouldn’t be tolerated and I can’t imagine why none of the coworkers who have already been approached haven’t said anything to tptb yet. ”

      Word. This isn’t an aggressive girl scout. This is someone willing to destroy your personal financial security for her own greed.

  9. BRR

    I just want to throw a possibility out there about telling them it’s a pyramid scheme; it may give you an additional headache. I had a similar but slightly different situation about a contact at a conference who was going on about this great business venture (not related at all to why we were there). When somebody asked what it was I wasn’t really paying attention and said a pyramid scheme. I did not hear the end of how it wasn’t a pyramid scheme for days. I’m not sure if she legitimately thought it was a good money maker or was just in denial but oh how I wish I had kept my mouth closed. She is also the person whose facebook is nothing but her trying to sell the product.

    1. Dan

      These people really get into their stuff. And they push it hard. One of their pitches is that “j-o-b-s” are for suckers.

      The thing is, I like mine, it pays well, it’s low stress, and has great benefits. Quitting my job anytime soon is not high on my priority list. Supplement my income? Sure. Quit? No. It’s hard to do business with people who won’t respect that.

      But I hated the whole assembly line/drone/lemming mentality, so I got out before I really even got started.

      1. Stephanie

        These people really get into their stuff. And they push it hard. One of their pitches is that “j-o-b-s” are for suckers.

        Ugh, I know. But if this was so lucrative, why is OP’s coworker still there? I get the appeal of side income or starting your own business, but there are non-sleazy ways to do this.

        1. BRR

          I feel like the effort vs. payoff isn’t worth it unless you LOVE sales and even then you might not earn enough. I feel like many times your target buyer are friends and family and you can easily alienate them by trying to squeeze money out of then.

          1. Ruffingit

            Totally agreed. The effort required to make this work on any scale that is feasible in terms of earning a profit is monumental and I don’t care to bother with that. And frankly, I’d argue it’s not only monumental, but probably impossible for the majority of people because there are only so many people you can sell to within your geographic area and/or on Facebook, etc. It’s just not going to net you what you need to make the effort worthwhile.

      2. nqdenise

        Oh you don’t want to get me started on the whole “jobs are for suckers” thing. My husband’s sister and her husband do nothing but hassle me for having a “W2 job” whenever I see them. It’s gotten to the point where I almost never talk to them anymore. I’ve learned they went to the same high school where they both had an Amway representative as their math teacher. They were thoroughly brainwashed by him. They both believe the only way to make any money is to own your own business (which is code for “sell MLM products”). Neither of them have ever had a “W2” job in their life, they’re approaching 50, have BK’d twice, and the only reason they have any money at all is through her husband’s inheritance. And I’ll never tell this to them, but I make more money at my “W2” job in one year than the two of them combined make in five.

    2. Mike C.

      To be honest, a lot of those schemes aren’t “pyramid schemes” only because the appropriate authorities haven’t gotten around to charging them yet.

      The line I’ve seen is how much money is made selling things versus how much money is made from kickbacks.

    3. Clerica

      This is actually the perfect example of why a “no-solicitation policy” in the workplace might not be enough unless it breaks down pretty much every situation they don’t want–joining anything, buying anything, being invited to anything, whatever. Because the sellers/recruiters are quick to tell you that it’s not a pyramid scheme when what it is is equally annoying as f*** . . . They’re not asking for a donation, they’re giving you an opportunity to improve the lives of others. (United Way’s speech at a previous job). They’re not selling the Girl Scout cookies, they’re providing a way to get them. (That one I sort of get because many people want them so bad, but it should be the buyers who come to you). And they’re not soliciting,, they’re trying to show you the Truth. (A pretty common response by Jehovah’s Witnesses if people try to point out that the community doesn’t allow soliciting).

      Methinks the seller doth protest too much.

  10. Katie the Fed

    WTF.

    Your coworker is either too stupid to understand what this is or (more likely) knows EXACTLY what it is and has no qualms about exposing her colleagues to financial hardships for her own greediness.

    I wouldn’t bat an eye about reporting this. Who cares if she gets in trouble? What she’s doing is unethical at best and illegal at worst. Not your problem to protect her.

    Absolutely report to her supervisor and/or HR. The company almost certainly has policies against this and should put a quick stop to it.

    Things like this make me very glad I work for the government where this is an absolutely no-no.

  11. Stephanie

    Minor quibble: pyramid scheme and MLMs aren’t the same thing. The former’s illegal, the latter’s legal (but sleazy!). OP, is your coworker doing any of this at work? My dad’s job had pretty strict rules about running side businesses during work hours (that was a fireable with cause offense). Same when I worked at the federal government.

    I got suckered into an MLM pitch once under the guise of a networking lunch. At the time, I was out of work. Soon as I figured out it was an MLM pitch, I declined interest. The pitcher then got really aggressive like “What? You’re just going to wait around for someone to give you a job? I’m offering you the chance to be an entrepreneur for the business opportunity of a lifetime!”

    1. Valar M.

      I always love when they call it “entrepreneurial”. Uh no, you’re not an entrepreneur at all, you’re working for someone else, they’re just less honest about it.

    2. OP

      I looked into it a bit more, and it is apparently an MLM (with many negative reviews by people who got out of it). Apparently it’s next to impossible to make money from it, and I saw the word “scam” in nearly every article/review I read.
      I was on my lunch break when I was approached about it, but apparently this person has talked about it during work hours to the people sitting around them. Things seem to have calmed down recently (I presume due to the fact that nobody has bought in as of yet) and I thankfully haven’t been approached again. However this person has recently returned from a “boot camp” where they received sales training. I’m hoping this doesn’t spark a second wave, but if it does, I’m prepared to firmly say I am not interested, and inform HR if things persist from there.

  12. VictoriaHR

    UGH. I hate MLM (multi level marketing) schemes. My kids go to a large daycare (100+ kids) and the director recently started doing that It-Works! crap. So there’s an IW table right inside the front door with “free samples” that my kids want to try constantly. It’s so unprofessional, I hate it.

    1. Coco

      Duuude, baiting the kids is an extra level of sleaze. Hadn’t heard of It Works! before; looked it up and it reeks of scam.

      1. Nina

        My thoughts exactly. That’s really low because the kids will just see new toys and gadgets to play with and try to badger their parents into buying them.

        1. VictoriaHR

          The instant my kids start to veer towards the table, I loudly say, “NO it’s a SCAM.” Maybe if the gals at the front desk hear me say it often enough, they will reconsider. We’ve given them some $30,000 over the last few years in day care fees, I’m sure they wouldn’t like us to leave over it. Not that I would. Probably.

  13. Ann Furthermore

    Ugh. This sounds shady and sleazy. I would have no qualms about going to HR or the person’s manager about this. People come to work to make money and support themselves, and shouldn’t be subjected to crap like this.

    Years ago a director I worked for started selling Mary Kay. She invited me to a party, which I felt obligated to attend, and I also felt obligated to buy some stuff, which I never used. It was very awkward. She said there was no pressure, but there was anyway, because she was higher up in the food chain than I was.

    My current boss’s daughter sells Girl Scout cookies every year, but that’s different. She sends out one email letting everyone know that she has the sign up sheet on her desk, and that’s it. She never brings it up again. It’s there if you’re interested, but if you’re not, that’s okay too.

      1. some1

        Yeah, I’ve never been invited to a sales party by a woman who also invited me over for a purely social event. Oh, I’m only good enough to come over as long as you get your free candle/mascara/skillet? Yeah, no thanks.

        1. Jess

          Yeah, I got one of those recently. The sad thing is I had recently met the woman through a friend and liked her and thought she genuinely wanted to be friends and was inviting me to a get-together.

          Silly me.

          Ugh. I just don’t understand how people think this kind of stuff is okay.

        2. Not So NewReader

          Yeah, I find this very annoying. Don’t pretend we are good friends, so I can by your candles/make-up/other crap.

        3. Jamie

          Me neither. I have heard, “I’m having this candle, jewelry, whatever thing but I know you hate that so I’m not asking you.” from people with whom I do socialize…so the people who know me wouldn’t even ask.

          But while it’s always disingenuous I also think it can be quite cruel to feign a friendship with someone who is lonely and believes it’s genuine.

          Heck, I have a distant family member that changed religions because he was lonely when they came knocking and they talked to him and offered friendship. Not just a little change in religions – a monster shift – loneliness is a powerful thing for some people and IMO it’s wrong to take advantage of that vulnerability.

        4. Clerica

          When I was new at a previous job, I got invited to a “party” I totally didn’t want to attend but went anyway. She asked everyone to bring food (yay) and I had so little money from being very part time and previously out of work so long that I had to bum brownie mix and an egg from my roommate. So I get there and it’s a candle party. Sigh. Well, I was kind of pissed that she’d made it sound like the party was purely social and would be perfect for me to get to know all the coworkers while we “let our hair down” when it was actually a sales pitch. So? I ate like a pig, won a candle in some stupid game, and bought absolutely nothing.

          She actually asked me in front of a cluster of people why I hadn’t! I had been seething for a while and I just smiled and said sweetly, “Oh, Jane, you know I’m only part time! I thought you’d heard me talking about being broke and invited me so I could get out for a change.” I hope she felt as awkward as I did during the silence. :/

        5. Callie

          There were so many people on my facebook feed doing all these sales parties that I finally posted something like, “If I’m not good enough to invite to your house/my child is not good enough to invite over to play with your children, then I am not good enough to be your customer. Do not invite me to your parties.” That put a stop to 99% of the “invites”.

  14. a cpa

    To my understanding, a Ponzi scheme is the investment scam that Madoff was arrested for, where a person poses as a money manger who has abnormally high returns on investments, even in economic downturns. The scam is that they use the new investors’ money to pay the returns for the existing investors, and no actual money is earned. It all comes crumbling when people start to pull their money out.

    That said, this doesn’t sound like a Ponzi scheme but like a typical pyramid scheme, some of which are illegal but most aren’t. Some people make money off of these, but most lose money because the company requires their salespeople to make upfront purchases. Even LiaSophia can be described as a pyramid scam. Most salespeople don’t make a profit because they always have to buy their new jewelry showpieces themselves. So the only way to make money is by signing up other people.

    But anyway… your coworker sounds obnoxious and that’s super inappropriate at work.

      1. LBK

        I think they’re colloquially used interchangeably, and since this isn’t a criminal proceeding or a law blog, does it really matter?

        1. ThursdaysGeek

          Well, kind of yes, actually. It does matter if the coworker is doing something many of us find distasteful or if the coworker is engaging in an illegal activity.

  15. Poohbear McGriddles

    Yeah, I wouldn’t get into trying to argue that it was a Ponzi/pyramid scheme – or even MLM. They’ve probably read a lot more propaganda about why it’s not any of those than you have about why it might be.
    One of the best things I’ve read lately is that “No” is a complete sentence. Giving reasons just gives them an opportunity to explain to you why they think your reasons aren’t valid. And being too busy is just delaying the inevitable – unless you can successfully put it off until they either become disillusioned with it themselves or go broke buying product that they never sell.

    On the other hand, if someone’s selling Thin Mints, it should be federal law to let me know ASAP!

    1. Bea W

      I bet there are more than enough people to create a lobby for Thin Mints. It could become the most powerful PAC in Washington.

    2. LBK

      It should be federal law to sell Thin Mints in stores year round. Damn you Girl Scouts and your artificial scarcity!

      1. Judy

        How our council’s hard deadline for turning in $ was explained was that at least in our state, if we sold for 30 days or less and it was a charity, and we didn’t have to pay sales tax. If it was more than 30 days, we had to pay sales tax, or at least do a lot more paperwork to get it exempt as a nonprofit.

      2. Saturn9

        I understand completely and I offer you methadone: Keebler makes Grasshopper cookies.

    3. Nina

      It’s weird, I adore mint chocolate, but for some reason, I do not love Thin Mints. I’ve sold them, I’ve eaten them, and they don’t wow me at all. My favorite cookie is the Lemonade. It’s freaking delicious and I cannot find it anywhere! It was only in my area for two years and it just disappeared. I even put my name on the alert list when they came to my area and still, no luck.

    4. Clerica

      I’ve read that about No being a full sentence, but it really is awkward and abrupt to leave it at that and there are many times you can’t risk offending someone by tone in the workplace. I’ve found that a cheerful “No, thanks!” followed by “Oh, no, thanks, I’m good!” if they persist is just as easy and they can’t really take that anywhere or get offended. It’s just offering explanations or excuses that’s the problem, because salespeople always have an answer and then you’re stuck. So I think whoever came up with that threw the baby out with the bathwater, lol.

      1. fposte

        I think it’s not meant literally (or, at least, I agree with you that that shouldn’t actually be the response); the idea is that turning something down can stand on its own and you don’t need to give an explanation as to why you’re saying no.

      2. Kelly L.

        This. It’s a catchphrase from a different board and is kind of a “gotcha” over there like dream job is over here.

  16. Sunflower

    Tell HR. This is a serious problem. Honestly, if someone continued pitching me these this stuff I would starting considering it harassment. Also, don’t the majority of workplaces have non-solicitation policies? This could fall through a loop hole but I still think it’s important that HR knows about it.

  17. Kelly O

    I do not want to sell anything.

    Not “health” supplements, not essential oils, not jewelry, not plastic storage containers, not makeup, nothing.

    If I look at your jewelry and think its pretty and want to buy one for me, I just want to buy one for me. Promise. I am not secretly jonesing to be part of your “team.”

    If I express interest in your essential oil, I don’t want to sign up to wholesale.

    I do not want to drink your shakes for breakfast or take your supplements. I will take a Centrum, thanks. If I tell you that you look great, that’s all it means. I do not want to hear about all that “insert product X here” has done for you. Promise. I am just paying you a compliment. If I want to know, I will ask.

    And if you start talking about your “team” I guarantee you I will probably stop listening. I got hooked in by someone who invited me to a “girls night” once that turned into Mary Kay Purgatory. Won’t get fooled again. (And I met this person at a legit networking event not at all directed toward this sort of thing. I guess I should have known when she complimented my makeup. I just wish she would have been honest about what it was.)

    1. cuppa

      I’ve been fortunate that all of my sales party invites have been clearly advertised as such, so I’ve never gotten the bait-and-switch. I have a few close friends that sell and I do purchase from them in the interest of friendship (but I only buy things that I actually want and try to stay away from things that I don’t want). The hard part for me is some of the products. Scentsy is renewable because eventually I will need more of those little wax things. But I only need so many Thirty-One bags or jewelry or whatever.
      My husband has a former co-worker that jumps on the MLM bandwagon all the time. One month she’s selling Tastefully Simple, then she’s selling PartyLite, then she’s selling Thirty-One…it just never stops. I had to stop just because I couldn’t take it anymore.

    2. majigail

      OMG. I have been to so many networking things lately with people selling this kind of stuff acting like they’re really there to do actual work networking. I’m not at this Chamber of Commerce event to buy your Scentsy or 31 or whatever. And I really am not going to promote your “business” through my charity for 10% of the profits!

  18. MaryMary

    Some companies also have a policy against their employees working a second job, especially if it’s on company time. It’s in my employment contract that I cannot take on other employment without my boss’s written consent. For us, I think it’s more to prevent us from moonlighting and consulting for current (or prosepctive) customers. But this context could also help you (and HR) feel comfortable addressing your coworker.

    1. Not So NewReader

      Yeah, really. She is on the clock for the company, not for the MLM. The company is not interested in paying her for her other work that is not relevant to the company.

  19. Brittany

    I hate this stuff. I hate people soliciting me for jewelry parties, Scentcy, any of that stuff. It belongs on your Facebook, not the work place. I even had someone invite me to a chocolate party once. Even if you don’t say anything, eventually this will catch up with your coworker through word of mouth to management.

    I had a coworker like this. When she got engaged, she had packed on a ton of weight, so she immediately signed up for this bogus weight-loss recruiting program and tried to get all of us to “join her team”. I was comfortable enough with her to be like, “Listen, this is a pyramid scheme and you’re going to get screwed.” When she rejected that, I told her she should at least knock it off at work before the higher-up’s caught wind of it. She didn’t, they did, and she got reprimanded for it.

    Totally unsurprisingly, she got fired after a few more “incidents” including but not limited to:

    – Getting falling down wasted at our company holiday party and bringing a breathalyzer to show everyone how drunk she was. When she got written up for this, she took the opportunity to blame everyone else for being “lame” and could not understand for the life of her why this was so unprofessional.

    – Buying a huge hot pink, glittered piggy bank and displaying it on her desk with a sign that said, “Wedding Fund: Please feed the pig!”. It was up for about an hour before people started complaining.

    – Sent out a calendar invite for a sex toy party at her house over the company Outlook. I think that was the nail in the coffin.

        1. Brittany

          He is no prize either. They are perfect for each other and he is so jealous of any male that comes in the vicinity of her, which is laughable.

          My favorite (totally unrelated but hilarious) story about her is when she came to a bbq at my house. She was fully on the scheme diet and proceeds to pull out of her bag: a hot pink cup that says “F-yeah I’m getting married!”, a smuckers caramel sauce, and a giant tub of cinnamon sugar. She rimmed the cup with the sugar, drizzled caramel sauce into the cup like you would a mudslide, and then poured a Bud Light into it telling everyone how good it was and how they had to try it. It was disgusting.

          We made burgers and we watched her load her plate up. She had a cheeseburger, bunch of other stuff, no big deal. At 10pm, out of no-where, she just announces she has to leave, takes her stuff with her, and then loads up a to-go plate with more food, including another two cheeseburgers. When she left, we kind of laughed about it saying it was a lot of food when my husband said she’d had another cheeseburger while hanging out with him outside.

          Four cheeseburgers. Her nickname will forever be the Hamburgler.

          She also came up to me at work that following Monday and demanded I return her caramel sauce she left at my house “because it was hers”. As if I wanted to keep it.

            1. Windchime

              I’m sure it’s totally different once you put the cinnamon and sugar around the rim. (gag)

          1. Stephanie

            I could see caramel notes in the right beer being delicious. Caramel sauce in Bud Light is an abomination. I gagged as well.

            1. Ann Furthermore

              Abomination is how my husband refers to turkey bacon. And this is another addition to the list.

          2. Vanilla

            A couple of observations:

            1. What’s up with this chick and the color hot pink?
            2. How are people like this actually getting married? I suppose there really is “someone for everyone” but give me a break. This is depressing for single, normal people.
            3. This woman gives a new meaning to the term “gross.”

            1. Brittany

              I have so many more stories about her but don’t feel depressed. Her wedding is going to be a trainwreck and her fiance is gross. She also loves hot pink…I’m pretty sure her bridesmaid dresses are like the hottest of hot pink Barbie with poofy 80’s sleeves.

              Also totally unrelated but she hung on to one of those tiny sweaters from the 90’s that looked like it fit a doll but then stretched normal when you put it on. She continued to wear it regularly and boast about she could fit into her high school clothes.

              I feel like I’m hijacking this thread but it’s a slow day and I have stories.

              1. Liane

                @Brittany. Please post more of these hot (pink) tales. Maybe on Sunday’s free-for-all.

                Pretty please?

                1. Jamie

                  If they want to judge all of us based on this one woman that’s their loss – me and you, Arbynka – we’ll stand strong in our love of the color that evokes images of Barbie, Bubble Yum, and all things happy.

                  Changed my gravatar just to sport the hot pink shades.

                2. Stephanie

                  I just glanced at the items on my person and you’d think I have a hot pink/pink obsession: a hot pink messenger bag, a pink floral umbrella, pink calculator, sneakers with a hot pink accents, and a pink phone cover. I feel slightly embarrassed. I am not like that woman.

                  Really, I just like bright colors in general. (And yellow’s my favorite color, actually.)

    1. Elysian

      Wow. The pig is so distasteful. It reminds me of people who crowd-source their vacation/wedding funds, expect the pig is more awful because its at the office.

      1. Observer

        Yes, but at least she’s honest

        Or clueless. I mean “feed the pig”? Is she really so stupid that she doesn’t realize she’s calling herself a pig? Boggles the mind.

  20. Human Resources Manager

    I can say as an HR Manager I would absolutely want to know about this and I would work with the employee’s manager to put a stop to it. This is unacceptable and disruptive to the workplace.

  21. Observer

    I think that there is a point that should be reiterated. The whole discussion about MLM vs Ponzi vs Pyramid schemes is interesting, but not really the issue here. It doesn’t make a difference WHAT this co-worker is selling, even if it’s 100% legitimate, non-sleazy etc. The item and company may be 100 ok, but the guy is 100% NOT ok anyway.

    1. “secret” invitations? If it needs to be hidden there is SOMETHING wrong, even if it’s just a matter of company policy or having been told by his supervisor to knock it off.

    2. Pressure and repeated “invitations”? At least on this blog, I don’t think I need say more. Yech!

    The fact that this is pyramid / mlm stuff does make it worse, of course, given the reality of that market.

    OP – does this guy have subordinates? Is he friendly with people who do? If he is even approaching any of the subordinates with this, then HR really, really needs to know about this. It’s beyond unethical and you should have no compunction about putting his job in jeopardy. I’m not saying you should try to get him fired, but just that you shouldn’t worry about that prospect in such a case.

    1. OP

      No, this person has no subordinates. As far as I’m aware no one in management or with any sort of “title” has been approached yet.

  22. Kate M

    Luxury vacations? I can almost guarantee that this coworker is pitching World Ventures, which is definitely a MLM scheme. They’re the people on Facebook in pictures holding up the “You Should Be Here” sign. I know a girl who got into this, and started pitching people in my friend group. She pitched my good friend, who was totally blindsided by it. This girl called up my friend “just to talk”, and then started on about the vacations she was getting to take through this, and then said, “wait a minute my friend ____ is calling on the other line, let me patch him through and he can tell you more.” Like it was just a coincidence he was calling at the same time. Totally fake and scripted, and you wonder how people think this isn’t totally transparent. The thing is, I always pegged this girl as being relatively smart.

  23. Mimmy

    UGH every time I see the horror stories about MLM schemes here, it takes me back to when a good friend from grad school tried to get me into her scheme. She even went so far as to give our phone number to someone on her team without our permission! That was the last straw for me; we have not been in contact since. She was probably desperate–I think she had trouble finding and keeping a decent job in our field, and went with this scheme.

    OP – What your coworker is doing is not illegal, but definitely not appropriate during working hours. If she approaches you again, just reiterate, politely, that you are not interested and are especially not comfortable doing this during working hours. If she balks, I’d go to her manager.

    1. Mimmy

      Oops – just re-read the letter and remembered that the legality of this was NOT specifically asked about…sorry.

    2. bridget

      I recently had a Mary Kay representative call me to tell me one of my friends had given her my contact info as part of a “secret girlfriends” program, and would I like to set up a time to try some exciting new products, etc. etc.. The name of the program suggested it was like a cute slumber party game, instead of giving my cell phone number to a salesperson without my permission. I wish I had demanded to know which “friend” that that would be cool with me, so I could cease being “friends” with her.

      I know Mary Kay sells legit products that people like. But no matter how normal/legit the product, I will *always* prefer to do my own shopping and selecting without the assistance of a salesperson. It’s even worse when it’s not just arms-length customer service, but a friend-of-a-friend who is taking advantage of social, not business, norms to make money off of people.

  24. Lily in NYC

    I love saying no to crap like this. It actually makes me gleeful. But MLMs aren’t really a big thing in NYC so I rarely get the chance. But I sure had fun when the office evangelist tried to give me a Bible. Oh and I got ambushed by a Mary Kay lady in Florida recently – what a joke. “You are a really sharp-looking gal and I’d love the chance to give you a free facial and pampering session”. Which really means “Please come to this creepy session where I make you put on your own makeup and then give you the hard sell to try to get you to sell this stuff”.

  25. Case of the Mondays

    The only MLM I actually ever seriously considered was Damsels in Defense. I’m really interested in women learning self-defense and having the means to defend themselves. While I’m not a fan of the MLM model and not a fan of having weapons in pink (they should not look like toys) I liked the fact that it was bringing self-defense options to women. I find that whenever I talk about my previous law enforcement work, women always want to know self-defense moves. When I talk about tazers and what not they want one. But few actually will go to a gun store and get one. If I had a home party with a catalog and they could order right there I think I would sell a ton. I just didn’t think I had the time to dedicate to the sales (parties) and I also worried if the products were quality or not. The line in the catalog looked good and I might just host a party rather than signing up to sell.

    Also, I’m actually in the market for a new knife set. If Cutco/Vector is quality and if anyone’s kid is currently selling them, let me know lol.

    1. Lily in NYC

      They are way overpriced. I just bought a set by the swiss army knife people and it is fantastic. You can find it on Amazon. Other good brands are Wüsthof or Henckelsbut they are pretty expensive. I have a bunch of Wüsthof knives and I actually like the Swiss Army ones much better even though they were less expensive.

  26. Valar M.

    I wish along with these MLM sales pitches they would list the other “perks” of being an “entrepreneur”:
    – lose your real job, you know, the one that pays you the same amount on a regular schedule
    – lose all those pesky friends and family by alienating them with your sales pitches, watch as they avoid your calls and seeing you in public
    – watch your bank account dwindle to nothing!

  27. Claire

    The worst is this new “virtual” party trend. I wouldn’t want to go to your house for cheap wine & snacks and be sold to, but at least that’s sort of pretending that it’s a social occasion. No way am I buying random overpriced jewelry “from” you online.

  28. SouthernBelle

    I might be shooting myself in the foot here, but I’m connected to a company that has a MLM component and, I must say, yes, you have people who go in whole hog and turn into insufferable pests wherever they go. Those are the types who don’t observe boundaries, and work should definitely be a boundary. It’s one thing if someone at work asks you about the product or opportunity that you represent; then you can plan a time or place to talk with them about it. But selecting your victim and darting out of the shadows to give them the secret invitation to lunch or whatever is creepy and actually gives fairly legitimate companies bad reputations (not to mention sends that person to the “ignore” list). I joined my company because I wanted something to do while I’m job searching, I already use the products and believe that they’re beneficial and I wanted to support other family members who were doing it. But I turn down many many more simply because I refuse to be part of something that I don’t feel I can stand behind.

    Sidenote: I’m probably one of the worst when it comes to sales and my upline more than likely wishes I’d hustle more, but I refuse to be the pest and let a product or company take over my life. If more people did that, then MLM probably wouldn’t have the bad rep it has.

  29. jesicka309

    The only solicitation I think is ever acceptable is the box of chocolate bars on the breakroom table.

    They’re always cheaper then the vending machine, so they go like hotcakes. AND giant Caramello Koalas. LOVE LOVE LOVE for only a dollar? Done.

    Once, my boss was raising money for his neighbour’s kid, who had a heart defect. He noticed that I was always grumbling when the caramello koalas ran out, and he jokingly said “maybe instead of getting the assorted box, I just get a whole box of caramello koalas?”

    The day he brought the box in, I bought all 40. Best $40 I’ve ever spent. :) Please bring more cut price premium chocolate to the office people!!

  30. Prickly Pear

    As someone that still bears the scars of having a MLM childhood (I would listen to the cassettes, y’all) just no. You can’t make me go back!
    I have to say though that my aunt threw a Mary Kay party that was basically an excuse to eat fried fish and spaghetti and drink Arbor Mist, all while gossiping about other family members and convincing my non-makeup wearing grandma to ‘do her eyes’. SO much fun, and while none of us bought anything (I don’t even remember the host getting her order sheets out, but see above Arbor Mist) I remember being impressed by the makeup.
    On another, sadder note, I have someone now that I’ve been avoiding for months, because she’s into it seems all the MLMs out there, and while she’s so nice, I couldn’t be more hostile about the products in question.

  31. Jazzy Red

    Allison said in her last paragraph “Can we have a rule that bans any pressure tactics designed to get people to open their wallets at work?”

    Several places I worked had that rule. Not just for monetary contributions, either (helping with This Good Cause or That Good Cause, for example). People were sometimes allowed to put out a sign up sheet in the break room for Girl Scout cookies or a school sale, but they were not allowed to approach coworkers for them.

    They still sold a lot of cookies, but people who didn’t want to buy weren’t annoyed by that.

  32. curiouserann

    When I see my acquaintances hawking fingernail stickers, soy shakes, human sized plastic wraps, cashing gifting, cheap jewelry, ugly handbags, and other “work from home and make money” opportunities, I sometimes want to take to facebook and just repeatedly post things like

    Make $120 or more EVERY DAY!!! $$$$$ Just ask me how. :) !!! :) :) <3 :D

    (IF anyone asks, I'll let them know that all you have to do is develop skills that will allow you to demand at least $15/hr for your services, and then work an eight hour day. If you do it 5 days a week, you'll earn THOUSANDS!)

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