The Dark Side Of MLM

Is it right that MLM has such a negative image?

If you search around the internet then you are likely to find a great deal of negative information levied at multi level marketing (MLM).

One of the most often aired criticisms is that multi level marketing tends to legitimise what is otherwise nothing more than an illegal pyramid scheme.

In reality, it is probably the case in most, but not all, MLMs that the business model is sound.

However, unscrupulous managers and recruiters often misrepresent the business in order to further their own ends.



Is multi level marketing so very different to the business world at large?

After all, in a traditional business there is likely to be CEO with board directors beneath him.

In the workplace there will be a manager with supervisors beneath them.

Under those supervisors will be a legion of workers.

In such a case, everyone is working harder than the person above whilst earning less money.

Therefore, would it not be fair to say that working within a regular job is tantamount to participating in a legalised and accepted form of pyramid hierarchy in which there is no chance of ever earning more than the person above you?

Would it also be fair to say that of all those people at the bottom of the traditional workplace set-up, only a very few will ever progress upwards, and only a very, very tiny percentage will ever reach the top?

Obviously factors such as background, wealth, family, and connections can facilitate entry to the corporate pyramid at differing levels but, ultimately, only a few will ever perhaps earn as much as they are truly worth.


One area in which multi level marketing certainly comes under fire is recruitment.

Just as in a traditional and expanding business, the basic cornerstone of multi level marketing is to leverage the success of others.

Someone promotes and sells a product.

They then recruit a friend, to sell the same product, and they get a percentage of their friend’s earnings.

The original marketer then also receives a proportion of any profits made by individuals that his friend recruits.

As a marketer signs up more affiliates, the more they stand to make from residual income.

If the multi level marketing business they are involved with is sound then they will also still sell the original product and will earn far more from those related commissions than from their small shares of downstream commissions.

Unfortunately though, many MLM programs are not properly portrayed to prospective recruits.

A quality MLM is based heavily upon sales, however, this is not always made clear to new representatives – some representatives will make claims that the product will sell itself, or that it will create overnight riches, if only you buy the starter kit.

In such instances they are selling a fantasy, not the reality of the real MLM program, in order to make profits for themselves.

As the old adage goes, ‘If something sounds too good to be true… it probably is’.


I don’t doubt for one minute that there are people earning good money from a variety of multi level marketing programs, despite the fact that many really are scams.

Some are genuine though, and potential earnings can be huge.

However, the wrong program will always be the wrong program.. whatever you do, it will never work for you.

A true MLM program focuses primarily on product sales, not recruitment.

If you are someone who is able to develop a large group of recruits then that should be seen as a great bonus, but selling the product should always be the main goal.

Any program that focuses mainly upon recruitment is both a pyramid scheme and also illegal.


Another criticism levied at multi level marketing businesses is that is the management can be unethical or ineffective.

It is a fact that those at the top of any business are almost certainly making the most money, whether they readily admit that or not.

When a manager or representative attempts to recruit someone new by giving assurances that their income is typical, easily achieved and requires little effort, then they are being misleading and are misrepresenting the reality of how network marketing really works.

A senior member of an MLM program has the advantages of time and experience.

They may well have built a high residual income over several years, but they certainly did not begin with the earning levels they currently enjoy.

Just about anyone who has ever experienced a meaningful level of success with an MLM program has learned the ropes and developed their skills and abilities over a period of time before they were able to climb the financial ladder.

The speed at which someone can learn and become successful will obviously vary, according to their own personality traits.

For someone to suggest that progress can be measured against their own yardstick is simply not true.


Personally, as many readers here already know, I am not a fan of multi level marketing.

However, I am aware that many people can, and do, earn a good level of income from various types of network marketing.

When you consider that any business, MLM or not, works on a hierarchical backbone then it does put some anti-mlm complaints into perspective.

Many of the MLMs that I have reviewed have appeared on these pages because I am predisposed to finding the ones that may be bad apples, due to the nature and theme of this site.

As stated above, everyone is different and so we all perceive multi level marketing in different ways too.

What works for one person may prove to be a spectacular failure to another.

What makes one person a millionaire can appear to be a scam to the next recruit who joins.

Ultimately, anyone interested in joining a MLM should perform due diligence and make their own mind up, without any external pressures affecting that decision.


I’ve said before that multi level marketing is dead.

I’ve also aired my views on several different MLMs too.

Please feel free to leave comments on those posts.

All I ask is that you respect peoples’ rights to have differing opinions.

Feel free to disagree with anyone as vehemently as you like, just focus on what they have said and not on their individual personalities!

If you feel strongly about multi level marketing then you are welcome to submit your own article, the only condition being that it has to be helpful rather than just a sales pitch – please contact me if you would like to do this.

About Lee Munson

Lee's non-technical background allows him to write about internet security in a clear way that is understandable to both IT professionals and people just like you who need simple answers to your security questions.


  1. You are very welcome Mr(?) Scam.

  2. This is a truly excellent article that highlights a lot of points about MLM both positive and negative, I will have to read it all again because of the length of it but really well done for giving a balanced view.


  1. […] most readers will know, I don’t like the multi level marketing […]

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