My Idiot Family Bought Into Multi-level Marketing

“Hi, I’m Greasy Gary from Rainbow, and I’m not here to sell you a vacuum, I’m here to make your life better. Completely change it.”



To be fair they do make pretty nice vacuums that are made well but still not worth the $$$$ they want for them.


Nice vacs, but they’re not worth the 3K reps want for it. A Sirens is nearly as nice and 1/3rd the price.

Direct sales is hell. Eat the rich.


At least it’s not Herbalife?


My sister is married to this guy who always has a scheme going. He supposedly sells commercial real estate and there is always a big sale cooking that just gets away. Meantime my sister works for both of them or my mom loans them money.

A few years ago he decided “they” should get into selling Mellaluca. Great products but not worth the pitch to join the MLM at any price. Aaaaand guess who ended up being the one in that family selling it?

They stuck with it a long time. Fortunely it’s over. I never bring it up. My sister has a real borderline personality and joined up with some missionary Jesus cult thing in college that she is now deeply ashamed of. I didn’t know how to point out the similarities in a kind way. It’s hard to watch her struggle with basic ego definition for so long in her life.


I know, right?

It’s not the goods themselves are the issue (though they’re overpriced). It’s the fucking outright fabrications that surround it. Like, uh, “Gary” claiming to make 400K a year as personal pay from Rainbow. Come on, dude! Why the fuck have you not retired, then, hm?

It’s as ridiculous as claiming Pastor Joe can walk on water.

I say this with all the possible love, but goddamn, God and salesmen love dumb people. (And, I guess, so does Donald Trump)


Not to mention, anyone who works for one of those MLM companies as a salesperson is classified as an “independent contractor,” so they get no benefits or health care. At least, that was the case when my bookstore went under and I wound up attending several “interviews”/sales pitches to join their scam organizations.

(No, I didn’t go for any of them. It wasn’t a reliable stream of income-- I’m an okay salesperson, but not that good. Plus it seemed kind of sleazy, since to truly succeed you were supposed to recruit people to work under you, like a pyramid scheme.)


Maybe show them this?


Saw one at an estate sale with allllll the attachments for $40. Grabbed that one right up.

But now I don’t have any carpet in my house, so it sits in a closet.


I had a friend in college who went for the Amway thing. The deodorant then was called “Deter.” WTF? I think he dropped it pretty quickly.


My late brother and his wife were all into the MLM of the week in his last years.

He tried to sell one of the miracle cures to me once and I had to gently let him down and we all agreed I wouldn’t bust on them and they wouldn’t sell to.


My cousin does a lot of this shit. The worst one was It Works, where sellers were specifically told to into stores and target new moms who might be tired and self-conscious about their new bodies.



Are these like Kirby, sold door-to-door for five times what the competition costs? Friends of ours caved in to the high-pressure hours-long sales pitch quite a few years ago. Since then I’ve seen a number of Consumers’ Union reviews that rate Kirby somewhere in the middle of the pack. (We just bought a Shark stick vac at Costco and, just like the Kirby home demo, it picked up all sorts of stuff that our old Panasonic hadn’t.)

I once went on a week-long training course on protective relaying, and after one class the instructors for that day invited the group for a get-together that evening, at which they promised to tell us about an exciting business opportunity. I confess I was somewhat of a smartass in those days (I’ve grown out of it since) and I joked, “It’s Amway, isn’t it!”

Cold stares and silence from the instructors. I didn’t attend the evening session, but yep. Amway.

From what I’ve heard of C_tco knives* they recruit a lot of university students, who sell a few sets until they run out of relatives and family friends, then end up with a large stock of unsold product.

*If you say the name, the shills arrive within hours.


Honestly, the Rainbow I had was a decent vacuum…when I had a house full of carpet

The feature of a Rainbow is that it has no filter. You fill a reservoir with a couple of quarts of water and as you vacuum, all the dirt and pet hair and stuff gets trapped in the water. When you’re done, empty the reservoir and that’s it. I have the whole carpet cleaner attachment which did an okay job.

The downside is it is bulky. It’s a canister vac, so you have to deal with that. You have to prep it before using (fill it with water). You have to dispose of the dirty water. You have to yell at other house members who don’t empty it. You have to devote too much space to storing it.

If you have a house full of carpet and can pick up a like new Rainbow for $50, it’s an acceptable vacuum.


I’m starting to write a longform portfolio piece I tentatively title Rainbow: Anatomy of a Pyramid Scheme. Probably going to just throw it up as a standalone website.


That’s just a sad article. We need to teach kids to be more savvy people. Maybe through a model Mary Kay, like a model United Nations, to show just how unfair it is.


I suspected this is what you were talking about but I didn’t know the brand name - your description confirms, my girlfriend’s dad, an immigrant with imperfect English, bought one of those from a salesman. I don’t know how long they’ve had it but she said he makes everyone use it and has never let anyone buy a different vacuum - but everyone hates it because it’s complicated and big and heavy. I would expect her dad hates it too but he’s not someone who would ever admit a mistake. I didn’t realize they cost so much - not sure how he afforded it.

The multilevel marketing of today is far worse than the old traveling salesmen, but still, the 1969 documentary “Salesman” is remarkable, and hard to watch but you can’t look away. They push ridiculously expensive bibles on people who clearly don’t need, want, or can afford them, and many end up buying them because they’re too nice to say no. What it really gets at though is what kind of people these guys are and how they cope with what they’re doing. It’s fascinating stuff.


I can’t find a link to the exact story, but the link below mentions the behaviour: salespeople who refuse to leave until you buy something. There was a case several years ago where a man called the cops on two salespeople after they refused to leave for several hours.

I think it’s like with vampires – the trick is not to invite them in at all.


There are many horror stories about women and the elderly being threatened and intimidated by teams of salesgoons.

My wife got a call yesterday from someone who, purely by chance, was going to be in our neighbourhood today and was offering a free “visual inspection of our carbon monoxide monitor”, whatever the fuck that means.

After she hung up, we took the opportunity to discuss and reinforce our mutual credo that “if they call or knock, it’s a scam. Every time. No exceptions.”