Wednesday, June 5, 2013

My 2 Cents Thoughts about World Ventures

I am one of the few people that thinks that everyone should be entitled to their own beliefs, even though those beliefs may differ from yours. Which means that although I may not subscribe to your belief, I would not judge you for having them and neither would I try to change it. It's when your try to impose your beliefs unto others, or try to use a certain kind of deception to get others to adopt your beliefs. And one of those people are the ones from the MLM companies.

Throughout my time in Ipoh, I've been approached by tons of people trying to pull me down as their downline before. From Amway to Sunrider to Island Red Cafe, I've seen it all. Each of them tries to offer different products under different marketing scheme and cover story but the core of the whole thing never runs far, you have to recruit people (most people end up recruiting friends) and the people you recruit have to pay a certain amount of money in order for you to make money. Be it health products, household items or even shares in a restaurant, the mechanics never change. In order for you to make money, you have to attract people to be your downline.




I thought the days where people try to covertly invite me to some "inspirational" talk would be long over when I came to Singapore. Never have I been so wrong. 

I've started to hear about an organization called World Ventures recently from a friend of mine, who was complaining to me about how her housemates are constantly trying to sell her a membership and trying to invite her to their talks. Initially I did not pay much attention to the company because I thought as long as nobody bothers me I shouldn't care about it, and it's other people anyway, but when me and my friends were invited to an "event" held at this place called Majestic at Chinatown recently, it did a very good job in getting me interested in the company and getting me motivated to write about it.

Before I start to talk about the company though, what it does and the legitimacy of it, I would first share the experience from my own perspective. I was invited over to dinner on one night by a friend, who said that there was something that I need to see. It was very mysterious at first, and being curious, I agreed. Up until the night itself, I have no idea what the dinner was. Only when I arrived at the venue that I found out that it was not only me who was invited to the event, but 8 other friends were also there, all having no idea why we were there.

Only when I walked in to the building did I start to smell something fishy and when I saw my friend holding the World Ventures file on her hands, I immediately knew something was wrong. Thank God that my mother chose to call me at the right moment so I bolted with an excuse. I have been to too many of these talks to know what they are going to talk about.


team leaders, captains, etc, it's all the same thing


I met up with my other friends who sat through the talk later and they confirmed what I already expected. There's a speaker who tries to convince you to join their club, organization or group or whatever you choose to call it, using the good ol' speech that he wants you to succeed, you can be successful through their company, you can gain benefits through it and using a lot of videos of successful people as a backup.

From what I heard, they used a testimonial video from Gurmit Singh to try to convince the people there, including my friends, about how he's a part of the "team", how he managed to get 2000 people in 5 months and how World Ventures is like durian, just because people like me don't like it, it doesn't mean that the product is bad. The scarier thing is how my friends describe how the existing members would clap at the same time as if it was cued and how sad it was to see a friend clapping together.

Going back to Gurmit Singh, it's really a classic advertising technique, using a famous celebrity to endorse your product in order to increase its value. But just because David Beckham uses Nike shoes, that doesn't mean you can play like David Beckham when you use Nike shoes right? Besides, there's a reason why Gurmit Singh is able to earn so much success in the first place. He is a celebrity for goodness sake. Even if his story holds true, sure, he only need to convince 7 people in order for him to get 2000, but that doesn't mean you'll get 2000 if you convince 7 too, just because the friends he know is not the friends you know. Being a celebrity of course means that his friends might hold a certain type of influence and unless you can get your CEO or famous friends to be your downline, there's a high chance you wouldn't even go anywhere near Gurmit's success.


Source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GnQyNVYkhSI


Okay, now to what World Ventures do. From my understanding, they are a group that sells travel packages in a very cheap fee because they buy in bulk (a friend of mine kindly pointed out that's what Groupon does too) and as a member you'll get to enjoy the benefits of cheap travels and going to awesome places around the world. They use a lot of pictures of happy members with the banner "You should be here" and stories of successful members, how Mr A has been able to earn 30k per month, retire at the age at 30 and now travelling the world, for example, to entice people to join. Of course, should you want to join, there's a membership fee to pay and also a monthly maintenance fee, which will be waived if you manage to get 4 members to sign under you.


the signature pictures with blue banners


While I don't deny the fact that some people do find success through schemes like this, I wish to point out that the same applies to whatever career field that you're looking at. The only problem here is that more often than not, it's only the successful people that you get to see in presentations, not the ones who are struggling with it.

To use football as an analogy. Lets say I want to market the career of a footballer to you. I would tell you how awesome a footballer's life is, how you can make tons of money and fame just by playing football and I would then proceed to give you examples of how Ronaldo, Beckham and Messi are living the dream for example, having big houses and such just by being a footballer. All you need to do, of course, is sign a membership fee to join our football club and to sign up 4 other people in order to get your dream started. 

What I fail to mention to you, however, is that there are thousands of others struggling footballers in smaller clubs who can't make enough to feed their family through footballing and need to rely on other petty jobs to fill in the gap. But the success stories of the top footballers itself is more than enough to attract you so you willingly part with the membership fee without knowing of the rest of other members who are not making as big. The same story goes to organization like these.


pepsi for example, can get people to join their football club just through using these big names


To be honest, it would be interesting to conduct a simple statistical survey across groups like World Ventures. Sum up the total earnings of all the members and divide it among the total number of members. If the average earning of a member is significantly higher than the average of the population, then yes, being a World Ventures member would indeed increase your money. The thing is, while the top members are earning a lot in World Ventures, you  have the bottom ranked members (who are much more in numbers) who are paying the membership fees every month (in essence their net gain is negative) so I would predict those two to cancel each other out and the average earnings of a World Ventures member to not be significantly different from a non-member. Simple as that.

Or you could simply take the number of successful people and compare it with the rest to see what the percentage of successful members is like. Using Gurmit Singh's example, I would take him and his immediate 7 people as successful members, while the rest of the 1992 as not (a very rough gauge) and you would have a 0.4% of being successful when you join World Ventures. Of course, the number could be higher depending on how you measure success (say the earnings per month) but the percentage itself shows that joining World Ventures is not a definite guarantee of success. You still need chance and a lot of hard work to succeed, which is no different from any other thing you do in real life.


like they say, there's no free lunch in this world


Perhaps the thing that I dislike most about companies like this is how dependent it is on finding downlines in order to ensure your success. To be honest, I could never get myself to ask friends to be my downline, pay a sum of money for me and to work their asses off to find other members in order for me to be successful. In a way, you're abusing the friendship to gain something for yourself and inconvenience the friend at the same time in order for you to reap the benefits, which is very selfish from how I see it. 

If you want to convince strangers that is totally fine with me because that's how sales work, but trying to get the friends part is just cheap. More often than not, you'll see people trying to use deception (like how the whole purpose of this event was hushed up) and you'll see friendships break because of this because your friend could not earn as much and have trouble finding downlines. I mean come on, how could something that is supposed to be good can break up friendships?

The even sadder thing is how a friend who has joined MLM schemes such as this become more and more attached to it, willing to defend it from any criticisms and would turn hostile if anyone dare mention the negative effects of the company in front of him/her. It's mainly, cognitive dissonance, to be honest, where someone would form a strong identity towards something that they have worked hard for in order to protect their self-esteem. Besides, if a friend disagree with you over this, the friendship would naturally break or strain, causing you to gravitate more towards those who share the same thinking as you (which is World Ventures is awesome) and naturally your views would become more polarized and extreme as all your friends share the same view as you.




Of course, if I am allowed to go on, I could continue to list down why you should think twice before joining World Ventures but as my prof in university puts it, you should never believe in a thing too quickly and must always spend time to seek out the correct information. What I present are views that are entirely of my own but I believe that as much as people in World Ventures are allowed to tell people how awesome their company are, we should also be allowed to present the opposing side of the story.

Just a simple Google search of World Ventures scam would return you numerous results, and the articles there are much more informative than what I have to offer. Just look at the following websites to see for yourself the other side of the story:

There are many other posts in forums, which I think is not that hard to find if you have a working internet connection, so take time to research thoroughly about this company before committing to it, should a friend ask you to.

To be honest, I can't help but feel sad or disappointed every time I see one of my friends getting involved in schemes like this. I don't blame them though, I just blame the evil minds behind such schemes who enjoys sucking the money out of honest people. I just wish Singapore and Malaysia could instill a law like the one in China, where it's illegal to do multi-level marketing or network marketing and anyone caught trying to do it will be put in jail. And yes, you know something is wrong when the job you're doing is illegal in some countries.

Edit: A lot of people have been flaming me, my age and my "inexperiences" in condemning World Ventures. While I admit that yes, I may have not actually dabbled in MLM before, I also believe that age does not reflect your maturity and do let me clarify something. I noticed that a lot of people have been using the argument that every business has risks and you join World Ventures at your own discretion. If you fail to make money it's not World Ventures fault. I believe that there's a need for me to revise what I have said.

True. You are right. Every business has its risk. But in those business, when you fail, you don't drag others down with you. You know what I am most pissed about MLMs? It's that it involves nothing but deception and leeching money of people who are supposed to be your "friends". You tell them that you want them to succeed, but honestly, you just want them to continue to slog and find downlines for you so you can have more money. That's no different from a con artist.

I'm perfectly fine with MLMs that at least has tangible products (though sometimes may be overpriced) like Amway. At least then you're legitimately selling something. While the product in World Ventures is holiday packages, how often can you use it as compared to a dishwasher for example? Not as often, I'm afraid. In the end, you have to bluff others to join you, offering this illusion called "your own business" dream when it's in fact no different from going out and trying to cheat as many people as possible to be your downline, playing on their hopes and dreams. It's this kind of tactics that I hate most about in MLMs.

It's not about owning your own business, it's about making others pay for you. I am against unethical practices, be it what business you're in and MLM just seems to exacerbate the problem.

Disclaimer: Views posted on this website is entirely of my own and does not represent World Ventures in a whole. 

Update: A lot of WV sympathizers have descended unto this post en masse, and I believe that there's a need to address the issues that they're bringing up, especially since almost all of the arguments used centers around 2 points (which I think must be the textbook reply that WV reps are taught to use) and they are: 

1. Victim blaming. That those who complain about World Ventures are those who are not trying hard enough. They are simply not hardworking. It's not WV's fault if the reps fail, it's solely the individual's fault for being not hardworking enough. If you join WV and fails to make any money, it's simply your fault for being not hardworking enough. 



Reply: Really? When it comes to being hardworking, not matter where you go you can be successful, even a cashier at McDonald's. The problem here is that I am not targeting the reps itself, but rather the entire system. It's not about whether you can earn money or your hard work in WV that I am talking about, it's how you earn it. No matter how hard you try and how much you're earning, it doesn't change the fact that you are basically ripping off the money of your downlines. I mean if you really want to focus on the problem of hard work, even a thief can be successful if he works hard enough, stealing 24 hours a day. However, that doesn't change the fact that the nature of his job is wrong, and the same goes for WV.

2. All other companies are MLM's just like WV. McDonald's, corporate, etc are the same with the same structure. So why only focus on WV?

Reply: I believe many of the commentators have sufficiently raised the answer to this point, and I will just repeat them here.

In companies like McDonald's, you are PAID according to the hours you work. Meaning that there's a net positive income at the end of the month in your bank account. You don' get that in WV. In fact, when you first start out, your net income is negative, because you're paying for the monthly fees and all the "training" workshops. Honestly, in which organizations do you need to pay to work under than in MLM? And in organizations like McDonald's, at least you're covered under employment law, if your manager do something bad to you (like withholding payment), you can sue. I am not sure if WV reps are covered under any law itself. Nuff said


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