Shop To Earn Lawyer Bullying Bloggers

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As expected, Gerald Nehra, the attorney for ShopToEarn sent me an email intended to bully me into not writing about Shop To Earn. Here’s his letter:

I represent ShopToEarn and advise them on direct selling legal matters.

You are on notice to CEASE & DESIST your disparaging and potential libelous references to ShopToEarn and the unapproved use of the ShopToEarn logo on your website.

The ShopToEarn program is legally and economically sound, and the company will take all steps necessary to protect its’ rights.

Gerald Nehra
Attroney for ShopToEarn

And here is the response I sent him today:

Gerry – Thanks for your note. As free speech is protected under the Constitution of the United States, I will continue to analyze and critique Shop To Earn. I’m sure you’re aware that the law clearly allows me to voice my opinion about the program, even if that opinion differs from yours or is negative about the company. If I’ve cited any incorrect facts about the program and company, I’d be happy to issue a correction if you can point out those errors and provide documentation of the correct facts. I will not amend my opinions about the program, as I still believe the program should be avoided by consumers.

I understand this is not the first time you’ve tried to intimidate a blogger who had a negative opinion about the Stop To Earn program. Your reaction to these negative critiques suggests the company may have something to hide, and I won’t hesitate to have Fraud Discovery Institute start an investigation into the company to confirm what I’ve found about the program.

It’s clear what ShopToEarn is trying to do: They are trying to silence critics of their multi-level marketing program. A couple of weeks ago, Gerald Nehra sent a similar letter to another blogger who wrote about his opinion of this MLM. It seems as if they’re trying to use scare tactics to stop people from writing about their opinions of companies.

ShopToEarn isn’t going to bully me into not talking about their program. We have the right of free speech in America, which means I’m permitted to give my opinion about Shop To Earn, even if that opinion is negative. I’m allowed to discuss the company and its pay plan. I’m allowed to say that I think it’s not a program people should get into.

I’m allowed to show you want their logo looks like, and I’m allowed to identify the company by name so that you know exactly which company I’m talking about. (Oh, and since I haven’t mentioned this before… the company also uses ShopToEarth as part of their marketing. Don’t want to forget to mention Shop To Earth too, since I’m allowed to identify the things they’re promoting.) I’m also allowed to show you the marketing tools that Shop To Earn is using, and I’m allowed to analyze and critique them.

My analysis and critique of the company will remain on this site, and I will likely publish further information about the company and its programs. If there are any factual inaccuracies in what I have recited about the company’s programs, I would be happy to receive documentation proving the inaccuracies, and I will publish a correction to the facts. I will give my opinion about ShopToEarn, and I may allow commenters to give their opinions as well.

Consumers must stand up to these dirty tactics. We have a right to free speech and we shouldn’t be bullied into not talking about programs and companies.

33 thoughts on “Shop To Earn Lawyer Bullying Bloggers

  1. Ref666

    As an attorney, I can tell you that that is a pretty “wimpy” C&D letter.
    It’s also a form letter. I wouldn’t worry about Mr. Nehra. He’s
    probably not on anyone’s “dream team.”

  2. Tracy Coenen

    Oh I agree that there’s not much to this, but I’m afraid that the average blogger won’t realize that and will be scared into taking down perfectly legitimate articles.

  3. I am glad you posted that info, b/c it was hard to find anything about it since it was new. A friend had been lured in and I thought it sounded questionable at best. This is a free country, and your blog is free speech. If you really weren’t allowed to do what you are doing regarding the STE website and program, then I am sure Mary Kay would have been trying and have been successful at shutting down the many websites that speak extremely nasty things about their organization. But, they are all still there, with no threat from MK about legal battles. Why? Because, they probably figure everyone is entitled to their opinion (which they are) and they don’t have anything to fear about the legality of their business. Sure they have problems, and they figure I guess that if someone still wanted to sign up with them after reading those, then they have been amply warned. It’s not hurting them enough to care probably. Just an interesting example of free speech, and obviously STE has something to hide or they would just ignore it instead of getting all nasty and defensive and threatening things they can’t even do. BLOG ON!!!

  4. G. Syriani

    What seems ought to me blogger is that you now want to fight back because they probably acnowledged you in the way you wanted, by confronting you! Stick to the program. The Company may not be perfect as per your standards but maybe none are any way. Maybe you ought to fight them all and be done with it. I look at most of this programs and none are perfect but most seem to be OK. They are not free,when you work, you get paid.

  5. Cleo

    I have a friend trying to get me to sign up, and it is bordering on harassment. If that is what this company means by “work”, that is ridiculous. I am assuming he will eventually become disillusioned by the company and quit his annoying e-mails. Thanks for standing up to their goofy scare tactics!

  6. Joe

    Why do these types of businesses get so much grief. At the end of the day it has to do with sales. If you shop online why would’nt you shop from your friends site? Are you affraid of them being more successful than you? Not everybody chooses to sit in a cubical, push pencils and listen to their annoynig co-workers at a deadend job! If someone wants to take advantage of an opportunity you should wish them the best, not criticize them.

  7. Tracy Coenen

    Joe – It really doesn’t have to do with sales, and that’s why they get grief. This is about endless chain recruiting and collecting of fees from the people who are recruited. The “business” has very little to do with shopping, although the shopping is used as the “front” to make it appear legitimate. The problem with these schemes is that almost everyone will lose money in them. This has been demonstrated over and over for the last several decades.

  8. Dawn

    Way to go!! I found your blog to be very informative and substantiated my perspective on this MLM. Amazing that attorneys think if you have that “Esq.” after your name, we’ll hide our heads in the sand. He must have been with the firm of “Dewey, Cheatem, and Howe.”

    FREE SPEECH REIGNS IN THE U.S. and this is no different!

  9. Alfred

    I loved the post about the pyramid scheme (oops! multilevel marketing) I was approached to go to one of their seminars, but I know of people that have been taken for a ride and cheated out of hard earned money with these get rich schemes. I have to agree with you in saying Why are they trying to intimidate people who state an opinion on the matter, WHAT ARE THEY HIDING from the world?

  10. Carolyn Hill

    The blogger absolutely does not understand the business concept. It is NOT an illegal pyramid. The goal is NOT to make money by merely recruiting people. It is an ingenious business model where EVERYBODY wins, including the large (and reputable) retailers that have partnered with this company. I am very sorry that many of you have chosen to pass up this great opportunity based on the uniformed comments of a few people. Listen to the WHOLE tour yourselves and I am sure you will see the value of becoming a member. Remember, just because someone posts something on the internet does NOT make it true – and yes, that would include my post. So, check it out for yourselves!

  11. Cat

    Sounds to me like someone neglected to read Shop to Earns policy that you are not allowed to use their logo on your own web site. Totally understandable. The attorney wrote a cease and desist letter because that is what attorneys get paid to do. That’s not bullying.

    This is not a pyramid. They don’t even exist anymore. It is about shopping and you do have to work like any business to make it successful. I have seen the presentation and it is an incredible business concept. There are a couple of others now that are copying the national shopping discount concepts. The stores need this because the internet is affecting their sales. It’s a win-win-win structure that they have put together. I can’t wait to join. I know people that are doing very well with it and since there are so many products available there is no limit to how far this can go unlike how other MLM’s are structured. I agree with the comment that you should not have an opinion unless you have seen the business model and know all the details. O.K. the atttorney should have sent the guy a letter or e-mailed him. Blogging back was probably not as affective.

  12. Tracy Coenen

    Cat – I’ve never had cancer, but I think I’m still entitled to have the opinion that it’s bad. In the same vein, I know enough about STE to have the opinion that it’s bad as well!

  13. Debi

    Shop to Earn rocks and I highly recommend it to everyone.

    Online shopping is the wave of the future and I am happy that I am smart enough to find a way to capitalize on the potential of having a web site that pays me and my friends for purchasing everyday items. We also recieve discounts and cash back for doing so. Wal-Mart, Home Depot, Enterprise Rent-a-car, Omaha Steaks, Target are just a couple of the companies that see the potential and have aligned themselves with Shop to Earn.

    I guess Wal-Mart is stupid and would get involved with a scam. Right?

    Wrong.

  14. Tracy Coenen

    Online shopping has been around forever and STE has introduced nothing new, other than a way to cheat people out of their hard earned money. You can earn money from online shopping without paying STE $500 for the right to do so. Please read the rest of the posts on this site about STE. You will see that the retailers do not do any due diligence on STE before affiliating with them.

  15. Peter

    It makes sense to me to buy things from the site rather than going shopping at stores.

    The savings of the company makes sense. joining this company just for Christmas would be logicl in itself. I don’t think I would be able to sell it as well as others. But spending the 99 dollars to get all those discounts makes a whole lot of sense to me. The mlm part of the company may be illegal but the way I see everyone will get their money back and more just by buying everything they buy online rather than going out and shopping. That aspect of the company is totally legit.

    The fact that all big name companies agreed to be part of it doesn’t hurt their credibility either. If they felt it was illegal big companies like best buy, home depot, and others would of definitely declined on being part of it. The last thing reputable companies need is to be part of a scam.

    Whatever the case I don’t think I will be hurt by getting in on the savings. I also will tell all my friedns about it so they can save some money to if they like. It makes a lot of sense to me. For those who purse it as a business, good luck to them. I don’t see a lot ofpeople getting rich though. Some will though. However, I do not see anyone losing money in this in the long run. They will make their money back in the savings they get through shopping with them.

    It’s kind of like an online BJ’s or Cosco’s. Except with much more products.

  16. Peter

    I would laso like to say may be illegal cause i havent studied it that well. So I am not saying it is illegal. It may be perfectly legit.

  17. Wake Up, Peter

    PETER,
    JOIN A FREE WEBSITE THAT OFFERS MONEY BACK. YOU’LL AUTOMATICALLY BE AHEAD OF THE GAME BY $450. DOES THAT MAKE SENSE???????????
    WOW PETER!!!!!!!! YOU’RE POSTING IS RIDICULOUS AND I HOPE SOMEONE WAS JUST TRYING TO BE FUNNY AND THAT NO HUMAN COULD BE THAT NAIVE.

  18. AJ

    Freedom of speech does not protect ALL speech, which is exactly why there are slander and libel statutes in every states’ Constitution. The constitution only relates to powers that reside with the Federal Gov’t. So if you wanted to burn a U.S. flag, or say “the US Gov’t is corrupt,” you would be well within your rights under the 1st Amendment “freedom of speech” to do so and there would be no recourse against you. However, the US Constitution has no jurisdiction, and does not control how a state wishes to treat speech which is deemed to cause injury to an entity or a real person.

    If you make opinionated statements about someone or a company which causes them injury, you could be held responsible and have to pay damages. I’m not saying it’s easy to make a libel case, but why expose yourself unecessarily to the risk. If STE is doing something wrong, then the FTC would have jurisdiction to investigate any claims of wrong doing. While a blogger may believe he’s doing the public a service by opining about companies he’s never been a part of, he may be digging his own grave should any of those companies that can show injury file suit against him.

    He would not be able to hide behind the 1st amendment at that point, as he would have to face the full force and power of a well financed company’s law firm. Why not take all the energy being used to tear down a start up company that has never done anything wrong, and spend more time with friends and family. Or put in extra time at work so there will be more money in the retirement fund? I feel that if you don’t have something nice to say about someone, you shouldn’t say anything. Just my opinion.

  19. AJ

    Tracy – you shouldn’t paint all MLM’s with the same broad brush. Some of the most successful sales based companies in the world are MLM’s, so generalizations don’t always apply to everyone in that industry. If I were you I wouldn’t make it my mission to make unfounded, uninformed broad statements about a company you really don’t know about or understand. When you have specific violations of the law with proof, then post that.

  20. Wake Up, AJ

    You’re comments are so ridiculous that you must be a knucklehead. What are you going to do sue me? WAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  21. Tracy Coenen

    Because an MLM company is profitable, doesn’t mean that the business model is good for consumers. MLM is known to be an extremely profitable business for the owners of the companies. And it’s also know to be horrible for consumers, over 99% of whom lose money in these ventures.

    I’m entitled to give my opinion that MLM is a bad business for the distributors. Although I do believe many of these companies violate the law, violation of the law is not the only standard we should apply when determining if something is good or bad. Cutting myself doesn’t violate any laws that I’m aware of, but I think most people would deem it to be a bad thing.

    And of course, you’ll likely follow this up with the standard argument that if MLMs were doing anything wrong, our government would have shut them down. That’s simply false. Our government chooses not to enforce the laws that most of the MLMs are violating. It doesn’t mean they’re not violating them.

  22. AJ

    You are wrong and misguided about your premise. First of all, I want the source of your 99% of the people never turn a profit claim. Also, the vast majority of brick and mortar business fail. So you shouldn’t hold network marketers to a higher standard.

    Secondly there are many companies and institutions that do suck billions of dollars out of households each year and MLM’s are not 1 of them. While you rail against companies trying to give everyday people the opportunity to start a low cost home based business. The investment bankers on Wall Street have been robbing people blind. And it turns out they have been losing billions and billions of dollars, while making millions every year in salary. What’s worse is they now want the US Gov’t (taxpayers like you and I) to bail them out with a $700 billion bailout package while they take off in their private jets to their homes in the Hamptons and Palm Beach.

    According to the NY Post, 2 years ago Goldman Sacs paid out $40 billion in bonuses and it’s estimated that every employee got an average of $600,000 as a bonus check. Goldman Sacs is now bust, and if it were not for Berkshire Hathaway’s $5 billion loan they would have their hand out too begging for free money from Uncle Sam too.

    And what about the US Gov’t. $10 billion a month in Iraq? Our teachers have to buy supplies out of their own pockets (while being grossly underpaid), while we build schools there. $9 billion is still unaccounted from the initial invasion of Iraq, and last I heard, no one is even looking for that missing money;it’s been stolen. Medicare fraud is estimated to be at $200 billion a year, Earmarks in Congress $40 billion, welfare rolls are bursting at the seams $500 billion, the list of theft and fraud here is endless.

    While I disagree with your assessment of STE, I love your passion. There are better targets for your efforts and your time would be better spent going after politicians, governement officials, and corrupt bureaucrats who pilfer the treasury for their own greedy gains. Even if what you say about MLM’s is true(which it’s not), they don’t really effect very many people. However, the Federal gov’t does.

    Fight against this $700 billion bailout. Fight the $10 billion being wasted in Iraq each month. Don’t let Congress end up spending $2 Trillion to bail out millionare investment bankers when middleclass families are left by the wayside. Your tenacity could be better spent on bigger causes. Just a suggestion.

  23. AJ

    Tracy,

    You seem to really have it out for MLM’s. Are their any that are legitimate? What makes them different from STE? Thanks.

  24. Tracy Coenen

    Oh goodness. MLMs brag about the billions of dollars they get out of consumers each year. There are literally millions of Americans who will be involved in MLMs this year. And the bulk of the revenue for the MLMs comes from required minimum purchases and startup inventory packages.

    The source of my 99% claim is here:
    http://pyramidschemealert.org/PSAMain/news/MythofIncomeReport.html

    And here’s the best part: The numbers used to draw that conclusion were provided by the MLMs themselves.

    It’s easy to say that there are more important things I should be doing. No matter what cause I choose, someone will always deem something else more important. I think that unless you’ve worked with as many former MLMers as I have, you can’t understand why it’s so important. I have seen so much financial wreckage left by these MLMs that sell dreams using deception.

  25. Tracy said: “It’s easy to say that there are more important things I should be doing. No matter what cause I choose, someone will always deem something else more important.”

    Once at my blog I had a distributor telling me I should worry more about the illegal chopping of trees in Amazonia and stop wasting time fooling around with Agel. And that is one example. I have a bag full of kind sugestions to chose from: drugs, oil prices, political corruption, child abuse, REAL pyramid schemes, you-name-it-you-got-it…

    Best Regards,

    Pedro

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