Is Shop to Earn a Scam or a Legitimate Business?


It you’re considering getting involved in ShopToEarn, don’t miss this post with lots of important information!

A fellow financial blogger recently went down the road of examining a new multi-level marketing company called Shop to Earn. He was considering signing up, and did a review based on the information he had up to that point. He asked readers to chime in with their views. Here’s some of what he had to say in that first post:


  • It’s so early (they just had their first public forum this weekend and it just hit my workplace; I think you’ll be hearing more in the coming weeks, but this is the closest to a “founder” that I’ve ever heard, only 6 or 7 levels away), that the likelihood of making some decent money is quite high.
  • Of the various MLMs I’ve had some familiarity with, the time commitment seems quite low. My friend has sworn he’s doing no conferences, no recruiting sessions, etc. He’s signed up a few of his friends and family already and he’s done. At this point, he’ll passively mention it to people as he comes across entrepreneurial types, but he doesn’t “have to” to anything else at this point except watch the checks roll in (and eventually sell or buy some Earthy stuff).
  • Each signup’s $100 and 200 points and these points all roll all the way up, so the bigger your network gets, your points end up accruing rather quickly. It’s roughly 10 cents per point, so if there are like 20-30 signups per month under you (many levels), that’s ~$400-$600 per month. It’s not a flat number though, the growth is exponential (unless it dies!)


  • As is usual for MLMs, there’s an up front buy-in fee. In this case, close to $400 to get the full benefits of a website and business owner. While $400 is nothing to sneeze at, it’s not as bad as some programs I’m familiar with where people have to take on all kinds of inventory, sell stuff, etc. Essentially, at this early juncture, I’m told (and I’m trusting my friend here) that everyone’s making it back in month one and from there, the growth is expected to be explosive.
  • Frankly, I don’t like the Earth products. I don’t really see much use for them and I don’t know if I’ll find anything I actually need. Apparently, they’re adding new companies and products as they’re going and at this point, you don’t need to start with the $100 minimum. Apparently, that doesn’t start for a few months, so there’s a period where it’s income only.
  • I’ve usually associated people involved in MLMs as being a bit different; especially the enthusiastic ones. My friends are one thing and they never got so into them that they started acting weird, but you always here about the Amway people or the ACN people who go overboard with the whole thing. I don’t want to be “That Guy”. So, all I can do is approach this with great skepticism and balance putting in the time for due diligence with waiting too long and ending up missing the boat while my friend’s bankrolling a few thousand bucks a month.
  • It might peter out quickly and it wasn’t worth the time and energy.I might not be able to sign anyone up. I have a few people in mind, and of course, I have Everyday Finance as an outlet, but I’m not turning this blog into an MLM outlet. I don’t really know what’s going to happen. I guess 2 people sounds easy; would have to wait and see.
  • Based on the presentation I saw, there are still many unanswered questions. I have a list out to my friend who has access to one of the early adopters, who pretty much knows all the details. I question why much of this isn’t in writing, but I guess if the top members are displeased and feel duped, this would quickly trickle down and everyone would quit and the whole MLM would tumble. So, I tend to trust what I’m hearing; I do fault them for a lack of communication though.
  • Apparently, the two people you sign up (or have at least one placed under you) are your left and your right. At least 1/3 of all your points must come from either side to get the cash rewards. The points don’t disappear, but you might have say 10,000 points in queue on the left and only 2,000 on the right. You’d have to get the 2,000 up to 5,000 in order to get your reward of ~$1,500. I can see how this is a tool to keep your network strong on both sides. It’s just not ideal in that it might force you to replace a weak performer later on when you thought you were done putting any time in.

The blogger did not join Shop to Earn, and did a follow-up on the problems he found with the concept. He was planning on joining (ultimately changed his mind, though), and got onto a conference call to find out more. He found the person conducting the call to be a slick talker.

He was able to log into the site for a demo to see exactly how things worked, and here are a few things he found:

When clicking around the personnel network in the top earner profile, I noticed something pretty odd. Many of the people pretty close to the top, just a few levels below him, were already inactive, meaning they exercised the 14 day opt-out option.

Why would people who got in so early opt out when they stood to make so much money?

Next, I noticed an interesting geometric pattern. Especially for an initial member…a guy at the top…I figured his network would be filled up completely underneath him. But it wasn’t.

What I actually saw was that he had primarily filled up tons of people out his outer LEFT and RIGHT legs, but the center of the triangle was virtually EMPTY! This leads me to the FLAW.

Since you’re only able to sign up one person on your left and one on your right, what do you do with the extra people you sign up? If you sign up, say 4 people in your first month trying to get that “Score” bonus of 5 required, you end up basically forcing these new 3rd and 4th people under someone else below you.


What I discovered through both the telecon and through asking questions of a member is that they actually recommend that you seek to place all additional signups on your outermost left and outermost right legs. This drives an exponential increase in membership the deeper you make those outer legs. Why waste time building up 1 level below you when you can build 6 levels down on the outside, right?…still seems OK I guess…


Where this is problematic is that you only get your bonuses if your points are distributed with AT LEAST 1/3 on your RIGHT and 1/3 on your LEFT. Now, this is where the trouble comes in. By looking at the picture above, you probably shrug this off, right? You say, as long as each of the guys directly under me perform well, my points will usually be like 60/40, 40/60 drift and I’ll always get paid, right? WRONG. What struck me as I thought more about it is that YOU ARE ON THE OUTER LEG OF THE PERSON ABOVE YOU!

Because you are on someone else’s outer leg by necessity, you are locked into a massively lopsided point score immediately. You want that bonus, right? Well, by the time you figure this out, you’ve already placed multiple members on your outer left and right legs. Well, that outer left leg is like 6 deep in a week and the point score on the left has now run away from you because the guy above you is placing more people on that leg. If you want that bonus, you better work like hell to get 5-10 signups over on your right side.

Guess what? The same thing is happening to the guy above you. The same thing’s happening to the woman above him. It’s beautiful- Beautifully Evil. It forces everyone in the chain below say, the top couple founders, to scramble to fix this weighting issue. It forces them into a panic to sign up more and more people. Since everyone’s in the same boat, it’s a runaway scenario though, they cannot keep up because everyone above and below them are facing the same scenario. This now explains why one of the initial members had total empty slots in the center of his triangle and why others were dropping out so early on. They may have figured it out!

What is all of this saying? The only way to get your bonus money is with a somewhat balanced downline in order to meet the requirement of at least 1/3 of your total points on each side. If one side of your downline explodes, you won’t get your bonus unless you can add people (and points) to the other side.

And people above you can add to your legs, meaning that you have little control over this balancing issue. Oh sure, it sounds good that someone above you added to your downline. After all, you get a cut of the action. But if a person added to one side of your downline causes you to go out of balance, you forfeit your bonus money. Not so good.

I am going to look into this company more and write up some of my thoughts. I will say that this has some common red flags of fraud: It seems to have an overcomplicated pay plan. It relies on an endless chain of recruiting of new members. It seems to only offer a substantial benefit to early adopters.

293 thoughts on “Is Shop to Earn a Scam or a Legitimate Business?

  1. Very interesting and smart twist on a binary plan (the 1/3 rule)… It forces you to try to keep your boat well balanced while everyone else is trying to capzise it, basically. An the big irony is that everybody else thinks they’re also trying to get it stable. And guess what: the higher you get in the network, the harder will be to get a grip on the “wheel”.

    I’ve seen this problem in Agel (you can’t get your legs controled, because everyone on both your upline and downline are adding people to the network also)… but here you have that crazy rule. It will save the company millions of dollars in compensation bonuses, that’s for sure.

    The rest of it is looks pretty much like the same old “No sales required recruiting game”…

    Best Regards,


  2. Roy

    very interesting, at what # in the network do you see as early, in amway i was told the first 60,000 made millions

  3. Tracy Coenen

    60,000 sounds much too high to me.

    I don’t know… The ability to make a lot of money with this would depend on its ability to stay afloat for at least 10 years or more. I don’t see that happening. It’s too pyramid-y to last much more than a couple of years, in my opinion. So I see those early thousand or two making *some* money, but certainly not millions.

  4. Hector

    Hey everyone, I had the chance to attend a very informal meeting about this “opportunity”. I decided to get all of my questions out into the open and probably came across as a “negative prick” since I am a very skeptical person, I mean come one people, there is no such thing as a “get rich quick” plan that exists on this planet. now I’ll be honest with you guys, I’m thinking hard about joining this thing, but only because it’s still a growing baby and true that on-line is the wave of the future, but how far into the future is plan aiming to go. Many factors have to be taken into consideration :
    1) the economic downfall the country is facing isn’t a good sign.
    2) how hard is it really to “convince” people to give up $438 these days?
    3)how hard is it to “sell” people the idea of shifting their shopping habis from store to online?

    I myself am an avid online shopper, although I play devil’s advocate and this is my personal mathematical equation: ” Is the time I’m going to save by driving to store + gas + vehicle depreciation EQUAL TO OR LESS THAN the shipping & handling charges from making online purchases + wait time (7 business days on average)?

    ** I’m in the market to buy a camera, so far best buy has the lowest price, the total of the cash back I’d receive were to have my own portal through STE on this one buy is $31.00.**

    If I were to purchase the lower end of the “STE service for sale ($99) I would have made 1/3 of my investment back. So it works out…


    The real way to “make big bucks” is buy trying to convince people to purchase a $438 piece of the “pie”. Which isn’t so easy.

    I’m leaning more towards not joining right now, simply because I dislike sales and being that annoying person trying to convince you to buy something you don’t really need.

    Just some food for though.

  5. Jeff

    I was looking into this opportunity as well. I was not a fan of trying to push my friends to MLM, additionally, there are several outlets to getting cash back from shopping online without having to pay the $448. So if your goal is to get cash back from online shopping then there are other avenues. Unless you are going to try to sell people to join, this probably isn’t for you.

  6. Hector

    If all you want to do is make cash back from your personal online purchases, then all you have to pay is the $99 fee. If I were to buy the camera I want, in one day I’d get back about $35 out of the $99. So not too shabby….

    I am NOT going to join, made my mind up.

  7. Roy

    I too am not a fan of pushing my friends into spending money on a MLM company,but this company went well above the rest by getting top name stores to back them, i have been a member for 8 days now and i have received a check for $4500.00,not to bad for $448 so if some of my friends can make a couple of thousand $ in a short period of time well good for them too.

  8. Hector

    So tell us in detail what you had to do to be eligible for such a large check in 8 days.

  9. Roy

    As you already know you have to refer people to the site, and during the first 30 days they give you some really good bonus, if you sign up 5 people they give you your $448 back plus $550, if you refer 10 people in the first 30 days you get $4100 like i did. half of the people i got in already got there money back and $550 extra. starting 8/1/08 they are going to make you spend the $100 on there site shop to earth, but if you are getting a couple of thousand a month in bonuses why not,, in 8 days i have 27 people under me from just 10 referals, my check for the next couple months should just keep going up and if not i already made thousands in about a week and the friends i got in got there money back so i dont feel bad .

  10. Tracy Coenen

    Yeah, don’t feel bad about the people below you who will lose money from this scheme! And I won’t believe you made that much unless I see your check.

  11. Hector

    I’m in the same boat with Tracy. To “convince” 10 people in less than a week to give up $450 you either lied your butt off to them, have friends who don’t care to lose that kind of money or you guys didn’t really analyze the borader picture of this.

  12. Roy

    like i said before half of the people i got in have received there money back plus $550, and tracy i also told everyone i got in to get 5 people involved and when i say get involved i dont mean just sit around and think people are going to come to you, you are not going to get money back if you dont work alittle bit for it and i mean a little bit,i also told them if in a month they cant get 5 people i would give them the money back. hector i do understand the picture and $450 is alot of money these days but i beleive if you dont take a chance you will not get anywhere but working the rest of your life for someone who took a chance.
    i am not trying to convince anyone as far as the check i got this month there is no reason for me to lie i dont know you or anybody on this site and i am not trying to sign you up. if you dont want to get involved dont,i made $4100 taking a chance that does not mean you have too.

  13. Tracy Coenen

    One of the most common ways MLMs promote their schemes is through false earnings claims. So like I said I will not believe this until I see it. There is reason for you to lie: You want to recruit more people to the scheme.

  14. Roy

    where do you live tracy? you should attend one of the meetings they have them almost every week , at least in nj where i live.
    i am not trying to promote anything i am just trying to get by


  15. kim

    but tracey you can waste your time online talking about what you think is a scam. I am living proof that it is not and you should always keep your ears open and mind or you will never make any money.

  16. Tracy Coenen

    Kim – It is definitely not a waste of time if I can warn people about predators like you.

  17. Hector

    Where exactly is the scam in this?

    I can see one of having to give up $450 up front.

    But then, how does it get worse?

  18. Tracy Coenen

    1. It is a recruiting scam. The goal is to recruit as many as possible to get that sign-up fee.
    2. The process by which you “make money” is scammish, as noted above. One major problem is whether or not you can get this bonus payout or even have any control over getting it.

  19. Ron

    How many hours do you guys put in for $4100.00? That is the bonus opportunity in the quick start (initial 30 day period).
    This takes a bit of effort to discuss it with people, and have them attend the online-or-live meeting(s).
    As to the balance question, I do not see the issue here. I am now working on my weaker leg, but each time I reach 1600 points on that side, I score and earn $550.00.
    The right 1600 IS wiped out as is the other 2/3 points from the left leg, but with my focus on the right, I have scored numerous times. That’s the model. It’s very clear.
    The only people under me that may get hurt are the ones who joined up and do nothing. This is why I have been VERY selective in who I choose to bring to the meetings. This is not for the lazy ones.
    Why wast your time or someone else’s time if they are only looking for a “Get Rich Quick Scheme”. Walk away and find better people.
    Also, when discussing this one needs to be brutally honest about all aspects of the business model. Mostly that it WILL TAKE SOME EFFORT!
    That way we all win. So again, I am a bit confused as to the concern here other then the whole thing collapsing someady, but I have made more then enough already to compensate me for the small amount of time I put into it. I’ll just keep accepting the auto deposits for now. If it goes away, so be it.


  20. Roy

    control over getting the bonus, its already in my account $4100 for $448, so you keep on wasting your time here while i will be out there making more MONEY

  21. rbg

    Tracey,If you get your $450.00 back in a short period of time like several of my friends have you have lost nothing.If you get $450.00 + and want to get out you have lost nothing.You must have been scammed at one time.That must be why you are so mean and bitter to and about people you don’t know. You don’t have to do it if you are not interested. I have not joined but have seen the money my friends have made. Just by shopping at the stores I already shop at I will make my money back if I decide to join.Life is too short to be so BITTER!

  22. Tracy Coenen

    Ron – Who cares if a whole bunch of people at the bottom lose their money when the pyramid scheme crumbles. As long as you made your money, right?

    Thank you for the beautiful illustration of exactly why these MLMs are such scams and the participants so shady.

  23. Ron

    One other point, curious and mybe a bit sad. The people I know who really need the extra money, and accordingly have the least available to risk, tend to opt out. Mostly, The ones who have joined under me considered $450.00 nothing and are now making money.
    As I said, a bit sad.
    FYI, I drew up a contract to help my bigger targets hop on. Basically if they do not achieve at least $1000.00 in the first year, I will refund the $448.00 plus 10% (Simple Interest) or $495. I ONLY offer this to the high potential people.
    Believe it or not, one actually declined this. Go figure.

  24. Loch

    Hi Tracy, I went to a Shoptoearn meeting last night. A friend took me. Like some of the others I’m skektical myself. I never sign up right away.
    The recruiter had a house filled w/65 to 70 people in FL. She showed her check amt of $16,583 in 3 mths. Said she’s #9 in the country.
    Point is guys, I checked The Better Bus Bureau and the co is nowhere to be found. I called their home base in NV they’re not listed in BBB.
    Don’t you have to obtain a bus license to do this?
    And wouldn’t the BBB have you listed as an internet networking co?

  25. Tracy Coenen

    Loch – The BBB isn’t the best way to check up on a company. First, this one is so new, that it’s unlikely to have any complaints registered to them. Second, they don’t have to register with the BBB, and even if they do, it’s really just a membership organization… you pay your dues and pretend to deal with complaints and all will go well.

    Sure, the people at the top of a pyramid scheme make money. It’s good for them, right? Others get in, hoping they can make that same type of money. Almost none of them do, and upwards of 99% never make back the money they’ve “invested” in the scheme.

  26. Ron

    Tracy, No, I am not overly concerned about that. I joined to make $$, not be a charity to others. Our meetings are very professional and painfully clear of the pitfalls.
    I will continue to support my charities as I laways have. Cash donations.
    And furthermore, anyone can, and should, perform due diligence before joining.
    Free will is a great thing!
    I think we are all glad you are not on board. Geez.

  27. Tracy Coenen

    Excellent. You don’t care that others will be scammed out of their money when the pyramid collapses. In my world we call that fraud. In your world, that’s professional. Nice.

  28. Spongebob

    I agree with Tracy to some extent, however, it seems to meet that this product is very different from all of the previous MLM’s such as Amway, Agel or Mona Vie. Everyone buys products on the internet. Why not profit at least just a little. A friend of mine started a few months ago and he tried to get me into it then, but I was a skeptic. When I saw his first check I was sold. Rather than have my $450 sit in a savings account at 1% interest, why not try this. Worst case scenario is I’ll make my money back by making a few big purchases through the website.

  29. Hector

    I was thinking of joining for spongebob’s last reason, I buy enough online to make the money back in the first year before I get hit with the $112 renewal fee.

    BUT again, for that, I’ll just pay the $99 and not have to worry or get greedy enough to want to try to sell it to my friends.

    If what’s his face sends me a notarized agreement saying he’ll refund me my $450, I’ll gladly sign up.

    I did a little math and I think If the person who under I sign up, brings in more people and they’ve maxed out their 2 (outer legs), do the new saps automatically fall under my legs if they’re empty.?

  30. Jason M.

    I would ask this of the naysayers, assuming this will collapse, which at this time is just an assumption.
    From what I read, I assume the the total maximum exposure is $450.00.
    The other style MLMs required that you purchase an inventory of stuff to sell, sell it and get others to sell it. I never wanted to sell so I chose (emphasis on CHOSE) not to participate in them.
    So lets also assume (only fair) for a moment it survives and the folks who work at it do well.
    Will you feel guilty for turning folks away? I am guessing not.
    Bottom line is no one is holding a gun to anyone. If you do not like the business model, do not join as I chose not to. I do not get this debate.

  31. Tracy Coenen

    99% of participants in MLMs lose money. That’s just because of the structure of them. So there will be no such thing as everyone doing well. There is an ever-increasing number of people who will lose money on this – they’re known as the bottom of the pyramid.

  32. Ron

    Sorry Hector, that offer was only for a few highly motivated friends and acquaintances of mine who were on the fence.

  33. Raul

    Tracy and Hector. Please do NOT join ShopToEarn, stay away from it as far as you can…….PLEASE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Why do ask this? because I joined ShopToearn Five weeks ago and I have made over $9,800 already and in the process I have made many of my friends happy by introducing them to a great/legitimate/real/wonderful business opportunity. My best friend has made $4,700 in 4 weeks, my wife’s friend and her husband have made over $5,000 and today 07/12/2008 is exactly 30 days since they started and the list goes on, 3 Days ago I introduced another one of my friends who was skeptical at first and he has made $1,145 in his first 3 days.

    So why do I ask you both to NOT join and stat away? because your negative energy is so strong and pathetic at the same time that nothing good could come from it.

    People like Ron and my self get it, and that is the kind of people that I want in my business, the kind of people that will infect others with positive energy and have the vision that I have.

    Thanks and please stay away!!!!
    Shu, Shu!!!

  34. Raul

    WoW! I better go get a penicillin shot, I hope I did not catch a Negative Alien Bug by posting here.
    I just realized that Tracy Coenen has an advertisement on this web site on her book Titled “Essentials of Corporate Fraud” she is accountant and a FRAUD examiner. Tracy my apologies, I was angry at you for being a person with negative energy, you poor thing you can not help it when the whole point of your profession is to look for the negative things in any system or organization. Do you own and moderate this web site? I suppose the answer is Yes. If so I’m sure that you will have the integrity to not delete my posts, specially the one where I call it as I read it and refer to you as a person of extreme NEGATIVE energy.

    You poor thing !

    PS. I was amused by this forum since a new ShopToEarn broker in my downline sent me the link. Now I see is the classic over analyze, think about it, I’m not really convinced yet, what’s the catch? kind of mentality that never ever gets anything accomplished.

    Like Jason M. wrote “I do NOT get this debate”
    Why not do like most people who look at something and decide not to join, just simply move on and get a life.

    Have a good life everyone!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  35. Spongebob

    Hey Tracy – Where do you get your figures. 99% lose money?? What is that? This seems to be something totally different. You earn $$ by purchasing things on-line. I’ve been, and I’m sure most people in America buy products on-line, some more than others. Once this MLM is is extended to the bottom, even the bottom people will still be making money if they use their site to on-line shopping. I can tell you that I know buy all of my essentials, toothpaste, etc on-line. It’s been saving me in gas by limiting my several trips per week to the grocery store right off the bat. I also can by my contact lenses and prescriptions all on-line and over the course of each year even without anyone under my line, it should recoup itself from the original fee that I would pay. I think if Tracy had a good friend or family member try this and they earned a good chunk of change perhaps she wouldn’t be such a nay sayer with this particular MLM.

  36. Hector

    Wh I started writing I wasn’t planning on the “debate” which somtimes turns into childsplay, to be long, but this is good. PLEASE keep giving opinions, as I am only 99% NOT joining. There is still 1% of me that wants in, simply because it’s so new and I could make some money IF this is for real…

  37. Spongebob

    Hey Hector – it is for real, but it’s just like anything else. If it’s too good to be true then it usually is. But if you put a little time and effort and do some research, there is no doubt in my mind that you could at least double or triple your money. At this point right now, even if you lost all of it, we are talking about $448. My wife spends that in 2 months at Target on Crap :o)

  38. Tracy Coenen

    Anyone going to the grocery store “several” times a week has problems. I will save you money and won’t charge you $448 for the advice. GO TO THE GROCERY STORE ONCE A WEEK.

  39. Spongebob

    Tracy, what would you say if a Church group or a school PTA bought a site and used the site as a fundraiser. It’s being done. Schools and Businesses spend thousands and thousands of dollars at office depot….It’s money back in their pocket.

    By the way, you sound very bitter. Were you burned before by something like this?

  40. Tracy Coenen

    bitter = another buzz word used by MLM cult members against those who criticize the scams

    Also buzz words for people like me: lazy, loser (usually spelled looser by MLM cult members), wanted a get-rich-quick scheme, not willing to work hard, negative, hateful, biased, zealot, irrational, closed-minded…

    The list goes on and on. I simply want to stop consumers from losing billions of dollars to these scams EACH YEAR. If conducting a consumer awareness campaign means that I’ll be called names, so be it.

    And I would tell you that the church or school would save FAR MORE money if they contacted the Business Services Division at Office Depot and got an account with them. Oops. Ya didn’t know about that program, did you? And it’s free!

  41. Spongebob

    Actually I do know about that program. The schools and church can still shop at Office Depot’s website through the Shop to Earn site and still get money back on top of the discount that they already receive.

    Trust me, when you have growing kids, there are always several stops at the grocery store per week.

  42. Tracy Coenen

    No, they cannot use ShopToEarn with the Business Services Division. And no, growing children don’t require more than one trip to the grocery store a week. It’s called discipline and organization. But that’s not really the point here. The bottom line is that a lot of people are going to lose a lot of money with this MLM. It sounds nice, but it’s not. $450 x thousands of people is a lot of money lost.

  43. JK

    Just wanted to share my thoughts on what I have read so far in this blog…First off, let me start by saying that I joined STE June 19, 2008. A friend called me and briefly explained the concept to me. In a nutshell, it combines [1] an initial investment of $448 (your downside risk) [2] online shopping (a relatively untapped market) and [3] cash back for your purchases, future referrals & their purchases.

    In an environment of stock market / real estate debacles, bank failures, job losses and rising gas prices, you must look to exploit opportunities when they avail themselves. This may in fact be one of those opportunities. Most people shy away from opportunities like this because of an overall lack of information, only to ultimately join at the tail end, muck like the majority of investors in the stock and real estate markets (right before they both plunged). My point…the masses are always wrong, mostly in their timing!

    If you are a self-starter and have $448 to risk, this may be something to consider. My only suggestion is that you join under strong people (like me) for two reasons: [1] They will continue to refer brokers who will appear in your downline for your benefit and [2] if they are like me, they will help you recruit your own referrals. Those who join who ultimately become disenchanted and opt out, do so because they have “jumped in” under those who are, as one blogger pointed out “in it to make their money back”, so once you join, they chalk that up and after a few more joinees, are gone for purposes of providing any future help. If you are considering joining and want someone that will offer phone and online help to build your network, go to my site *****HA HA Not on your life will I let you promote your scam here ***** and get in touch.

    My only goal is to help everyone in my downline keep their right/left relatively equal and we all understand the value in maintaining that, even it means helping others recruit for the benefit of future payout . My goal is to exploit this opportunity for as long as it stays viable. If it’s one day, then so be it; if it never ends, even better.

  44. Tracey,
    I’m a realtor struggling in this economy’s downfall with banks/appraisers/etc. Yes, some people will lose their $448. Other entrepreneur business owners lose far more. Yes, I was skeptical, but one thing I can tell you is I’m excited because I’m dreaming BIG again. In three days, I made $1145.00. That’s far more than I’ve made in a month in my business were I made $15M last year in total sales. I’m a top producing realtor caught in this economy’s gloomy situation. I’ve regained your “big deal issue” of it and made $697 ($1145 – $448). The lazy person will lose their $448, but they will have a dream for a few days. Nobody really knows who will be a stud and who will produce. However, being involved in something I have to do anyway is a no-brainer. This ain’t MonaVie (one product) or other MLM’s I never joined. You are entitled to your opinion, but compare apples with apples as this MLM is far superior than any I’ve EVER SEEN! God Bless You!

  45. Mike

    Had to put in my two cents. I joined about 4 weeks ago. I’ve read alot of information on this program since i joined. I still have not heard one negative comment from anyone who joined. Just from people who are jealous of the people who are taking the chance with $450. I also recently invested money in the stock market. Now in both instances ive put moneyup to try to make money. in shop to earn I’ve started to make money. in the stock market i’ve taken a bath plus still paid someone to lose me that money.
    2nd isn’t every business a MlM company. The people on top make money, go golfing, have boats & go on vacations While the people on the bottom work long hours make little money and support everyone on top. Face it we all want a peice of the good life but the people who get it are willing to take chances and work hard to get there. In my opinion $450 is a small price to pay for that chance. Ive lost alot more than that in my investments in the past month alone and my investment broker still wants to get paid for that advice.
    Now there will be people who will lose their $450 because they got into the program with the idea of making money on everyone elses hard work not their own. If you work at this program like the business it is you will and i mean “WILL” make money. If just by doing your best at shopping on your site and not referring anyone you can still get your money back plus more. I’ve in just one month saved over $75.00 by comparison shopping on the web site and at local stores (I found the best price, got cash back, Shopped on my time).
    and this dosen’t even get into the fun me and my kids are having trying to save money on all the stuff we already Buy.
    Yes there are some bad MLM companies out their but in my opnion and every other person involved this is not one of them. Think as you may but you also have to have an open mind to the great opportunity that is being presented here.

  46. Tracy Coenen

    Mike, have you done the math? Maybe you should read my most recent article on this company. I don’t think most people will recoup their investment with shopping. They must recruit new marks. That, in an of itself is a scheme, because it depends on endless recruiting. At some point, those at the bottom aren’t in a position to recover their money. But no big deal, so long as you’ve gotten your money back, right?

  47. Mike

    Math $75.00 in one month
    per year $75 X 12 = ? I think its above $450. but then again I don’t know math. Yes I work at it to save but it can be done by anyone. and I can still make money also. I guess every business in the world is a scam because every one is trying to make money from other people. I’m not forcing people to do this and i’m helping my referrals save by showing them how to save money shopping on the site, showing them where i found good deals, free shipping and good money back and the comparison to regular stores. yes we want to get others in our program but every store in the world wants to get as many customers as possible and get them to spend money at their store. Even the last people into this program can save more money in one year by far then they spend to get in. and in the following years its a lot easier to save big. if people don’t recoup their investment then it’s their own fault for not taking the time to learn how to shop smart on their own web site. I also get other people that don’t want to sign up (Which is just fine with me & once they decline I don’t bother them again with it) to shop from my web site track their order #’s and i split the difference with them. More earnings for me and savings for them & they didn’t pay the $450. Rember it’s my business and you have to make it work for you the people under you and customers. otherwise there is no business. in which case your business fails and you become the negative person that can’t belive in any opportunity.

  48. Hector

    I guess this isn’t for me since I’m not a stuggling real-estate agent huh? And am I too negative for having a REAL job and successful carreer? For making over 100K a year before I hit the age of 28?

    I don’t consider myself NEGATIVE, I’m conservative and realistic. But I guess that hasn’t worked for me…

    The thing is, I don’t have time to work this project all day. Maybe that’s why I don’t se a point to it, but maybe when MY profession’s market tumbles, then I’ll start to sweat it right?

    And Raul, The Secret…… not true buddy, you will only get positive results if you WORK towards them, not by thinking them.

    About the church issue, I think it leans towards the un-ethical side of the triangle a little, but that’s just my opinion.

    Has anyone NOT thought about the recession we’re facing NOW and looking TOWARD?!

    Shopping trends in general are expected to drop even more these upcoming holidays… plus, throw in Shipping + Handling charges. Also, have all of you people who have “switched over to online shopping only”, not considered the fact the this is consumer based economy, MORE demand = MORE supply. Why do I mention this, next time you receive one of you beloved online purchase receipts, look for some fine print “fuel surchage”. If they don’t make it obvious, you’ll see how what you buy will slowly have the price increased as we bump UP UPS/FEDEX/DHL’s nationwide usage.

    But I’m crazy right?!

  49. Spongebob

    Hey Hector,

    There are lots of stores like Best Buy, Target and Walmart where you can order on-line and pick up the merchandise at the store. I know that you still have to make the trip to the store, but your item is already waiting for, it’s paid for, and you can avoid the long lines.

    Also, many of the websites that I’ve seen on the STE have free shipping. Lots of times there are special pricing on-line that you don’t get in the store. There are lots of options.

  50. Ada

    Roy, Ron & Mike – I went on the tour conference call, saw the video and just came back from a live introduction to the business. It makes sense to me on so many levels! However, if you guys can help me understand the concern of the blogger at the very top of this web page, it would be helpful. What’s the issue about being “on the outer leg of the person above you” and being “locked into a massively lopsided point score”. The only questions I have are related to this balance or weighting issue. Please answer with as much detail as possible.

  51. Hector

    Spongebob, you know that was a question I had in the back of my mind. There’s a positive point to that then, if in fact you can use that function of in store pick up. That’s GREAT!
    Does it limit you to non-clearance items? If not then that’s amazing also.

  52. Mike

    As to the down line being lopsided. what this is saying is that the people above you are droping people below you on your down lines. This is good for you because you get help from the people above to help build your business. the bad part is that when they do put people below you they always fall to one side. The idea is if people are starting to drop below you to let the people above build your one downside and you build the other. If your worried about being lopsided consider if no one was placed on your down lines from above. then you have to build both sides by your self. The website gives you the option to place any of your referrals on which ever side you want.
    As for spongebob & Hector don’t forget that there is also more selection as to products and stores that you can choose from to find better prices or a different product that a store dosn’t carry in the store but does online. Let me explain:
    I work with one of the largest baby crib companies in the world. They sell to target about 15 to 20 different models of wich only 5 or 6 are sold in the stores.
    the other 10 or so models are only available thru and to save money on the prices are shipped direct from the manufacture whse and never touched by target hands. this happens with many different products and stores which is one reason these stores give good discounts if you buy online and not at the store. Target in this instance just takes the order and money send the mfg a ticket to ship the product to the person who bought it . the mfg then ships the product and bills target which also gives target now 30 days to pay for the product in which they already got paid. (this is about the time value of money for target now also.)
    You can also do a better job of comparison shopping on lie also. if you go to target, best buy, ETC. you usually go to that store or maybe one other to comparison shop (don’t forget the more comparison shopping the more traveling in the car). on line you have alot of stores to check prices, deals, money back, not to mention out of stock ,(isn’t it a shame you travel 15 min to a store to get a game or something else and it’s sold out – now you got nothing except to put more money into that gas tank). by being able to comparison shop you may show less cash back in your STE check but may have saved alot that dosn’t show. You must also consider this when evualating STE and the ability to get your money back on your investment.
    Hector you can use instore pickup and different stores treat clearance items or deal items differently. some actually offer better deals and clearance items online.

  53. Mike

    one more thing. STE is not for everyone and never will be. but don’t discount online shopping because of STE. There are great deals online whether you are involved with STE or not. STE makes the deals better and gives you some opportunity to make some extra cash also. Just check out for instance they give anybody 5% cash back on one order towards the next order. sells gift cards with $25 value for local restraunts for $10 and you can print them with your computer and go right to the restraunt and use them. Alot of sites offer free shipping and some if the are sites from out of state like again you don’t pay sales tax (Except FL.). Here in pa thats 6% right off the bat.
    Like i said before you can make your investment back if you want even if you don’t sign up any body. (it does take learning how to shop smart) This also means that sometimes online is also not your best option.
    I’ll save a ton just by avoiding taking my kids shopping with me a couple times a year and getting 10 things i didn’t need just because they had them at the checkout register at the store.

  54. Spongebob

    I just don’t see how companies like Target, Macy’s, Walmart, Best Buy, Circuit City, etc. would agree to a relationship with Shop to Earn if they had any idea that it was a scam. If they thought it was a scam, don’t you think that those huge companies would have nothing to do with them!

  55. Tracy Coenen

    Getting an affiliate link on a site has nothing to do with whether or not the company is a scam. These stores don’t vet the sites and certainly wouldn’t be interested in whether or not Stop To Earn is a recruiting scam. Nice try to build credibility with that comment, but it doesn’t work.

  56. Hector

    Where I’m a little worried is that since you do get a point for each $1 you spend right or save? so then if I’m trying to survive off of this, I would to spend more right to get more points and “score”?

    So then that leaves the “saving” part kind of in the dark because if I’m smartly shopping and hitting all of the bargains, I’m not getting as many points back?

    Make sense?

  57. Mike

    Hello again,
    as to tracy’s comment not just anybody can become an affiliate. they do check into the companies and their web sites. This though like tracy says does not prove that it is not a scam. People are getting paid from STE that is for sure could they go bust down the road “Yes” but so could any company. My company sold product to Kay Bee toys for years then one day they went chapter 11 and stuck us for $80,000. stayed in business and went else where to get the product because we wanted to add $.02 cents per unit to recoup the $80000 loss we took. (Real ethical on their part)
    As to Hector you won’t get enough points off your own shopping to make score bonuses. that’s why you want people below you. you in turn may only get 100 points yourself but if in you down lines you have 100 people below you each getting another 50 points each then you have 5000 points and a score bonus.

  58. Mike

    One other note,
    There are other ways to make money with this also. I get people that don’t want to have their own web site that I know to shop from mine and the email me their order #, store purchased, date and amount. this is how i track who i owe what. I keep 25% of the cash back and send them 75%. Gives them incentive to shop from me. I also still get their points. this does take some effort but it pays.

  59. Spongebob


    You don’t make the big bucks just purchasing products on your own, unless you are a big business that makes large purchases on-line. You will eventually earn enough to where you get your entry fee back plus some. The way to make the big bucks is to refer others to get their own site under you. Each time those people get $$ back from their purchases you get points which equals cash. The trick, or scam as Tracy puts it, is to get as many people as you can underneath you. The more people obviously the more revenue is generated. To get it started you really need to refer 2 people and it will pay dividends quickly.

  60. Ada

    Mike, thank you for your response on the lopsided issue. So, if I understand correctly, it means that one side gets built almost automatically and the other side you have to work at. If the weaker side does not get attention, what happens to the “Score”? Also, on Aug. 1 everyone will be required to buy $100 from Shop to Earth on a monthly basis. I don’t spend $100/month on these type of products under any circumstances and don’t want to do this on a monthly basis only to have products sit in my garage. What do you think about this and do you have a creative solution to this issue?

  61. Mike

    The aug 1st requirement is not set in stone yet they are voting on it this weekend. also you only have to spend it to receive score bonuses. if not generating enough points yet don’t buy the products. They are also going to be adding alot of new green companies and products before this happens. once you are getting the bonuses and buying the products use what you want and donate the rest and get the tax write off. rember that this is done to generate points for you from your down lines. this in turn will give you more bonus money.
    As for the score you need 1/3 of the points to come from your weaker side. the points will keep accumulating till the weaker side generates 1/3 points then you will score. what this is saying is build your weaker side and you will be paid based on the weak side. don’t worry that your strong side is getting so many points. rember these are bonus points from the heavens above.

  62. Spongebob

    I have a friend that is going to spend the $100 at Shop to Earth and donate the items to Women in Distress. Not only it is a nice gesture, but it is a tax deductible donation.

  63. Hector

    Maybe if Mike would have tried to present this to me I would have considered it alot more. I like he presents his answers, not like the clowns I had to deal with.

  64. Tracey as somebody in the advertising business what would you call me?
    We had a meeting just today in the office of how to get more people to fill the seats for a sports team we represent, since you know the Economic Recession and all. You see what we were trying to do in “Advertising” was figure out a way to get people to spend money on something they can watch on TV or read about online. So basically we are selling a disposable item. I must be a master Scammer or work in the Scammerizing business. I am 24 y/o college educated and working full time, something i noticed in college was this thing called PROFIT, when you receive PROFIT you are making money above the money you invested. See you have to find a way to get someone to give the money in their pocket to your pocket and you need to figure out a super special way of getting more $ then you put in. Yes there will be people who do not benefit from STE in the same way that Raul and others have, but unless the company just bottoms out before they can purchase some items online, to recieve the savings, then they will loose $448. Back to PROFIT, its the only way to survive, wow. Can i have a copy of your book posted in PDF format online for a free download Or you know what can i get it for the price of the paper its printed on, i will pay that. It is unfortunate that we are not communist Tracey, then we could all live in the same black house and all drive the same car and all wear the same clothing. Do you own Jewerly Tracey, did you get it for the price of the metal or did you pay more, like for the artists skills, how did he figure that out, is there a formula to making money and not ripping people off. I do have to commend you on your book sales tactic, your blog is in the top 10 when you google STE, its called Search Engine Optimization or a Pay Per Click campaign, you just keep putting every MLM concepts name on your site enough and then its the first to come up.

    O and every other blog i am interested in the moderator’s usually says they are in charge of the blog and not just act like a poster.

  65. It seems pretty clear to me that some of the posters to this discussion are shills. Might I suggest Tracy that you pull the IP addresses of everyone shilling for MLM’s on this discussion and post those addresses. I will then have our our research group see if they can track down who the posters are.

    I run a number of inventor organizations. The backbone of these organizations are professional inventors. Needless to say, there is a big difference between professional inventors and aspiring inventors.

    We have taken an interest in invention promotion fraud for well over a decade. Invention promotion fraudsters often resort to Cease and Desist letters. Personally I think that MLM businesses usually if not always defraud participants.

    As far as I can tell the only difference between invention promoters and MLM is that the invention promoters are typically taking people for ten to fifty thousand dollars.

    Both types of fraud play on people’s greed and hope for easy money.

    Both like to threaten people in a vain attempt to silence them. It would be an understatement to say that not one invention promoter has been happy with the way their interactions with us turned out. Many of these stories are documented on

    The key to our handling of Cease and Desist letters is that we immediately publish those letters and then we investigate the perpetrator and publish much of what we learn. Once published this material stays on our site until hell freezes over.

    Invention promoters who send Cease and Desist letters become prime targets of our efforts to bring local, state and Federal enforcement agencies into the mix.

    I am suggesting that this situation be handled in a similar manner. The only way to deal with those who are ethically challenged is with a very firm hand. This means that every threat should be met with a response which puts the perps in an increasingly more difficult position.

    Ronald J. Riley,

    Speaking only on my own behalf.
    President – – RJR at
    Executive Director – – RJR at
    Senior Fellow –
    President – Alliance for American Innovation
    Caretaker of Intellectual Property Creators on behalf of deceased founder Paul Heckel
    Washington, DC
    Direct (202) 318-1595 – 9 am to 9 pm EST.

  66. i love ronald and tracey so much, first ever heard of the job copy writer, second ronald whats the difference between you posting all your info and STE providing the same opportunity. Do you want people to gain exposure to your website by posting it on this blog forum. o and tracey it was a small one we weren’t accredited i did part of it online and then i just copied off people. From my understanding in the blog atmosphere grammatical errors are alright, since were not writing MLA format research papers.

    Simple point Tracey since you are not after trying to use the internet to your advantage in making money, will you post your book for free download in PDF format, by the way that is a file format that all any computer user can use.

    Or did you write your book to make a $.

    they taught me all that during night classes when i was getting my GED two summers ago.

    I love you so much. LOL is that proper english for you

  67. Hector

    I think this has deviated way too much from it’s original point. I started writing because it (the STE program) seemed WAY to good to be true.
    Nothing in this world is free and I have a feeling there HAS to be a bigger picture to it.

    Call me negative and all, but I just have a funny feeling about it.

  68. The party posting as Morgan Rose is missing the point. It seems pretty clear that there are stooges representing the interests of a questionable MLM companies on this forum. What I am interested in is seeing if our researchers can tie some of those posters to a specific MLM company and then exposing who they are stooging for.

    The information we need to trace them will be contained in the server logs.

    By the way, Early today I posted a synopsis about the SLAPP threats to a forum where many top investigative journalists hang out. It is my belief that Gerald P Nehra and his MLM clients will greatly benefit from the disinfecting light of media exposure. It is my hope that we can help MLM proponents achieve their full potential 🙂

    Ronald J. Riley,

    Speaking only on my own behalf.
    President – – RJR at
    Executive Director – – RJR at
    Senior Fellow –
    President – Alliance for American Innovation
    Caretaker of Intellectual Property Creators on behalf of deceased founder Paul Heckel
    Washington, DC
    Direct (202) 318-1595 – 9 am to 9 pm EST.

  69. midwestsadie

    TAXES!?!? Has this been mentioned? Say, you receive these thousands of dollars as a member. That is considered income. I hope you all are not forgetting this minor detail.

  70. Tsu Dho Nimh

    Once this MLM is is extended to the bottom, even the bottom people will still be making money if they use their site to on-line shopping.

    You are essentially admitting that this is a recruiting scheme, and the only way to make the big bux is to recruit like mad, and hope your recruits recruit too. Ain’t nobody making more than peanuts just shopping (and for that they could use a cash back credit card).

    When the exponential recruiting scheme makes it pretty easy for the first few, ,aybe even the first few thousand- looks like the person that recruited them takes 25% of the bottom recruit’s “investment”, the founders and uplines take the other 75% … and the guy on the bottom gets crumbs from the ad revenue.

    If your legs get “unbalanced”, your payout doesn’t come until someone does more recruiting. And meanwhile, the founder has your money, interest free.

    To spot an unprofitable scheme (not a Ponzi, just an ordinary MLM with the few at the top getting rich off peddling the dream to the bottom) look at where the recruit’s money goes. It FLOWS UPHILL to several layers of upline.

  71. Hector

    I’m slowly discovering the draw backs to this , here’s another thing unearthing itself from my previous order on my 1st purchase post :

    turn out had I bought my item from the competition of an “affiliated” STE company, I would literraly saved 50%. Now it’s too late to cancel my order from STE and have to refuse delivery of my item, wait a month to get my money back, or take my items to a store to receive a store credit (which if I wanted to have gone to the store, I would have just bought the items there in the first place!!!)

    Strike One….

  72. One poster claimed that buying through ShopToEarn did not cost the buyer anything. I think that this is unlikely since businesses must pass all costs plu
    s their profit margin on to the consumer.

    I find that the cost difference on many items between the highest price provider and the lowest can be a 2-3 fold spread. Anytime you add extra middlemen it is the consumer who will foot the bill.

    I would expect that ShopToEarn’s deals would rarely be the best deal available.

    It is my hope that ShopToEarn and their attorney Gerald P Nehra have learner that trying to suppress legitimate public discussion is counterproductive and ill advised. If they haven’t learned this lesson we can and will arrange ever more dramatic attitude adjustments.

    Ronald J. Riley,

    Speaking only on my own behalf.
    President – – RJR at
    Executive Director – – RJR at
    Senior Fellow –
    President – Alliance for American Innovation
    Caretaker of Intellectual Property Creators on behalf of deceased founder Paul Heckel
    Washington, DC
    Direct (202) 318-1595 – 9 am to 9 pm EST.

  73. Can someone send me copies of ShopToEarn’s contracts. I would like to have our attorneys evaluate their contract. We will publish commentary about the contract at some point.

    Consumers often sign contracts without getting legal advice. In most cases the contracts are incredibly one sided and make it virtually impossible for the party to get justice.

    NEVER sign a contract without having evaluated by a competent attorney.

    Personally, I think that this advice is especially important when dealing with Multi Level Marketers (MLM) and MLM attorneys like Gerald P Nehra ! ! !

    Ronald J. Riley,

    Speaking only on my own behalf.
    President – – RJR at
    Executive Director – – RJR at
    Senior Fellow –
    President – Alliance for American Innovation
    Caretaker of Intellectual Property Creators on behalf of deceased founder Paul Heckel
    Washington, DC
    Direct (202) 318-1595 – 9 am to 9 pm EST.

  74. Mike

    I have been approached to set up STE as a fundraising opportunity for an athletic team. It would cost us $450 to get started. I would then encourage the families of the athletes to shop on-line, through our team STE website (for X-Mas gifts, etc.) and receive “cash back” in the form of checks as a result of these purchases. Seems to good to be true. I did see in an earlier post that an annual renewal fee of $112 a year was needed.

    With major retailers like GAP, Target, Wal-Mart, Dicks Sporting Goods, Sports Authority, Macy’s, Sears, … on board it all seems to good to be true. Would $450 and an annual fee of $112 be all I need to spend. I could email the entire faculty and staff before the holidays encouraging them to use the team website to make purchases … we are talking about a 500-750 people that could potentially purchase from the website.

    Doing a little math – with an average of 5% in “rewards” per retailer we would need those 500-750 people to spend $9000 just to get our upfront money back (come to think of it – if they spent $27,000 we would only have made $900 and you can’t get much for $900. It wouldn’t cover hotel OR food for a weekend for the team)… I guess I just answered my own question.

    These people that say they are saving money in gas by purchasing their toothpaste on-line rather than driving to the grocery store (people that claim you can make all of your money back through your own purchases – again it would take $9000 in purchases to break even going solo in this venture) … are they purchasing their milk, bread, and fruit on-line? No, they are going to the grocery store. They should just pick up their toothpast then. What they are doing is running the risk of running up tremendous credit card debt in order to get a 26 cent “rebate” on a tube of Crest. They are using credit cards with 12-18% interest rates to “earn” 5% on a pair of running shorts from Dicks Sporting Goods or 3% back on some electronics from Wal-Mart.

  75. Hector

    Mike, finally a smart person to do some math prior to assuming that STE is the yellow brick road back to Kansas!!!

    I did some math also, which is why I still am not going to sign up.

    As it is mentioned in some of the posts above, you will NEVER make the investment money back simply by buying online through your website with STE. The real method, and what STE is inteded to do, is get to you recruit all of the 750 people to pay in the $450 and shop individually. THEN maybe all those pennies added up would get you your money back. And since you brought them in, you’d get points for the purchases they make. Pretty sneaky bastards huh?

    If you read a couple of posts above your recent one, I’m describing my first shopping experiences through a friend of mine’s STE site. As you can see, being limited to only the affiliate sites, I over paid by 50% on the items I purchased, AND, I didn’t the 5% discount personally, I hope my friend does though.

    If you REALLY want to shop online the smart way, this is what I do. I decide on what I want. Then I find the place I would buy it from online. I write down the price. Then I spend some time shopping around various websites until I find the price that best suits me, the difference between what I would have originally spent minus the best possible price, I put into savings. 9 out of 10 times it’s way more than 5%.

    It’s just one of many ways of outsmarting the system. It does require some time to shop around, but you never know.

    What makes me laugh is that I saw something at an STe affiliate site, I need the item. However if I just walk into the competion’s store, which is on my way home from work, I save about $20 on the item, plus $10 shipping PLUS my 5-7 business day wait time.

    Lovely right?

  76. Tsu Dho Nimh

    Mike …
    That’s just ONE athletic team. What happens when the rest of the activities try to raise funds this way? It doesn’t scale: you spam faculty and staff for your website, the drama club spams them for their website, the chess club, the choir, the band. And next thing you know, no one has made enough money to cover the initial investment.

    Who wins here?

    The owner of the scheme, who counts on people having unbalanced legs in their downline and recruiting to balance them. And in the meantime, he doesn’t have to pay the point bonuses and gets the signup fees.

    The owner of the scheme, who counts on people seeing it as an opportunity and not seeing the What happens if a large group does it?

  77. Tsu Dho Nimh

    Mike …
    That’s just ONE athletic team. What happens when the rest of the activities try to raise funds this way? It doesn’t scale: you spam faculty and staff for your website, the drama club spams them for their website, the chess club, the choir, the band. And next thing you know, no one has made enough money to cover the initial investment.

    Who wins here? Well, DUH! the recruiter, who pockets $100 or more of your $450, and the upline from the recruiter.

    And the owner of the scheme, who counts on people having unbalanced legs in their downline and recruiting to balance them. And in the meantime, he doesn’t have to pay the point bonuses and gets the signup fees.

    The owner of the scheme, who counts on people seeing it as an opportunity and not seeing the What happens if a large group does it?

    And the affiliated shopping sites … with the magic of the internet, you can show a whole different webpage to someone coming from an affiliate link than you do Joe Random Consumer coming from Google. People coming from STE sites probably have an HTML tag on them that says “SUCKER!”. It would be a trivialbit of programming to write a script that both offers a 20% bonus and increases the price 25% onan item.

  78. Ronald J. Riley is using this blog for free advertising. Have you seen his long list of links that he posts over and over again? His posts really have nothing to do with MLM’s or their legitimacy. He talking about inventors, shills, IP addresses, and tracking people down to investigate them. What is this all about?

    Ronald J. Riley says, “It seems pretty clear to me that some of the posters to this discussion are shills. Might I suggest Tracy that you pull the IP addresses of everyone shilling for MLM’s on this discussion and post those addresses. I will then have our our research group see if they can track down who the posters are.”

    What’s with this guy? Hasn’t he ever heard of the first ammendment? or should we all censor our opinions because Ronald J. Riley is going to hunt us down? What kind of “shill” would be posting here anyway? and what is Ronald J. Riley going to do to people who express their opinions? If Fox News and Rush Limbaugh are entitled to their “opinions”, why can’t anyone voice their version of the truth.

    Riley also threatens, “It seems pretty clear that there are stooges representing the interests of a questionable MLM companies on this forum. What I am interested in is seeing if our researchers can tie some of those posters to a specific MLM company and then exposing who they are stooging for.” Once you stop laughing – you wonder what medication he’s on.

    Riley continues, “By the way, Early today I posted a synopsis about the SLAPP threats to a forum where many top investigative journalists hang out.”

    oh yes, I’m sure these “top investigative journalists” want to prohibit feedom of speech – and I’m sure they’re very interested in Riley’s legal expertise.

    Ronald J. Riley is simply using this blog to paste as many of his URL’s as he posiibly can. He’s not fooling anyone as he tries to promote all his areas of “expertise”. On the other hand, he does provide wonderful comic relief – so maybe he does have a purpose after all.

    In terms of MLM’s – like all businesses- there good ones and bad ones. I’ve had a terrific experience with an MLM specializing in woman’s home products, but I will not advertise it here. I also had a bad experience with an MLM selling a special juice from another country and I resigned after a few days.

    It doesn’t take a rock scientist to disseminate the good MLM’s from the bad ones. It’s also very easy to identify ponzy-schemes and pyramid schemes because usually they have nothing to sell of any value – or sometimes nothing to sell at all.

    The basic MLM structure has been around for 50 years – they’re either inline with the basic format (give or take a few %’s or additional downlines) – or it’s a short-lived scheme. Just use your common sense and you’ll know soon enough.

    You certainly don’t need Ronald J. Riley to track down URL’s or help you sue any company he deems worthy of a SLAPP suit.

  79. sandy

    I went to a meeting tonight, and it sounds too good to be true. I’m thinking of joining, but want to make sure I’m doing the right thing.

  80. Larry

    The person at the extreme top of this thread is completely unaware of how commissions are paid….

    They wrote…
    What I discovered through both the telecon and through asking questions of a member is that they actually recommend that you seek to place all additional signups on your outermost left and outermost right legs. This drives an exponential increase in membership the deeper you make those outer legs. Why waste time building up 1 level below you when you can build 6 levels down on the outside, right?…still seems OK I guess…

    Where this is problematic is that you only get your bonuses if your points are distributed with AT LEAST 1/3 on your RIGHT and 1/3 on your LEFT.

    They are assuming that the tTOTAL POINTS points have to split 1/3 – 2/3 .. in order to score commision

    This is the authors flaw.

    As example lets say there are 99,000 points in total. Under the authors premise in order to score commissions 66,000 and 33,000 would have to be distributed across the left and right sides respectively. ,,, well that is simply untrue

    Let me elaborate. lets say you start on the first of the month with 66,000 on the left and zero on the right…

    and the following commission schedule

    STEP 1 Is 600 points – which pays $50 (400 left – 200 Right)
    STEP 2 Is 1200 points – which pays $100 (800 left – 400 right)
    STEP 3 is 2400 points – which pays $100 (1600 left – 800 right)
    STEP 4 is 4800 points – which pays $150 (3200 left – 1600 right)

    As points are generated on the right, in the increments outlined in the commission schedule. Payments are made to your STE account. Once step four is achieved the total of 4800 points are deducted from you total. As such 3200 from the left and 1600 from the right…

    In this example with only 1600 points generated on the right you earn $550
    Your month end point totals would be

    Left – 66000 (start of month) -3200 (deducted for Scoring) = 62800
    Right – 1600 accrued thru the month – 1600 deducted for scoring = 0

    SO bottom line is even if one side goes ballistic…as long as there is some activity on the other side that meet the 2/3 – 1 /3 of the Step/Score requirement — commissions are going to be paid.

  81. Tracy Coenen

    Sorry, but this company has “pyramid scheme qualities” written all over it. It sounds good in theory – make money when you shop online and get others to do the same. But the sign-up fees are too high, and at the end of the day, the REAL name of the game is signing up as many people as you can. It’s not really about shopping. And plenty of people will never earn back their sign-up fee because they won’t be able to find enough suckers willing to fork over $500 to the scheme. Consumers are better off shopping for good deals FOR FREE on their own.

  82. ModernRock

    This reminds me of Burnlounge, the company that was going to revolutionize the music industry. Burnlounge got sued by the FTC! In my opinion, ShopToEarn, is a waste of time and money. You’re not really building a business with them, you’re just participating in a grand scheme to recruit as many new victims as possible. The amount of money you’ll save by shopping through these sites is questionable at best, and in many cases, I think you’ll actually lose money. Avoid these companies like the plague.

  83. Tsu Dho Nimh

    BurnLounge … forgot about that one, where we would all become each other’s online music stores and get rich. It’s dead, des[pite its supporters claiming it would “revolutionize the music business”.

    Server not found: Firefox can’t find the server at

    Then there was the book buying one, where your erudite and learned downline would make you rich buying books from you for above Barnes & Noble prices. It’s dead too.

    Yes, the internet has made major changes in the way things are marketed, but it has done so by getting rid of the middlemen, not creating extra layers of them.

  84. Dana

    Wow!!!!!!! I’m a broker with STE since June and have followed the blogs posted since the “Cease and Desist” was posted on Everyday Finance.I’m amazed that so many “well informed,educated people” stoop to high school style bullying.Tracy’s either underage or extremely immature and unprofessional in her comments,pointing out typos and insulting people’s intelligence! I won’t try to promote or otherwise suggest this is the best money making opportunity but I won’t smear it either.There may be the right to free speech/press but there are thousand of lawsuits everyday for SLANDER! I wonder why Everyday Finance took down their blog immediately after the STE lawyer warned them about what they wrote…must have found out about Slander lawsuits… As far as Ronald Riley goes, I’m not impressed with his “expertise” . How “shady” does he look to you Tracy??Advertising on your blog(as you warned STE members not to) seems a lot like “RECRUITING” or trying to get more”VICTIMS”. I will check in on this childish blog, just to see how far it’ll go before you get a Cease and Desist from our lawyer.MLM or pyramid: we’re all making our money back on this,and then some.As far as if it’ll keep getting bigger or sink, we take a gamble in any business and some lose a lot more$.Can you guarantee any business will work forever? My opinion is: if you’re not interested don’t join.Stay with your 9-5 job and don’t take a chance on something that can(with a little effort)mean a nicer retirement income than barely enough to live on.Tracy, good luck with your book and make sure you never”recruit victims” to buy it.

  85. BusinessMan

    Dana needs to an economics class if she thinks this is a legitimate business. Dana, ShopToEarn is just a variation on many other similar schemes in which the product is merely a pretext for buying a position on the pyramid. All the buyers are investors in the scheme. The main money that will be siphoned up the pyramid is the price paid up-front (start up fees) by each new investor to get a position. The money from the product is minimal and would require a massive downline to profit from. The up-front payments, the lack of retail sales, and requirement for recruiting are all hallmarks of the pyramid scam masquerading as a business. Once the FTC catches on to this scheme, there will be an investigation.

  86. ShopToEarn will be pleased that they drew my attention. I already work with the FTC and will see that people at a high level are educated about ALL the concerns which have been raised about ShopToEarn’s business model.

    I have launched many businesses in my career and would have never considered one based on a 5% GROSS margin. More realistic is a 50-100% gross margin. Furthermore, I am not paid by any of the referenced organizations and volunteer my time. I can do this because I am a successful inventor-entrepreneur. I retired from a regular job in 1990 and have not had to work on anything which I do not want to do since.

    Isn’t my situation exactly what people chasing the promise if not the reality of profits which are being promised hope to accomplish?

    Unlike ShopToEarn apologists, I sign my name and disclose my affiliations when I post. It is not the about advertising because the organizations I am associated with are already well known in our target audience.

    Ronald J. Riley,

    Speaking only on my own behalf.
    President – – RJR at
    Executive Director – – RJR at
    Senior Fellow –
    President – Alliance for American Innovation
    Caretaker of Intellectual Property Creators on behalf of deceased founder Paul Heckel
    Washington, DC
    Direct (202) 318-1595 – 9 am to 9 pm EST.

  87. Gary Kohler

    Right on Tracy and Ron! ShopToEarn is a BIG SCAM!!!! Here is my 2 cents. Did anyone ever ask the question, “Why didn’t the founders of ShopToEarn sell their products straight to the customer?” The people behind ShopToEarn like to tell their customers that they want to give the public access to sell products and opportunity to make money instead of having big companies such as Wal-Mart reap all the benefits. The truth, however, is that they make more money selling these “stores” to people like you, and do far less working than trying to sell the products. Because who is ShopToEarn’s number one advertiser (sucker)? You! The person trying to recruit innocent people to scam. The heads, CEOs, whoever is behind ShopToEarn does not need to work hard to find customers because they know people’s greed will lead them to ShopToEarn.
    Yes, many people have made a profit off this little scam. However, this profit has all been by scamming others. So people will get rich, but many will not. In a pyramid scheme, there are very few on top, but many at the bottom. You may have a friend trying to get you to join this great opportunity. Of course he is, he is trying to make some money. Your friend knows he is not going to make any money selling products. Your friend may even entice you about all the profit he made. Trust me, your friend is not lying, he made a profit, but mostly because of idiots like you. And after scamming you off, you will now carry the burden of having to find other idiots to scam. So for those who don’t have a conscience, this is indeed a great way to make some money. But, just like any pyramid, there is a bottom. And those are the ones who will be the biggest losers.

  88. Tsu Dho Nimh

    less for the people at the top!!!!!

    Less for the upline? That’s blasphemy in a MLM. They are in it for all the money thay can make before the FTC shuts them down like Burnlounge and a few others.

  89. Dave

    I joined this past month as a business broker, paid the $449, and then guaranteed to the people i recruited in that if they didn’t get their original investment back within thirty days, i’d refund it to them. I received my first check for $4,100, look forward to telling more people about this opportunity, but more importantly, will honor my committment to the original ten people that i brought in to STE.

  90. Arnold Bense


    If I go to your ShopToEarn site, and I purchase $1,000 worth of merchandise. Which is more than you will sell in your ShopToEarn career. So $1,000 purchase from your site. You would make only $80 (Assuming you get 8%). Freaking 80 dollars!!!!! that is nothing!!

    My friend got his ShopToEarn site 2-3 months ago. NOTHING!!!!!! Not a drip, he doesn’t even want to talk about it in front of me.

    All, and all. ShopToEarn is stupid

    The smarter people, who are able to see the big picture Laugh at the idea of ShopToEarn being Legit, & Successful.

    Anyhow, 1 guy is getting super rich off this. and it’s the dude that created it. And maybe those who are at the top of the Pyramid Scheme.

    It’s all about the sign up fees…not merchandise!

  91. Dooped!

    I jonined against my will and at the insistance of my husbands family.
    I personnaly have not had much success swaying people to pay the initial $448.00 sign up fee, but have seen my family members checks and networks grow. I”ve seen my cousins check grow $1,100 in one day and her mothers $100s in a day. I’ve looked at their networks and noticed that both were out of balance. My cousins only by a few hundred, but her mother by more than thirtyfour thousand. My question is weather or not she has been able to SCORE! and get her bonuses despite this fact…still waiting to talk to her personally, as she lives out of state!

  92. Dan

    Hi, I almost joined ste after doing allot of research I did not join. I have to say after reading allot of Tracy post she has good points. I have a friend that has made $1245.00 in her first week. I just can’t pull the trigger at this time. Being in sales for along time, I could make this work. Getting people to sign up for $448 friends and family and them loosing money because they did not work hard at it. I would feel bad. I see allot of people has bash Tracy, maybe this is not for everyone. Tracy is letting people know and she has the right to do that.Then on the other hand people have the right to try it, if they loose their money Iam sure allot of people loose money gambling to. I will sit back and watch for now to see how my friend will do at this business.

  93. ModernRock

    The bottom line is that STE is a scam, a swindle, a fraud! It’s an illegal pyramid because they are violating the 70% rule. 70% of the revenue has to come from product sales.

    If you’ve made any money on STE (like some people in this blog claim), it has been through signing others up…. period. That revenue source will quickly dry up. The underlying “business” is not going to make you enough money to even cover the Yearly fees.

    And if suckering your friends and family makes you feel good, then I feel sorry for you.

  94. Carol

    What a tirade going on here. But one has to notice it’s full of OPINION about pyramids and scams – no fact. Give me a dime and I’ll give you an opinion about anything. The Internet is overflowing with opinion. And far as I know, the powers-that-be at the FTC offices and the Attorney General are not investigating STE.

    Dave, I like your idea:

    “I joined this past month as a business broker, paid the $449, and then guaranteed to the people i recruited in that if they didn’t get their original investment back within thirty days, i’d refund it to them. I received my first check for $4,100, look forward to telling more people about this opportunity, but more importantly, will honor my commitment to the original ten people that i brought in to STE.”

    I thought of something similar, but wanted to offer only half of their investment back hoping that would make them put forth more effort.

    Dave, how do you make this work so YOU don’t get beat?

    And about the STE discounts folks. Let’s grow up. We can shop the Internet all day and probably find a lower price somewhere. With or without STE, that’s going to happen. Countless times, both online and in brick and mortar stores, I have bought something and then found a better price at another store. When I joined STE, there was no guarantee of the lowest prices available. That’s crap. If you see a better price somewhere else, then go buy it there.

  95. Beth

    I recently joined Shop to Earn and I am really upset. They are starting a new “rule” in September that all of your point “flush” as in YOU LOSE THEM, if you don’t spend $100 on Shop to Earth every month. This is not what i was told when i signed up and I think it is fraudulent to change a rule like that after getting people to sign up under another assumption. The products on Shop to Earth are overpriced, and I would never be able to spend $100 a month on things I don’t need. Especially in this economy! I am really angry and feel like I have been duped. Is there anything I can do legally against them?

  96. Larry

    Beth – you don’t have it right… . Double check on the details here… All of your points will not flush. Also this is not a new rule and it has been discussed on every call that I’ve ever heard….

    With so many choices now on the Earth side it should be easy to substitute green products for the unhealthy ones found in your grocery store. I’ve found that with the 15-20% cash back, the time savings and gas/auto expense savings that the Earth pricing is competitive if not better than the grocery store.

  97. Arnold

    Beth, ask ShoptoEarn that you have been misled, and ask for a refund. If they deny your request, submit a complaint on the Better Business Bureau (BBB) website. Once you issue a complaint with them, do the same in the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) website. It’s all you have at this point.

    Or you can buy a few $44.99 Earth Safe Balanced Women Vitamin bottles every month.

  98. Beth

    I did ask Shop to Earn for a refund and they said that this flushing points thing has been in the commission rules since the start and that they would not be issuing any refunds.

    As for being wrong about the points thing, this is directly from their site and their recent emails..

    If Bob does not generate at least $100 in monthly business volume through his website’s link to ShopToEarth before 12:00 am EST on the last day of November and every month thereafter, Bob will forfeit all SCORE! Commissions and the points associated with those SCORE! Commissions associated with that month.

    The $100 monthly business volume requirement is in tune with The Company’s mission of helping people become healthier and wealthier by using products that are good for us and good for the planet.

    They are going to start flushing points in September if you don’t spend $100 a month.

    If I am truly wrong about this Larry I would really love to know because I hate to lose $450 that i just spent on this business.

  99. Dave

    Some of the points i’ve read here are worth noting. i joined ste last month and have done ok; but i do agree that the $449 fee is a little steep. I think their business structure would be improved if instead they charge $250 to be a broker/web site owner, and $49 to shop; would be much more attractive to people thinking of joining considering todays economy.

  100. Larry


    The important point to remember is that the points that will be flushed are those points that have contributed to a Step/Score commission in that month only. If you have addtional points not associated with a Step or Score those points are not flushed.

    Also remeber that your cash back savings, and referral bonuses are not affected by this as well.

    So lets say that you achieve Step One ($50.00 and 600 pts 400/200) if you do not purchase the Earth side you will lose the 600 points. And obviously if you have no need for the products then it may not be worth spending the $85 after refund. If however you would have spent lets say $60 at the grocery store on similar products (i.e. Health and Beauty aids) then the net spend to you is about a $20 bill. When you collect your commission of $50 you are actually ahead by 30..

    To Simplify,

    Step one is achieved Commission ? +50.00
    Earth Spending after refunds ? -85.00
    Estimated spend at grocery store still in your pocket
    ? +60.00

    Net savings still in your pocket ? +25.00

    Not to mention the,

    1. Gas savings, my store is 18 miles round trip that’s about a gallon of gas
    2. Time savings… how many isles can you bypass now at the grocery store.
    3. 15 points generated for the earth side shopping
    4. Not to mention it is a good thing for the environment

    It gets more interesting as the commissions get higher,

    substitute Step 2 150.00
    and Step 3 250.00
    or Step 4 Score of 550.00

    into the model above and you can see how the earth side shopping is worth it.

    Hope this helps, I’m just trying to stick to the facts on my postings, I’m obviously ignoring the rantings posted throughout this thread.

  101. Sara

    Wow. This is a crazy website. I just went to a Shop To Earn meeting tonight at my friends house in Fl. It was interesting, but it was a bit cultish. A lot of people getting caught up basically in the greed of it not really paying attention or asking serious, honest questions. NOT to mention when I did this, I didnt get upfront answers. I got shoooed off, maybe it was just a bad present, maybe this company and its concept is a bunch of BS. I dont know. Im not qualified to make that decision and will be doing more homework. One thing I can say to anyone signing up is to READ THE FINE PRINT, especially when it comes to purchases, did you know that a lot of these places/merchants have signup fees, or only certain credit cards they will allow and yes, you must comparison shop, there is no LOW PRICE guarantee at STE and maybe, just maybe a lot of the prices are padded. Who knows? The whole right, left leg thing is very complicated, but I think thats the point. There is an old saying in psychology, “To keep the rat running, theres gotta be a reward” or payoff….just like in Vegas Baby….cant quite get my head around it but yes there is something not right about it and that makes me hesitate…..

  102. Jim Fox

    I have been on STE for a few months now and it’s a lot of hype. I haven’t made a dime! No one wants to join. They all say it’s a pyramid scheme.

    The person who got me to join has made money, yes from networking and getting someone like me to join so they can reap a commission from my sign up.

    If anything I would just want my money back but they won’t do that. STE does not return my calls or anything. They are basically ignoring me. What kind of business is this?

    The person who got me involved (who used to be my friend) said just sign up 3 people and you will earn back that it cost to join. Some solution. I would have to lie (scam) a few people with what I now believe to be lies to make back what I paid to join?

    STE will not last very long with this type of pyramid model. STE is destined to fail. What a joke.

    And when I read comments like Larry’s, he sounds like my X friend who got me in. Spewing any and every lie just for a commission.

  103. Tsu Dho Nimh

    Larry … what do you mean by if you do not purchase the Earth side you will lose the 600 points.

  104. Stuffed Soccer Ball

    Arnold and Beth,

    Don’t bother complaining to the BBB. The BBB is a membership organization, so it’s kind of like complaining to the chamber of commerce. They don’t care. They protect their own.

    Instead, direct your complaint to the attorney general in the state where the business (not just STE but any biz that does not deliver what you pay for) is located. In STE’s case, it’s Florida. AG addresses and names are generally easy to find on the internet.

    The attorney general has the power to actually do something. Businesses do not like having the AG breathing down their necks. When a well-known exterminator failed to get rid of carpenter ants — for which they were hired — and gave me the runaround, I contacted the AG. Voila, I got an apology and a full refund. The BBB just apologized because they could not do anything.

  105. Beth


    I don’t understand which points get flushed. How do you distinguish which points get flushed? Points are Points right? Points from shopping, points from people shopping under you, points from referrals under you.. They all flush right? I just don’t get this step/score thing? I have looked at the overview numerous times and have been on the conference call. But it is still unclear and it is hard to break it all down as “simply” as they put it.

    For example, what exactly do you have to do to make Step 1? Step 2? I know how many points you need, etc. But if you achieve Step 1, you get $50 regardless of if you lose the points or not? I thought you had to get 600 points to earn $50. I am very confused, and I will definitely not bring others into this program unless I get things explained to me in much clearer terms. From what I have read on this site thusfar I am VERY skeptical at this point.

  106. Tracy Coenen

    That’s part of the scam, Beth. Make the system so complicated that you can’t possibly calculate how much you’re really supposed to be paid now or in the future.

  107. Wake Up

    If you want to legitimately make money back on your purchases, there are a ton of websites that offer money back and you don’t have to pay a dime. Why not take your $480 put it in an account for yourself, a relative, a child and then join one of these websites? I’m sure people can refer you to one of them. I know of a couple such as: UPromise, FatWallet, LiveSearch, etc.
    This company pushes the envelope when it comes to scams. Wake up, this is no different than Amway, Monavie, etc. I wonder how many of those people fell for those companies too. Let us know how you’re doing in a 6 month period when your pyramid, I mean tree, is uneven and your not getting your full commission. Then explain to your friends why they got snaked into paying an initial $480 for shopping online.
    For those who think Tracey is a young and naive. How about doing a little research and check out her credentials. This company brought MAJOR negative publicity to it by going after somebody for posting their opinion. Their HIGH powered attorney sends an e-mail to Cease & Desist. HAHAHAHAHA! Their attorney actually tries to intimidate by an e-mail????????
    That right there should be an eye opener that an attorney of a great, wonderful, and legitimate business (that’s sarcasm) would send an e-mail.

  108. Wake Up

    By the way, what’s the MINIMUM monthly that you have to spend to stay active?? I heard you have to spend at least one hundred dollars a month?? What happens when you don’t spend a $100 in any month??

  109. Skeptical, but wait..

    There seems to be a lot of nonsense being thrown back and forth here from both sides. I have been looking into STE very carefully and with great skepticism. The only person on this board, who we can verify credentials on, is Tracy. So, I would like to think that I can get an honest, thorough, professional, well thought out reason as to why STE is a scam. One liners, insults and false info is not enough. Saying that it is too complex, and hard for people to understand is just not PROOF enough for me. Now, again, I’m on the fence here and have done a lot of research. The only side here that has the facts out in the open, on their website, on the calls, and at the seminars, is STE. In addition, the only person on this board that I feel confident about what their saying and has been factual is Larry and maybe a couple others. If I’m misguided here, please show me the light

    Tracy, please don’t misconstrue what I’m saying as a slight in any way. However, as I read the discussions I can’t help but get discouraged and cannot gather enough facts to rule out STE. Most of the arguments against the company so far that I’ve read have been vague at best.

    Can you Tracy, or anyone, please give me 5 bullets points as to how this company is scamming people. I would then like to take this straight to them to answer. And please don’t say it’s too complex for people to understand.

    At the same time, if there are any STE EXPERTS on here that can speak to any of these bullet points, please do. But let’s stop with the bull and get down to facts.

    Thank you all in advance.

  110. Beth


    I actually spoke with Pat Walsh last week in NYC at one of their big seminars. I spoke to him of how I was not happy with the change of rules or the things I am finding out about the “details” of thsi program. He told me that night that if I wanted to get out I could, and he said that I could get a full refund. I was unable to stay for the whole evening and was not able to get any personal information from him. So, I wrote a support ticket to Shop to Earn regarding my conversation with him and asked for my refund. Now they are just ignoring me and closed the ticket. Is there anything I can do?

    I also had shopping that has still not showed up on the website. They say it can take 30-90 days for your cash to show up. How is a person supposed to keep track of all of this if you have other people shopping on your site? And the only way to communicate with them is thru this support ticket process where they can just choose to ignore you if they want.

    Frustrated and sorry I ever did this..

  111. Wake Up

    Please help us laugh a little more and tell us who the person(s) are that are posing with different names from the same URL. That would be great to see who’s trying to support their own story. My guess is that Spongebob and Mike are talking to themselves on the same computer. Ada seemed to be jumping in there too.
    When they, supposedly, get their “checks”, are they actually checks or are they just the computer generated things that are on this ridiculous STE site? As you’ve mentioned, if you punch in different names, most of the people/victims are not making any money.
    What does it take to have this company investigated before to many victims are conned? I’ll be one of the first to sign my name.

  112. Dave

    As of today, i had to reimburse only one person that i’d signed up, and that was because he didn’t show or tell anyone about the business. When I show this to someone, and I emphasize this is a “show me business”, I tell them to do two things: 1) tell the person to go to their website and watch the overview video in the upper right hand corner and 2) ***********Nice try Dave, but I don’t allow promotion of your scams here. No recruiting! *****************

  113. This is interesting because I have heard from another victim of this scheme who says they have asked for a refund and while promised one it has not materialized. I advised them to file complaints with the FTC and both their and Shop To Earns state attorney generals.

    If Shop To Lose is going to avoid serious problems they must start returning monies to any dissatisfied clients. Any other approach will eventually lead to serious legal problems.

    It is human nature to want to get the maximum return for the least effort—greed. Most people who are defrauded are conned into thinking that they will get easy money when in fact all they are doing is giving others easy money. There are no free lunches. If it looks too good to be true then all of you need reach for your wallets and hold on for dear life. If the scheme is being pitched by a really smooth talker who is trying to get you hand over your money in response to an emotional high pressure pitch you need to consider why they sell in that manner. And then you need to run from them as fast as you can.

    This is not about them making you rich, it is about you making them rich. Most of the people who join this will end up much poorer while a few will be laughing all the way to the bank.

    Ronald J. Riley,

    Speaking only on my own behalf.
    President – – RJR at
    Executive Director – – RJR at
    Senior Fellow –
    President – Alliance for American Innovation
    Caretaker of Intellectual Property Creators on behalf of deceased founder Paul Heckel
    Washington, DC
    Direct (202) 318-1595 – 9 am to 9 pm EST.

  114. chris

    I have joined and have researched this to the end.. it is approved by the Fla. Attorney general.. and SEC ..before you call things a scam you should do your homework..
    I work for a living and have always been hesistant on things.. i am taking my chance on this one..

  115. Tracy Coenen

    It is not “approved” by the SEC or the Florida Attorney General. Why would you write such lies?

  116. deb

    well maybe what the person meant was the Atty General’s office looked into it and didnt find anything illegal about it or otherwise would have investigated the company. just wondering if you called and specifically inquired with either the AG or the BBB of FLorida.

  117. Tracy Coenen

    No Deb, I’m not going to waste their time that way. The person making the false claim about the “approval” has the burden of proof here. And he can’t prove it because it didn’t happen.

  118. 1) If the AG’s office is looking into this they would not tell you and especially not tell the perp. Also, NO AG office ever endorses any company.

    2) I just called and planted a bug in the ear of a law enforcement person about ShopToEarn as a result of receiving a telephone call from another victim who is seeking a full refund. That was on top of an earlier call, a case where ShopToEarn finally saw the light and refunded their money.

    If they do not return your money:

    File a complaint at:

    Also file a complaint with both your and their state attorney general’s offices.

  119. Notconfusedanymore

    Thank you for all of this information! I have had a close friend of mine start calling me about this and I couldn’t help but start laughing (She was not very happy with me) but it sounds like she’s been brainwashed! I started to research only to back up my decline.

  120. Notconfusedanymore

    Also, I feel as though in order to make any money with anything, it’s best to be in control of it. With this, you really are NOT in control here.

  121. This seems to be working for me and everyone I know. This appears to be a tremendous opportunity and at the ground floor. Look at Vemma or Verve. These companies are growing by leeps and bounds and people are either buying a product that they are happy with, or people are making money by providing others the ability to sell the product.

    STE is the same model but with 1000’s of more options to choose from. Why should I not make rebates on items that I would purchase in the course of my normal daily life anyways? Seems to make sense for me. And allowing others the opportunity to do the same makes me more money? Not a bad gigg if you ask me.

  122. another victim

    Ok..I fell for it. I should have known better but my friend was so excited. I looked up the company and didn’t see any complaints regarding people not getting paid. So I gave it a shot. Then I saw my friends didn’t receive their checks, STE blamed it on a computer glitch and would make the deposit the following month. Fortunately I was within my 14 day cancellation period so I asked for a refund. The closed my account, which by the way makes it impossible to login and check the status of your refund. I was unable to find any contact numbers to a customer service department on the site. So I did what I suspected I would have to all along, call the credit card company, chargeback the item, fax then the refund policy as well as the dated emails showing when I signed up and when I asked for a refund. chargeback pending…let’s see what happens. What a poor way to conduct business, just refund the money. You know that it’s going to come back to my card regardless. Not to mention that solicitating your friends might be getting someone involved into a pyramid scheme that can’t afford it and doesn’t realize that there isn’t quite as much as money to be made as they claim. A Pyramid or Ponzi scheme is always going to be just never changes, just the products or ideas but the end result is always the suckers on the bottom allow the first rows to recoup some cash or maybe even make a little..until you run out of suckers and the lower tiers lose out.

  123. Buho

    I have been approached by a friend about joining. These posts have been helpful, and I appreciate Tracy for making me doubt it so much. While I’m on the fence about it, right now I’ll play devil’s advocate:

    1) It’s a pyramid – that’s how I would sell it to my recruits, to be honest. I’m not gonna lie to them, they’re smart enough to realize it as soon as they start hearing the details. To me it’s a combination of a pyramid scheme, with the internet, and shopping. Because it has pyramid structure does not mean that it can’t make you money. I wouldn’t say that it can be a full-time business, in fact I wouldn’t call it a business so much as a a way to make some cash on the side, but with the potential to take off and be something significant (I mean, what if Tracey and co. are simply wrong about this one company?)

    2) As far as we know, there is nothing illegal about it. Tracey and Ron make it sound that way, but as a lawyer, I don’t see the illegality of it and have seen other attorneys suggest that it’s legit, or at least legal. I have much less of a problem with the money makers of pyramid systems than I do with the way the government uses meters to make money off people thru parking and traffic tickets.

    3) Making back the $448 seems pretty easy if you are a good salesperson. You have to convince 3 friends to go for it in 30 days. That might be a challenge to some, but I don’t buy any of the “think of everyone else who will suffer from this scam” lingo. That said, it looks like a key for success is to recruit people who are good salespersons themselves, otherwise it falls apart. You can apply that to any business – those who aren’t good at it won’t survive. You serve as an agent of the company, just like an insurance agent who feeds the “pyramid” above him.

    4) While the “pyramid scheme” is what makes me most skeptical about this (and I have no doubt the people at the top are getting rich off of this – just like the ones on top of any successful business, regardless of the product quality), I think Tracey is trained to be especially agaisnt pyramid systems and might not distinguish much between this product and many other pyramid systems out there. )Tracey, you have to admit that out of all the pyramid schemes you’ve seen this one seems like the most intriguing one.) Basically, her stance is that because it had pyramid qualities to it = bad, I’m not sold on that statement, not yet anyway.

    5) You can’t be worrying about the people who might lose money with this, you can only worry about yourself. I will take my time and probably start discussing it with potential recruits before cosidering signing up. I think the first 30 days are the most crucial, if you position yourself accordingly and get at least 3 people to sign up, you shouldn’t worry about you selling a bad product because it worked for YOU – you recouped your money and more.

    It’s too new to really know for sure if it works or not. I remain skeptical about it as a long-term moneymaker for anyone who joins, but the ability to recoup the initial investment is in your hands, so it’s hard for me to call it a “scheme” at this point. Personally the worst part for someone like me is what some people might think when they hear me talk about this and its pyramid qualities, hahaha, they’ll think I’m pretty desperate to be doing this kind of thing, especially being a practicing attorney, but it could be worth the relatively small risk.

  124. Wake Up

    Everyone should do there best to get great prices on line. That’s not the point. Why are you paying $480 up front and a $100 a month to stay active or get your full returns. There are websites that pay you cash back without having to pay any fees (Live Search Cash Back, UPromise, Fat Wallet, etc.). As Tracy has pointed out, MOST people will lose money and if you don’t mind signing up friends, that will possibly lose money, then your beyond reproach. If you do appreciate your friends then you would refer them to free sites that offer much better rebates.
    You’re not making much cash back on your purchases through STE. You make your money RECRUITING other marks!!!!!!!! Wake Up, this is about RECRUITING!!!!!!!!!

  125. Tracy Coenen

    No Buho, I don’t find STE “intriguing”. I find it to be probably one of the worst types of pyramid scheme because of the fees involved, and the difficulty of making a profit in it. Oh sure, $450 doesn’t sound like much. But that feeds a lot of children and puts plenty of gas in the car.

    I love your logic about your participation in a pyramid scheme: Who cares if others lose money as long as I don’t.

    That’s what STE and companies like it are probably counting on. A selfish attitude. I don’t care if it’s a scam as long as I get my money back. That’s pathetic.

  126. “hahaha, they’ll think I’m pretty desperate to be doing this kind of thing, especially being a practicing attorney, but it could be worth the relatively small risk.”

    You have got to be kidding us, or more likely you are a stooge. I find it hard to believe that any competent attorney would join something like this.

    1) People are not saving 5% on their purchases unless the vendor is offering the best price available in the market.

    2) All that is left to make money is bringing in new marks. And that sure looks like a pyramid business model. If it is deemed by the authorities to be a pyramid scheme then it is illegal.

    3) If and when the authorities act against ShopToEarn all the people at the bottom will be SOL.

    Ronald J. Riley,

    Speaking only on my own behalf.
    President – – RJR at
    Executive Director – – RJR at
    Senior Fellow –
    President – Alliance for American Innovation
    Caretaker of Intellectual Property Creators on behalf of deceased founder Paul Heckel
    Washington, DC
    Direct (202) 318-1595 – 9 am to 9 pm EST.

  127. Wake Up

    Why not refer “recruits”, your friends to the FREE websites so that they can save money? To say this is the “best” pyramid scheme out there is proposterous. #5 in your post shows the type of person you probably truly is.
    If STE has to do with shopping and getting rebates back then just join, get your rebates without recruiting other “marks”. Let’s see how much money you make then.

  128. Stuffed Soccer Ball

    STE is definitely not about the shopping. When a colleague pitched the idea to me, I was interested in the shopping part but not the recruiting. I asked if I could shop on her site and earn rebates. NO. She would earn rebates on my purchases, but I would not unless I bought into the system and got my own web site. Here’s the obvious glitch: Why would anyone shop at your site if they aren’t getting anything for it? No one’s going to shop at your site just to get you a rebate. So the only purchases on which a web site owner will ever get a rebate is their own! Bottom line: Recruiting is obviously the only point.

  129. Cavelle

    Tracy, just some questions here:
    Are you against the whole MLM concept or are you just against some of the companies?

    In the compensation plan for these companies, weren’t the persons benefiting at the top, at the bottom at some point?

    How is it unfair if everyone in the organization is given the same opportunity to do the same thing, or is it that some get special treatment?

    I must agree that MLM is not for everyone and I don’t think companies should portray that it is easy to do and that everyone can do it. I think this form of business is for people with skills or who want to develop skills in marketing and promotion, business management and also have financial intelligence. Would you agree with me?

  130. Tracy Coenen

    Cavelle – I have not yet found an MLM that doesn’t cause financial losses for 90%+ of the participants. I mean they spend more than they ever make. That’s a pretty devastating statistic.

    And what’s worse, is that it is a systemic problem in MLM that causes the losses. MLM is not like a regular business in which hard work is typically correlated to results. In MLM you can work extremely hard but still not turn a profit. Why? Because of the structure of the business.

    MLM promoters know their scams sound good to average consumers: Be your own boss. Unlimited income. Something of your own. Financial freedom. Those things draw on emotions strongly, leading people to sign up.

    Yet if you look at the real numbers, very, very few people in MLM ever make a profit. Of those that do, most of those make very little. They’re selling a dream that will never work out for almost all of the participants.

    So no, I don’t agree with you.

  131. Cavelle

    Tracy, I have been involved in an MLM and I signed up about 40 persons. However, they gave me a warm time because I was on top as a Director and was doing all the work; I had to take their products from them, sell them, give them the profit and then still recruit people for them while they sat back and received bonus checks.
    What if everyone in these systems worked like me, wouldn’t everybody benefit?

    By the way, I was not making hundreds of thousands of dollars, but I made good checks anyway and the products helped me alot; I couldn’t stop talking about them.

  132. Tracy Coenen

    The numbers show that over 90% of people in these schemes lose money and that earnings are not generated for most, even those who work hard.

  133. Larry

    Does anyone here think that Wal-Mart, Target, Macy’s, Sports Authority, Best Buy and the hundreds of other partners with STE,

    1 Are ALL Involved in an illegal venture (scheme),
    2 That the legal departments of each or these organizations might just know something about the law,
    3 That they might have done their homework before becoming affiliates with STE.

    So, if nothing else can we PLEASE put to rest, once and for all that this is illegal?

  134. Tracy Coenen

    Larry – These companies are not “partners” with STE in the way you’re trying to make it sound. They haven’t vetted the business model of STE or the owners. STE has a relationship with them that is exactly like the one I have with those companies: I signed up as an affiliate. They’ve no more checked out STE than they’ve checked out me.

    So please quit using these affiliate accounts as some validation that the STE business model is legal or good.

  135. Notconfusedanymore

    Question: After saying no to a friend. She is still calling! Is this part of some bizarre training stradegy to wear people down? Can anyone tell me?

  136. JJ

    With friends like Buho, who needs enemies?

    Buho said:

    “5) You can’t be worrying about the people who might lose money with this, you can only worry about yourself. I will take my time and probably start discussing it with potential recruits before cosidering signing up. I think the first 30 days are the most crucial, if you position yourself accordingly and get at least 3 people to sign up, you shouldn’t worry about you selling a bad product because it worked for YOU – you recouped your money and more.”

  137. curious Joe

    As I have been approached for STE, I found this site, just looking for some info. I didnt sit thru any presentation yet. I just read most of the website.

    Although the concept is nice in theory, after reading it all and taking out the pro & con extremes and reading through the general idea, it appears that there were some STE owner/brokers/STE corp cronies & some disgruntled useless/lazy wanna-bes that lost there money. It would appear to me that there are so many variables that need to be in alignment in order to make this work;1. add enough people, and more on an ongoing basis 2. even out the left & right side of the tree (whatever that means) 3. start up fee 4. annual renewal fee $115??? 5. the $100 treehugger monthly purchase 6. loss of commissions due to any number of reasons 7. hoping that indeed the prices are directly from the website, I still have to believe that there are cheaper prices to be had elsewhere. I cant figure out the math part of me buying $100 from Barnes & Nobles directly is the same price as buying from STE. In theory maybe they can because the STE has generated signup fees/renewal fees/mandatory monthly shopping at the treehugger store/lost commissions from other wanna-be peopl who lost commissions due to the complicated structure etc. and via all that profit they can pay the masses in the pyramid. I am not a E commerce guy; so I may have completely missed the boat on this one.

    In my experience MLMers are like stock pickers in the days of E-trade hype of the pre market dot com crash; every stock pick made money, they all got out before the crash. Funny under that same scenario no one ever lost money. Same here, I have met them all; Mona Vie (and the other imitators like Acai and the other health drinks,vitamins,),YTB; they all do the MLM thing,make all this money & yet still do this part time even though they are only making $12/hour in their day job.
    Not trying to be the skeptic, and I love a good challenge, but my guess is that a very very small % of the people actually recoup their monies (without pissing off a few family members who may have joined them).
    Please give me a realistic scenario, so I may become enlightened which includes the sign up of 3 people (not family or friends, probably not within the first 30 days so the bonus doesnt generate a abnormally high early income, what they need to spend on the site factoring renewal fees, taxes, unbalanced pyramid left/right structure. Lets go STE’ers prove your point!!!

  138. Notconfusedanymore

    No, I didn’t fall for it. I never even considered doing this. I feel embarrassed for her and everyone else that gets involved with this.

  139. Natalie

    Ok, I had a friend call me the other day and try to promote what she called a wonderful and rewarding opportunity to me. First of all, I was thinking about it, then I came to realization that this is another business trying to scam people with their outrageous sign up fees. For those of you making money out there, I am very proud of you for hounding and annoying people all day long to sign up so that you can benefit from them. This makes me so sick that people actually scam their family members and friends into doing this. What is wrong with people these days.

  140. WaitingForRefund

    Please don’t fall for this scam. I did and have now wasted plenty of time trying to obtain a refund. Ultimately I have now had to chargeback the item on my credit card.

    For starters…there is NO contact number for the company ANYWHERE on their website. Once I asked for a refund my account was closed so I can’t even log in to read the support tickets to see if they have any intention of refunding me.

    Most everyone I have talked to claims to have made a few theory, meaning the magical check that shows up on their website. However, few if any have actually received that money. Some were told it would take an extra month, others were told the computer made a mistake on the routing numbers, all lies.

    I called the office of the Attorney for is the contact info for him:

    Gerry Nehra
    1710 Beach Street
    Muskegon, MI 49441-1008
    Phone: (231) 755-3800
    Fax: (231) 755-4700
    Cell: (231) 740 5908
    Email: [email protected]

    His secretary and I spoke at great length. It seems he is getting refund calls there, people are complaining about not being able to get a contact number. She advised me that ‘Gerry’ has told them on numerous occasions that they need to put a contact number on the site yet they refuse. (for obvious reasons)

    STE is very ‘cult’ like with it’s members going above and beyond to sell the idea. They are selling you an affiliate program you could get on your own for free from and others like it. The national brands listed have no affiliation with STE and the accounts are more than likely rotated continuously to keep under the wire.

    I saw a previous post stating the Attorney General and SEC approve of this…ARE YOU KIDDING!?!?!? Neither of those two offices endorse any product as also stated above and I am sure it won’t be long before they are investigating STE if they aren’t already. That is almost as good as relying on the BBB to decide if a company is legit or not.

    I feel sorry for anyone who signs up thinking they will make fast cash…even worse for those who con their friends and family members into spending their few spare dollars on a blatant pyramid scheme to enrich themselves temporarily. I say this because a friend came to me and was so excited about finally finding a ‘way out’ of his financial rut. I tried to tell him not to do it, but he did and now is wishing he hadn’t. He can’t get thru to anyone and had to also do a chargeback, blah, blah, blah. You know the story. The guy that recruited him is now treating him like a lepor for cancelling. Some friend!! It’s all about keeping those two legs even!!! What a joke, they make it virtually impossible but if you cancel under someone their whole thing comes crashing down on them.

    The botom line is there are two types of people who sign up for this…A) the guy/gal who doesn’t care how many people they ‘CON’ as long as it makes them some fast cash and B) The innocent ‘believer’ who sees a way out of their financial rut but doesn’t really understand how pyramid schemes work. The first had a few dollars laying around, maybe from another scheme so they aren’t really hurting if it doesn’t work, the latter really can’t afford it but falls for the ‘hype’ in hope of a ‘better’ way.

    By the way…don’t worry about politely declining your friend or family member’s offer. They will treat you poorly at first, then a few months later they will come around were right.

  141. Larry


    Just for the record affiliate synonyms are associate, partner, colleague and member; but enough about that.

    So, what your saying is that these companies (fortune 100 companies) will just willy-nilly and arbitrarily go into relationships and form these affiliations,

    * Without any process or procedure that would ensure and protect hemselves,
    * Without any follow-up after the affiliation is created,
    * Without any vetting or screening of any type,

    I think your begin naive if that is the case. In any event what I’m trying to get to here is the question of legality. I see statements all over this board about how it is illegal..

    So you since you are the professed expert will you go on record as to the legality of STE…

    Is STE legal?

    and,, please, please try to be brief in your response, as in YES or NO.

  142. Tracy Coenen

    Larry – Aside from verifying that you have an active website that doesn’t have objectionable content, that’s about all the retailers do. Once in a while they will require that the affiliate have a privacy policy, but that’s rare.

    If you’d like to assert that the retailers do other work to analyze the affiliates, please provide proof. (They don’t, so you can’t provide proof, but I’m giving you the opportunity.)

  143. Larry

    As the expert here…Can you please answer this simple question…

    Is STE legal?

    And, please, please try to be brief in your response, as in YES or NO.

  144. Tracy Coenen

    Larry – In my non-lawyer opinion, STE and MLM companies like it violate the anti-pyramiding laws currently on the books, although there is little hope of the government actually enforcing said laws.

  145. Stooge Larry said: “Is STE legal? and,, please, please try to be brief in your response, as in YES or NO.”

    Larry, I looks to me like this will run afoul of the law and that is why I passed information about ShopToEarn to both state and Federal authorities. They are the experts and it will be interesting to see what they have to say about the operation.

    What I think is important in this is that they tried to bully people into being silent and that backfired in a very big way because it is a fact that that this one misstep has led to them getting attention by the people who will determine if they are illegal much sooner than would have been the case otherwise.

  146. Larry

    Ronald – My question was addressed to Tracy, however if you want to engage me perhaps you could drop the insults, you sound very ignorant by starting off with the stooge comment.

    Tracy, – you are constantly putting the burden of proof on anyone that disagrees with you …So let me ask you, can you please elaborate on these anti-pyramid laws and exactly how did you come to the conclusion ‘in you non lawyer way’ that STE is violation of them.

  147. Wake Up, especially Larry

    I’m guessing you’re ALSO the type of guy that says, “You can’t be worrying about the people who might lose money with this, you can only worry about yourself.”
    Just recruit, recruit, recruit!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  148. Buho

    I will reword my #5: It’s not that I don’t care if people fall victim to a scam, I do, but I don’t see this as a scam right now.

    What I meant was that if somebody fails in this kind of “business” it’s not something you should feel bad about because the tools are there for you to succeed (as in at least recouping the $450). If you don’t think you can recruit 3 people to recoup your money and get it started, then you shouldn’t join. Forget about the online shopping aspect, if you can benefit from that, great, but that’s a bonus that doesn’t factor in so much in the first 30 days. Seriously, the only cult-like appearance I see here is Tracey and Ronald’s. And I am starting to doubt their intentions because they have failed to prove how this is any worse than so many other business opportunities that require an investment, other than the threat that it might be busted at some point – which I am not convinced about either (Ron, please provide me with the legal authority that says this kind of website business is illegal). The only thing I’ve learned here is that the promise of “getting wealthy” thru this product is not as simple as they make it sound, and more than likely, after the first month, it will fail you. But as for the $450, it’s quite clear what has to be done for you to recoup it.

    Like any investment, things might go well or they might not. In this case, it can’t be any more simple: you recruit 3 people to sign up under you in a month and you made money, period. If anyone here can argue against that then please provide your argument because I have not heard it. When you sign up, you know exactly what you are getting into. You get 3 people to invest in STE – just like an insurance agent gets 3 people to buy insurance from him, or any investor recruits 3 people to further their business – and you don’t have to worry about losing any money.

    I have not joined. I was asked to look into it by a client of mine who is also trying to get me to join. I might join at some point, a decision has not been made, I don’t need to. I am a defense lawyer who’s been pracxticing for 5 years, this is not the kind of thing I know about, so I am trying to learn about the pros and cons. I passed the bar on my first try, and graduated from a top 15 university and a top 50 law school. I do defense litigation and have won the majority of my trials. I’m not stupid, so please give me a clear answer to the question: If I have 3 people sign up and explain to them that they will need to sign up 3 in 30 days to recoup their investment, then will I not 1) make some money, 2) have no obligation or any reason to feel guilty or bad about the investment and people I recruited? If Tracey or Ron or anybody else can provide clear and valid reasons against it, then I’ll be convinced that it’s more of a scam than a business opportunity and I will advise my client that way. But for now, I cannot tell him that he will lose $450 if he has the ability to sign 3 more people up and I cannot accept the arguments made in this forum simply because this “has the appearance of a pyramid scheme”. If this trend continues and we get the same insults and non-responsive answers then you will only make me a defender of STE, which was not my intention at all, and we will find out who is the real scam here.

  149. Wake Up, especially Buho

    “I am a defense lawyer who’s been pracxticing for 5 years, this is not the kind of thing I know about, so I am trying to learn about the pros and cons. I passed the bar on my first try, and graduated from a top 15 university and a top 50 law school. I do defense litigation and have won the majority of my trials.”
    You have all these great achievements and you can’t see that this is a pyramid scheme??????
    The marks BARELY make money on shopping and make the real money by recruiting. I have a few questions for you too.
    Why doesn’t STE post a phone number on their website?
    Why would you join this for $448 in lieu of other websites that offer this type of product for free (Live Search Cash Back, UPromise, Fat Wallet, etc.)?
    Why would you want to recruit friends to join this scam?

  150. Wake Up, especially Buho

    Also, if this is so legitimate and wonderful then why don’t they advertise anywhere?

  151. Tracy Coenen

    Oh, silly Wake Up… Don’t you know that it is WORD OF MOUTH!!! They are saving money by not advertising, and passing it onto their members. That’s the beauty of it – the members promote it and get to keep all the money that would have been spent on advertising…

    The truth is that the founder of the company is keeping all the money that would have gone toward advertising.

  152. Cavelle

    There are so many people here with so many opinions. It seems however, that the persons speaking against MLM have not taken the time to fully understand it. It shows in your line of reasoning that you guys know nothing about MLM. I’m sorry, but I can only respect the opinions of persons who know exactly what they are talking about. To be frank, this blog will end if the main persons here begin to agree with the defenders of MLM (we can’t have that now, can we?) so they have to hold to their argument to keep it alive.

  153. Tracy Coenen

    Common MLM ploy: “YOU JUST DON’T UNDERSTAND!!!”

    I’ve been called ignorant and uneducated by MLM lovers more times than I can count. I know plenty about MLMs, and that’s why I write about them. I’m just interested in informing consumers so they don’t waste their money.

    You don’t have to worry about me becoming an MLM supporter. I’m not interested in supporting a business model that ensures that 99% of participants lose money.

  154. Cavelle

    “Common MLM ploy”. I don’t have to be taught an opinion, I am free to have my own opinions. You make it sound as if I have some MLM book open with lines to use in arguments. I don’t need that, I speak from experience and I see what happens in MLM. I know you cannot see things from my perspective because you have never been in my position and I don’t think it is fair for you to have such strong opinions about something you have never done. I am not a member of Shop To Earn and I’m not here trying to sell anything I am just here sharing my experience in MLM, so please don’t tease me about my decision to be involved in MLM. No one can force me to lie that I have been hurt by MLM or lost money. I have benefited in so many ways. I am an honest person and have never thought of cheating anyone out of their money; I have only tried to help in so many ways: 1) With the products I was selling and 2) being there every step of the way with the people in my organization. I would have travelled anywhere to help my downlines because I am a hard worker. I did receive checks for my hard work and profit from my sales. In my company I’m definately not one of the top earners; I’ve never qualified for any trips nor have been placed in any magazines, but I still did not lose any money. I must say that the Education I have been receiving as a result of my affiliation is invaluable.

    By the way, Tracy, I know you may be a little tired but if you respond to my post please don’t let it sound so automated.

  155. Tracy Coenen

    Not fair for me to have such strong opinions? LOL – You’re brainwashed! It’s “fair” for me to have whatever opinions I want to have. I’ve done hundreds of hours of research into MLM and am quite comfortable with my level of knowledge about them and the financial damage that they do to consumers. Consumers lose billions of dollars to these “ventures” each year. I can’t even really call them business ventures because a pyramid scheme is not a business.

    If you’re proud of getting people involved in schemes that will cause losses for 99% of them, so be it. I don’t know how you sleep at night knowing that you are responsible for scamming consumers out of their hard earned money.

  156. Tracy Coenen

    Cavelle – I looked up your MLM.

    “Classy Care Enterprises LLC is a multi-level marketing company providing homecare services for seniors, babies, children, pets and homes. ”

    No industry is off-limits to MLM, apparently.

  157. Tracy Coenen

    Is this an MLM too?

    “Soleliberty is a free lifestyle enhancement business helping to empower people’s lives. We will give you one on one personal coaching and advice according to your individual needs. We have competent and experienced members who will be here to assist your every need.”

  158. Cavelle

    The quick time it took for you to respond to the post shows that you did not even read it. You just took that one part out. You don’t seem to care about reading posts, you just want to attack right?

  159. Wake Up, especially Cavelle

    I think you should look at Tracy’s background before you make a statement like this, “It seems however, that the persons speaking against MLM have not taken the time to fully understand it.”
    I’m pretty confident after doing research on her you’ll end up going back to recruiting and hope that your MLM is not shut down eventually like so many others. You may not have lost any money in your MLM scam????? I’m sure many of the marks you signed up have. That’s the way they work, 90% WILL lose, PERIOD. BTW, How much to sign up to be a Classy Care represenative?????? LOL!

  160. “Why do MLM lovers always get upset because I’m a published author?”

    I think it is an inferiority complex.

    Lets face reality. Some of the people hyping MLM pyramid schemes are pretty wet behind the ears and need to get fleeced a few times to round out their education and others know what they are doing but lack the innate moral compass which 70-80% are born with. For them it is about rules & how to skirt the rules. Mabe some day we will be able to fix this kind of impairment, but until that day comes we have jails.

  161. Tracy Coenen

    Cavelle – This site’s purpose is not to debate MLMs. MLMs are bad, inflicting financial harm on 99% of the people who get involved in them. There is nothing to debate about it.

    And when people like you come here and tell me that I just don’t know enough about MLM and shouldn’t be giving my opinion… well that’s just silly and I can’t see how you could expect me not to respond to that.

    Bottom line: I’m not here to let you or any other MLM member promote their scams. I’ve done the research. I already know they’re detrimental to almost all involved. So there’s no way I’m going to let you promote it here. If you want to promote MLMs, start your own site.

  162. Cavelle

    To: Wake Up,
    The “MLM scam” you are referring to has been around for 50 years you can research (GNLD). How comes they have not been shut down for scam? And my “Marks” have not lost money because I did the work for them and ensured they got their checks and their profits.
    By the way, I was not talking about Tracey at that time about not understanding MLM; believe it or not I was refering to you when you made your statement on August 31st, 2008 at 9:06 am.
    When I refer to Tracey, I use her name or I quote her.

  163. Tracy Coenen

    The reason your MLM has not been shut down is the same reason all the other flourishing MLMs have not been shut down: The government has chosen to not enforce its laws related to pyramid schemes, business opportunities, and financial frauds.

  164. FTC enforcement is like a pendulum swinging around a circle. The FTC’s interest in MLM’s has been low for sometime.

    In terms of Federal criminal enforcement 9-11 caused all the experienced agents to be pulled to national security issues. It took time of the FBI to hire and train additional agents. They are now paying much more attention to white collar crime.

    All in all I think that the time may be ripe to get MLM some attention 🙂

  165. Wake up, Cavelle

    This was my quote on the said date and time you quoted, “Also, if this is so legitimate and wonderful then why don’t they advertise anywhere?
    I’m not sure what you answered in reference to that question or any of the other questions I posted.
    Also, how much is the low fee to join your MLM, it’s not listed on the site? I guess marks just have to send in their information and be hounded by “cult like” members. All for the low, low, low price of???????????????
    I certainly don’t have as much knowledge of STE, or other MLMs as Tracy or Ronald. I do respect, a heck of alot, their hard work at educating consumers who maybe SCAMMED.
    It sure doesn’t take alot to know that if it walks like a duck, hangs out with other ducks, and quacks like a duck………. Well you may not realize, but it’s a duck.

  166. debbie

    Is there a way to get a written copy of the compensation plan and Policy and Procedures. I need facts and the website does not give much except a short power point that basically says nothing.

  167. “Is there a way to get a written copy of the compensation plan and Policy and Procedures. I need facts and the website does not give much except a short power point that basically says nothing.”

    This is a huge red flag, one of many.

    By the way, I occasionally hire people through Craigs List. They have a clause in their terms strictly prohibiting advertising MLM’s.

    Ronald J. Riley,

    Speaking only on my own behalf.
    President – – RJR at
    Executive Director – – RJR at
    Senior Fellow –
    President – Alliance for American Innovation
    Caretaker of Intellectual Property Creators on behalf of deceased founder Paul Heckel
    Washington, DC
    Direct (202) 318-1595 – 9 am to 9 pm EST.

  168. jesus

    I have a friend that tried to get me into STE after hearing the basic idea how it works i knew right away that it was a copy of every MLM set up that has come down the pipe. funny thing is he telling everyday how he is making TONS of money i guess he doesnt mind that in the end when this goes south he may lose a bunch of friends he signed up for this pipe dream !! i wished him luck and everybody whos invested their cash i hope you all get rich but STE is not for me

  169. Rebecca

    Tracy . i jsut read some of these posts here . i signed up with earth to shop because the people i signed up under already made their money back and more in two weeks.
    i am in no way arguing with u and you are tottally intitled to your opinions, but may i ask how as long as you made MORE then your initial investment (which in order to do you need to teach who you sign up to do the same) than whats the problem even if it DOES crash? and if it is a scam why would over 500 retail stores including BIG names like walmart target and best buy get involved? I personally would never let my friends suffer, the goal is to make all those bonuses right there in the first month and youve MADE 4500 over the intial 450 just for signing up 10 people.
    i really dont understand the issue, and being new to this and maybe nieve i would like to know what your deal against it is? i want to learn for my own sake and for the safelty of those i sign under? i feel like i researched htis company and talked to alot of people who are in it and are making money. and that is the goal. to make money. its not liek your gonna loose anything if it falls as long as you signed up at least 5 people which i dont think will be hard. ive been in for about 24 hours and am very excited about it!

  170. Wake Up, Rebecca

    Did you read anything on this website, whatsoever? If you have no problem signing up friends that WON’T make their money back, then let’s not be friends. These stores are not affiliated with STE, that’s a lie that’s told to marks. Check back with us in a month and let us know how you did. I’m guessing we won’t hear back from you just like we haven’t heard back from others.
    On another note, I spoke with an STE person the other day who was trying to recruit. I asked them why wouldn’t they refer their friends to FREE websites that offer money back rebates. Their response was because they won’t get money back for their purchases. So if your friend can save $25 on a pair of shoes that were originally $100, you don’t want them to go to that site so that you can earn $10??????????? Very sad!!!!!!!

  171. One of the best ways to test a friendship, to tell who is a real friend and who is a fair weather friend is to put some money in the mix.

    A real friend will not try to make money from the friendship. In fact, I submit that a true friend would cheerfully go to the extreme of losing money themselves before subjecting the friend to a loss.

    It is sad that so many people would screw their friends for money.

    Ronald J. Riley,

    Speaking only on my own behalf.
    President – – RJR at
    Executive Director – – RJR at
    Senior Fellow –
    President – Alliance for American Innovation
    Caretaker of Intellectual Property Creators on behalf of deceased founder Paul Heckel
    Washington, DC
    Direct (202) 318-1595 – 9 am to 9 pm EST.

  172. Rebecca

    i read this page only not the whole site because a. i dont have the time to sit and read back and forth attacks on eachotehr. and b i have kids and a house to take care of and now money to be made
    . and i understand what it says. so please dont insult my intelligence. i said i dont see the issue. A scam or a scheme is just based on money. this is selling a website portal to the other stores and you get money back for shopping on it. you have to pay to make any type of webpage for whatever business you have even if its an Ice cream shop that you want a webpage. everyone shops online and so if i can save money to do that and make money from my friend that shop but dont wnt to invest ( and i have plenty who will shop with out investing and thats fine by me. their gonna shop those sights ANYWAYS!~thats what i call a real friend some one who will go out of the way to come to you mall to shop at stores just so u can make a little money , its their choice to not make the money them selves by NOT signing up)

    i am not going to argue with you you are entitled to your opinion. and i respect that this is your passion. I understand that you are very educated in this manner and i also respect that. I just dont see your need to attack people with what you think what is right. i am a Christian, but you dont see me yelling at people who dont believe the same as i that Jesus is lord and savior of my life. I can state my opinion on what i BELIEVE IS TRUTH, but i can not insult another for what they believe is truth. i guess if a person searches their heart or educates them selvesthe choice they make is ultimately it is up to them. and we are not to rub in peoples face i told you so, so if those people who did fail didnt come back its not because they are ashamed its because they wont give you the satisfaction of rubbing their face you are right. because by statistics you are gong to be right some of the time.
    it sounds to me that you can find something wrong with any mlm organization that has been around for along time. i choose to not believe that this is a scam and will continue on my path which is my life and my choice.
    i dont know any of you and am not trying to be your friend or convince you of anything. my friends know I’m genuine and i will work hard to help them earn their money back as i plan to do for my self. if we all come out with a few more bills paid then we started then i think we’re all doing fine.
    and i will come back in a month and tell you how i did. whether good or bad. and i will show you a copy of my paycheck to prove it. and as long as i make what i invested and teach my friends to make what they invested i can sleep happy knowing i did not scam my friends in to loosing a thing.
    and as Roy said earlier, he made a deal with his friend that invested if they did not make 1000 dollars in the first year ( which more then DOUBLE their investment) he would give them their money back plus 10% interest.
    i’de like to summit to you that is a real friend. and also that people waste money on the lottery everyday to “win big” and i bet it adds up to close to 400 a year (if they buy every day) everythig you invest in is a chance. the lottery stock market any type of new company and in todays market even reality. so are you saying that because people loose money its a scam? i agree with warning people tehre is a chance. and sometimes that chance is high. but leave it at that . people who have their mind made up there is no god , you have to just leave it in gods hands . you cant PUSH some one to believe .
    My opinion is if you can double your investment in one month and teach others to that , its worth it. and until then ill catch up with you all later, when i come back in one month to tell you how i’ve done. what i dont understand is if everyone YOu signed up has made their money then what does it matter if it crashes. you all made money! same thing if you get fired from a job, the rug gets pulled from under you. I say you can live in fear that everyone is out to get you. Because i am certainly not out to get anyone.

    and i thank you because if for no other reason then to prove this i am going to work EVEN harder then i might of as of yesterday! so thanks for being the fire that fuels me to make big bucks, and have my friends make big bucks and their friends.
    You all be blessed and have a great day.

  173. Tracy Coenen

    Rebecca –
    The problem with this is that the pyramid will fail and many will lose their money. You claim to be a Christian, but don’t mind participating in this scheme so long as you don’t lose money. That is not very Christian to not care that others will lose.

    If you’re “too busy” to find out the facts on this company by reading two pages on this site, I see no reason to sit here and type up responses to you.

    If you had taken the time to read a couple of pages you would have seen that anyone can be an affiliate of the companies advertised by Shop to Earn FOR FREE. You can earn money from others shopping and you don’t have to recruit or scam anyone, and you don’t have to pay anyone for the ability to do it.

  174. Rebecca,

    1) It is improbable that you will make big bucks!

    2) If you do so by selling to family and friends they are likely to all be really teed off at you.

    3) You remind me of a carpenter who used to work for me. He was a hard and fast worker but week after week for many years he who come to work all excited about winning something or another. One memorable case was when he won a boat and all he had to was pay a few hundred dollars for shipping. When it arrived it was a toy worth maybe five dollars retail.

    He wouldn’t listen to anyone either. It is sad because the people being suckered with these things are usually the ones who can least afford it.

  175. Wake Up, Rebecca

    I’m sorry that you’ve invested and recruited your friends. Unfortunately, you will continue to sucker your friends in hopes of making big bucks. You don’t make that much off of shopping. You make it from recruiting new marks.
    You had no time to invest in educating yourself but you wrote one of the longest responses I’ve seen on this blog. Since you have kids why wouldn’t you look into a FREE website like UPromise which puts money into an account for your children’s college? Your friends and family can still shop for your kids. They can register all their credit cards and anytime the cards are used at participating vendors your children get more money for books, tuition, etc.
    Oh, I get it! That doesn’t line your pockets for making big bucks. If your guaranteeing that your friends don’t lose also, you definitely won’t be making big bucks, because I GUARANTEE there will be losers. GUARANTEED!!!!!!!!!

  176. AlmostSignedUp

    Tracy, just wanted to say thanks so much for all your research on the ShoptoEarn scam. I was very close to throwing away $448, then saw your blogs and the explanation of the 1/3 rule, and decided to keep my hard-earned money. Thanks again and keep up the great work!

  177. T. Marie

    I too was thinking about joining. I asked a friend (attorney) in the Attorney General’s office about it….she said at this point …there have been no complaints. If people were getting scammed, why wouldn’t they be complaining to the BBB and Atty General’s office.

  178. Susie

    I met someone today who tried to get me involved. However, I went on his site today he supposedly made $4400.00 in 2 weeks, however he spent around $3k on online purchases so technically he made $1400.00 oh sorry plus his savings of a whopping $40.00 or so. So he made $1440.00. Sounds like a BIG SCAM TO ME!
    Only people who originate in the crap make money the rest of the people are idiots who get scammed and the BIG dogs benefit NOT YOU!

  179. Susie


    When you come back please show us your paycheck and how much you spent. As this will NOT be worth the investment. I have seen 4 people that are in this scam and they have maybe made $1k after a month. Good luck as I think you are not very intelligent for thinking you can get rich quick. This is just like all the other scams. This is the same as the cruise scam too, where you direct people to go purchase all their vacations from you. Nothing but a scam!

  180. The Skeptic

    I was exposed to the Shop to Earn scam through one of my very best friends just about two weeks ago. This is her second MLM go around (the first being Arbonne). One would think she would have learned; however, she was easily drawn in through the same person who “sold” her on Arbonne; if knowing that she spent more on Arbonne than she made from Arbonne wasn’t enough of a reason to run the other way, the same person approaching her should have been. But, alas, the draw of fast money . . .

    I found this site because I actually did the research when my friend approached me to join; I wish I could have found a dramatic account from a former participant with Shop to Earn to share with my friend. I did share the above posts with her, but she regurgitated the line about the person not working hard, etc. I have to agree that there isn’t much compelling information above from a former player who has been burned. A first-hand account from someone higher on the food chain would be hard to argue with. Maybe the company is too young to have big losers.

    Once again, someone presenting a check for all to see is the winning deception. (Someone at one of her Arbonne meetings did this also.) In Shop to Earn’s case, it isn’t even a real check, but one circulated by e-mail. (The check is dated August 27, but the individual has been told that the money will be deposited into her account on September 21. I’ll keep you posted and let you know whether it actually happens.)

    Since I know that no one who has been duped will actually re-visit this website and own up to the fact that they fell for a pyramid scheme against solid advice, I will write back and let you all know what happens with my friend. I promise to give a fair account for any of those individuals out there who are still believers, just in case you don’t believe those who have written above for whatever reason. I have nothing to lose or gain. I’ll share the info for the common good.

  181. Wake Up, Loozegear

    Also as far as the detailed payout question. Ask them what specifically happens when the “legs” or “tree” (left and right) is not balanced on your account.

  182. Mac

    I am opened minded to this blog, I love a good ell thought out critique but I also known that competitors or disgruntled former members can use the “free” Internet for their own agendas. So I am suspicious of this blog.and who is Tracy Coenen…. I just attended a meeting tonight in Miami. The guy giving the pitch is a well known trial atty who also owns two successful restaurants — one at the Hard Rock casino which must have cost BIG bucks to get into, and a $4 million home. he owned all this before Shop To Earn ever came to being, he is not one of the top guys. Now why would a guy like this with plenty of money bother? he claims he and his wife have made $20K in two months, that’s why! I am not an MLM type of person and I don’;t pitch to my friends normally, it is ANATHEMA … BUT… we are not dealing with pushing Mona Vie or some magic potion. .It’s products we buy every month at the store We do not take inventory. They ship direct to the end user with the regular return policy.. best Buy, Walmart are NOT putting their name on a site that’s a scam, surely? The dollars cannot possibly make sense to these big corps if it is is NOT legit. anyway, people save 5% or so by buying through STE so where is the downside?

    I don’t claim to understand MLM or “legs” but I am a small businessman and I understand the numbers and they look good. it’s not a hard sell to get people to sign up., there is really no risk about them LOSING money. I have urned down MLMs for things that thereis no benefit to the member except to make the guy abve rich. The guy that invited me is someone I trust that’s makig lots of money in retail, why would be bother f it’s not legit, it could trash hjs good name.

  183. go-green

    Well all I can say is that I’m glad I did my research prior to enrolling in this MLM or any other for that matter!!!! I’ve been exposed to dozens of MLM’s over the last 25 years and I must say that I’ve yet to earn any significant income even part time! As a matter of fact, I’ve always seemed to loose the initial upfront fees and have gotten stuck with a lot of crappy products.

    Every time the so called most wonderful, most exciting, greatest MLM companies are touted, my so called friends are calling me to get involved. I can remember the Fund America days (similar to STE but without the Internet) and that came crumbling down after the authorities deemed it to be an illegal pyramid scheme. They’ve always started out like this… “You have to join this right away, you gonna get RICH, especially since this a ground floor opportunity” YEAH RIGHT! That’s exactly what the person who introduced me to STE said! They’re so excited that they don’t even realize the negative consequences of some of their statements!

    And the STE compensation plan… with all its twists, turns and varying explanations is more confusing than pre-algebra!!! Additionally, I was very excited at first when I heard that you make money on the products that you buy through STE as well as those you bring in, but really the percentages are very minimal and heavily weighted towards recruiting other suckers!

    Don’t get me wrong, there are some legitimate MLM companies like Avon and Amway which are publicly traded, worth billions of dollars, have actual products to sell and have realistic compensation plans, however, it takes a certain type of person to make a go of it, let alone become wealthy (I’m not even a member of any MLM company and haven’t been since the early 90’s and don’t own a stock in either of these companies).

    True the early adopters and people at the top always make a ton on money, however as Tracey indicated numerous times, statistically, a very small percentage actually makes any money at all! Use your own judgment and do the research prior to joining and remember you only have so many friends and family members and keeping them should be a priority, not making them believe you can get rich through some MLM scheme.
    Keep your focus on what works for you (even if you work for someone else) but always strive to become your own boss someday and retain your identity, you’ll be respected more by your family, friends and peers!

    What does go green mean to you?

    For me it simple, do what you can today and in the future by considering alternative products and technology which are eco friendly, that I could use now and help preserve this precious environment we live in.

    I recently heard an author give a great example of why we will not run out of oil but it could become extinct… he said “The Stone-Age didn’t end because they ran out of stone, it ended because newer materials were found and supplanted the former. Oil could have the same fate, if people wouldn’t be so dependent on it and demanded environmentally friendly energy alternatives such as solar, wind, bio fuels, hydro and nuclear.”

    The oil dictators have figured out what the low price range of a gallon of gas should sell for ($3.00 to $3.50) and what an acceptable high range should be ($4.50). They now know what our tolerances are and they don’t want to push the envelope. It’s evident, take a look at the stock market, the price of a barrel of oil, the economy, the global recessions, oil is the problem. It’s NOW up to the people to seek alternative energy methods and DO AWAY WITH THE OIL DICTATORS FOREVER!

    Like is short, have a great day!

  184. Tracy Coenen

    Sue – It runs with a similar concept as many of these MLM companies – Recruiting is the focus and little actuall selling/buying of products goes on.

  185. MJ

    When I was looking to signup the person I was talking to said you had to buy $100 a month from the Shop to Earth site.

    Has anyone heard this?

    This seems more like an annual investment of $1668 to me.

  186. Tracy Coenen

    Yes, MJ, that’s correct. This is a change that was implemented recently. Of course, STE reps are claiming it’s easy to spend $100 a month. Personally, mandatory purchases from a limited selection never seem to work out too well.

  187. Rebecca

    your website has to generate 100 dollars a month . so NO your not obligated to buy it your self. but if you dont advertise your page and it doesnt get shop in order o make you commision you need to generate 100 dollars retail ( with you discount or cash back that is $80-85 depending if you put the products on autoship/ but they are products you go tothe store to buy ANYWAYS such as house hold cleaners and other great eco friendly stuff.

  188. Wake Up, Rebecca

    How big is your house that you’re going to buy at least $85 a month on cleaning products (eco friendly)? Also, why not answer the other questions that were posted for you Rebecca? Have you ever checked out free sites like UPromise where you can do the same thing as this STE crap for FREE? It’s a much better option, especially for someone with kids. If you could afford to waste $450 for this scam why not jump starting a UPromise account in a 457 plan? Most people that get into this are looking for a get rich quick fix to their problems but it usually puts them that much farther behind. Good luck!
    I actually do feel bad for you and many others.

  189. Rebecca

    wake up befor eyou critize why dont you read my posts becasue I DO BELONG To Upromise and i said so already
    and second i JUST SAID you DONT HAVE TO SPEND 85 your self. YOUR WEBpage needs to generate that. i dont have time to waste with you skeptics. i told you i will be back in a month to prove i made my money back and at least a little extra. and that is all i have to say to you all.
    if you got burned doing a MLM than that is your problem . i am sorry for you. but i believe that in order to be successful you have TO DO IT> walt disney was rejected over and over and over again about his dream of mickey mouse and then one “sucker” as you all would say took a “chance” same thing with the author of the harriet potter series. rejected over and over again. i know that MLM is not for everyone and i respect that some people just dont get them. I am right now unsubscribing to this blog because i no LONGER care waht you think. i will come prove to you in a month whether i failed or not. until then take care i really hope someday and opportunity comes your way that you dont pass it by or settle for less than your truely worth.

  190. Tsu Dho Nimh

    Mac said: best Buy, Walmart are NOT putting their name on a site that’s a scam, surely? The dollars cannot possibly make sense to these big corps if it is is NOT legit.

    They don’t investigate for legitimacy, they just check to make sure it’s not a porn site or a hate group, then say OK. The more affiliate links they have, the more chances they have to make a sale. They have a small team checking a large number of sites … shop to earn must have slipped by them.


  191. sue

    So Market America has been around for 13 years and you say that is a scam. Thats an awful long time for a scam to be around. It’s the same concept except you don’t have to invest thousands with STE.

  192. Wake Up, Rebecca

    I’m not trying to be rude Rebecca but I can honestly say that I didn’t read your entire post. There are two reasons why: When you start off by saying you don’t have time to read but document the longest post on this page, it tells me you’re !!!!!!!!!!!!!. Second, and again this isn’t meant to be rude, the grammar was so bad it nearly gave me a headache.
    I did read through it rather quickly, at least I’m honest. I didn’t see anything mentioning UPromise. If in fact you are a member of UPromise and it offers the same product as STE for FREE then why would you want to RECRUIT friends, family, etc. to pay $450 for a similar service? If their just signing up on your website to buy products and not becoming a broker then it should take you about 10-15 years to recoup your original $450. Then don’t forget about your $100 minimum monthly payment for those years. I would love to see you get friends to buy $100 a month on products to keep your costs down. It just doesn’t happen month in and month out. How are you going to ADVERTISE your website? STE has rules against that too.
    Has anybody ever done a background on the head honchos at STE? I can’t imagine that they’ve been wonderful law abiding citizens their entire lives. I mean what did Mr. Welsh do for work for 10 years while he started this wonderful business????? Things that make you go HHHHMMMMMMMM!!!!!!!!!!!

  193. I always get a kick out of MLM idiots who bring up the names of people like Walt Disney, Thomas Edison, or JK Rowling, and how much rejection and doubt they had to face before they made it big.

    It’s a sad effort to share reflected glory, but it falls short, because there’s a difference:

    What do you create? Nothing.

    What do you own? Nothing.

    What value do you really offer customers? None.

    Where’s your better mouse trap? You don’t have one.

    At the bottom line, they’re all just membership schemes where one schlub gives money to another schlub and tries to get some other schlub to give him money as well. It’s a house of cards. Those of us who do things and create things and own things can see that, plain as day. If you can’t you really should keep your day job, at least you don’t have to pay them to come to work every day.

  194. Not Convinced

    Someone I know is jumping into this head first, and it’s because their current career is in the toilet. The high-pressured emails have already started. The phone messages are coming in. I’m already under the impression that the words “no thanks” will not compute.

    It’s all so desperate. And it will most likely not pull that person out of the hole. Not in the long run. People in this position do not fully understand how they alienate relationships by getting caught up in this crap.

    It will be a short-lived career for many. Guess what…you’ll have to go back to a real job sooner or later.

  195. Skeptical but hopeful

    I am torn on whether to join – I have read all comments on this site and other others and have come to the conclusion that STE will pay off big if everyone does what they are required to do; however, I think therein lies the problem. Which leads me to my first question: If I only get two other people to join, and they get two to join, and so on and so on, how many levels down need to occur before I get my $450 back?
    Other questions:
    1) Are taxes required only on commissions or on cash back as well? Does the discount that someone below me gets count as commission to me or cash back? In other words, is this taxable as well?
    2) As an “independent contractor”, doesn’t that also mean that you have to pay 15% social security taxes as well? 35% income taxes plus 15% = 50% taxes on total earnings if you are making it big (just something to point out if someone was not aware so that they are not shocked when filing taxes).
    3) If someone several levels below me cannot get 2 people to join, and I have only signed up two people, do my earnings stop completely since the chain is broken? If so, if someone else down my line brought in 3 or more people, would that make up for this broken chain?
    4) I’m not understanding the way the commissions flow all the way down the line – wouldn’t it make sense for someone who is planning on adding more than 2 people to get that third person to sign up at a higher level so that everyone above them would benefit, or is there less commission available that way?

    I would appreciate it if someone in STE would answer my questions so I can make the decision to join or not. $450 plus $100 per month is a lot of money to risk, and I make a decent living. I would hate to throw that away and have friends and family make the same mistake.

  196. Tracy Coenen

    1. Both will be taxable income to you.
    2. Yes, you will be required to pay self-employment taxes of 15.3%.
    3. Not necessarily. If you keep recruiting and adding to whichever side needs people, you can still qualify for commissions. (So you can’t really stop recruiting at 2 people.)
    4. You are only allowed two legs and you must add below. Apparently the computer software automatically puts the person where it will help you most, but I haven’t seen proof of that.

  197. Lassie

    I will really investigate and get in contact with Wallmart to see if they are using their name to endorse this kind of scam.
    This company is a total scam.

  198. Wake Up, Thank you Tracy

    To your knowledge has anyone done a background on any of the “executives” besides their attorney? I’m sure there would be some interesting things to find out. Especially, Mr. Welsh.
    How would a person begin to have this company investigated for pyramid similarities?
    As I’ve said before, thank you for your time and knowledge with helping people understand the truth. Unfortunately, some people “drink the juice” to fast and believe in this. I have a few friends who joined and have made minimal money but spent 100s of dollars on “their” websites.

  199. Robinator

    I think that most of the people on this blog are missing the point here. I know that people are making money doing STE, some more than others. One of my co-workers is in STE and I did the tele-conference and immediately found things that I issues with. The main point that I see that Tracy is trying to make, is that the bulk of the money is being made from recruiting and not product sales. This in turn will be a problem with the FTC. So you may be making money now, but what happens if the FTC walks through the door and shuts them down? Yeah you made some money, but at what expense? It’s not the fault of the individuals that are ignorant on this blog, many of them are probably newbie’s to this industry and don’t understand what is legal and what is not. One thing is for sure, it would be very difficult to get people to shop from this sight, here’s why:
    -STE is not consumer friendly AT ALL. What I mean by that is, as a customer, I would never want to shop there. Why do you ask?? If you look at the top shopping sites on the web, most of them offer consumer reviews, which is something I always use “they do not offer this”, they don’t have comparative shopping, meaning when you for example go to Amazon and you type in the name of the product your looking to buy, multiple choices of where you can buy it from will come up with the prices listed so you can find the product for the lowest price. They do not have a product search bar, only a store search. So if you were looking for a Garmin Nuvi GPS system for example you would have to click on electronics, all their electronics stores would pop up, you would then have to click on each store to see if they carry the product and compare the prices on your own??? Who would want to waste all that time??? So it appears to me, in my opinion, that these sites are geared for the people in STE to buy from because they have an incentive, but someone not in the program “maybe a friend you want to shop from you” would not want to shop at the site because it is not user friendly.
    Let’s face it folks, the bulk of the money comes from recruiting, not from consumers shopping at your site. When I say consumers, I mean the customer has NO financial ties to STE at all. Just look at the pay structure and it tells it all, very low percentages for shopping, but 200 points and $100.00 for everyone that signs in? Hmmmm low points for shopping, high points and cash for recruiting! If you know anything about this industry, then you also know that if the bulk of your income comes from recruiting and not product sales, the FTC considers it a pyramid scheme, PERIOD! I have been in direct sales and network marketing for nearly 20 years now and have been with the same company for 10 years, which I do full-time. I have been exposed to more companies and compensation plans than I can recall. Some of them have been good, some have been bad, you just need to know what to look for. You see, there is nothing more important to me then my integrity and that has carried me in this business, people trust me, once you have lost that it is near impossible to ever get it back. So again, YES you can make money, but for how long and at what expense???

  200. G&P

    To: Rebecca

    hi, Rebecca, I’m new here in this blog. I would like to know your ste webside address. so we can check your check how much you have gotten so far. If you want us to believe you… please.

    To: Everyone

    Hi, I’m new here in this blog and I’m not English native speaker so please forgive me if I make mistakes.

    Fist of all, my friend always told me “There is no short cut in your life” He is a hard worker, real hard worker and he is a successful man. And… I believe him.

    I went STE meeting last week, because my co-worker mentioned it and I was interested in. During the meeting, my co-worker’s “up” explained to new people about the system. I thought “This is kind of great!! I don’t need to demonstrate or carry any products. ( I was doing Amway before I came to this country, but I quit doing business, because I didn’t make any money. I thought products were good, so I was using them). However, this STE, we have to pay $448, $100 every month($80-85 after discount) and annual fee??? to become a broker??? I keep household accounts everyday and I know that I don’t spend even $80/mo from shops in STE site. To me, brokers have to spend $100/mo, if not, your points are gone, is threat. I really don’t understand that why we have to pay this much money. STE’s brokers and STE site didn’t explain in the meeting. OK, at least Amway, at that time, I paid about $120 in American$ (That’s it!!! there was no mandatory fee) . Then people who were Amway members explained to me why I had to pay that much money. Please don’t get me worong. I’m not Amway spy. I just wanted to tell that STE needs explanation for everybody who wants to join STE before become a broker. It is big money. A lot of people don’t realize about it when they go to meeting, because brokers show that amount of money you might be going to make, such as more than $4000. ” OK… I can make a lot of money in 2-3month… $448 is cheap” This is really tricky. Tricky for brains… like when you go to Vegas to spend money on casinos. Showing numbers like MLM to people are really tricky. Just 2 people down from you and 2 more down-down and 2….. “Just 2 people?? WOW!! I can do it!!” Do you think it is the easy????
    There is no short cut in your life!! think about it!! Wake up!! Use your brain if you have!!
    My co-worker, may be another brokers and people who thinking about join STE are innocent and believe in the business, so they paid or are going to pay. If someone who knows this business is a scam among brokers, please don’t deceive to get money from the kind of people.

    Now I really feel bad that I have to say “No” to my co-worker. I don’t know how to say….

    Thank you very much for reading!! ^_^

  201. skeptical

    I think that concerned individuals should try and get some of the networks to look into STE and other MLM’s and possibly do a investigative story on them. I don’t see why they would not want to cover such an interesting, yet controversial industry. I would also like to see a professional, unbiased, legal opinion on the threats that were made to certain bloggers from STE.

    This definitely would be something to watch!

  202. Skeptical

    So i acted on my suggestion and wrote the following to all the networks as well as the franchise shows. Hopefully they will look into STE and other multi-level companies and especially this whole corky lawyer threat issue. I really would like to see what rights they really have other than the right to bully:
    here is the submission:

    GREAT STORY IDEA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Perhaps CNN can do an investigative type story on Multi level Marketing companies. Recently there has been a lot of buzz about one in particular and that is “Shop To Earn”. I think a lot of people are interested in an unbiased and thoroughly investigated opinion on workings of these companies. There is even threats made from the Lawyers of Shop to Earn to bloggers stating that they will take legal action against what most believe to be a constitutional right of freedom of speech. I hope you consider this as something news worthy . I think it is especially since people are feeling the economic pressure and are vulnerable to these types of money making scams…or not scams.

    These companies are not investigated or regulated to my knowledge. Perhaps you may bring us the facts.

    just google search Shop To Earn and read some of the blogs. You will also see the threats from the Shop to Earn’s legal council which is quite stunning and bothersome.

    Thanks for your consideration.

  203. Join Gambler's Anonymous

    Good, I got your attention, maybe not your respect, though, Because they will give you two to one odds you won’t make it in Shop To Earn. I have attended 3 meetings, with my boyfriend, who loves this company, if I have to attend another one, I will gag! Ok, let me explain. He is a born salesman, owned his company 28 years, very successful. I am a wake up, dress up, show up (punch the clock) kinda girl. He joined six weeks ago, and for what its worth, here are a few observations. The first week or so, you get bonuses, for recruiting, many do recoup or even make a few dollars, but what I want to see is the second or third month checks. Also, I disagree with the $100.00 minium purchase, and even worse, why does it have to be on the green side, to save our planet, oh please! I searched the green side , and was amazed at how few products were offered on each website, I barely could find a multivitamin.Lastly, the amount of time my boyfriend has spent on the phone, e-mail, recruiting new prospects, has been equal to a full time job. Hence, I am ready to disengage and discard this relationship because I am beginning to doubt his judgement, Miss Conservative that I am. And I am taking bets on which one of us you think has more money in the bank!

  204. dipset

    General law of Finance:

    ROI > 0 accept the project

    If you cant make 445 back in a life time or a year, business is not your area.

    Invest in a lawn company or clean pools…. im sure youll make youre investment back some day.

  205. Still confused

    Although I very much dislike MLM’s and agree that over time you will NOT make any money, I’m still confused over the new one: STE. Everybody in my office is going nuts over it (I’m the outsider now!), because supposedly they are all making tons of “fake” checks and I’m not!
    I appreciate Tracy’s input, and has definitely helped me realized it is not for me, but I have one question I need answered, so I can overcome my new crazed friends: if you give your initial $448 and get three-four friends to join over the first month (which I can do pretty easily) you make up your initial investment but then do anything else, in theory the people on top of you who are recruiting like crazy should get people under you, and as a result you get points, which then turns into money (supposedly). How do I say no to this “supposed” easy money that should come my way without moving a finger?? Even if it is very little money, it’s better than nothing…
    Please help me clarify this one question, so I can put this thing to rest, and focus on my job, which is actually giving me real checks!!
    Thanks Tracy for your site!

  206. Wake up, Nina

    I wanted to see how much “commission” a friend of mine would get from a $20 purchase from one of their “affiliates” (HAHAHA). After weeks of waiting to see if the commission showed, it didn’t. It seems that you will only, that’s if you get it ever, receive the commission once you sign up two people. If you don’t have two recruits the commissions won’t post. At least that’s what they’re telling him. What a joke!!!!!!!

  207. Danny

    A lot of people just jump into this type of opportunities just because their friends are making money. If you think about it there is not business involved here, you pay for been an affiliate..that’s all (by the way you can be an affiliate of all this companies for FREE).

    When people join a Company just for getting money back, for me that’s scam.

    I can see that people are in recruit mode in this business model..what happen with the sales of the products? I bet just a few people are buying.

    People need to learn how to analize companies before spend time and money….The good news is that is not people’s fault is the Companies that have these biz models in their favor and not the distributor.

    I hope that helps and not get any fan of this Company mad.

    Danny Chiquito

  208. Terri

    I would just like to answer some of the questions here about Shop to Earn. There are so many it will be hard to do but I am going to give it my best shot. I too am skeptical of MLM’s and although being approached by many and this is the first I have ever joined.First off I received my first deposit on Friday so the checks are not fake. I did not make millions my first month but I did triple my investment. Anyway first if you don’t like the business model and it does not make sense to you why not just say “I am not interested” and don’t sign up. Simple as that, I don’t think that anyone can force you to sign up and if your friends are “forcing” you then maybe they are not really your friends. I disagree with friends opinions/decisions all the time that does make them or me bad people.I have not forced anyone I have told my friends and family about the business, had them look at it and if it made sense to them they signed up if not they didn’t, no hard feelings.And this is the approach everyone should take if you force someone into it chances are they will not do welel and then blame you.Money can be made but it is not easy it requires work just like any business/job out there. There is know free money to be had anywhere if there was we would all be rich.As for the spending, you must genereate $100.00 worth of sales through your Shop to Earth site. This can be your purchases or someone else’s through your site. You do get cash back of 15%-20%.As far as I am concerned if I am making money I will spend the $100.00(actually $80-$85) if I am not making money I will not spend it. For example I see that I have a commission coming to me of $500.00 but I have to make a $100.00 purchase to receive it, I will look at that as $400.00 profit and I would spend the $100.00 but I will not be forced to spend it if I don’t spend it I forfeit my points that month,there is no one going to force you to spend it. I would think that the compnay might prefer I did not spend it, less commission for them to pay out. Ok the cash back I have made several purchases my first month to see how it is tracked (remember i am a skeptic also) some of my purchases showed up within a couple of days others take weeks but so far I have found no gliches with this I have received the cash back in the percentages stated on my website.So far as the person with the $20.00 purchase remember it can take up to 90 days for their shopping to show up and it will show up in your “my shopping” page whether you have refferals signed up or not. If your friend is not seeing there shopping; either it has not posted yet or there is a problem whoever gave them the info that it is not there because they have not signed anyone up is misinformed. They can actually send in a support ticket for this, tell them to look at their websites FAQ’s. As far as UPromise goes I have had an account with them for years and not received much return. This is probably my fault because if I remember correctly you must enter all of your credit cards for it to track and at first I was a little weary of doing this.Also I know I can use this at my local grocery store but it only gives cash back on certain items alot that I do not buy. Anyway I will be updating that account and possibly using it more. I think I can probably get money back from both UPromise and Shop to Earn. AS far as how many levels it takes to get your $448 investment back, well that depends, you can earn it back by refering 4 people yourself, or refer two and they refer 3 each, or two and they refer two and each of those two there are numerous ways, you would have to speak directly with someone knowelegable about the business to explain all the ways you can earn your $448.00 back. If someone below you does not refer “the chain is not broken” the points just go directly through them. I have people like this in my business. New refferals go to your weaker side if you have your site set up that way if it is not happening that way for you then check your settings.So far I know tons of people shopping on their site whether or not that will be the case 5 years from now or even a year from who knows. I am not a psychic nor do I have a crystal ball so I can only live in the here and now. Another question I saw is background check for the founders of the company. Well I actually know someone who did that before signing up and they did not find anything. I don’t know why it would be assumed that someone founding a business would auotmatically have some knid of crimal record, I think you are taking things a little too far. As far as posting my address here for anyone to see I think I have read that they will take it out because that would be marketing. If I am wrong I will gladly post my site for anyone to see.Also I know that myself and the people in my upline have made there bank statement information availble for all of us. If you have a question for the person trying to get you into the business just ask them for a copy of their statement they should not have a problem with that. Bottom line here is look at the business if it makes sense to you: Join, if not Don’t it’s simple.For me it was not a great hardship to invest the $448 so I did it and made it back, so no loss.If your in and struggling then get out they have a generous policy for this just look in your contract. Good Luck to all in business and in life.

  209. Tsu Dho Nimh

    Terri …
    When you tripled your investment, where did the money come from? Commissions on sales through the website? Or commissions on recruiting your friends and family? If you recruited them, where will you be able to get clicks on your website from? They’ll be clicking their own sites, not yours.

    Where will they make their money back from? There’s the trap of a MLM … sooner or later, you run out of recruits,and you have recruited your potential customer base into being competitors.

  210. Terri


    I want to make it clear that I do not work for Shop To Earn, I am an independent broker.

    Apparently you have some pre conceived notions about MLM’s or this business, but you obviously have not taken time to review STE’s business model. Yes, when folks sign on as brokers, they obviously will shop on their own web sites, unless they are idiots. They will earn the cash back for their purchases, AND points equivalent to the amount of cash they received. Those points will ALSO be received by everyone else in their upline. These points turn into cash. In other words, the more people below who shop, the more money you will make.

    To answer your question the money earned has come from both.

  211. Wake Up, Terri

    You haven’t had great success from UPromise because they don’t run a pyramid scheme. The money you say you’ve received came from recruiting. You say it’s come from both but I would guarantee that at least 90% came from pyramid”ing” your friends and family. Why not just explain a pyramid to them? Tell them the pros and cons of it and see if they’ll join? At least they won’t have this false belief that they’re going to be rich from “THEIR BUSINESS”, I mean their STE website.
    You’re skeptical of giving your credit card information to UPromise but you give your bank information to a company like STE???? Your friend who did the background check is either lying to you or doesn’t know how to do a background check.
    You didn’t answer the questions of, “Why not use other FREE sites (besides Upromise) and refer your friends to those?” If it’s all about “a product”, which is shopping and you want your friends to save? First of all they won’t spend $445 to join (Fatwallet, Live Search Cashback) and they get the SAME service for FREE.
    I have 15 people I know in this crap and I tried to warn them, but some “drank the juice to quickly”. Of the 15 only TWO have made their money back and to those two, it’s a full time job. Now that RECRUITS are drying up so is the pay; but guess what continues to grow? The monthly fees that are eating away at the profit, which will dwindle them down too.

  212. Terri

    You are comparing peaches and watermelons. This is not the juice company. By the way, I know many people who are doing very well with it, but it’s not for me. I don’t believe in convincing people they need this juice. But I certainly won’t knock anyone for doing it.

    There are no monthly fees here, no inventory and no special product to buy, no “miracle juice”. My investment: $448.88. My return: $1,400.00 in less than a month. Do you know of a similar ROI anywhere else? If so, let me know.

    Everyone I know who has signed up with STE is making money and having a great time (with the exception of one person , the one who is not doing anything). I make sure everyone I know who is interested in STE knows exactly what the business entails. I don’t convince anyone to join. Maybe someone you know did not explain the business to you correctly but I make sure that everyone I talk to sees the business model before they join. STE makes available to everyone the exact business model, if someone does not understand it or does not like it they should not join, plain and simple.

    Yes, you have to work, as with anything else in life. If you think you can just sign up for something, sit on your ass and you will be showered with wealth, this is not for you.

    However, if you are willing to WORK, you will be successful. By the way, its a lot less work and stress than most people experience every day in their daily grind, and the results are much better.

    Many people open business every day, and fail. How many restaurants open, (risking much more than $448.00, by the way) only to close up a year later, losing all their money and sweat equity? Does this mean that opening a restaurant is a bad business?? A scam, perhaps??

    Why not just LOOK at something and try to understand it before you knock it??

    As to the background checks, you implied that the person lied or did not know what they were doing. I think you just don’t like the result, so it must be wrong.

    As to your pyramid comment, in a true pyramid, people at the bottom can not make more than people at the top. With STE it happens all the time!! The harder you work the more you make. And if you recruit someone that works harder than you, they can make more, but you will benefit from their efforts also. PYRAMIDS ARE IN EGYPT (and illegal in the US)

    As to the FREE sites, I can not comment on some that you mentioned, because I don’t know enough about them. I looked at one and studied the business model, and I did not see income potential that STE offers.
    But in life, and in general, free stuff is never as good as the stuff you pay for. Anything worth while requires some sort of effort or investment. Maybe STE works better as a result of the investment. When you invest $448.00, you are motivated enough to at least get your investment back. Then you realize its working for you and continue!

    I really hope you take the time to actually look at STE so you can make educated comments.

    God Bless!

  213. Tracy Coenen

    Terri – I think you forgot about the “annual renewal fee” when you said there are no fees. And you forgot about the minimum monthly purchase requirement. That sounds like a fee to me!

    I’ll do for you what I’ve done for everyone else: I invite you to prove that you really made that money. (What are the chances that you, like everyone else, will decline?)

  214. Robinator

    Tracy, it’s obvious that the people in STE do not know how to recognize a pyramid scheme, because it does not matter if a person at the bottom can make more than the person at the top. What does matter is weather or not you have actual consumers shopping and your comissions are coming by way of product moving, which by the way according to the FTC should be 50%, meaning that the revenue being generated should be coming 50% by customers shopping/buying product. There is NO WAY that this is happening. The money is coming from recruiting, not shopping. Take a look at the low, low percentages that these people are getting for shopping, BUT they get 200 points and $100.00 for recruiting. Ummm, can anyone say illegal pyramid!

  215. Robinator

    Facts are facts people, just stick to the facts and look for yourself at what the FTC regulations are and you wont need someone like me telling you all this.

  216. Robinator

    I copied and pasted this from another STE Blog:

    Shop To Earn – Is It an Illegal Pyramid?
    Opinion from an Insider and FTC Rulings

    Mia culpa for joining ShopTo Earn/ShopToEarth (STE) prior to doing my homework. It is so easy to get swept up in the fever of earning quick money during a home presentation where an early investor shows his paycheck. Sounds like inducement which has been deemed illegal by the FTC. However, now that I joined as a broker for $448, I would like to share some details of my direct experience which in my opinion classifies STE as a pyramid. In addition, I have included some rulings by the FTC on similar “mall” shopping companies which were forced to shut down and two FTC articles on warning signs of an illegal pyramid scheme.

    First of all here is some background on the STE’s design and structure. You may join STE as a Business Builder ($99) and you are only paid for recruiting others. However, to receive your commission, you or your friends “must generate at least $100 in monthly business volume through his/her website’s link to ShopToEarth to become qualified to SCORE!” (taken directly from the company’s commission rules; link to this document is shown below under Related Documents). The commission rules also state that a Business Builder must refer (recruit) three new Website Owners or Brokers within the first 30 days. These recruits must pay their renewal fees at the end of one year or the Business Builder must refer (recruit) another Website Owner/Broker to continue to be eligible for commission.

    Or, you may join as a Web site Owner ($349) which allows you to shop with 500 retailers and earn cash back with a $69 annual renewal fee. You also earn points for anyone who shops at your Web site. However, to receive your commission through STE you or your friends “must generate at least $100 in monthly business volume through his/her website’s link to ShopToEarth to become qualified to SCORE!”

    Doesn’t it sound great to earn cash back for shopping online? Slow down. Did you know that you can do the very same thing through many sites on the internet, earn cash back at MORE retailers and get paid to refer friends all for FREE? Some of these sites are,, For example, has over 1700 retailers available and they show available online coupons per store which may be used for additional discounts. This is known as affiliate marketing where retailers pay for affiliates to promote their goods to a consumer with a direct link to the retailer’s online site. The affiliate receives a rebate from the retailer and is sharing a portion of the rebate with the consumer. So, why would you, your loved ones or friends spend the $349 when you can do the same thing for free? In addition to collecting your $349, STE is receiving the rebate from the retailer as an affiliate and only sharing a portion with the member.

    Then there is the Business Builder and Website Owner rolled into one position known as a Broker. The cost to become a Broker is $448 with an annual renewal fee of $119. From STE Commission Rules – “A Broker functions under the same Commission Rules as a Website Owner and a Business Builder; however, a Broker (Website Owner + Business Builder) only has to refer 2 Website Owners and place at least one on the Left Side and at least one on the Right Side to become qualified to SCORE! A Broker has an annual renewal fee of $119 and 50 points are paid to that Broker (Website Owner + Business Builder) and up-line to all Business Builders.” Again, to receive your commission through STE, you or your friends “must generate at least $100 in monthly business volume through his/her website’s link to ShopToEarth to become qualified to SCORE!”

    As for the requirement to purchase $100 in ShopToEarth products monthly, I have looked through the green products available and I cannot come up with $100 that I need every month. I also feel that most of the prices on these green products are inflated and this requirement only serves to put more “green” into the pockets of the top levels. Yes, STE is truly a “green” company.

    So if you found $100 from the ShopToEarth site to purchase and now you are ready to receive your commission. But wait, there’s more. Your are not eligible to receive your commission unless your right and left side are balance. Now the complexity comes into the genealogy of the tree you are creating on your right and left side. Remember, as a Broker, you must recruit one person on your right and one on your left which begins your tree. To earn your commission, at least 1/3 of your total points must come from one side. Why is this put into place? It forces you to continually recruit new members on your weaker side. New recruits mean more money. Think about it though. Everyone is trying to balance their sides. So if I have a strong right side but someone below me on that side is weak, they will continually try to recruit more on my strong side. I don’t want this. It will make my strong side even stronger! Yikes. Why was this put in place? The company ensures solvency through your continual balancing act of recruiting new members and not paying commission to existing members who are out of balance.

    Here are some other issues that I have with STE:
    1.STE readily promotes checks on the STE Tour call, at home presentations, seminars and on individual Web sites. You can go to any member’s Web site, click on their picture in the lower left corner and then click on $ My Check to see the member’s check. In my opinion, this is inducement and is illegal according to the FTC.
    2.In order to not classify as a pyramid, FTC states that 50% of the business must come from customers not being paid commissions. STE owns the ShopToEarth products so this means that 50% of the business in ShopTo Earth must come from those purchasing products yet not receiving any commissions. Good luck with that one STE especially since as of September 2008 you now require all members to purchase $100 in products from ShopToEarth to receive commission.
    3.STE is promoting business as if they have teamed up with Home Depot, Target, Staples, etc… This is misleading. STE is merely an affiliate and they offer a link to major retailers. In my opinion, this is deceptive and an attempt to legitimize the company.
    4.To be a legitimate company, refunds must be made to consumers. STE promises to refund your money if you put in a ticket within the first 14 days. There are several blogs about people not being able to get their refund as promised, which leads to the next issue.
    5.No STE telephone number available anywhere on the Web site.
    6.Bullying tactics of STE attorney (Nehra) with cease and desist communication to bloggers on the internet who are questioning the legality of STE. Why this tactic? Does STE have something to hide and what about our right to freedom of speech?

    What does the company say about itself? Under About Us on the STE Web site, Patrick Welsh, founder, the verbiage reads -“Pat has spent the last 10 years creating and developing this ShopToEarn platform that couples networking and e-commerce. By forming partnerships with the biggest names in retail while seeking out positive partnerships with the finest green companies, our mission of helping people become healthier and wealthier is being realized by many.
    Our ability to interface and partner with companies that produce products that are good for us and good for the planet will define our uniqueness as our mission of creating a wave of health and wealth and making a difference is ultimately our contribution that future generations will be proud of.”

    In my opinion, STE is merely a recruiting scheme hiding under the guise of teaming up with the larger retailers (aka affiliate marketing) and promoting a “Green” company which is good for the planet. Pat’s message fails to tell you that the monthly $100 purchase of the overly inflated (opinion-but see my next post on actual research which confirm my opinion) green products are mandatory to receive your commission or your points are wiped out. However, even though your points are wiped out, these points are still generated up-line. Who benefits the most? STE since they own the ShopToEarth products and of course, those at the top of the pyramid. The $100 monthly requirement is passed off as being in line with the company’s philosophy when in actuality it is keeping the company solvent at the expense of the members.

    With all of this information and knowledge of the FTC rulings on similar companies, I cannot in good conscious recruit members (even strangers) to sign up when they can shop online for free and get cash back and money for referring friends who also don’t have to fork over $448 plus $100 per month in products. And I failed to mention that you may not get the best price for your purchase as well as previously mentioned by another post. The STE site does not have a search engine for the product offered at the lowest price like or You could use these sites to first see which retailer is offering the lowest price then come to STE and see if the retailer is on the list. If it’s not on the list, you could purchase it from a retailer on STE and your cash back may equal the cost offered by the lowest retailer. So, have you saved anything by spending $448 to join STE? No. You make money by recruiting and the FTC has ruled this as illegal.

    FTC Rulings on Similar Online Mall Companies and FTC Related Articles on Pyramids
    How does the FTC weigh in on this type of business? Below are some recent FTC rulings on online malls and an FTC related consumer article on how to spot a pyramid.

    1. FTC shut down two previous shopping internet malls with links to retailers. Key passages from the article are detailed below along with the link to the to the entire FTC article:

    For Release: May 12, 2005
    FTC Cracks down on Internet Mall Pyramid Promoters
    Operators of online malls that disguised themselves as legitimate business opportunities have settled Federal Trade Commission charges that they were

  217. Terri

    Yes there is an annual renewal fee of $119.00 – I look at it like this if I am making money I will renew next year if not I will not. Same for the shopping every month if I am making money I will shop and get my money- if not, I will not shop! You don’t have to shop, if you made No money that month don’t shop!! Is it that hard for you to grasp?

    So far, it’s obvious, all the negative comments are from people who have not looked into STE they just want to discourage others. For what reason I am not sure.

    As far as proving my income to date, I would be happy to. I am not sure how you would like me to do this I don’t think I can send any information through here. Let me know where you want the proof sent to. But let me ask you this, if you personally get the proof are you going to come back here and let people know the truth? Or are you going to conveniently forget that part? I personally think that for whatever reason you and some others on this blog just want to discourage people from making money. Most people who knock MLM’s have joined others, and then sat around waiting for the money to come to them. Nothing in Life is that simple. Just think there are about 30,000 people in STE if no one was receiving there checks don’t you think it would be shut down by now? I believe that would be illegal.

    Thankfully a lot of people can see through your negativity. Remember that this type of negative attitude about anything in life is not healthy for yourself or those around you. Every time I have been approached by any type of MLM that I was not interested in I have politely said I was not interested. And some of my friends have gone on to make lots of money, more power to them! No need to be rude or insulting. Let people make their own choices in life. If you are just out to “warn” people about MLM’s then do that, explain how you think they work and move on you have done your duty. But insinuating that people (especially those you don’t even know) are liars is not right.

    By the way I have not tried to recruit anyone from this site. I am just a name on here like everyone else.

    If you are looking into any business MLM or not do not get your advice from bitter bloggers. If you look up anything on the internet you will find negative information (not just in business, if you look up a minor health issue you are bound to think you are now dying of cancer). Evaluate the business, your personal situation, financial and otherwise. Then make then make a decision. God willing it will be the right one for you.

  218. Robinator


    As most of you know, ShopToEarn/Earth requires that you spend $100 per month from their “green” retailers in order to receive your commission. In addition to forcing you to buy these products, you are spending far more than if you purchased these same products from other online retailers. For some of the vitamins I researched, you are spending almost double the cost AFTER YOUR CASH BACK. Below is a brief comparison of the prices I found on a quick search. To ensure proof of my claims that I am comparing “apples to apples”, I have screen shots of all products and prices.

    1. Alacer Emergen C MuliVitamins Kids Strawberry 36 packets Price = $7.37

    ShopToEarth Price = $17.45 – $2.62 (cash back) =14.83 ($7.46 MORE)
    Way to go STE. Not only do your investors have to wait 1 month for their cash back (minus $5.00 for direct deposit fee), they are spending $7.46 MORE. Where is that extra profit going????

    2. Alacer Emergen-C 1000 mg Vitamin C Tropical 36 packets Price =$6.89

    ShopToEarth Price = $14.95 – $2.24 (cash back) = $12.71 ($5.82 MORE)
    These outrageous mark-ups are not limited to vitamins. Below are some other examples of STE’s overly inflated products they are forcing on their members.

    3. Chocolite Protein Bars Cookies N Cream (16 bars) Price = $16.99

    ShopToEarth Price = $23.49-$3.52 (cash back) = $19.97 ($2.98 MORE)
    4. Ark Naturals Sea Mobility Chicken Jerky Strips 3/ 9 ounce strips Price = 3 X $7.87 each = $23.61

    ShopToEarth Price = $37.47 – $5.62 (cash back) = $31.85 ($8.24 MORE)
    I found these in less than 20 minutes of comparison shopping. I have a good hunch that this price inflation is rampant through the green store which makes the founders and those at the top very green. WAKE UP STE investors!!!

  219. Robinator


    For the misguided who think they are making money by shopping hence the name, Shop To Earn, here are some more of the outrageous mark-ups in the Shop To Earth site[/u] which you are forced to spend $100 per month to receive commission. You are NOT making money on sales, you are making money by suckering others into signing up which is a classic pyramid. It is only a matter of time before the FTC catches on. Frankly I don’t want my name associated with such a fraudulent business but others seem to have no scruples and have no problem taking $448 from friends, family and loved ones. I have not found one product on the Shop To Earth site which is equal to or less than the price offered by other online retailers. And, of course these other retailers are making a profit off of their products which means Shop To Earth is gauging its own members!!!![u] Aloha Bay Mistletoe Bouquet Candle 21. oz $12.35
    ShopToEarth Aloha bAy Mistletoe Bouquet Candle 21. oz $21.99 – $3.30 cash back = $18.69
    $6.34 (MORE) Aloha Bay Ocean Mist Candle 21. oz
    ShopToEarth Aloha Bay Ocean Mist Candle 21. oz
    $21.99 – $3.30 cash back = $18.69
    $6.34 (MORE) George’s Aloe Vera Shampoo 8 oz.
    ShopToEarth George’s Aloe Vera Shampoo 8 oz.
    $5.95 – $.89 cash back = $5.06
    $1.31 (MORE) George’s Aloe Vera Conditioner 8 oz.
    ShopToEarth George’s Aloe Vera Conditioner 8 oz.
    $6.89 – $1.03 cash back = $5.86
    $1.37 (MORE) Genisoy Ultra-XT Soy Protein Shake Chocolate 22 oz. $12.91
    ShopToEarth Genisoy Ultra-XT Soy Protein Shake Chocolate 22 oz. $20.19 – $3.03 cash back = $17.16
    $4.25 (MORE) Genisoy Protein Bars Chocolate Chip 12-1.58 oz bars $12.92
    ShopToEarth Genisoy Protein Bars Chocolate Chip 12-1.58 oz bars $19.99 – $3.00 cash back = $17.99
    $5.07 (MORE)

  220. Tracy Coenen

    Terri – You have done an excellent job of learning and reciting the scripts you have been given. You should know that I have no vested interest in MLM one way or another: I simply warn consumers about them out of the goodness of my heart and because I don’t want to see them continue to lose billions of dollars each year to these schemes.

    You can send your proof to [email protected].

  221. Robinator

    Hi Terri,
    I’m actually trying to do something positive here, not negative. I too am in the network marketing / direct sales business and have been for nearly 20 years now and have been with the same company for over 10 years. I make a six figure income, this is all my wife and I do. I’m a true believer in this industry because I have had the opportunity to see it change countless lives. What concerns me about STE is the business model, specifically that the money comes from recruiting and not from consumers shopping, which is considered to be an illegal pyramid scheme by FTC regulations. Now, I know that you and many other people are probably capitalizing on this; I don’t doubt that money is being made. My concern for the people doing STE is that when people start making money, inevitably their lifestyle changes and they begin to count on that money coming in. So what happens to all of these people making money, counting on that money to live and then the FTC comes in and shuts them down????? Stability is what is important, not to mention your integrity. That is why I’m writing on this blog. I love this industry and believe it will change the future economy, but I also believe that there are good companies, with good compensation plans that will be around for a long time and there are companies that are sub par, with poorly designed compensation plans that will be short lived. I speak from experience.

  222. Tracy Coenen

    Robinator – How will MLM “change the future economy”? It’s been around for nearly 50 years, and it’s still the exact same recruiting scam. Little actual retailing goes on. It’s all about recruiting and recruits making minimum purchases of products they can’t sell and have little hope of using up themselves.

    MLM adds nothing to our economy. All it does is take. If consumers quit putting billions of dollars each year into these losers of “opportunities”, they’d have billions of dollars to pay down their debts, feed their families, and truly better their lives.

    MLM is a cancer. I have appreciated your comments, even though your MLM is no different than any of these other schemes. But you make a living off selling false hope to others… in an industry in which over 99% of people fail to turn a profit.

  223. skeptical

    This whole thing sounds like those so called psychics that to this day there is a 1 million dollar award if they can prove their skills (there are actually several now world wide). Not one had been able to prove themselves as a legitimate psychic. And most don’t take the challenge because of the obvious embarrassment it would bring them.

    So….Why doesn’t everyone of the people supporting or praising STE put up or shut up!!!!!

    Words mean SQUAT!!! I could tell you to invest in a terd producing machine that was guaranteed to bring you all millions if you only recruit your family and friends. would you just believe me just because i told you how much i am making. Gullible… ignorant fools!

    Stop writing good things about STE if you cannot take Tracy’s challenge. PUT UP OR SHUT UP. It is that simple.

    Why don’t you all just start a chain email asking everyone to send you a dollar and everyone in your family and their friends to send you a dollar. That compounding would surly make you rich and then your family and friends would say…Huh? wow we just git suckered and he/she is rich.

    You are all financial retards!

    But tracy is just trying to help a few lost souls

  224. Robinator

    Honestly Tracy,
    I’m here to talk about STE and thats what I have been doing. I really don’t want to get on a whole other subject. Hope you understand.

  225. Tracy Coenen

    Oh, I don’t want to argue w/ you Robinator. I mean, you’ve obviously made some valid points. I just wanted to throw out my opinion that MLMs are all essentially the same. 🙂

  226. Wake up, Terri

    You’re too funny Terri. I can’t wait to see your proof of income posted here. It seems very funny (EVASIVE) that you conveniently forget about an annual fee and monthly fees. Do you honestly think STE doesn’t cover this: “What if a member chooses not to pay?” scenario.
    In reference to backgounds, I guess it depends on what you think a negative background is?????
    The absolute funniest is the fact that you said, “I looked at one and studied the business model, and I did not see income potential that STE offers.” That’s because these other companies are legitimate and aren’t pyramids. A duck is a duck Terri, WAKE UP!!!!!!!!!!
    You also point out the fact that people don’t know enough about STE but nearly everything you quote is straight from this companies website. Why not look into Tracy’s background? You’re probably to busy paying double for vitamins and cleaning products, than just buying them at a better price other places.

  227. Wake up, Terri

    Actually the $20 purchase through the friend’s website did show up and their now eligible for a whopping $ 0.60 back. Now they only have to buy at least $100 worth of overpriced products to get $0.60. This friend has tried to recruit numerous people, been to numerous meetings, and bought CRAP that they don’t need. So to say, “The people who don’t make money aren’t working hard enough.” is BS. People are becoming increasingly aware that this is a BS scam.

  228. Terri

    I don’t understand and I am not sure why I am responding to you. I said I would show proof of what I have made just let me know in what form you all want it. So I don’t know where you are coming form with this “…take Tracy’s challenge. PUT UP OR SHUT UP”.

    I am very glad that you and wife are making a wonderful income with your “network marketing / direct sales business”. I don’t know what business it is but if it works for your family then, Good for you!! My family also earns a six figure income, not through STE, if you read my previous post I just began STE a few weeks ago. We are not running out closing up current businesses for STE. And I would not advise that anyone do that either. And if you know people that are that radical then nothing you say here or anywhere else will help them. As far as peoples lifestyle changing based on their income I agree. That happens for everyone no matter what kind of work you do. In this society the more you make the more you spend. As far as this blog changing that I can’t see that happening. I know plenty of people working for many years in high paying jobs living the good life and then they go into work one day to find they have no job. From my experience with those close to me there is NO such thing as “Stability” in our countries current economic situation. I suggest that we all work hard at whatever it is we are good at, make money, and SAVE money that is our only “Stability”. Govern your lives accordingly and live within your means!

    Simply warning people is one thing but I think you have gone a step or two further than that. Whether or not it is out of the “goodness of my heart” I would not know because I don’t know you and I don’t presume to know your “heart”. I also don’t believe that this blog will rid the world of people losing billions on scams or otherwise.

    STE is not a scam. I don’t know what proof you are looking for but I will send you my STE info as well as bank information today if it is not what you are looking for let me know and I will do my best to provide you the info you need. I will have to trust in your “hearts goodness” that you will not then be blasting my personal information all over the Internet.

  229. Tracy Coenen

    Terri – I’ll agree to post none of your information, other than to confirm the dollar amount of earnings you’ve gotten from STE. I won’t include your full name, and will definitely not give out any other information about you or your bank, etc.

  230. Alvy

    I have read many of the blogs on this sight and now I feel that it is time for me to step in and give a bit of feedback myself.
    Tracy you responded to someone on this page that basically all MLM’s are the same, they are scams / pyramid schemes etc….. Although I will admit that there are and always will be people out there that want to take your money and yes there are pyramid schemes and scams. But to categorize all “MLM’s” all “Network Marketing Companies” as being the same, is like saying all franchises are the same, all homes are the same, all food is the same, all people are the same! Wouldn’t that be VERY stereotypical? Yes franchises have similarities in the way they do business, many homes are built from wood or brick, but that does not make them the same, RIGHT? Stereotyping all MLM, direct sales and network marketing companies would not be very intelligent, because many companies YES maybe similar, but have VAST differences. I am not in STE, but I’m in the same industry and have been for quite sometime now. I’m 40 years old, not college educated and yet I earn more than 4 to 5 times as much as many of the people I know that work fulltime jobs and went to college! Not 1 of my friends or family members are in my business, I never asked them to become a part of it, but they all know what I do, if they become interested, I will talk to them about it.
    I network through business owners, doctors, lawyers, CPA’s, teachers, CEO’s etc…… I help them with their business and they help me with mine. I have helped change the lives of hundreds of people. My company has been in business for nearly 20 years and has grown every quarter since its inception. We have over 3.5 million customers that buy product, we have done over 3 billion dollars in retail sales “so we are selling product” we do not get paid cash for recruits. This industry does over 109 billion dollars a year globally and has created almost as many millionaires as real-estate! Here are some quotes about direct sales and network marketing from people I guess you would consider liars or not trustworthy:

    “An investors dream….An industry with steady annual growth, healthy cash flows, and long-term prospects for global expansion.” – Fortune Magazine

    “Direct selling gives people the opportunity, with very low risk and very low financial commitment, to build their own income-generating asset and acquire great wealth.” – Robert Kiyosaki, New York Times best selling author of Rich Dad Poor Dad

    “It’s the best investment I have ever made” – Warren Buffett, Billionaire Investor

    “In the 2006-2016” decade, there will be 10 million new millionaires in the U.S. alone…..Many if not most of those new millionaires will be from the emerging powerhouse industry of direct selling.” – Paul Zane Pilzer, Economist

    The list goes on and on! I was a traditional business owner about 12 years ago, I owned a Café, I worked my tail off seven days a week 12 to 15 hours a day and went into bankruptcy because of it. One of my best friends since childhood opened a well know franchise and went out of business within 3 years, another one of my friends bought a convenient store / gas station and went out of business in a little over a year. All small to medium size businesses fail within the first 5 years of business! 95 % of Americans at age 65 are either still working, flat broke or dead. So Tracy, since you are trying to save everyone in the world from all of these scams, why not write about them all? We should be telling everyone who has a job that 95% of the U.S. population fails after working their whole lives, so all jobs are scams RIGHT? I mean with a 95% fail rate it would be accurate to say that is fair, RIGHT? I should be writing blogs on how Café’s, Franchises and Gas stations are all scams because my friends and I failed at all of them, RIGHT? Because we all know that all café’s, gas stations and franchises are the same, RIGHT? The stats for MLM / Direct Sales / Network Marketing has about an 80 to 85% fail rate, does that not sound better than a 95% fail rate? Best of all in Network Marketing, if I don’t make it, does it take me my whole life to figure that out? No, it would take months and instead of investing $120,000.00 like I did with my traditional business, that failed, it cost me $600.00!!!! Now I’m better off than I have ever been in my life and it has allowed me to take care of both of my parents who found out the hard way that what they were doing their whole life didn’t work.
    So please, if you are going to make comments about STE that’s fine, I personally don’t care for their business structure myself. But don’t categorize a whole industry on one company, otherwise your intelligence level, at least to me, goes out the window. There are 2 different types of people that make the statements that you are making:

    1. Someone who has never done what they are writing about, yet claim to know more than the people who are doing what you’re writing about.
    2. Someone who has failed at what they are writing about and need to let the world know why it does not work, because the people who have succeed where the other person has failed makes them feel inadequate.

    I am a person who has succeeded, so I teach people what I have done to succeed and I can write about it because I have done it. So if someone wishes to shut off all possibilities and not do this type of business, well, they may listen to you, but if someone wants to succeed they can listen to me. I look back when I first started and I remember all the people that talked just like you do and I can only think “thank God I didn’t listen to them” I cant imagine what my life would be like right now! I’m not in any way trying to insult you, really I’m not, just think before you write something and if you want to become a true expert go out and try doing what your talking about, YOU MAY BE SURPRISED!

  231. Tracy Coenen

    Alvy – Every cancer is different, but I think it would be fair to say that all cancer is bad. In a similar vein, I find it fair to say that all MLM is bad. I have yet to find one that isn’t an endless chain recruiting scheme. These schemes do not create real value, they are simply a transfer of wealth from the downline to the upline, mainly through minimum purchase requirements or purchases made to “qualify” for the next level of the scheme.

    Thanks for your concern about what I actually know about MLM, but I am quite confident that I know lots and lots about it.

    You should also know this:

    Robert Kiyosaki is a total clown and would say anything if it would sell more books to MLMers.

    Warren Buffet was not talking about being an MLM distributor. He was talking about owning stock in an MLM. The owners of MLMs get rich because it is such an ingenious business model for them (but not, of course, for the distributors.)

  232. skeptical


    If you don’t understand why your responding to me then i guess the only thin i can say is…why are you responding to me?

    See it’s this kind of response or oxymoron that makes me think…”gee i sure want to be doing what they are doing”. Where did i go wrong in life.

    If you don’t understand why you are writing something maybe leave that part out if you are going to write it.

    just a suggestion.

  233. MLM’s are all about getting the serfs to work their tails off for next to nothing and channeling the bulk of the profit to the top.

    Take a look at Amex’s so called financial advisers. It is the same game but for much higher stakes. They get young people right out of college and promise to train them to be financial advisers. What they really get trained in is how to pitch a rigid script, just like STE. The only way they can make their quotas is to bring in their natural clients, as in friends and family.

    Most only last a year or so, but once all their friends and family are signed up the people doing the pitch are expendable and the people they sign up are stuck with expensive exits or a long term low yield contract. Win-win for Amex at the expense of large numbers of losers.

    The difference between Amex and STE is that one is big enough to get away with it and the other isn’t.

    Good business relationships are built on mutual and equitable profit. Unfortunately there are lots of businesses whose models are built on gouging a steady stream of new marks.

    Amex credit cards are just as lousy a deal as their financial services.

    Check out And no, I do not own the site but I would have if someone hadn’t beat me to it.

    Ronald J. Riley,

    Speaking only on my own behalf.
    President – – RJR at
    Executive Director – – RJR at
    Senior Fellow –
    President – Alliance for American Innovation
    Caretaker of Intellectual Property Creators on behalf of deceased founder Paul Heckel
    Washington, DC
    Direct (202) 318-1595 – 9 am to 9 pm EST.

  234. Alvy

    Ok, so what are your facts? What are your stats? What is your reasoning? Its well known that 95% of the U.S. population has FAILED and can’t survive financially at age 65 and beyond as I stated before, wouldn’t you say that is the biggest scheme/scam in the history of the world? These aren’t my stats; they come fro the social security administration. 95% of all small to medium size traditional turn key businesses fail within 5 years!!!! Tracy, statistically they would all be considered scams, RIGHT? Do you not agree with this? If not then please enlighten me? Because if you go by statistics, you have a better chance at succeeding in this industry then having a job or owning your own business and it’s not going to cost you your whole life, or bank loads of money to figure it out. So how does what you say make any sense based on facts?? Tell me because I truly want to know. Go to school; pay thousands of dollars for an education and HOOOOORRRAAAAAY you FAIL! But you think that MLM/Network Marketing is bad? Are you kidding? If what you said made sense I would listen, but it does not. But hey this is what makes the world go around, there are people like you and people like me. If we were all the same, life would be boring! LOL

  235. Tracy Coenen

    Alvy – I invite you to support your 95% figure. Please give me the link where this statistic is proven.

    My numbers come from here:

    This report uses figures reported by the MLMs themselves to show how many people lose money in this industry.

    I’m not sure I understand what you’re saying about going to school and failing. The vast majority of people who get a college education and wish to be gainfully employed are able to do so, so I don’t understand the failure behind going to college.

    Sadly, participating in MLM has cost millions of people “bank loads of money.” Their families suffer because of it. They have credit card debt because of it. And as I’ve said over and over on this site, I’m not just talking about those you would deem lazy losers. I’m also talking about people who devoted years of their lives working 40 to 60 hours a week on developing their MLM distributorship… and now they have only debt to show for it.

  236. Alvy

    Ronald, I completely agree. I’m simply stating that to say that all MLM/Network Marketing/Direct Sales companies are bad is foolish, how someone could disagree with that makes no sense to me.

  237. skeptical

    I know a friend that joined the YTB network and has been in it for about 6 or so months. I just talked to another friend and i asked how he was doing and he said he he puts all of his time into it even traveling to different states for conventions and seminars. He is by no means lazy and also holds a full time job. My friend says that he is deep into it and has a negative return from his efforts, but it’s as if it got “cultish”. My friend has tried to talk him out of it, but is obsessed with the making it work. I also was told that the so called “support group” was more like that of Scientology. Making it very difficult to leave or having that type of emotional and mental control over an individual. Look…this is a true story and it is very sad that this is happening to a decent person.

    I have heard of someone making $500.00 but really nothing significant. It just is not worth the headache and time it takes to get a few bucks. why drag your friends, family and yourself into such a scheme. Your only making someone else rich from your time and efforts… from your family and friends. And these guys are just laughing all the way to the bank.

    Some of these bloggers may be higher on the pyramid or some may be real optimistic in their early stage. They will write anything to defend their scheme… wouldn’t you? don’t trust what you read. Just check out politics today are you watching the debates? people will tell you what you want to hear and if you are struggling or want easy money you will be taken by a savvy talker.

    Be the leader and not the follower! That , after all is an MLM principle.

    One more note:

    I have been to a few meetings of different MLM’s is it a coincidence that the hosts they all have the same pitch…the same smarmy sales like tactics? They are just to creepy. They all seem like the stepford wives

  238. Tracy Coenen

    Yep – The MLM pushers are, of course, going to say only positive things because of the slight chance that they might recruit someone. They’re constantly on the hunt.

    Similar pitches and tactics work because they’re so effective! If you’ve ever been involved in an MLM, pick up a copy of Believe: The Movie. It’s a comedy (fiction) about MLM, and I would put money on it that whatever MLM you participated in used the same lines as in the movie.

  239. Alvy

    I have a few questions:

    1. In corporate america, do the people at the top make all the money,
    Yes or No?

    2. Do the people who get involved with a company in the begining, lets use microsoft as an example stand to make more money than the people who come along later, Yes or No?

    3. In corporate america can employee on the sales floor at lets use Home Depot as an example make more than a VP, Yes or No?

    4. Can someone buy into a franchise for lots of $$$$$$ and fail, Yes or No?

    5. When you own a business and have employees,do you make money off of their efforts, Yes or No?

    6. If you buy stocks at $10.00 a share and sell at $40.00 a share do you make money off the people who bought later, Yes or No?

    7. If you buy a home at 150k and sell it for 250k are you making money off of someone, Yes or No?

    8. In corporate america can you be the most productive employee in the organization and get passed on a promotion by someone who is far less productive than you because of who they are friends with, Yes or No?

    I mean, honestly I could go on and on and on but when people are un-willing to see things for what they are its like trying to wake the dead.

  240. Tracy Coenen

    Alvy – None of your questions represents a valid comparison to MLM. The most common one (that MLM is just like corporate America) is the most obviously ridiculous.

    In corporate America, people get regular paychecks for their work. In MLM, you must pay to play, and 99% will put more in than they ever get out. So while executives are paid more than their subordinates, all get paid. In MLM, less than 1% get paid.

    All of these comparisons are made to make MLM look legitimate, but they’re just not apples to apples comparisons.

  241. Wake Up, Alvy!

    “I mean, honestly I could go on and on and on but when people are un-willing to see things for what they are its like trying to wake the dead.”

    Then what are you doing here? Don’t you have a business to run?

    Oh, that’s right…

  242. Alvy

    You get to give your OPINIONS on what YOU think is wrong with this industry, while a bunch of people are living the good life!!! Like I said before there are opposites for everything in life
    Quitters/People who never tryWinners/risk takers

  243. Tracy Coenen

    Who says I’m not living the good life? And you should know that I find great joy in educating consumers about the real facts behind MLM schemes.


  244. Alvy

    MLM/Network Marketing been around for more than 50 years and is a legitimate business world wide, just not to you. Direct selling has been around for 100 years and is a legitimate business worldwide, just not to you. Your opinion, not fact!

  245. Danny

    I agree 100% with Tracy’s comments in this forum.

    ShoptoEarn is a Scam that’s it.

    Recruiting recruiting recruiting is the name of the game here….No one is thinking in buying from the websites……just recruit and make money!

    Sorry but this business will not stay for a long run…you will see.



  246. Tracy Coenen

    Danny – Thanks for agreeing with me, but please stop trying to promote your own scam. If you link to it again, your comments will be rejected.

  247. skeptical


    You mentioned in an earlier blog: “Everything in life Quitters/People who never tryWinners/risk takers”. You seem to have forgotten the Gamblers. And even a gambler has better odds than 1 to 99. In fact if i was considering joining I would actually recommend taking a large sum of money and just plopping down on ‘Red or Black” hey at least I have an almost 50/50 chance (those damn 00/0 can really piss you off though:) Plus you, your friends and family don’t have to waste countless days, moths perhaps years of precious time. You can figure out your fate in seconds and it could pay off BIG. Most people, almost all people, when put this way would not even think of it, but yet you actually have a better chance….how interesting.

    Anyway…. could you tell us your percentage findings of people that actually succeed (not just making a few bucks either, i mean real money) and where we may find them.

    Also, anyone who takes the time to spell check and proof read his/hers writing would look like a pro. So don’t feel so gifted because “you can spell”. whippee doo da look at me i can spell durr my name is alvy errr ahhh “which way did he go george, which way did he go”

    I rarely check my grammar due to ….i don’t care. Just have to be honest with myself.

    Spelling is not a great feat these days in case you did not know that. But what really tells us your I.Q. is your MLM rhetoric.

    I give you a D I would have given you an F, but you can spell.

  248. skeptical

    I must amend my last blog entry:(

    I made an awful mistake. Reading through the countless email bogs i got this morning i though Alvey wrote the whole ” i can spell” bit. He did not.

    My mistake and i apologize. I give you a C instead of a D.

  249. WaitingForRefund

    WOOHOO!!! I finally got my chargeback!! Only took two months.(one waiting for legit refund and one doing a chargeback) Now let’s see some of those proof of income’s posted. On all of the blogs regarding STE there are plenty of people saying they will show the proof…WHERE IS IT?!?!?! I know you all should have been paid AGAIN on the 21st. Surely by now that money has cleared your account. Is it what you were expecting? How much of that check didn’t make it because one leg was shorter or STE added a few last minute members to the other to throw it off for you? I know the scam…now ‘fess up. Let’s see those MILLIONS!!! HAHAHAHAHA

    My friend was expecting $1800. I told him there was no way he was getting it. He kept insisting that his legs were close enough to even and this month he was sure he was getting it. He got it alright…$105.00 somehow, yet again the legs collapsed. His check went to $485.00 and only $105.00 of it supposedly qualified for this paydate and the rest goes to next.(this way they have more time to wipe the rest of it away)

    You know why this bothers me? My friend can’t afford STE. He spent money on his credit card he didn’t have because he was sure he would make money. I signed up as well, but I could afford the risk. This guy has a family and he is losing his A$$, not to mention his wife is flipping out on him. He was counting on that money that he worked relentlessly to ‘earn’ as he recruited everyone he could, even promising he would guarantee them their money back if they didn’t get paid!!!(that’s a whole different problem now)

    The bottom line is that this whole thing is ridiculous, illegal and ruining people’s lives. Someone needs to put an end to this. When I signed up back in July, there were only about 5000 members, now it’s over 25000 and growing in suckers.

  250. skeptical

    Revised blog without the “Alvey statement”

    You mentioned in an earlier blog: “Everything in life Quitters/People who never tryWinners/risk takers”. You seem to have forgotten the Gamblers. And even a gambler has better odds than 1 to 99. In fact if i was considering joining I would actually recommend taking a large sum of money and just plopping down on ‘Red or Black” hey at least I have an almost 50/50 chance (those damn 00/0 can really piss you off though:) Plus you, your friends and family don’t have to waste countless days, moths perhaps years of precious time. You can figure out your fate in seconds and it could pay off BIG. Most people, almost all people, when put this way would not even think of it, but yet you actually have a better chance….how interesting.

    Anyway…. could you tell us your percentage findings of people that actually succeed (not just making a few bucks either, i mean real money) and where we may find them.

  251. Wake Up

    Kudos to WaitingForRefund for being honest of their experience. Two months for a refund? Way to go STE! Just another blemish on your stinkin’ company. If you’re trying to avoid negative feedback you should do simple things like giving refunds to people that want out and are within the refund policies. 2 MONTHS????????? Now, please, let’s hear from others that have been scammed. Try to help others from being scammed.
    I post on here because I, like WaitingForRefund, have friends who joined this crap thinking of making money. They invested $450, have to recruit (scam), have to pay $100 a month for INFLATED priced products, and have actually lost money. You do make some points about MLMs but we’re talking about STE. This is a pyramid, IMHO, and call a duck a duck.
    One person who tried to convince me of how great this is said, “I’ve been in for only 2 weeks and I’ve made $250 and once I recruit one more I’ve recouped my money. It’s been about a month since that and they haven’t recruited anyone else and now they have to pay a minimum of $100 for the monthly fee. The person that was with her was one of their marks (recruit). They’ve made $0.00 in over a month.
    Let’s do a little math and I’ll help.
    $450 (sign up), $100 MINIMUM monthly MANDATORY fee for a total of $550 MINIMUM. Two recruits +200. So $550 – $200= NEGATIVE $350 in one month.
    The second person whom I referred to above is even more simple. $450 start up fee and $0.00 made. NEGATIVE $450
    I didn’t know that employees at Microsoft, Home Depot, etc. have to pay to become an employee???? As YOU referenced above. Secondly, I didn’t know they also have to pay a minimum monthly fee buying inflated priced products to receive their paychecks? Don’t employees usually get a significant “Employee Discount” when they buy products from their company? I definitely don’t want to work at a company that you own if you’re going to charge me to start working for you and then I have to pay you monthly, as described above. ESPECIALLY, WHY WOULD I WORK AND PAY YOU WHEN THERE ARE THE SAME WEBSITES OUT THERE THAT ARE FREE?????????????
    Wake Up!

  252. Alvy

    Wakeup, I feel the same way that you all do about STE, I am not involved with them and never would be and I agree that the way that their business model is set up it appears that they would be considered a pyramid scheme, based on FTC regulations. I agree with what is being said about STE.

  253. I was able to get a full refund. The address is Shop to Earn, 3441 South Eastern Ave, Las Vegas NV 89109. I sent it certified mail and i also emailed thier lawyer. I was in the 14 day opt out.

    Right after that i created my own shoping affilate site to get money back on purchases. And it contains the same merchants.

    You can do it too. Just look at

  254. Tsu Dho Nimh

    Alvy … you claim, “95% of all small to medium size traditional turn key businesses fail within 5 years!!!!”

    The SBA, the SMALL BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION, says over 50% of small businesses close in the first five years … considerably less than what you claim.

    “Close” does not equal “fail” or “went bankrupt”. Because closures are tracked by counting permits and licenses, you can’t tell why a business is not longer there, it is just not there. Yes, some lose money and truly fail. Some businesses close because the owner retires or sells, some “close” because of a name change, some merge with another business, some close because the owner and business move to a different city or state and the licensing changes.

    1. In corporate america, do the people at the top make all the money, Yes or No?

    No! I regularly get a paycheck from “corporate america”, as does my boyfriend. The paychecks are well into the “executive income” range, far higher than those received by all but a few MLM upliners, and include health benefits, stock bonuses, performance bonuses, and paid time off.

    Training, business travel, conferences, and the like are paid for by the company, and they would repay expenses for college.

    They pay the rent and utilities, buy the office equipment and supplies, pay for the advertising, pay for the samples kits the sales staff uses, make sure the payroll is met, etc. All I have to do to get that executive salary is show up and do the work they hired me for.

    It’s a sweet deal! You really should try it sometime.

    2. Do the people who get involved with a company in the beginning, lets use microsoft as an example stand to make more money than the people who come along later, Yes or No?

    Sometimes – many of the “Microsoft millionaires” turned into thousandaires when the stock price dropped. One guy who left MSFT and sold all his stock right at the peak had only been working there about 3 years and he made out like a bandit.

    I know people who were long-time manufacturing employees, and by doing the 401K, buying and keeping stock, and taking advantage of the employer’s retirement plans, retired with a net worth of a couple MILLION bucks, plus their retirement pay. These were assembly line workers!

    With nasty old corporate America’s “vested pension plans”, if you leave one company, you don’t lose everything you have acquired. Heck, if you resign or get fired, you keep your vested pension and stocks in your 401K.

    What happens to your invested time and effort if you leave an MLM? Can you sell your downline? Will you keep collecting commissions? Or does it all end up with your team becomeing an upliner’s team?

    3. In corporate america can employee on the sales floor at lets use Home Depot as an example make more than a VP, Yes or No?

    HD employees are working straight salary, with benefits. If they sell one pack of faucet washers, they make the same as if they sold enough plumbing for a whole house. If the customer returns the washers, or the plumbing, they don’t have their pay docked.

    In car sales, real estate, and insurance, I know several people who make more than their manager, broker, or VP of sales In publishing, many writers (working for royalties) make far more than the publisher’s staff.

    4. Can someone buy into a franchise for lots of $$$$$$ and fail, Yes or No?

    Of course, just as you can inherit a thriving company and ruin it, The big franchises, like McDonalds, insist that you show existing business experience or education, send you to their schools,and have a pile of operating manuals to minimize it.

    Unlike MLMs, they also LIMIT the number of franchisees in an area to maximize the possibility that the franchise will succeed. MLMs have no control on the number of resellers, and a low cost of entry, which means most of them are unlikely to make enough to live on.

  255. Christopher

    Well I have spent 3+ hours reading this entire blog and I would like to thank Tracy, Robinator and Jerry C for all of their entries on this site. I joined STE 13 days ago and will be opting for a REFUND immediately. If you don’t have time to read this entire site, I would primarily focus on Tracy, Robinator Ronald Riley and Jerry Cs entries – they were the MOST BENEFICIAL for me personally. The bottom line for me is that I don’t want to spend my time trying to recruit my friends and family to recover my initial $448 investment and make money by placing new recruits under the predicament I got myself into – get your investment back and hope that your family and friends can get their investments back and so on. Its a never ending cycle and as a christian, it makes no sense to put your fellow man in that predicament just so you can make a buck. Its not in me or my wife to try to work in a “business opportunity” line into a conversation with family or friends and then have them later find out that they too have to get 3 people to join and spend $100/month on green products with inflated prices (Robinator -you are THE MAN! – Thanks for the research!) to recover their investment, not to mention the high risk that the FTC shuts this thing down. This was an education for me and time well spent. I’m getting my money back and I appreciate the people who have laid out the facts and analyses. A sincere THANK YOU to all!

  256. Not Convinced

    I am still getting bombarded with info from an acquaintance who insists this is the wave of the future. As if discount online shopping never existed before STE. I must laugh.

    There are supposedly 39,000 members in this sect. And I’m sure none will ever have to work another 8 to 5 job again. Good luck with that.

  257. Ana


    I’ve also read the entire blog and want to thank all contributors, especially Tracy. The information shared here is beneficial for people who are thinking about joining STE and other similar shameful life-ruining ‘occurrences’ – can’t believe someone had the greedy nerve to come up with these. It’s just unfortunate that so many have lost money but hopefully they learned the lesson. I am in Canada and got invited to start learning about STE – with the caveat that it’s not here yet but coming soon… no thanks!

    Good luck to everyone with their aspirations.

  258. Robinator

    My friend Derek has been in STE for 7 weeks and has made over $4000.00, yes I verified and he really make 4k. As all of you know, I have been saying that the FTC is definitely going to be looking into STE and after speaking with Derek today I am even more convinced. He is a newbie to this industry and when I explained to him about the FTC regulations on what is considered an illegal pyramid scheme and what is not, he turned white! I’m not kidding; he told me that he did not make any money at all from selling product, because he sold NOTHING!!!!! So that income was solely made from recruiting!!!! Now he is nervous because he has friends and family that joined up based on his recommendation because they trust him!!!

  259. Robinator

    Doesn’t it concern anyone that there is not phone number or email for STE????? How do you contact them? Do you need to mail them a letter to contact them? I find that very strange!

  260. Charlie

    One more thought…Yes you need to spend 100.00 per month, but ONLY if you want to SCORE which means get overrides and points from people in your network. Now here is how I view this…for 100.00 per month, but it really comes out to 80.00 per month because of the 15-20% off you get when you buy earth friendly products from the shop to Earth sites. To me 80.00 per month is not a lot of money to own your own business. I have a friend who owns a small plumbing business he spends on average 6000.00 per month on insurance, inventory, gas, wear and tear on the trucks etc. etc. etc. So for me to spend 80.00 per month to have someone manage my web page to do all the work of book keeping and all others duties to own a business…it does not sound bad to me! Yes… my writings are positive, but that’s all I have seen so far! Oh…did I mention that I’m not just giving 80.00 a month away??? I’m getting product and having someone manage my web page and my books…Thanks again…just my 2 cents!

  261. Tracy Coenen

    Charlie – You don’t “own your own business.” STE owns your business. They give you the right to use their website for as long as they permit you to. But you don’t own anything at all.

  262. Wake Up, Charlie

    You’ve got to be kidding me Charlie. Wow, Tracy no wonder these people fall for this.
    How long have been involved with this Charlie?

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