Searching for Shop to Earn Scam

There are still plenty of people searching for “Shop to Earn scam,” ShopToEarn fraud, “is Shop to Earn legitimate,” Shop To Earth scam, and the like. The company has, for the most part, avoided negative commentary on the internet.

It seems important, therefore, to go over some of the finer points of this newer multi-level marketing (MLM) company that is being promoted as the next big thing. Let’s review…

  • MLM is not revolutionary – This outdated business model has been around since the 1960’s. People are still joining because they’re being sold a dream… the dream of financial independence and owning their own business. Yet 99% of people involved in MLMs lose money.
  • It’s not “direct selling” – The term direct selling, at one time, might have been accurate. In the early days of MLM, there was a focus on actually selling a product directly from a distributor to a customer. Not anymore. The whole focus is really on recruiting new marks into the schemes, but the term direct selling is still used to confuse the public and shift the focus away from the recruiting.
  • Online shopping is not new – The founder of Shop to Earn, Patrick Welsh, brags that it took him ten years to come up with this idea. While he was twiddling his thumbs, online shopping has developed into a huge industry. ShopToEarn offers nothing new in this regard. In fact, all it really does is use the success of already established online sites to collect fees from its representatives.
  • You don’t really own your own “store” online – When you join Shop to Earn, you’re not getting your own store. What you’re getting is a page of links to retailers. That’s it. There’s nothing revolutionary about this.
  • You don’t even own anything – All you get when you pay your $448 fee is the right to have a ShopToEarn / ShopToEarth page for as long as the company allows you to, and you have the right to recruit other people to have a page. What is that page? Simply a collection of links to real retailers. You don’t own the page. You don’t own your downline. You don’t own a darn thing!
  • Fees, fees, fees – Do you know how ShopToEarn representatives make their money? It’s through the fees you pay when you sign up. Yes, there is money to be made from shopping, in theory. But they’re not really in it for shopping. The name of the game is recruitment. $448 to start. $119 a year to renew.That’s where the real money is, not in actual shopping. (Yes, the shopping generates money in theory. In reality, the people in STE are making their real money from recruiting.)
  • You could do the same thing on your own for free – Want to make money from people shopping online? You can get access to the exact same stores STE had by signing up for Commission Junction and LinkShare. (That’s all STE has done, after all.) You could host your web page and set up the actual page for a very minimal cost, and all you’d have to do is create links to each of the stores you sign up with through CJ or LS. If it’s really all about the shopping, then this is the way to go because there’s no $448 signup fee, no annual fee of $119, and no monthly minimum of $100.
  • Look how many people have already joined! I don’t want to miss out! – This one reminds me of the old “If everyone was jumping off a cliff, would you?” It also reminds me of the saying that there is a sucker born everyday. Yes, thousands of people have already signed up for Shop to Earn. In fact, millions of Americans sign up for all sorts of MLMs each year, as they are sold a dream of financial freedom. But almost none of them will get there. So the fact that people are signing up for STE means nothing.
  • Getting in on the “ground floor” – Worried about being left behind? Heard those stories about the guy who signed up when the company first started, and now he’s making millions? Well it is true that those who sign up early are more likely to be part of that 1% who turns a profit. Still, most will lose money, and even being in early won’t stop it. And don’t worry, if you miss your chance with Shop to Earn, there will always be another MLM right behind it to give you that chance to get in on the ground floor!
  • Endless chain recruitment – In endless chain recruitment schemes, a steady stream of new blood is needed to keep the business model going. Haven’t you ever wondered why people in MLMs like Amway, Mary Kay, Usana, Herbalife and the like are spending all their time trying to recruit you? If what they’re selling is so good, why don’t they just sell it? Because selling isn’t the name of the game. Recruitment is. That’s where the MLM insiders will tell you the “real” money is. And that’s true… even though very few make any money in MLMs, the ones who do are almost always heavy recruiters.
  • Minimum purchases required to get your commissions – In order to get your money from recruiting and shopping you have to have at least $100 in shopping purchases on your site. Some STE representatives say that it’s simple… if you don’t have any commission coming, you don’t buy the $100. Except it’s not quite that simple. The contract says “…$100 of monthly business volume must be generated to qualify for next month’s commissions.” That means you have to spend $100 this month, in order to get commissions next month. How do you know if you’ll have any commissions coming next month? You don’t. So many will spend the $100 this month just to be safe. MLMs make sure to get money out of you with these minimums. Sure, you could get people to shop on your site to make the minimum (or in the case of other MLMS you could sell $100 of product). But the sad fact is that most of the representatives aren’t able to do that, and will instead put their own money in to meet the minimum. They hope they’ll recover it via commissions, but 99% won’t.
  • Is $500 a lot of money to you? – For some people, $500 means nothing. But for many of the people signing up for MLMs like Shop to Earn, it is a lot of money. They’re already struggling, and $500 could go a long way toward feeding their children, putting gas in the car to get to work, or paying down their credit card bills. If it’s a lot of money to you, ask yourself if you’d go and put that $500 on a table in Las Vegas. The odds of turning a profit on that $500 are higher than the odds of turning a profit in an MLM. If you wouldn’t put it on a table in Vegas, why would you give it to an MLM?
  • If it was illegal it would be shut down… – If I had a dime for each time I’ve been told an MLM must be legal because if it wasn’t the government would have shut it down. Surely consumers with an ounce of common sense realize that each day, there are tons of scams that are carried out in the business world. They haven’t been shut down because they haven’t been caught. Or because the peopel in charge choose not to go after them. In the case of MLM, we have a government agency called the FTC that has chosen to almost never prosecute MLM schemes. Does that mean they’re legal? No. It means only that they haven’t been prosecuted. The Direct Selling Association (DSA) is a huge and powerful lobby that MLMs belong to. They spend millions of dollars each year convincing lawmakers to leave MLMs alone. Sadly, law enforcement agencies like the FTC can be bought.
  • If the MLM structure is so bad, why do companies keep using it? – One simple reason: It’s very lucrative for the company’s owners. There is a ton of money to be made in selling dreams to consumers who are looking for an answer to their financial problems. MLM is very lucrative because the costs are low, and many of them are variable (i.e. Commission is only paid when the company gets money from distributors.) Companies like Usana and Herbalife have shown us that there are millions to be made from consumers with these schemes, and since the FTC isn’t stopping them, new MLMs are popping up constantly.
  • But people are making money promoting Shop To Earn! – Yes, in any MLM, you will always have people who are profiting. They couldn’t sell their dream otherwise. But they’re profiting at the expense of those below them. Everyone at the bottom is paying their fees and making minimum required purchases, and the money is flowing up the pyramid-like-structure toward the people at the top. It is a money transer from those below to their upline. That doesn’t mean it’s right or good. If I reach into someone else’s purse and steal $100, I’ve “made money” on the deal, but it doesn’t mean I’ve done something right.
  • It’s not a get rich quick scheme – The promoters of Shop To Earn use this phrase to make you think that everyone who failed at MLM did so because they were lazy. They wanted to “get rich quick” and didn’t really want to work at their MLM. Having personally communicated with thousands of former MLMers, I’ve found that simply not to be the case. I’ve found very few who wanted to get rich quick (of course there will always be some who get in for this reason), and many who worked very hard doing exactly what their upline instructed them to do. Why did they fail? Because MLM is systematically flawed and designed so that almost everyone involved will lose money.
  • High failure rates demonstrated over and over – I often repeat the statistic of 99% of people involved in MLMS losing money. Why? Because I don’t think most consumers realize the failure rates are that high. Robert FitzPatrick is an absolute expert on the MLM industry and has been studying it for years. Over and over, he studies the numbers companies release about their distributors. And over and over, he finds that 99% of people involved spend more on fees and minimum purchases than they will ever recover in commissions. It’s an important statistic. (And although the distributors could earn profits from retailing products, the studies have also shown that almost none of the distributors are able to do that. So still, no profits.)
  • Continuous recruiting – Do you really want to try to make a living by talking your family and friends into joining? Do you enjoy seeing people cringe when you walk up to them? Do you wonder why they never answer the phone when you call? Believe me, there is little honor in trying to recruit anyone and everyone into an MLM.
  • Who cares if others lose money, so long as I get mine! – I suppose it’s possible to say that you don’t care how many thousands of people lose money on this “business opportunity,” so long as you don’t lose any money. That’s not how I was raised. I was raised to care if people got scammed out of their hard-earned money. I was raised to not cheat others out of money so that I could profit. If you don’t have a personal moral code, then there’s not much I can say to change your mind.

Can you read all of the above and really come to the conclusion that Shop to Earn and Shop to Earth is something you should be involved with?

Note to those who want to leave comments on this thread: No personal attacks. No links to your sites. No income claims unless you’re prepared to send me your bank statements to prove your claims. Keep your comments limited to factual statements only.

Note to Shop to Earn lawyer Gerry Nehra: If I’ve made any errors of fact above, I’m happy to correct them. Please send me notification of those errors along with documentation proving the facts. I’ll make the corrections immediately.


  1. Jessica

    Shop To Earn is the best thing I’ve ever done for myself. First of all, you do own your own website. Second, of course they are going to charge you a sign up fee. No one is going to do all that work and just hand it over. $448 is cheap considering to have you own e-commerce site costs at least $1000. Also, they have set up over 650 affiliate programs, should they get nothing for their work? Third, spending $100 per month on products that are good for the environment and my family doesn’t sound that bad to me. We should all go green and that’s what Shop To Earth promotes. So if you want to sign up just let me know.

  2. inspectaneck


    You’re probably right. If it is so wonderful, why don’t you pay my $448 and I’ll join in to make you some money. is free and has no minimum purchase requirements. There is even a Hot Deals forum, which is peer verified and very ahead of the curve. I’ve always gotten my check.

    Inspectaneck Robinson

  3. Niles

    Where can the public get specific and official documentation on the program? I cannot find this anywhere.

    Do you have to enter your Social Security number and bank routing codes (required to sign up) before documentation is revealed?

  4. Joe Sloboda

    I joined STE in late July and was very skeptical – however as I looked deeper into the program I found something that made sense to me. I beg to differ with the author’s opinion that this is an “countless recruitment”. Nobody from STE ever make the claim that the program is “revolutionary” but it is a good program (at least for me and for my friends and family who have been involved). Thus far anyone that has been “recruited” by me personally who has actually used the site and met the requirements has made more money than they speant to join.

    There is a a significant mis-statement in your blog about having to spend the $100 in order to get paid your commissions for NEXT month. That is NOT true and if you are as unbiased as you claim you should correct the statement. You must generate $100 of purchases through Shop To Earth in order to receive your commissions for that same month. (for example my website must generate $100 of purchase no later than midnight on October 31st in order to receive my October commissions) that could be from purchases that I make or that anyone else makes through my website. You must also keep in mind that I get back 20% of the purchase price on that $100 spending so in reality it is only $80. As for the confusion on spendin gthis month to get paid commissions for “next month” I think you are confused as to how traditional payroll services might work. As with any traditional payroll – in Shop To Earn you get paid on November 20th for all of the money you earned in the month of October. (just like with my current employer where I get paid on Novemebr 15th for any money I earned in October).

    What you are saying gives the impression that STE is requiring you to “bet” that you will have commssions to be paid when that is simply not the case. I can tell you that if by October 31st I did not have any money coming to me I woudl not spend $100, however as has been the case for me personally – I am happy to spend the required $100 on products so that I can receive the $2,500 per month average commissions that I have been earning.

  5. Joe Sloboda

    As to your comments above where you are asking that woman to pay for you in advance if it is so good . . .

    When hiring someone to do a job or complete a service would you ever pay for that service in advance not knowing if taht person is going to put forth the effort to complete the task you just paid for?

    That would be like tipping the waiter before you ever sat down in the hopes that you would get better than mediocre service or that you might get any service at all

    there would be no benefit for someone to do that since there is no guarantee that you would the service in order to earn your cash back on shopping and thus the woman who you just asked to pay for your memebership fee woudl have no way to earn points off of your shopping.

  6. Tracy Coenen

    Joe – If what you’re saying about the $100 minimum and when that must be spent (by the member or anyone else shopping on their site) is correct, then I would say that STE should change its wording in the contract. I’ve quoted directly from the contract, and your explanation contradicts what the contract says. I’m not saying you’re necessarily wrong, just that what you say doesn’t compute with what the contract says, and STE might need to make that clear.

  7. Maria A. Gorelick

    It seems to me that if we are going to go on the premises that a pyramid scheme is illegal or fraudulent, then corporate America is fraudulent. Every company on this earth has a pyramid concept: a CEO and under this person every employee hired goes under somebody above them, commomly know as “my boss”. When you look at the concept (and I agree that is not new) what I see is that there is no way you can not make money if you do what it is required of you. But best of all, everyone under you will make money based on the points earned. If I spend $100 every month and I get 15 to 20 points, everyone above my line will earn the same amounts of points. The same happens to me when those under my direct line make points; I aso make the same points they earned. Is a very democratic way to do business. I do agree that this is not for everyone, nor I think that everyone should be part of it. Only those people who are committed to be in business for themselves but not by themselves will succeed. You have to do your homework and work minimally really and make sure that the people who enter under you will feel the same way. You make money by byuing and by making new friends. This is a wonderful concept. I also know that STE will have no tolerance for unethical kind of business.

  8. Niles

    The amount of words Joe used to defend the $100-thing solidifies the fact that this undocumented STE scheme is over-complicated and not properly disclosed.

    This is just one of an unknown number of rules that are not clearly defined anywhere. These rules are designed to prevent as many people as possible from earning money.

  9. Joe Sloboda

    To Niles – I dont believe that 60 words is too lengthy when giving a specific answer to misinformation

    To Tracy – I can not speak for STE as I do not work for them, I can only tell you that the “broker is paid on or before the 20th of the following month from any activity.

    October activity (points earned, cash back earned, referral bonuses earned) are all paid on or before November 20th

    ***oops – Joe made an unsubstantiated earnings claim! ***

  10. Tracy Coenen

    Maria – I’ve said it on this site a million times and I’ll say it again. Corporate America is not like MLM. In MLM you must pay to play, and 99% of people lose money. In corporate America, everyone gets a paycheck (profits!) and they are not required to pay to do the job. The MLM system is an utter failure, causing billions of dollars to be lost by consumers every year.

  11. Tracy Coenen

    Joe – Being involved in STE is not being “self-employed”. It’s participating in a system which takes money from those at the bottom and transfers it to those at the top. No value is created, and you own nothing.

  12. Joe Sloboda

    Tracy – I would be more than happy to forward you copies of received deposits from STE into my bank accoutn to substantiate the incoem that I have earned since July 10th

    I beg to differ with you about being involved with STE as being similar to being Self Employed – according to the IRS if you receive a 1099 you are taxed as self employed – if you are an independant rep for a “marketing company” you are still considered “self employed”

    You need to check your facts considering the structure of STE – many people involved in the program earn significant points (which translate into $$) from activity of the people above them as a benefit of the bianary leg system – additionally I know of several people (myself included) who have made more money than the person who referred them into the program or more than those “above them” – if this were a scam or a scheme that would not be possible.

    I also have a question – do you consider companies like Tupperware, Avon, Mary Kay as scams? Or is the fact that they only sell a particular line of propiatory product exclude them from this category

    To respond to the comment you made earlier – in “corporate America” everyoen has to “pay to play” – nobody stats their own business without making some sort of investment of time and money. And not everyone gets the profits – in fact most businesses fail within the first 24 months – in my opinion most people fail in the MLM format because they do not understand that they have to take charge and that the “company” is not going to hand them their paycheck each week.

    It still comes down to the fact that some people are self motivators and thrive on the ability to make unlimited income (thus my reference to the similarity of being self employed) others need the comfort of consistency and need to know exactly how much money they will make each and every week for the 40 hours they give to the boss and they are satisfied with the possiblity of an annual 3% cost of living increase but yet they still fantasize about what it would be like to have more money and more financial freedom.

  13. Tracy Coenen

    Sure Joe. Keep telling yourself that you own a small business.

    I’ve studied too many MLMs and talked to too many people involved in them to believe that 99% fail because they’re lazy. The truth is that 99% fail because MLM is systematically flawed.

    Yes, Avon, Mary Kay, and Tupperware are just as bad. They’re all endless chain recruitment schemes. And coincidentally, one of the arguments against them being schemes is that someone can make more than the person above them. That IN NO WAY proves that something is legitimate. But it sounds good for those looking for yet another smoke and mirror explanation.

  14. Niles

    Why would Joe classified my factual observation as “misinformation”?

    Why is he, and his fellow recruiters, STILL not able to provide the official documentation on the scheme? Just a simple link, please.

  15. Fran

    The problem is that as Americans we don’t realize all our employers are MLM. No matter where you work your boss will always be your boss. The opportunity to participate in a structured program that pays you according to your effort will not serve those who are lazy. You have workers and leaders. MLM is not for everyone thank god.

  16. resident

    I used to sell Avon – my “boss” (I classify her as a boss because she got a cut from whatever I did) would make money on the books I ordered, the samples and whatever I sold. I wound up losing so much money due to what I had to pay out every month on demo items, the books, the forms and other items. They make it look so appealing …

    …my husband is a realtor and I feel as if this is almost a pyramid scheme too. We pay a desk fee, phone fee, advertising fees and the list goes on. He hasn’t had a single sale this year (he does it part-time because he has a full-time machine job)- yet our fees are piling up. I also worry because he used the title company that is now under investigation. Thank goodness everything with that went like clockwork – yet I worry if he will be called in if this ever heats up.

    When my daughter got to the age of 15 and was looking for a job – I had her look up employ in the dictionary and the key definition is “to use”… I told her you will be “used” an awful lot in your lifetime so make sure you like what you are doing!

  17. Joe Sloboda

    niles – I have stated that your “observations” are classified as “misinformation” becuase you haven’t “observed” anything – did you ever actually read the “user agreement” or “contract” between Shop To Earn and the participants? I just think you need to actually learn about what you are disputing before you dispute (and based on some of your comments and the comments it sounds as if you have not fully researched the issue or read these items and simply claim that the company is “hiding” them because you did not se them or look for them.

    That is misleading

    Don’t use this forum as a platform to further spread “misinfomation” – you state that I and other “recruiters” do not fully disclose the rules involved with participating in the program – however EVERYONE has an opportunity to fully read all of the rules and agreements prior to spending $1 and ANYONE can access this information by going to ANY Shop To Earn website, clicking on “join now” and then clicking on the agreement link (prior to) spending ANY money. Additionally Shop TO Earn gives every participant a (no questions asked) 14 day right of rescission to cancel their membership with full refund.

    I disagre with an earlier post where the author compared corporate America to an MLM – that is just not true – however I do beleive that many if not all “corporations” are indeed “pyramid in format”

    Tracy – I wonder if you also categorize any person who sells services as falsly believing they are self employed? (Stock brokers, insurance agents, radio advertising sales people) these are all people who receive 1099 income, they all sell or broker something that the public can clearly do themselves without paying a fee, they are all commision based, and they all recieve additional income on client retention and renewals, when they “recruit” a new employee to the firm the “recruiter” is paid a bonus based on the performance of the new recruit and in many cases based on all future revenue generated by that new recruit (that is just my personal experience from formerly being in these businesses)

  18. Tracy Coenen

    No, Joe. Those people selling services really do have a business and are self-employed. They are selling something real, and are creating value. STE, on the other hand, does not create any value and the recruiting done by MLM members in general is nothing more than an endless chain scheme designed to dupe people into putting money into a system in which they have a 99% chance of never recovering their “investment”.

  19. Joe Sloboda

    Tracy – you are violating one of your own rules

    you just made an unsubstantiated claim – please provide your source for the figure of “99% chance of never recovering their investment”

    if given the opportunity I can easily provide documentation that shows how more than 70% of the 258 people in my immediate down line have earned much more than their initial $448 investment – this is not a made up figure this is accurate and I welcome the opportunity to share it with you.

  20. Tracy Coenen

    Joe – Actually reading the rules might help you here. And you might also read the post that you’re commenting on, as the support is right there.

    Go ahead and send me the list of your entire downline as well as proof of their commissions to date.

  21. Niles

    ***REQUEST***: Can the moderator please delete Joe’s posts/attacks until he provides a simple link to the official rules of the STE scheme?

    Of course I had read the standarized agreements you pointed to; those ARE available to the public. But they DO NOT contain the scheme rules.

    If the rules are not available to the public, then say so. But do not attack others’ observations and label them as misinformation without providing the simplest of documentation in return.

  22. Joe Sloboda

    Niles – I have made no “attacks” – I am simply stating fact (unlike yourself) – however you continue to “attack” me by referring to the program in a derogatory manner continuously calling it a “scheme” which gives the impression of it being illegal and without legitimacy (but apparently that is OK in this format) Show me that an AG’s office claims the program violates any State laws and I will back off on your reference to “scheme”

    Niles – I am unclear as to what further information you require, everything is fully explained not only in the “user agreement” but also in the publically accessible “overview” section which gives a pretty clear explanation in the video, in the power point presentation, disclosed on every daily conference call and disclosed in any live presentation – what is it that you feel is being “hidden” from you? You keep claiming that nobody gives “the information” but yet it is all very accessible to ANYONE – additionally how is it unfair or deceptive when the company provides a no questions asked 14 day right to cancel with full refund (I personally felt that was rather fair). In all of the above mentioned information they tell you exactly what is required of you in order to receive compensation – nothing is hidden – nothing changes once you pay your fee. This is why I state that you are giving “misinformation”

    Tracy – how would you like me to send you the documentation? There is no email address or ability to upload info on your website (that I can see) but maybe I am missing something, if so please tell me where to send it and I will be happy to deliver as promised. You said to send it to you but you give me no avenue of delivery, why is that? However you are very quick to take a public “jab” at my character by insinuating that I am not providing you the proof – and yes it does take some time to gather almost records from 265 different individuals, scan it and forward the info to you, it is not something that I have on hand waiting to forward to you or that I can gather in a matter of moments (considering I do have other responsibilities in my life as well)

    So – please send me that contact info, please be clear on what you feel is being hidden and please stop taking personal attacks. I believe I have tried to remain rather professional throughout this exchange and expect the same from others

  23. Tracy Coenen

    Joe – I imagine you’d hate to look around on this site or even bother to click the “Contact” link because that might take some effort. It’s much more fun to pretend that people are being mean to you.

  24. Joe Sloboda

    Tracy – you must be getting frustrated – why the persoanl attack? I did look through this site and no there is no personal email address for you – are you saying you woudl like me to mail this informaiton to the Miluakee office or Chicago office? Why cant you just say “great Joe, please send that proof to . . .”

    One could say that this is similar to the claim you and Niles are making of STE not providing “proof” on their website – when the disclosure is easily accessible in multiple formats and locations

    please clarify where you would like the info sent or how you would like it sent

    and to the other point – I believe you present yourself as a “journalist” since you have authored books on the subject and write this blog which people refer to for credible and impartial information – I find it shocking that you do not believe you should be held to a certain amount of journalistic ethics and provide impartial information rather than a format to launch attacks – to me that lessens the credibility (but then again, that’s just my opinion)

    It’s a simple request – Please clarify which office you would like the info sent to and in which format? (fax or email)

  25. Tracy Coenen

    I do get frustrated when readers can’t do even the simplest of tasks and want to be spoon fed. You can send it to either office, and you can use either method. (I’d hate to give you an out for not sending it, saying I’m being difficult or some such thing.)

    I’ve never, ever said I’m a journalist, and having authored a book doesn’t make one a journalist. Blogging is a whole different medium than traditional journalists. So your incorrect assertions don’t make me a journalist. I regularly give my opinions here and have never once claimed that I am “impartial.” I have an opinion, and I’m going to give it.

  26. Niles

    The tone is getting ugly here, and I am not completely innocent of contributing to it. Let’s take a breath and get back to objectivity.

    “Scheme” is a neutral term, but I understand it has negative connotation, so I’ll choose another. But to be honest, I found it hard to be objective when you repeatedly ignored my simple, yet crucial requests for a link to the official rules of this “profit-sharing plan(?)”.

    The contract and terms you point to contain nothing about the complex requirements for recruiting, shopping, scoring, minimums, etc…

    I really hoped you would not refer to the “presentation” as a source of official rules. I was very disappointed. That is a pure recruiting tool; it glorifies payout and reward while glancing over the numerous requirements to actually obtain the reward. It only raises more questions. It is not clear. It is not documentation. (I realise I may have wandered into subjectivity in some eyes, but if you truly look objectively, my statements are at least accurate.)

    If you are satisfied by that material, then we understand why you are defending STE so voraciously. But for truly objective/independent people looking in, that is not acceptable.

    Not to be rude, but I feel we have a misunderstanding. Here is an example of a link:

    If you could simply provide a link (see above) to the official and detailed rules of the plan (with every single stipulation clearly defined), we could move on…

    Kind regards,

  27. Tracy Coenen

    Joe – What claim have I made about what is or is not on STE’s website? You wrote: “One could say that this is similar to the claim you and Niles are making of STE not providing “proof” on their website….” Could you point me to exactly where I made such a claim? (You can’t, because I didn’t. This is exactly the type of lying that goes on in MLM. You’re claiming I said something I never did to distort an issue or turn attention away from other facts.)

  28. Joe Sloboda

    Niles – I appreciate your candor – and es I agree the tone is getting ugly.

    I would definately say that I was very satisfied by the documentation provided to me in both the user agreement, the presentation and then in the “commission rules section” (which is only available in the virtual office to paid members) – the fact that STE provides a 14 day no questions asked out clause with full refund was also satisfactory to me as I spent a few days reviewing and reading these rules to make sure that I was comfortable with the rules – there have been some people who entered into the program after receiving full disclosure and then days later decided this was “not for them” and everyone of them (that I knwo personally) has recieved full refunds in less than 48 hours of making the request.

    Lets also clarify – there are not “numerous” requirements in order to receive commssions – it is very clear – you must refer 2 people, after the end of your 2nd full month in the program you must generate $100 per month in purchase volume through “ShopToEarth” (which kep in mind you receive a minimum of 15% cash back on so it is really only $85 per month and 1/3 of your points must be generated from either side (left or right) – to me that seemed pretty clear and I was able to grasp that concept quite easily so I decided to move forward and (I believe) have been succesful in the venture. (especially considering this was my 1st time being involved in a MLM)

    In my opinion – I can see why some would thrive in a system like this and others would not – it’s human nature – that doesnt make it wrong

    The reason I defend the program so vigorously is that I have found it easy to succeed in the program – where I take offense is that it is depicted on this blog that anyone who has profited or succeeded in this or any MLM program is a liar or committing fraud in some way – that is just simply not true. Are there people in MLM businesses that may lie to people for their own personal gain? I am sure there are, just like in any other business (car sales, mortgages, real estate, insurance, in any type of sales) – but I think we would all agree that this does not make all of these industries deceptive or fraudulant

    I will find a more detailed link and post it

  29. Tracy Coenen

    Joe – You’re right. Participating in and profiting from MLM is dishonorable because the “profits” are simply a money transfer from those at the bottom to those at the top. As multiple studies have indicated, 99% will lose money in these “ventures.” There is almost no chance of profit, yet people are lured in with promises of profits and financial freedom. Those who do profit should be ashamed of themselves because they are doing so off the backs of others… taking hard-earned money from their wallets and their families, while offering nothing in return.

  30. Joe Sloboda

    OK – this will be my last post – you have proven that you do not have the ability to be impartial and have designated yourself as judge and jury in this situation – that is extrememly unprofessional in any aspect

    Just as you have asked for proof or documentation of the success of individuals in my downline I would love for you to provide validation of your cliam that 99% of all participants fail and lose money – you cant and you won’t because it is undocumented claim and not possible to back up with proof.

    I have tried to remain professional in our debate but it appears you do not have the capacity to do likewise – that’s shameful in itself. Especially as a person who represents themself as a professional to whom others should seek advice from

    I hope our banter has allowed you to sell a few more books

  31. Tracy Coenen

    Joe – Again, as I have responded to your previous request for support of the 99% figure, I refer you to the original post for this thread. The link to the proof is there.

    There is absolutely nothing unprofessional about voicing my opinion of the MLM industry. It is corrupt, plain and simple. I have spent hundreds of hours researching various companies in this industry, and share my results with my readers. If that offends you, so be it. But I’m not going to stop telling consumers about what I’ve found, because I’m hoping to stop at least some of them from wasting their money on these “opportunities.”

    Our “banter” has nothing to do with my book. The topic of MLM has nothing to do with my book. My book is about corporate fraud, and has nothing to do with the MLM industry. I do not write about MLMs to sell books. I write about MLMs strictly as a public service, with no compensation for doing so.

    As expected, you’re not willing to back up your earlier claims about profits in your downline. Let this be a warning to consumers: MLM participant make claims that many are profiting, but never provide support for their claims. That should be the biggest red flag you’ve ever seen.

  32. Joe Sloboda

    wrong again – I never said that I would not send the documentation – you are saying that – once I have recieved the print outs from those in my downline that have agreed to allow me to send I wil forward to you – in the last 24 hours I have only obtained 45 of the 263 requested – have patience – or is that a “red flag”

  33. Joe Sloboda

    and I wonder – when I send you this documentation – what will you do with it? Will you post to the website that far greater than 1% of the people in my downline have made more than their initial investment and thus not lost any money? Or is it something you will sit on as it would contradict your claims and thus negate many of your comments – I think it also needs to be considered that the “report” you reference is not an independant or impartial survey or report – people need to consider the source.

    I am not arguing the fact that many people do not earn or perhaps lose money in an MLM – my point is why does this happen? Being involved in an MLM does not guarantee you “free money” there is work involved (as with any business) but you and I will never see eye to eye on that and your position is to lump every single person who profits from an MLM and every single MLM company in one pool and say they are all guilty by association and THAT is what I have continued to say is sad and unjust – so continue on your witch hunt and McCarthyisms

    I should have learned a long time ago the power of the pen, you have more ink than I do and no matter what I ever say you will always have a negative response and postion yourself as an authority regardless of the accuracy of your claims

    I look forward to your post once you recieve my documentation

  34. Tracy Coenen

    Joe – Here’s the great thing about the report I referenced: It was based upon numbers supplied by the MLMs themselves. You seem to be suggesting that Robert FitzPatrick is biased. He’s not biased. He’s simply spent thousands of hours studying MLMs and the failure rates, and is an absolute authority on why they’re so devastating to consumers.

    You seem to be saying that the 99% who get involved with MLM lose money because they don’t work hard enough. My research shows differently. You see, if MLM was really a legitimate “business opportunity,” then there would be no reason for the failure rates to be any higher than in other small businesses. Yet they are wayyyyyyyy higher. That suggest that there’s something wrong with the system, not the people.

    Now. You promised us before that you weren’t going to post here anymore. But like any good and loyal MLMer, you just can’t stay away. In the future, if you’re going to try to insult me, you should understand the terms you’re using. “McCarthyism” is not even remotely related to the discussion here.

    And I don’t have more ink than you. You are free to start your own website to extol the virtues of MLM if you so choose. I, on the other hand, will continue on with my own site which reveals the evils of MLM.

  35. Niles

    Whew! We have finally clarified which documentation I am after: it must be the “‘commission rules section’ (which is only available in the virtual office to paid members)”. I now understand it is not available to the public. Can you make it available?

    Personally, I am not comfortable with the information available to me. This “commission rules section” would likely give me enough factual information to give my best judgement to people close to me, who are considering STE and asking for my advice.

    Can you make the “commission rules section” available?


  36. Tracy Coenen

    Yeah, I would not want to sign up for something for which I can’t see the documents describing commission until after I pay. I personally wouldn’t trust the 14 day recission period. I’d rather know exactly what I’m buying before I buy, thank you very much. (Not that I’d pay STE for anything in this lifetime, but you know what I mean…)

  37. Joe Sloboda

    Niles – at risk of being chastized by Tracy for posting with an answer to your question – I would be happy to make that information availabel to you personally. Not sure how to get it to you though? Are you also afilliated with Tracy and this blog? How can I get your personal contact info so I can send this info to you?

    Keep in mind that I do not work for STE – so I have no ability to change the way the website is set up or how things are posted or where they are made available – I am simply a broker (like many others) and signed up for this program in late July of this year

  38. Niles

    I am not affiliated with this site, or Tracy (God love her though!). I don’t want to put my private info here either.

    But if I read you correctly, there is a member-only section called “virtual office” and under there is link to “commission rules”?

    If this is correct, perhaps I can ask a member to go there and extract it (or download, if it’s a document).

    Thanks for the info…

    Enjoy your scheme… haha! I’m just messing…

  39. Joe Sloboda

    Niles – that is absolutely correct – when ever a memebr logs in to the system they are automatically taken to their “Virtual Office” – in this section there are several video presentations as well as easy to read detailed descriptions of different rules – the particular thing you are looking for is called “Commission Rules” is breaks down in simple language what is exactly required of a “business builder” a “website owner” and a “broker” – any memebr shoudl easily be able to provide this info to you upon request and print it or save to a pdf and email it to you

  40. Name Withheld

    I am a Broker with Shop To Earn and I would like to tell you all about my experiences so far with the company. I joined at the very end of July 2008. I didn’t really know anything about the company but joined based on trusting the person who signed me up and taking a chance. It took me awhile to fully understand how things work and by then my 2 week chance for a refund had come and gone. I am hoping by posting my experiences on here I will help those of you who are thinking of joining and those of you who don’t understand how it works. Also, if I am wrong about something hopefully someone will let me know. These are my personal feelings and experiences….

    I was led to believe that all you needed to do was sign up 2 Brokers (and buy $100 worth of earth products) in order to start receiving your SCORE commissions (this is when your points add up to cash). What I wasn’t told (but read in my back office after I had enrolled) was that not only do you have to sign up 2 but in order to keep your SCORE (point) commissions those 2 you sign up have to also sign 2 up and spend $100 through their earth web site. Basically, your points mean nothing until those 2 Brokers you sign up sign up 2 Brokers of their own. In STE documentation it states… You can only SCORE as many times in a day as those who you persoanlly refered that are qualified. So if you sign 2 people and they are not qualified (meaning they signed up 2 Brokers/spent $100 on earth products through their own site) your not making any money on your points. I am not sure but I hope that all of the points I am accumulating will turn into cash once I am able to sign up 2 Bokers and get them qualified…… As of now I have only signed up 1 Broker (and they have not signed anyone up) and if I don’t sign up 1 more Broker by the end of this month (Octobr) my points I have accumulated will be flushed and they will keep being flushed every month until I can find 1 more Broker to sign up. Actually last month (September) my points shoul have been flushed due to this but STE gave all of us an extra month. So, even if I do sign up 1 more Broker this month my points mean nothing yet because I still have to have the 2 Brokers I personally refered sign up 2 so I can SCORE.

    As of now, I have like 225 points on my left and like 1265 on my right. I have 9 people in my business. Since like I said I only signed up 1 Broker (200 points) all of the other Brokers and points came from people above me.

    I do think this business will work if everyone could sign up 2 people. Unfortunatly I am having trouble even doing that. There are people in my upline who have signed up 30+ people!! I wish I could…. The $100 you make from signing someone up is not a freebie in my opinion either. You are responsible for training and helping that person. That takes time and effort. Peole who are signing up people just to get that $100 and not helping that person are selfish.

    You do make money off of recruiting initially so I can see how that turns people off but the whole point is to change your shopping habits and shop through your website. If we all did that, all the time, not only would we earn cash back on our shopping but the points generated from everyone’s shoping in your business could easily add up to a lot of money.

    I can see how it can work. I beleive it’s a good idea. Unfortunately for me I can’t get anyone to join so the best I can do is earn cash back on my own persoanl shopping (you get this no matter what, weather you qualified your position or not). The points I do get from those above me signing people up under me me will disappear every month until I sign up 1 more so I won’t be making any money off of referals. In the STE slide show (you can view it on their website) shows how much money you can make in 12 months off of people signing up- almost $200,000 (if everyone signed up 2, etc..). However, once I sign up 1 more Broker (and get my 2 to sign up 2) I can start keeping my points and eventually they will add up to cash. Also, I think a lot of money will be made by everyones shopping if my business grows to about 8000 Brokers. The residual income off of all of them spending $100 on earth products and shopping in general can net you around $9000- BUT that’s if everyone is shopping and doing the monthly minimum which we know they all won’t be. I mean I haven’t spent the $100 minimun on earth products and I have only received 3 points total for my shopping so nooe above me is profiting hugely from me yet.

    I also think that the earn $4100 in 30 days is misleading b/c they lead you to believe all you have to do is sign up 10. But you also have to help those 10 sign up at least 14 people total (so you can get the points needed to SCORE and so you can qualify your position so your points will equal cash as I explained above).

    I had a lot of hope when I joined. I am a mom who wants to be home with her kids and give them a good life. After writing this I realize the friend above me who has made over $10,000 did so by recruiting. He got the $4100 in the first 30 days and he has hundreds in his business so all those 200 points for them joning caused him to make all that money. It wasn’t done on shopping yet…. I guess I feel now that it’s as much about recruiting (at least in the beginning) as it is about shopping. I didn’t want to get rich off of this (would have been nice) but just make some extra money so I could provide a better for my family. I do beleive however that if it was possible for everyone to sign up 2 and end up with over 8000 people in our business we could make a nice residual income off of everyones shopping down the road. I just hate some of the rules and think they are msileading to a lot of people.

    That’s it for now. Thanks for reading and wish me luck 🙂

  41. Tracy Coenen

    Name Withheld – You bring up an excellent point. Recruiting 2 people who will each recruit two people sounds easy. And if everyone could follow this simple little formula, the plan would work. Right?

    Wrong! In a very short time (a matter of months) the entire population of the country would be exhausted. There would be no one left to recruit!

    And as you’ve found out, it’s not so easy to recruit two who can each recruit two. I’m sure you’ve talked to a lot of people, yet it hasn’t panned out for you. All the while, you’re losing your monthly points and the company is keeping any cash back on shopping that has been generated by you.

    The concept of people changing shopping habits sounds reasonable too, but it’s not like STE is offering anything new or different. People who want to shop online are already doing so without the system offered by STE. This whole nonsense of recruiting, and points, and minimum purchases, and “scoring”, is just a bunch of hoops to jump through. People can do the same online shopping, often saving just as much money, without all the silliness.

    Thank you for your insightful comments!

  42. Name Withheld

    Hey Tracy. i just wanted to comment that when you shop through your STE website that cash back from shopping gets paid to you no matter what. Also, the $100 you make from signing up other Brokers gets paid to you no matter what. You don’t have to spend the $100 minimum on earth products or sign up a certain number of people to get those benefits. It’s the points that add up to cash that get flushed when 1)you don’t sign up at least 2 Brokers in a specific amount of time (if you’re a Broker you only need 2 or 3 if you’re a Business Builder) and, 2)Don’t generate $100 on earth products. Also, all the prices for the stores like Target, Walmart, etc… are the same as if you went directly to their website and not through the STE portal. The EARTH products however are very expensive and can be found elsewhere way cheaper. I have looked and anyone can research this and find it to be true.

    I also want to add, in one of the posts above someone said you own your own Internet business when you become a Broker. You own nothing. You are paying a fee to have a web page and use their site. If they go down, you do too.

    One more thing…. Walmart, Target, etc… DO NOT BACK UP STE. They are not partners in the way they want you to think they are. I thought the same thing. After much research, anyone can have an affiliated link on their website and earn cash back from purchases made through that link. With STE you can make more money than if you did it on your own but as I stated above you have to sign people up and I have exhausted all of my resources and have only gotten one and it is a family member who I made a deal with that if they signed up I’d get them them 2. They aren’t betting on it and they don’t care if i do or not. They were just helping me out.

    I have mixed feelings now and wanted it to work so badly. I will keep you up to date if it works or if it doesn’t. Thanks for not giving me a hard time for remaining anonymous. I just want the freedom to be completely honest and not hold back my true feelings and I can do it better by remaining anonymous 🙂

  43. New STE Broker

    In response to Name Withheld: I just joined STE and I am really enthusiastic about the possibilities to make money with this company. Having worked for Amway in the past, I understand how difficult it is to try to sell a specific product. STE makes a lot more sense but there is a lot of negativity out there due to some people assuming that every MLM is a “pyramid scheme.” The people I am working with are really supportive and we have set up marketing meetings and presentations every week. Maybe you don’t have the support you need. Try connecting with other people you know in STE to come up with marketing and promotion ideas. This is a business like any other and you need to overcome the initial resistance consumers have to looking at a new product. Just hang in there and you will make your money back for sure and if you keep a positive attitude you will be successful.

  44. Chinchu

    I love this blog, Tracy you are great, Joe please come back it´s better than the sci-fi channel… I have been invited by an old friend from school to join STE but I know this is a scam and my friend doesn´t care because she is a very beautiful girl and she thinks she can charm her way up. I wish her luck but I wont go into this scam I dont need the money that much so I´ll have to lie all the time to all of my friends and family even if it was a stranger it is wrong !!!

  45. New STE Broker

    It’s too bad that you guys are always so negative and closed minded. Perhaps you should check things out before making a decision, it’s called critical thinking. I am not religious, by the way, but I can bet you are Republicans. Most Republicans I know do not have a very open mind.

    Anyway, I don’t want to be judgmental. I will let you know when I am making money in STE.

  46. Ray

    It just gets worse. STE charges PA sales tax on Clif Bars, Genisoy Bars etc even though they are food and not taxable in PA. I pointed this out to them in the beginning of October, they said they were looking into it, and they have said nothing since. You would think these people who claim to have spent 10 years setting up the greatest shopping portal on the planet could get sales tax right. If it were really about sales.

  47. Ray

    The most recent figure quoted to me by an STE broker with over 12,000 on his grid is that 80% of the people put on his grid never recruit anyone and lose all $448. They say the average member refers 2.5 recruits, but it makes sense that this average comes from one person putting on 25 and nine others putting on zero. So 80% of the recruits are good for $100 to the referrer, 200 points to him and everyone above, and that is all. And the how many numbers you see are also phony, for it includes business builders and “deactivated” members, and will forever. So even if people quit, or back out in 14 days and get a refund, they are on everyone’s grids forever. So next year at this time 80% of the people on the grids at the end of October will not renew, or at best renew the website only, resulting in very phony “how many” numbers. And the whole thing will deteriorate from within, for if the people you put on left and right deactivate you have 30 days to replace them or all your points flush, provided you continue to buy overpriced “green” products to the tune of $100/month. Stay tuned

  48. Toni

    A couple of my co-workers are attempting to recruit for STE here at my job, and their main selling point (which I think is very ironic) is that there is no selling involved. I don’t know about others, but you will have to be a great salesperson (or recruiter, since ‘there is no selling involved’) to convince me to give you $400 of my hard earned money so that I can work for you. For myself, the wrong approach is to tell me how much money I can make while doing the least work.

    My first reaction to something like STE is to do research, and I recommend anyone that is considering the program to do the same. I would like to think that most investors do thorough research about any and all endeavors before risking their time and money.

    Kevin- I was thinking the same thing. 😉

  49. Liz

    I agree totally with you. Unfortunately, I should have followed my gut and not given in to a friend, who asked me to join. Sure, she got $100 as a referral from me, but I got stuck with $448.00 for a useless website. When I requested a refund, I was given a lot of stone-walling as to why I wouldn’t get my money back and the website was cancelled.

  50. RAY

    So now if you go on to STE and apply for a business credit card through the new vendor, Discover Card, then STE will send you $50 once the card is approved. Does not have to be activated or ever used. And if you are stuck with a STE website you can say you are applying for a STE business credit card. A good way to get $50 of your wasted $448 back.

  51. Big Ray

    Hey Tracy,
    Crap a good friend of mine got into this…i want to talke him out of it but he already paid and they already sold him on the “dream”. Think Im going to refer him to your site…..
    Thanks for your info on this stupid STE venture,

  52. Jhon Sagunto

    For those who want to make US believe STE is legal and the best thing after paradise, just FOUR small QUESTIONS:

    just like i was thinking from the beginning, “something fishy smell around”.

    Beware, take for example AMWAY, is 50 year old in the us and doing business in 80 countries around the world, 21 lines of exclusive products, got a superb customer service with 6 month warranty in everything they sell and is member of everything legal around.
    That`s a proven MLM with value and service.

  53. Biz

    This stupid thing has totally changed my relationship with a very good friend of mine who got involved into this. She thinks about it all the time, she is always on the phone trying to recruit, even when we are doing things together. I can’t stand it anymore. So disappointing.

  54. Marilyn

    I’d just like to share that a woman in my mom’s group today was gushing about the “ton of money” she’s making with STE and gave all of us her business cards, so she could “help us join.”
    The business card says –“They say if you were one of the first 500,000 to get in a company like Amway, you were GOLDEN! (CAPS theirs) This company is in it’s (sic) infancy! Currently there are under 100,000 members”– Is that true? Are Amway’s founders really rolling in the dough, just out of curiosity?
    I plan to pass out your articles at the next play date! Sure I’ll probably earn an enemy but gain many, many more friends !
    Thanks for saving me 500+ $$ and priceless hours. 😉

  55. researchresearchresearch

    Put aside all your doubts about being able to make money, about recruiting people who won’t make money so you will, etc etc.

    Here’s some red flags that should make anyone say, wtf?

    from the shop2earn web site – their corporate address
    3441 South Eastern Avenue
    Las Vegas, NV 89109 USA

    In reality this address is their accountant(who is also listed as their CFO?)
    L.L. Bradford & Company
    3441 S Eastern Av.
    Las Vegas, NV 89169

    From the shop2earn web site, their phone number
    Phone: (410) 585-9394

    Reverse lookup of this phone number, it belongs to
    The Auto Dealer LLC
    5501 Reisterstown Rd, Ste C
    Baltimore, MD 21215-4429
    (410) 585-9394

    10 years to develop, part of it being the relationships with the various vendors? I applied and have received links identical(except for ID numbers) with the links used on the shoptoearn sites within HOURS, not years. A website that consists of thumbnails and links that could be constructed in about one hour.

    You too can apply for them at linkshare dot com or cj dot com , to just name a couple.

    Try finding legitimate corporate info, contact information or any kind of history on any of the principals involved in shop2earn. The domains they use are all registered under names that aren’t principals of the company or with the contact info blocked by the registrar.

    Training materials that are not posted on their sites. Sales pitches that are not posted on their sites. All to avoid future litigation due to unfulfilled promises.

    A website that consists of thumbnails and links that can be constructed in hours. Underlying data management software purchased from genconsult dot com, that they promise can be up and running for you in a few weeks, including their Genesis Virtual Office MLM package which will enable you to “be in business in 2-4 weeks and have the confidence to look and feel like a Corporate Giant.”

    Too many red flags to even consider their program for anything except watching for when it disappears into the sunset along with your friends, family and business associates that you encouraged to join.

  56. Pingback: Carnival of Fraud - October 13, 2008 | Sequence Inc. Fraud Files Blog

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