Pink Truth and Mary Kay on ABC’s 20/20

Tune in to 20/20 on ABC on Friday October 2  for a story on the truth behind Mary Kay’s multi-level marketing “opportunity.” MLM is not a business opportunity, it’s a clever scam that has been made to look like a business. Host Rebecca Jarvis takes a look at long-time multi-level predator Mary Kay Cosmetics. Those … Read more Pink Truth and Mary Kay on ABC’s 20/20

Herbalife: Important or Not Important?

Questions posed to Herbalife earlier this year by David Einhorn sent the stock price down quickly. Einhorn simply wanted to know about customers… actual consumers of the Herbalife products.

One has to assume Einhorn has done lots of research on multi-level marketing. And he knows the real deal. Herbalife’s customers are the distributors. Corporate doesn’t care much if the products get to a real customer after that. They’ve already made their sale and collected their money.

Multi-level marketing has very little to do with selling the product, and relies almost exclusively on continual recruitment of new distributors. But the product is important to make the MLMs not look like pure pyramid schemes.

Read moreHerbalife: Important or Not Important?

Can You Make Money With Mary Kay?

Over on my public awareness site Pink Truth, we’re often asked about whether someone can make money with Mary Kay Cosmetics. After all, they’ve got a product that you can retail, and you don’t really have to recruit, do you?

In theory, you can make money with Mary Kay. In reality, most women (upwards of 99%) actually put more money into MK than they ever get out of it. There is a tiny fraction of women (something like five one-hundredths of one percent) who make an executive income with Mary Kay. There’s another fraction of one percent that make a little money…. typically in the neighborhood of $20,000 to $25,000 a year.

Read moreCan You Make Money With Mary Kay?

Mainstream Media Recognizes Mary Kay Cosmetics As a Product Based Pyramid Scheme

The success of multi-level marketing companies and pyramid schemes has been based partly upon favorable media coverage of the industry. The MLMs put out plenty of positive press releases, resulting in numerous fluff pieces in newspapers and magazines over the years.

Mary Kay Cosmetics encourages fluff pieces, especially whenever a new Mary Kay national sales director is appointed. The company hounds local newspapers to run these stories, and the newspapers fall for the bait that makes the stories sound compelling:  only 500 national sales directors worldwide, millions of dollars of products “sold” by the teams created by these women, huge accomplishment to get to the top of the pyramid, etc.

But this article in the Salt Lake Tribune turned out a little differently than Mary Kay intended it. Thanks to the investigative reporting by Steven Oberbeck, he got readers to consider the “other side” of the Mary Kay issue.

Read moreMainstream Media Recognizes Mary Kay Cosmetics As a Product Based Pyramid Scheme

Mary Kay Cosmetics suing little company for daring to make money off Pink

This is outrageous! Touch of Pink Cosmetics is a company that buys excess inventory from current and former Mary Kay consultants and then resells it to their customers. They basically help these people who were frontloaded with tons of product, purchasing it from them at a discount and then passing those savings on to consumers. … Read more Mary Kay Cosmetics suing little company for daring to make money off Pink

Primerica Financial Services a Scam?

Over on my consumer awareness site, Pink Truth, I have put together a few articles about Primerica Financial Services.

Like Mary Kay, Usana, and Mannatech, Primerica is a multi-level marketing company (MLM). The big difference, however, is that these other companies have a tangible product for sale, and many of the abuses come from loading participants with inventory they won’t ever be able to sell.

Primerica sells insurance (mostly life insurance), mutual funds, mortgages, and debt consolidation services. It appears that “debt consolidation” is the cash cow for the company, and it’s questionable whether consumers are really better off with the Primerica products than without. (i.e. The representatives are incentivized to push these products, even if it may actually cost the consumer more money!)

Read morePrimerica Financial Services a Scam?

The fight against Mary Kay Cosmetics gets some press

A fluff piece about a Mary Kay Cosmetics distributor in the Springfield News Sun this morning mentions my website, The fluff piece focuses on a woman who drives a “Mary Kay car” and reportedly has good pay. Yet at this woman’s level in the distributorship chain, she is probably making less than $20,000 a … Read more The fight against Mary Kay Cosmetics gets some press

Pyramid Scheme Alert update

In late November, I announced that I had been appointed to the Board of Advisors of Pyramid Scheme Alert (PSA). PSA is an organization dedicated to educating consumers about multi-level marketing companies and pyramid schemes. While MLMs are technically legal in the United States, the vast majority of them are nothing more than product-based pyramid … Read more Pyramid Scheme Alert update

Press Release: Fraud Investigator and Former Mary Kay Salesperson Joins Pyramid Scheme Alert Board of Advisors

Milwaukee, WI November 22, 2006 . Pyramid Scheme Alert announces that Tracy L. Coenen, CPA, MBA, CFE has been named to the organization.s Board of Advisors. Her consumer education website,, which exposes and analyzes the business and recruiting practices of Mary Kay and the plight of Mary Kay salespeople, has received over 4,000 visitors a day.

Pyramid Scheme Alert is one of the most widely recognized and highly respected organizations fighting against pyramid schemes and abusive multi-level marketing companies. The organization is led by Robert FitzPatrick, author of the book False Profits: Seeking Financial and Spiritual Deliverance in Multi-Level Marketing and Pyramid Schemes.

Read morePress Release: Fraud Investigator and Former Mary Kay Salesperson Joins Pyramid Scheme Alert Board of Advisors