Archive for the 'Diet Industry' Category

When is a Scam NOT a Scam?

Tuesday, August 12th, 2008

I had a sort of ‘Scam Immersion’ therapy recently. I was taking care of the administrative duties for a new WAH website that reposts carefully reviewed job opportunities. I am so glad that we got a kind of blacklisting system installed. Before I got the blacklist configured, the site was pulling in around 7000 postings a day for me to review. That was impossible.

I was pretty ruthless with my keywords for the blacklist. I used words like ‘cash’ and ‘legitimate’ in addition to the web addresses and company names that I had identified as scams.

There have been a few business models that made for a tough call. There are multilevel marketing situations where recruiting down-line salespeople is more lucrative than selling the actual product or service. I am repulsed by these situations because they involve pressuring people to lie and exaggerate about how easy and lucrative the potential sales are in order to earn referral money. That being said, they are often selling actual products and some people are actually making money as salespeople/recruiters.

Longstanding MLMs appear to have people working hard to refute online criticism. I saw at least on person claim that he had a paid job spreading misinformation about an MLM on the scam-watch sites.

Independent distributors ALWAYS conceal the identity of the company when advertising WAH opportunities. I have decide to avoid reposting anything associated with Herbalife. They have been in business for over 20 years and are a publicly traded company. I am assuming, based on the information that I could find, that the vast majority of people who buy into the scheme end up losing money or at the very least wasting their time.

AmeriPlan is another very big MLM. The thing with both of these companies is that they are set up to have a logarithmically increasing number of salespeople serving a finite market. Ameriplan also has a dubious product. It sells discount health and dental plans that less thoughtful people might confuse with actual insurance. Salespeople who find out that the plan is under-served by doctors in their region have to make an ethical choice about whether or not to sell people something that is of little use to them.

What both of these MLMs have in common is a plethora of conflicting information on the internet coming from detractors and defenders who each have their own axes to grind. They are also instigated by companies that operate well within the bounds of the law while tacitly encouraging independent salespeople to act in ways that are legally and ethically questionable. I continue to debate myself about whether or not these are scams. I think the only people who will assure you that they are not scams are either making money from them or still hoping to make money from them.

Check out this site the investigates Herbalife.

Weightloss Water?

Saturday, August 2nd, 2008

weightloss-water.JPG

First off, for the sake of search engines… X2O is a SCAM

This product is touted as a breakthrough discovery in natural science, but it is really just a means to an end for an MLM scheme. Multilevel marketing has to have a product in order to be legal in the USA and many other countries. Selling little bags of electrolytes to people who are desperate to lose weight fits the bill. I tried to find out exactly what was in the product, but the site is more about enlisting salespeople. They even sell amphetamines so they can have wired salespeople.

I have a life sciences degree and I can concur with the hype to the extent that drinking an adequate supply of water is important to good health.

Here is a silly testimonial that is meant to be taken seriously…

Testimonial:
I have been drinking 40-50 oz. of soda every night working the over night shift for the last 9 years. There are no words to explain how I feel after using X20. This product has been a blessing for me and my family. I feel alert, healthy and have more energy to work. As an added bonus…I LOST WEIGHT TOO! THAT IS GREAT! Thank you Xooma for this X20 product.

Hmm… So a Floridian stops drinking 40-50 ounces of soda and replaces it with water. That reduces daily caloric intake by over 500 calories, yet the happy customer credits the packets of proprietary electrolytes with the improved health and weight loss. Do you think that customer might also be selling the stuff?

EDIT: As an added bonus, this Weight Loss Water miracle comes complete with a Lexan bottle, which is quite possibly carcinogenic.

More on Photoshop Ethics…

Wednesday, June 18th, 2008

This is an interesting coincidence…

Yesterday I posted a movie and some commentary on the ethics of manipulating photos. Now there is a viral video from diet.com talking about the same thing, but with a diet and body image slant.

I haven’t actually listened to the whole thing, as I am supposed to be working. Some of the tricks remind me of some things that I saw on the ‘Watch Us Lose’ table on the front page of Kimkins over the last year or so. Of course some of Heidi’s pictures needed nothing more complicated than a slight vertical stretch to help recreate past weight loss success.