Woman lost £800 in four months flogging health and wellness brand

Woman who lost £800 in four months selling Arbonne wellness products on social media warns against multi-level marketing schemes – insisting only ‘tiny percentage’ of sellers make ‘liveable income’

  • Charlotte Dickerson, South East London, was Arbonne consultant for 4 months
  • Was recruited to multi-level marketing scheme by acquaintance on social media
  • Says business model was more focused on encouraging others to join scheme 
  • Told she was continuously encouraged to buy products to lend to other people 

A woman has revealed how she lost £800 in four months selling products from a health and wellness brand on social media. 

Charlotte Dickerson, from South East London, signed up as a consultant for Arbonne UK, a multi-level marketing scheme (MLM), last year after being recruited by an acquaintance on social media.  

She was encouraged to buy various products sold by the company to test out and offer as samples, but also to recruit more sellers to the scheme- despite finding it difficult to flog any of the products herself. 

MLM firms encourage reps not just to sell the company’s product, but to recruit more people under them. For every rung of the ladder people climb, they get paid a higher percentage of sales profits. 

Charlotte, who is in her early 20s, warned on This Morning today that only a ‘tiny percentage’ of sellers make ‘liveable income’ from the company, and claimed that some are left out of pocket after the scheme.  

Charlotte Dickerson, from South East London, signed up as a consultant for Arbonne UK, a multi-level marketing scheme (MLM), last year

Charlotte, who is in her early 20s, warned on This Morning today that only a ‘tiny percentage’ of sellers make ‘liveable income’ from the company

‘Arbonne is a health and wellness brand and they operate with a multi-level marketing business model’, said Charlotte. 

‘So the idea is you sell this product to your friends and family and you want to introduce more people to sell the products as well, because that sort of boosts you. 

‘I got a message from an acquaintance on social media telling me about this business she had started, and she thought I would be great at it and wanted to know if I would be interested in knowing a bit more about it.’ 

Charlotte works in the performing arts industry, and was attracted to the flexibility of the business, as well as the fact the products were vegan and cruelty-free. 

She told hosts Ruth Langsford (pictured) was encouraged to buy various products sold by the company to test out and offer as samples, but also to recruit more sellers to the scheme

Charlotte works in the performing arts industry, and was attracted to the flexibility of the business, as well as the fact the products were vegan and cruelty-free

‘Any side jobs I have need to be quite flexible because you can be called for auditions and need to take time off work, so this sounded brilliant.  

‘The products were vegan and cruelty-free and I’m vegan and wanted to encourage other people to use vegan products. 

‘It sounded really positive, I didn’t really do much research outside of what this acquaintance of mine was telling me.’ 

However Charlotte quickly came to realise that selling the products over social media was difficult, and that the ‘focus’ of the business model was recruiting other people to become sellers.  

‘I started selling the products’, she said. ‘It was quite difficult to sell the products and very quickly it became apparent to me it wasn’t about selling the products.

Charlotte now speaks about her experience on her YouTube channel and encourages others not to join MLM schemes 

‘The focus was on growing your team and encouraging other people to do it, which is also very difficult because the market is very saturated at this point.’ 

The actress had to pay a joining fee of £30, but says she soon found herself spending more and more on Arbonne products. 

She said: ‘With Arbonne UK it’s £30 and you hear reps say “It’s only £30” and of course nobody ever just signs up, if it’s your business you need to try the products you’re selling. 

‘You’re encouraged to try them, I spent a couple of hundred on products and you’re encouraged to keep buying the products, partly to try and also to lend out to people as samples.

‘I was buying anti-ageing skincare, I’m in my early 20s I don’t need it but I had to buy it in order to lend it to people.’ 

She added: ‘If you look at the income disclosure statement, I think the second level they don’t earn a liveable income. Tiny percentages of people get to the top levels.’  

Alice Beer told on the show that only 12 per cent of consultants in the UK in 2018 earned any money at all, before costs of buying products and other fees. 

Charlotte said on the show: ‘If you look at the income disclosure statement, I think the second level they don’t earn a liveable income. Tiny percentages of people get to the top levels.’

The Direct Selling Association (DSA) estimates roughly 400,000 people in the UK are currently involved in direct selling in some way — around 76 per cent women. 

In a statement provided to This Morning, Arbonne said: ‘Arbonne do pay commission to Arbonne independent consultants who are not employees, they are independent contractors. 

‘Arbonne doesn’t pay commission for recruiting other distributors, only for products sold. Arbonne is a member of the Direct Selling Association (DSA), it upholds the highest standards of integrity. There is a code of conduct with Direct Selling Association. 

‘Each independent Arbonne consultant must sign a comprehensive business agreement with the company and adhere to a strict internal code of ethics. Arbonne say any unethical or improper behaviour or negative experiences should be reported to them immediately. ‘ 

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