Autumn’s Adventures

Herbalife – my experience with a healthy pyramid scheme
August 17, 2009, 2:01 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

I have been going to yoga here in Jujuy for about 10 months.  The studio is in the center of the city and is run by an awesome gay couple that I love.  A few months after I joined their studio, they started displaying products with the brand “Herbalife” on it.  I was a little suspicious.  I liked these guys, but have they fallen into a pyramid scheme? These smart yogi bears, one who is a dentist and one a psychologist.  Were they tricked by an even more powerful psychologist themselves? The salesman?  I couldn’t believe it.  But maybe they weren’t into the pyramid scheme.  Maybe they were just buying the supplements from someone else who was tricked into the scheme.  I mean, fish oil and multivitamins are really great for you, any yogi should subscribe to great supplements.
Then after a few months I had confirmed that they had been sucked in.  They started texting me about meetings for Herbalife and they started going on trips to do stuff for Herbalife.  More products were being displayed everywhere in the studio and one of the studios was turned into a conference room for Herbalife events.  They were really in.
I kept my distance even if the products weren’t that evil.  I hate. hate. HATE. pyramid schemes. Why?  Well for starters, the last real boyfriend I ever had (5 years ago) got hooked into a pyramid scheme even though I told him it was a bad idea and in the end that pyramid scheme (and some other stupid emotions) is what broke us up.  I had gone from being his adored girlfriend to someone else he could sell to.  I was a person full of money in his mind and when I looked into his eyes I no longer saw love, I saw dollar signs.  It was heartbreaking and depressing and I vowed then and there to never be a supporter of any pyramid schemes. Secondly, if the product really works and is really good why am I just hearing about it from you, Mr. Saleman? and not seeing it on TV or in stores or being backed up by multiple trusted sources?  Because of this — because if it honestly worked and people honestly wanted it they could get it from a legitimate store and not need to go through the motions of being haggled by a really manipulative salesman.

I remember my mom going through a pyramid scheme period as well.  I forget the exact brand name but I distinctly remember it was selling healthy food products made of soy.  Especially soy chili.  I remember the chili because my mom had LOADS of it.  She’d make us this shitty chili all of the time because she had so much product she didn’t know what to do with it.  She’d have to meet her quota each month with product and if she didn’t sell it she’d end up having to try to eat it, or worse, making her kids eat it.  I was about 11 or 12 when this was going on and I remember wondering why in the hell someone would buy and sell a product that they’d have to convince other’s to buy (especially when it looked and tasted like cardboard pieces floating in a turd colored sauce).

So there is my background and my feelings for pyramid schemes.  Pretty strong, I know.  This brings us to present day where I sit now and tell you about what I experienced with the Herbalife meeting I surprisingly decided to attend just an hour ago.  Why did I decide to attend?  Because I just wanted to buy some fish oil since I couldn’t find any in the pharmacy or grocery store here in reliable ol’ Jujuy.  With this whole paleo thing that I’m doing, I’m trying to get more into supplements.  Herbalife is essentially that (with their other bullshit about weightloss supplements).  I went to the meeting because I thought I’d actually get to see some products up close and personal so that I could just buy them then and there and be on my merry way.  Instead, I listened to a 2 hour presentation by the President of Herbalife from Brasil (there are like…1,500 “Presidents” of Herbalife, btw…wtf???).  He was your typical salesman giving the typical pyramid scheme pitch with his typical sleezy “I’m the shit” attitude.  I’d heard it before, word for word when I went with my ex boyfriend to one of his meetings.  The only thing that was substituted was the brand name of the product they were selling.  He started his presentation off talking about health and supplements but then quickly went on to focus only on the money making part and never looked back on the health part.  I was really hoping they’d surprise me and that Herbalife would actually be about improving the quality of life but all these rat bastards cared about was the scheme.  I saw dollar signs in “President Brasil’s” eyes too, just like in my ex’s.
After the grueling presentation we were all invited to enjoy some drinks and light food.  Since Herbalife is a product that is supposed to help you lose weight, feel energized and be more healthy, I would only assume they’d serve us some healthy options so as to not be hypocrites to their own products.  I especially expected them to serve some samples of their product, which they did not.  Also, the presenter spoke a lot about sugars being so bad for us (but nothing about bread products — the world hasn’t realized the benefits of paleo yet!) and what did I find on the table as I entered the “Cocktail” room?  Little plates of pastries filled to the brim with sugar.  Not to mention the Coke and orange Fanta being served next to the sparkling sugar wine spritzer.  There was no water to be found.  The salty food options were empanadas and white bread square sandwiches filled with a thin layer of mayo, ham and cheese.  Nothing on that table was healthy.  Not one single thing.  And the only products for Herbalife that I saw were the empty display bottles sitting on the shelves.  If you are really trying to sell someone on selling a product wouldn’t you want them to try out the product first?
I was in such…I don’t know, a state of dumbfoundedness that I had to come home and write about it.  It’s not that I didn’t expect it to be that way.  To be hypocritical and more or less leave me feeling like I was in a room with sleezeball salesmen and really gullible and innocent non-thinkers.  I didn’t want to believe for real that my sweet little yoga instructors had fallen victim to such a business scam.  Maybe I was drawing out old feelings from back in the day when my ex also fell victim to this.  I had to see it with my own two eyes to believe that the yogis were true believers (and they are).
I quickly exited and told my yoga teacher that I’d see him next week and let him know if I’m going to buy any products.  In his mind me buying the products doesn’t matter to him.  If I buy a bottle of fish oil I’m not making him any money. He wants me to be part of the business, to sell for him so he can make real money.  For this reason I’ll probably do a little more digging at a few more pharmacies to see if I can buy my supplements elsewhere.  It’s not that I don’t want to support my yoga instructor — that was a majority of the reason that I went.  I wanted to buy something from him to support him because I like him as a friend and as a person.  But once I went and realized again how fucking nut crazy pyramid schemes are and how the products don’t really matter — the people don’t really care about said products or what they are selling you — I couldn’t bring myself to do it.  I don’t want to get caught up in that crazy world again.  Not for one silly little jar of fish oil.  No thank you.


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