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 on: September 07, 2014, 07:44:28 AM 
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This Update is Available as a Webpage for LinkingWebpage Version of this Update

International Association to Expose, Study and Prevent Pyramid Schemes
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Pyramid Scheme Alert
Pyramid Scheme Alert is a non-partisan, non-profit, all-volunteer consumer education group.
Contact Robert L. FitzPatrick, Pres. at info@pyramidschemealert.org
Website Update - August 2014 Update
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Newest Revelations about Multi-Level Marketing

Dear Pyramid Scheme Alert Supporters and Colleagues,

Many courageous individuals - facing lawsuits, personal attacks, and working mostly without funding - have researched and exposed the realities of what is called "multi-level marketing" (MLM). This August2014 Update highlights a breakthrough report that significantly adds to the facts.

There was one significant aspect of MLM in the news that few people knew about or understood. This was the so-called "nutrition clubs" run by Herbalife. These "clubs" affect hundreds of thousands of families, mostly in Latino communities, as well as millions of people in other countries. There are more than 4,000 Herbalife nutrition clubs in the USA alone and far more worldwide.

The facts that have now been revealed about these "clubs" are shocking, and especially harmful for the Latin American community. It turns out that they are not "clubs" and are not about nutrition. As some already knew instinctively or had determined from their overall knowledge of Herbalife, the clubs turn out to be  fronts for a predatory recruitment scheme orchestrated by top-level  distributors of Herbalife and aimed directly at lower income people.

MLM's Newest Recruiting Scheme - Nutrition Clubs

The known facts about the Nutrition Clubs have been greatly expanded by the investigative work of former Bloomberg journalist and respected author, Christine Richard, who was commissioned by Pershing Capital to investigate the clubs. Pershing is a New York-based hedge fund that has publicly accused the MLM, Herbalife, of pyramid scheme fraud. Pershing has reportedly taken a billion-dollar "short" position on Herbalife stock on the expectation that, as the truth is revealed about the company, the  value of Herbalife's stock will fall dramatically, yielding huge profits to Pershing.

Ms. Richard led a team of investigators, funded by Pershing, to examine the "Nutrition Clubs", revealing them to be one of MLM's newest and most dangerous forms of pyramid recruiting.


Herbalife had already been exposed by others for causing 99+% losses among the consumers it recruits into its "business opportunity". Some people reported losses of $10,000 to $50,000 when they were ensnared by another Herbalife recruiting scam, called "lead generating systems." Today, most USA recruits, it has now been discovered, are lower income Latinos. Herbalife had already been successfully sued in class action cases for running an "endless chain" and a "money transfer" scheme, with the majority of all rewards going to the top 1%, among other forms of deception. In 2013, the United States Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced it was formally investigating Herbalife. The world is awaiting the results of that investigation.

 

Herbalife's defenses have been the the usual claims made by all other MLMs, about being a "direct selling" company, the contract salespeople only wanting discounts, not income, and all sales counting as "retail", etc. But, Herbalife did have one other defense that no other MLM has ever put forth and it was by far its strongest. This is the existence in the USA alone of 4,000  "nutrition clubs" where hundreds of thousansd of consumers appeared to be consuming Herbalife shakes. Herbalife said the clubs were proof that its business is "product-based", not  recruitment-driven.  Herbalife said the Nutrition Clubs are:
Retail-based, with people coming to the clubs to "consume."
Community-based, run by local people, frequented by local people, proof of market attraction.
Health-oriented, attended by people trying to improve their health.
Brand-oriented, attended by people who "love" Herbalife products.
Profitable for the club operators, a viable business opportunity.
Herbalife's key to growth in the USA and a model for other countries, unique to Herbalife, a new form of retail marketing

Troubling Questions Raised

 

Even before Ms. Richard's team studied the clubs in depth, various news journalists had already looked into them. They were mystified by the clubs that seemed to to make no business or marketing sense to them. The reporters raised troubling questions, which Herbalife did not respond to, such as:
How is it possible for club owners to be profitable, given high operating costs, few customers, intense time and labor requirements?
Are there records of profits or sales volumes or turnover?
Why are the clubs primarily - only - in Latino communities, if Latinos are not  "targeted"?
Why are there so many "clubs" in concentrated areas? Aren't they in competition with each other?
How do people find out about the clubs since signage and advertising are not allowed, food cannot be prepared, curtains must be closed and actual products cannot be sold on the premises?
How could ordinary protein powder drinks be viewed as a significant "health" measure?
Are the clubs franchises?
Terrible Realities Uncovered

Visiting and examining hundreds of the clubs in several countries, here is what Ms. Richard's investigators found:
Herbalife Nutrition Clubs are not market-based or community based. They are organized, directed and managed by Herbalife and its top recruiters.
Internal documents indicate that Latinos were specifically targeted, as higher income sectors of the population were already saturated for further recruiting.
The clubs were based on getting small amounts of money from large numbers of recruits, which, over time, added up to a lot of money per person, similar to a form of high interest financing.
Analysis shows large-scale losses of operators of the clubs.
Clubs' mission is not consumption but recruitment.
Customers are frequently consumers seeking "points" for moving up Herbalife recruiting ladder.
Visiting/purchasing/consumption of drinks are motivated by income aspirations and requirements to follow a carefully constructed plan and script, designed and operated by Herbalife recruiters.
Health claims are routinely fabricated or grossly exaggerated
Clubs are concentrated because they do not compete as much as they are inter-connected through an elaborate system of "conscripted consumption" driven by "point" system, based on purchases, with consumers being directed to go from one club to others where they are told to "consume" and gain "training"
Clubs are not market-based and not community-based. They are unprofitable and they exist only as commercial enterprises, designed and controlled by Herbalife and its top level distributors for recruiting purposes at the cost of the operators.
Consumption in the "clubs" is not retail. No one actually purchases the product. Participants pay to belong to the club and then consume goods provided by the operator.
Clubs might be defined as franchises, since Herbalife controls appearance, determines operating procedures, is the sole supplier, controls the pricing of goods provided and sets quotas of purchasing, effectively gaining "royalty" payments from the clubs.
Clubs are a recruiting program that characterizes and promotes the purchasing, training and recruiting as a form of formal education, referring to itself as a "university" and implying the program is a form of economic education, similar to a college education.
The Cruelest Deception

It is the last aspect of the clubs - being presented to people as "education"  - that is the most dangerous and cruel. Low income and struggling people, many of whom do not speak English or might not even be documented citizens, are being lured to invest in the Clubs as a form of self-improvement, rather than getting real education from real schools, or to learn a real trade, profession or business. The
"Students" at "graduation" from Herbalife's "University," alias pyramid recruiting program
true harm
done to the people could affect their entire lives and their families. Herbalife promoters are telling people they are attending a "university." The scheme disguises a bogus business opportunity with a bogus educational program.

The goal of the Nutrition Club "education" and "system" is for people to gradually invest their money and follow the program, step-by-step, leading to, some day, becoming "Supervisors" and then reaching the highest ranks of Herbalife where the great wealth is promised.

Besides being misled about the true nature of the clubs, few who fall into this trap realize that virtually all the Herbalife "Supervisors" never gain a profit and half do not even last one year before quitting.
---------------------------------
See the analysis of incomes among  Herbalife's upper level of "Supervisor/Leaders."
---------------------------------
A Growing Menace

It is well known that the longer a pyramid scheme is allowed to operate the greater damage is causes due to much larger numbers of victims. But, it also true that the longer pyramids operate the more predatory, deceptive and aggressive they become, that is, the greater harm they cause to civil society. Some pyramids have caused governments to topple. They corrupt and damage whatever they touch.

 
The Nutrition Clubs, their operation and, most important, their disguised and deceptive role in MLM recruiting represent an advanced stage of multi-level marketing - making more outrageous claims, destructively probing deeper into family and community life, and targeting ever more vulnerable groups such as students and immigrants.Other MLMs will undoubtedly mimic Herbalife's devious new invention. 
 
The Nutrition Clubs, aimed at lower income Latinos, are analogous to the banking industry's disastrous Ponzi scheme of sub-prime mortgages also aimed at lower income people. Needing ever greater volume of "assets" to sell into the securities market, they changed the nature of home ownership and home mortgages by developing "sub-prime" mortgages which soon devolved into "no-doc" or "liar loans." These bogus loans corrupted housing appraisals, inflated home prices, and led to "explodig" loans being given to unqualified and in some case unemployed people, putting the housing market and values into self-destructive spiral.

As has been sadly documented, the "toxic" mortgage-backed assets were destined to cause massive foreclosures for new mortgage holders, wipe out home values of existing homeowners,  increase homelessness and unemployment and eventually wipe out  ordinary people's life savings in stocks.

Like the investment banks that created bogus mortgages as the raw material of "toxic assets" to sell to the securities market, Herbalife has hidden from its shareholders, the government and the public how it gains revenue generated in the "clubs." And, just as the sub-prime scheme was disguised as a way for more people to own homes, the clubs are disguised as a way for poor people to achieve the gain an "education" from a "universidad", complete with cap and gown ceremonies, after the recruits have invested required amounts of time, money, "consumption" and recruiting for Herbalife.

I urge interested citizens and all government regulators to read and study the report on the Nutrition Clubs, entitled:
THE BIG LIE

 

Note: The research findings on the Nutrition Clubs begins at Slide #50 

 
Sincerely,
Robert L. FitzPatrick, Pres.
PYRAMID SCHEME ALERT

The FTC can never say it didn't know...
"Bright Lines" of Illegality Sent to FTC
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
 
In the last Update it was noted that the FTC had shut down the popular and fast growing MLM, Fortune High Tech Marketing.The problem was that before FHTM was closed down, 350 thousand households had already lost money in FHTM, believing it to be legal for more than 10 years! Their belief was based on the absence of any FTC prosecution during that long time. Those losses and the hundreds of thousands of people affected are the clearest evidence that the FTC must now establish a consistent legal standard on MLM illegality. Currently, the public is left confused and vulnerable to MLM schemers who claim, as FHTM did, to be "perfectly legal." Many point to the absence of FTC action against them as prima facie evidence of their legality. Bernie Madoff used a similar defense for many years, noting no action against him by the SEC.

The time for FTC action may be at hand. The FTC is now formally investigating one
of the largest and oldest MLMs, Herbalife. But Herbalife can't be evaluated, separately from hundreds of other MLMs that operate just like it. To deal with Herbalife, the  FTC needs to establish "bright lines" that identify illegality for ANY MLM.

In a June 9 conference call with some FTC officials, Pyramid Scheme Alert leaders and advisors had a chance to offer their ideas on the need to regulate all MLMs. In that call, they were  asked by the FTC officials to offer the FTC specific recommendations on "bright lines" of MLM illegality. That invitation led to  two documents being sent, one based on clear signs of a fraudulent business model and the other on settled law that prohibits business frauds of the pyramid scheme type.

PSA President, Robert FitzPatrick sent an "open letter" to all five FTC Commissions outlining the characteristics of a pyramid fraud, noting that the signs of MLM illegality are in plain sight and do not require years of study. Like a legitimate business, pyramid schemes follow a model with operating policies. In the pyramid, value is not exchanged in transactions; virtually all who invest lose their money; and deception is main component of marketing. The pyramid model and policies always involve deception and always cause large-scale harm. These signs can be recognized by a study of the structure, pay plan, and policies without  by need for the FTC taking years of study. The FTC could publish the signs it views as "bright lines" and warn all MLMs that those displaying the signs are subject to prosecution. Reforms would surely follow.

Former Asst. Attorney General (Ret.) of Wisconsin, Bruce Craig, laid out the legal case for a set of guidelines that would prohibit the endless chain income proposition, citing existing court rulings. It shows that no new laws are needed, but rather enforcement of a series of consistent court rulings that ban endless chains and money transfer schemes.

For nearly 30 years, the FTC has allowed MLMs to multiply and expand without requirements for disclosure and without even a definition of the bounds of legality.  Now, that the day of reckoning has arrived, these two documents ensure that FTC Commissioners can never say they did not know about the problems inherent in MLM, the scale of harm being inflicted on the public, and they can never say they did not understand what to do to resolve the crisis. 
See: "Identifying Bright Lines for Determining Illegality of any Multi-Level Marketing Company, An Open Letter to the Members of the US Federal Trade Commission " by Robert L. FitzPatrick.
Read: "The FTC Should Take A Definitive Stance On Pyramid Type Offerings Rather Than A Case-By-Case Approach" by Bruce Craig. (Note: Requires a free registration with the forum, Seeking Alpha.

Prosecutions, Arrests
MLM in the Courts... and in Jail
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The last Update reported that the MLM, Vemma, another MLM with a "health product" and aggressively recruiting  students, has been declared a pyramid scheme - in Italy. In recent months, Vemma is getting increasing scrutiny for targeting
Amway CEO of India, William Pinckney, Arrested on Fraud Charges in India
 youth and for the involvement of some ex-Herbalife
"leads generation" operators running the same scam in Vemma recruiting.

Now there is news of Amway's CEO in India, William Scott Pinckney, being arrested in that country by officials in one state that is prosecuting Amway as a pyramid fraud.

This is the second time Pinckney has been arrested. State officials in India laid out a detailed case to the court that Amway is breaking India's anti-pyramid  law by running a  recruiting scheme promising "huge and fabulous easy money" based on the number of people recruited.  The police officials' description of Amway recruiting in India precisely mirrors that the description of Amway USA operations in a recent  class action lawsuit against Amway.

 Amway is now "lobbying" Indian officials to get the national law changed so its current operations could become "legal." Amway's CEO stayed in jail for almost two months before arranging bond and release.

Utah's Top Cops and MLM Defenders Arrested

Back in the USA, the MLM industry has touted as one of its great promoters the

Mark Shurtleff, Former Utah AG, and Prominent MLM Endorser, Arrested on Bribery Charges
former Attorney General of Utah, Mark Shurtleff. While still
serving as a public official, Shurtleff appeared to have publicly endorsed the MLM, Usana and he was instrumental in opening Utah up to more MLM pyramids.

Now it is reported that Shurtleff has been arrested in Utah on bribery charges, along with another former Attorney General of Utah, John Swallow, who was also a major MLM backer.

According to the  Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill, the prosecution included the cooperation of the FBI. Gill announced  that Shurtleff and Swallow are accused of taking tens of thousands of dollars in bribes from businesspeople. The charges come with a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison.

Shurtleff served a dozen years in office as Utah's Attorney General until 2013, but allegations of corruption plagued him. Swallow  was his chief deputy from 2009 to early 2013. He served less than a year as the state AG and then resigned amid corruption charges.

Both Swallow and Shurtleff were nationally known as governmental defenders and promoters of MLM in Utah and nationally, the state with more MLM headquarters per capita than any other. According to a 2012 investigative article in Harpers Magazine by Jeff Ernsthausen, Shurtleff received campaign contributions totaling more than $475,000 from members of the Direct Selling Association (DSA) since 1999, accounting for 14 percent of his donations from sources other than the state Republican Party. The DSA writes the "code of ethics" that MLM member companies are supposed to follow. The Harper's article noted, after itemizing DSA member contributions to Shurtleff, noted that "unsurprisingly", Shurtleff was a major MLM backer.

Shurtleff famously appeared as the state's top law enforcement officer at DSA member and MLM, Usana's national meeting in 2004 to apparently endorse the company publicly. As reported in the Salt Lake Tribune in a 2011 piece on MLM influence in Utah by Steven Oberbeck, Shurtleff "walked onto the stage in Salt Lake City. 'Good morning, Usana,' he shouted. 'And I have some news for you. Last night I talked to Governor Huntsman, and he agreed with me that it is now time to change the name of our state. 'From now on we will be known as Utana.'"

Book "Sales" Help Investigations Go Away?

Another publicized connection between Shurtleff and MLM, was with the MLM scheme, Pre-Paid Legal, which also had been a DSA member. Pre-Paid Legal  was a publicly traded stock with the symbol, PPD. It was frequently sued for deception and pyramiding, and later was taken private with a leveraged buy-out, followed by the change of its name to LegalShield, a current DSA member. The Shurtleff/Pre-Paid Legal connection allegedly involved campaign money to Shurtleff from PPD, a lucrative book purchasing  deal by PPD to the profit of Shurtleff, and possible help from Shurtleff in squelching a federal investigation of PPD. According to an article in the Salt Lake City Weekly by Eric S. Peterson, the multi-level marketing scheme, Pre-Paid Legal Services had donated $130,000 in campaign funds to Shurtleff  between 2003 and 2008. Shurtleff also received $7,400 in donations to his 2009 Senate race from employees of Pre-Paid Legal, and Shurtleff's political action committee, the PAC for Utah's Future, received $15,000 in donations from the company in 2010.

Quoting from the article, "Author and Tea Party activist Candace Salima says that when then-Attorney General Mark Shurtleff approached her in spring 2009 about publishing his historical fiction novel with her Valor Publishing Group, he told her that he hadn't finished writing the book - but that he could guarantee a pre-sale order of 100,000 copies. Salima says that the company that Shurtleff told her was willing to buy 100,000 copies... which, Salima says, would result in over $100,000 in royalties being paid to Shurtleff - was Pre-Paid Legal Services.... At the time, the company was being investigated by the Federal Trade Commission for making misleading statements to its customers."

Making Pyramids "Legal" in Utah

Shurtleff's greatest contribution to MLM in Utah, with national ramifications, was his leadership role in changing the state's anti-pyramid scheme law to one that exempts MLM and also inhibits the ability of victims to sue an MLM in Utah. For a full review on the changed  law in Utah that now protects "product-based" pyramids see, 2006 special report, Utah Legislature Passes Pyramid Scheme Safe Harbor Amendments,by Robert FitzPatrick.

On Shurtleff's successor John Swallow's ties to MLM, the Harper's investigation reported that "Of the $680,000 he has raised for his election campaign to date (June 2012), $114,000 can be traced to Utah-based DSA member companies, their executives, or their spouses."

Utah is only one example of MLM influence-buying at the state level. North Carolina was also specifically cited in the Harper's investigation. Formerly a state that was noted for active prosecutions of MLM pyramids under its strict anti-pyramid scheme statute, North Carolina is now a recent headquarters to the MLM, ACN, famously touted by Donald Trump, and the site of a major new distribution center for Herbalife. Pyramid Scheme Alert asked Mr. Cooper to investigate Herbalife, based on consumer losses revealed in the income data as well as other other known facts about the company related to a pyramid scheme. He did not respond.

Executives from ACN, according to the Harper's investigation, have given $84,550 to North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper "since the run-up to the company's relocation there in 2008 - nearly 85 percent of their total campaign contributions during that period... Two ACN executives, Charles Barker and Robert Stevanovski, tied with a few others as the largest individual donors to Cooper's 2008 reelection campaign.This figure includes donations by executives' spouses and members of ACN's "Circle of Champions." Much of this money came from employees residing outside North Carolina."

MLM Now in Literature         
New "Whistle-Blower Novel" Describes the Culture of Deception in MLM 
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
After decades of silence and disguise, the realities of multi-level marketing have finally broken through into the field of literature. A new novel, entitled, Downline, by MLM veteran, E. Robert Smith. Downline is a dramatic story involving the lives of fictional characters caught up in the deceptions of MLM recruiting and becoming ensnared in a Congressional investigation, conjuring obvious references to what could transpire as an Herbalife scenario.

Smith describes the book, "The novel Downline is a character-driven work of  historical fiction written to be enjoyed by a general readership. However, it is also a whistle-blower novel in that part of the backdrop of the story involves the currently controversial industry of Multilevel Marketing (MLM). The story plays out before the Permanent Senate Subcommittee on Investigations where this subcommittee is looking into allegations that MLM, user current law, is an illegal pyramid scheme. During the proceedings many legal and ethical questions are raised that readers, especially those readers involved in the industry, will find interesting."

As part of the novel's advocacy role, Smith has promoted the book and its real-life context in the website, http://www.mlm-stopthefraud.com

With fiction often being best for telling the truth, it is hoped that among the first readers of this novel would be the members of the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the staff of the FTC Consumer Protection Bureau.
Downline is Available on Amazon.com

Lawsuit as Industry Literature
Class Action Lawsuit Reveals MLM in Lurid Detail
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The text of the complaint of a new class action lawsuit serves as a critical document for revealing the deception that pervades multi-level marketing, camouflaged with rhetoric about "direct selling." The text of the complaint paints a vivid picture of a major MLM, called Visalus, complete with video links and color photos. The suit was filed by the law firms, Sommers Schwartz in Southfield Michigan, Prebeg, Faucett & Abbott in Houston  and Wexler Wallace in Chicago, which are also suing the "engergy" MLM, Stream/Ignite.


The  text of the lawsuit declares "racketeering" to be the basis of the suit's claims against Visalus and its promoters:

"This Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations, 18 U.S.C. §§1961 - 1968, ("RICO") action arises out of a pyramid scheme perpetrated by modern, Internet-savvy company peddling powdered weight-loss shakes. Well over 100,000 innocent people paid the scheme up to $999 for the "business opportunity" to become distributors, or Independent Promoters ("IPs"), for a soy protein and sucralose concoction. The vast majority lost their money... All of the Defendants have acted as an "association-in-fact" for a common purpose...- - the unlawful pyramid scheme."
   
 Visalus Is Mainstream MLM

Visalus is a subsidiary of Blyth Inc., a publicly traded company on the New York Stock Exchange whose other subsidiary, PartyLite, is a member of the Direct Selling Association. Robert Goergen Jr., the son of the CEO of Blyth and president of PartyLite, is on the Board of Directors of the Direct Selling Association (DSA). In January 2013 Visalus itself applied for membership in the DSA.

For a time, Visalus, was the fastest growing MLM in America and perhaps the world. In early 2012, the company reported that in 2011 it had achieved net sales of $231 million, seven times its 2010 volume of $34 million. Revenue in the first six months of 2012 continued to spike upward, 450 percent to $326 million. The skyrocketing volume boosted the Blyth stock to the high 20s at the start of 2012 to an astonishing high of $45 a share by August 2012. Apparently seizing the momentum, Blyth, the parent company sought a spin-off of Visalus with a $175 million initial public offering of stock (IPO).

While Visalus was climbing, it was all the rage in MLM world. Yet, according the class action lawsuit, Visalus' fast growth was itself a feat of deception. The suit offers evidence that the extraordinary rapid growth was achieved by pirating top recruiters from other MLMs who had existing and large "downlines" which they brought with them over to Visalus. Currently, Visalus announced it is focusing on the Latino community for recruits.

Another MLM for Wall Street

When Blyth attempted to spin off Visalus with its $175 million stock offering, during the time of spectacular growth figures and a ever-rising stock price, businesswriter and analyst, Herb Greenberg of CNBC was alone in sounding alarms of suspicious maneuverings and a house of cards, noting, "In its simplest form, ViSalus is in the business of selling product to distributors."

Then, at the end of September, 2012, Blyth abruptly and inexplicably withdrew the public stock offer. Blyth stock plunged 20% in one day. In the following quarters, reported sales, distributor recruiting  and revenue of Visalus declined dramatically, which they have been doing to the present.  The stock price has plummeted to below $6.

As the stock fiasco was unfolding, the company was also profiled in an extensive investigative report authored by journalist, Roddy Boyd of the Southern Investigative Reporting Foundation, which detailed  stock maneuverings and the pyramid recruiting program.

 
As an example of deception claimed in the lawsuit, consider the section describing a classic MLM event, the "ritual of check waving." The lawsuit states:

 

It is well-established in the network marketing business that one hook to get new
"Check Waving Ritual" Depicted in Visalus Class Action Lawsuit

 recruits in the door is the check-waving ritual. The ritual is typically performed before a large crowd, videotaped and photographed, and images of the happy recipient shown to potential recruits in printed materials, on the Internet and wherever they can be spread. The defendants all participate in this show. 
While ViSalus has staged the check ritual countless times it adds a twist to the ritual: the checks are not actually paid. The company does not explain that the distributors waving the giant check were brought on board through special deals. Nor does it explain, except in very small print, that it will pay the check in 10 years and only if the recipient continues to be "active" with the company, and if, and only if, it chooses to do so.
View and Read the Visalus Lawsuit.

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Special Reports for Consumers...
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 What About This One?   Now Available! Free! The new audio and written report published by Pyramid Scheme Alert is the product of years of research and direct experience of analysts, former insiders of multi-level marketing companies and veterans of  direct selling.The audio is a down-to-earth, conversational dialogue. that hits the key points for evaluating income opportunities and avoiding pyramid scams. The companion written report outlines the information for easy reference.   

 

 What Is this Thing Called Multi-Level Marketing? (free) This new report (March, 2014) examines the income disclosures of Amway, Herbalife and Nu Skin, which together account for 10% of the entire MLM business in America. It is a "portrait" of MLM in America and provides the reader with a clear picture of what MLM is and is not. A must read for "due diligence" or those who want to understand what all the MLM recruiting is all about.

 
 
 False Profits Blog: Discussion of the Economics, Politics, Legalities, Ethics and Sociology of Pyramid Schemes and multi-level marketing. The False Profits Blog, published by author, Robert FitzPatrick, is a sane, rational and fact-based forum. Read, get podcasts, make comments, subscribe.
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 92 
 on: September 07, 2014, 07:34:14 AM 
Started by Piccolo - Last post by Ayuvo
http://www.scribd.com/doc/219892996/Vemma-Translation

04/25/2014
   
22
 
 NEWSLETTER No. 10 OF MARCH 10, 2014
UNFAIR BUSINESS PRACTICES
PS7621 - VEMMA ITALIA-PRODUCTS WITH MANGOSTEEN JUICE
 Ruling no. 24784
 
THE COMPETITION AND MARKETS AUTHORITY DURING THE MEETING of February 5, 2014; HAVING REGARD to the report by Professor Piero Barucci; HAVING REGARD to Part II, Title III, of Legislative Decree no. 206 of September 6, 2005, as amended by Legislative Decree no. 146 of August 2, 2007, 6 (hereinafter, the Consumer Code); HAVING REGARD to the “Regulation concerning preliminary investigation procedures on unfair business practices”, adopted by resolution of the Authority of November 15, 2007, published in the Official Journal no. 283 of December 5, 2007, and entered into effect on December 6, 2007 (hereinafter, the Regulation); HAVING REGARD to the Notice of Commencement of proceeding no. PS7621 dated June 10, 2013, aimed at ascertaining the existence of unfair business practices in violation of Articles 20, 21 § 1, letters
b)
and
c
), and 23, letters
 p)
and
 s
), of the Consumer Code, followed by the company Vemma Italia S.r.l.; HAVING REGARD to the Authority's resolution dated September 11, 2013, which extended the final date for completion of the proceeding; HAVING REGARD to the records of the proceeding;
I. THE PARTIES
1.
 
The company Vemma Italia S.r.l. (hereinafter also referred to as Vemma) is a retailer of various products based on mangosteen juice, some of which are presented by a demonstrator or sales associate (door-to-door sales) as allegedly having special therapeutic properties. In the financial year ended in 2012, the company recorded sales revenues of approximately
[less than 1 million
]
1
 euro. 2.
 
Two consumers who reported the facts.
II. THE BUSINESS PRACTICE
3. This proceeding was initiated following reports from two consumers, and concerns the conduct adopted by Vemma, as a manufacturer, i.e. the creation and management of a complex system for the promotion and marketing of mangosteen- based products. This system envisages, on the one hand, the involvement and participation of consumers in a scheme for the purchase and sale of said products, whereby they are incentivized to sponsor the joining of the Vemma network by a constantly increasing number of other consumers/sellers; and, on the other, the representation of the products (in messages  posted on the web) as having certain beneficial properties. 4. Participation in the sales network, with the title of “brand partner”, requires registration with the Vemma company's website (www.vemma.com), registration of an order
"
 
In this version some of the data have been omitted, as information confidentiality or secrecy considerations have been deemed to exist.
 
 
   
 NEWSLETTER No. 10 OF MARCH 10, 2014 23 for automatic shipment, and the purchase at a significant cost of one of two differently priced enrollment  packages (“Vemma Builder Pack Silver” for
 !
 604, or “Vemma Builder Pack Gold” for
 !
 1,007), which are the requirements to have access to the different bonuses/commissions indicated in a specific Compensation Plan (hereinafter also referred to as CP). 5. In the Vemma network, participants receive compensation according to the number of persons they succeed in enrolling, as well as commissions calculated on the volumes of sales they generate for Vemma, directly or indirectly, including those generated by participants that they have enrolled into the Vemma Scheme. 6. According to the Compensation Plan, access to the promised commissions and bonuses is limited by a series of requirements that reduce their amounts, and in any case make them not directly linked to the total volumes of sales each participant generates directly and indirectly. In particular, it is necessary to reach direct monthly orders for a minimum amount in terms of commissionable volume (CV); also,  participants need to possess specific requirements. 7. In addition to these aspects, intended to be financially attractive, the manufacturer and his partners emphasize the special properties of Vemma mangosteen-based supplements, making them appear as functional in creating an image, with end customers, as particularly beneficial to their well-being and/or health. 8. Messages with a content focused on health are found in the manufacturer's website in connection with Vemma products, which - owing to mangosteen, one of its ingredients - are attributed outstanding antioxidant properties, and with the Vemma Nutrition Program, which should allegedly be considered as a sort of health insurance.
III. FINDINGS OF THE PROCEEDING
i) Course of the proceeding
 9. On the basis of information acquired for the purpose of applying the Consumer Code, and of reports from consumers about a suspected unfair business practice followed by Vemma in marketing and selling dietary supplements, on June 10, 2013, the preliminary investigation proceeding no. PS7621 was initiated against Vemma, for alleged violation of Articles 20, 21, paragraph 1, letters
b)
and
c
), and 23, letters
 p)
and
 s
), of the Consumer Code. 10. On July 29, 2013, a letter was received from the manufacturer, in which the latter made commitments in response to the remarks contained in the Notice of Commencement of proceeding, and requested an extension of the final date to complete same. 11. On September 11, 2013 the Authority resolved to reject the commitments undertaken by the Party and to extend the final date for completion of the proceeding till January 7, 2014. 12. On October 23, 2013, a hearing of Vemma representatives was held at the office of the Authority; during the hearing, the Party requested an extension of the end date of the proceeding. 13. On November 15, 2013, the Party was notified that the last date for completion of the proceeding had  been extended to February 6, 2014. 14. The subsequent notes dated November 27 and December 10, 2013 provided further information and clarifications on the new methods for calculation of compensation and the company's new regulations. 15. On December 12, 2013, the Parties were notified the date of completion of the preliminary investigation phase, scheduled on December 23, 2013.
 
   
#$
%&'()&**&+ %,- ". /0 12+34 ".5 #."$
 
16. On December 23, 2013, the manufacturer submitted a defense brief to which was attached a copy of the new Compensation Plan.
ii) Evidence acquired
a) Vemma's distribution business
17. Vemma's distribution and promotion business in Italy started in January 2011 with sales revenues of over
[1-5]
million euro in 2011 and approximately
[less than 1 million]
euro in 2012. 18. As to the size of the sales network, based on investigations conducted and information  provided by the manufacturer, it was found that the distribution network involved, in 2013,
[1,000-5,000]
associates, of whom only
[less than 500]
were active,
2
 equal to 27% of the total
3
. The title of active is obtained and maintained by periodically ordering products or submitting an order at wholesale price
4
. 19. Specifically, the number of participants who joined the network in the first half of 2013, with the promotional “Gold” and “Silver” packs, were
[less than 100]
and
[less than 100]
respectively, (or
[omissis]
of the total number of new participants), while the number of  participants who joined the scheme with the same packages from July 1 to October 24, 2013 were
[less than 100]
and
[100-150]
respectively, (or
[omissis]
of the total number of new associates)
5
. 20. Data acquired during the inspection have shown that the number of new associates who  joined the network in 2012 and in the first five months of 2013 was
[501-1,000]
and
[501- 1,000
], respectively. Additionally, among the
[250-500]
active participants who submitted orders in the period from September 2012 to June 2013, only
[less than 100]
on average achieve sales volumes of any significance, i.e. such as to generate six-monthly sales commissions higher than
 !
 1,000, while nearly all the other associates receive quite low or even paltry compensation. 21. The data collected show that Vemma received approximately
[2,500-5,000]
orders in the  period from September 2012 to June 2013, with an average value, deducted of the Builder Pack, of about
[100-150]
euro per order. 22. Additionally, based on product sales data, a significant portion of the orders consists of  purchases made by associates themselves, presumably for their own consumption, which in the network are known as “autoship” sales. In the period from September 2012 to June 2013, the income generated by autoship sales amounted to
[omissis]
, while income generated by non-autoship sales was considerably lower, amounting to
[omissis]
euro.
b) The enrollment phase
23. In the Vemma network, consumers register without incurring any initial cost, by signing a contract with the attached Compensation Plan, and have the possibility of buying one of the  promotional packs offered (Builder Pack), to which participation in the Plan is linked.
#
 
See doc. 9, paragraph 5.
 
6
 
See doc. 23, paragraph f).
 
$
 
See doc. 16, paragraph 6.
 
7
 
See doc. 23, paragraph a).
 
 
   
  NEWSLETTER No. 10 OF MARCH 10, 2014 25 24. In particular, after registration, associates are required to submit an autoship order for at least 60 QVs (Qualifying Volumes) every month. Once activity is qualified through the registration of at least one Brand Partner in each of the right and left team (the title of active is obtained through an active Automatic Shipment order of at least 60 reward points), the associate acquires the right to earn income immediately. 25. The associate also has the possibility of buying one of the following Builder Packs: “Silver”, for a  price of
 !
 599, or “Gold” for a price of
 !
 999, in order to fully benefit from the compensation envisaged in the CP. With each of these Builder packs (Silver and Gold), the consumer/associate buys a different set of Vemma products, corresponding to a different value (expressed in QVs): specifically, the Silver pack corresponds to 400 QVs, and the Gold pack to 800 QVs. Depending on the pack they buy, associates have different and greater “opportunities” to earn the commissions set out in the CP. 26. The data for the period from September 2012 to June 2013 show that a considerable portion of Vemma's sales revenues, around [omissis], is generated directly by the sale of Builder Packs to the associates.
c) Vemma's Compensation Plan
27. As mentioned above, sales associates sign an agreement with Vemma which governs the rather complex mechanisms for receiving the compensation set out in the CP. In particular, associates receive compensation both for enrolling other associates sponsored by them, and for the sales volumes they generate for Vemma, directly and indirectly through the associates in their “downline”. 28. Looking at the details of the Compensation Plan, compensation consists mainly of the following items: i) “Cycle Bonus”, ii) “Enroller matching bonus”; iii) “Second tier matching bonus”; iv) “Momentum Bonus”; v) “Platinum Club Bonus”. 29. The Cycle Bonus is awarded to active Brand Partners with an Automatic Shipment order of 120 reward points and two personally enrolled active Brand Partners, one for each team. At the end of each volume period (week), the Brand Partner can earn a Cycle Bonus of approximately US$ 20 if he/she has 180 reward points in one team and 360 reward points in the other (the sides may alternate). The value of weekly cycles is calculated each week on the basis of total sales divided by the number of qualified cycles
6
. 30. To earn the Enroller Matching Bonus, the associate has to be active and qualified with a registered Automatic Shipment order of 120 reward points and four personally enrolled active Brand Partners, one in each team and the other two anywhere in either team. This bonus pays to the Enroller 10% of all Cycle Bonus amounts earned by the Brand Partners he/she enrolled personally. If a Brand Partner does not meet the qualifying criteria, the bonus is transferred to the first Enroller in the upline who meets the requirements.
7
 31. To earn the Second Tier Matching Bonus, the associate has to be active and qualified with a registered Automatic Shipment order of 120 reward points and six personally enrolled active Brand Partners
8
 
Earning levels for cycles: earning levels for cycles only apply to the Cycle Bonus and do not affect any of the other income areas in Vemma's Compensation Plan. Once he/she achieves the maximum earning level in Cycle for that  position for four (4) consecutive weeks, the Brand Partner is assigned one (1) new position above that in which he/she has achieved the maximum earning level. This position will have the same earning limit, unless the Brand Partner advances to a higher rank as specified below. A Brand Partner may hold up to two (2) positions, four (4) positions for married couples.
 
9
 
A Brand Partner may not earn the Enroller Matching Bonus and the Second Tier Matching Bonus for the same Brand Partner in the downline. In case of transfer of the Enroller Matching Bonus because of ineligibility of the Enroller, the Second Tier Matching Bonus is also transferred.
 
 
   
26 NEWSLETTER No.10 OF MARCH 10, 2014
one in each team and the other four anywhere in either team. Brand Partners may not only earn on the associates they enroll personally, but may also earn a 10% Matching Bonus on all the Cycle Bonus amounts received by the enrolled Brand Partners. If a Brand Partner does not meet the qualifying criteria, the Second Tier Matching Bonus is transferred to the first Enroller in the upline who meets the requirements.
8
 32. To earn the Momentum Bonus, the associate has to be active and qualified with a registered Automatic Shipment order of 120 reward points and one personally enrolled active Brand Partner, in each team. The additional requirements are shown in the table below
9
.
MOMENTUM BONUS
“PAYMENT LEVEL”: GOLD Silver ** on each side of the enrollment line and 500 reward points consisting of Automatic Shipment orders and/or Builder Pack along the enrollment line on each side of their business. Maximum payment per participation fee: Up to US$ 300
:
 
A Brand Partner may not earn the Enroller Matching Bonus and the Second Tier Matching Bonus for the same Brand Partner in the downline. In case of transfer of the Enroller Matching Bonus because of ineligibility of the Enroller, the Second Tier Matching Bonus is also transferred.
 
;
 
This bonus is a reward paid at the end of each four (4) week Rank Advancement, on the basis of the Payment Levels recognized during the current or the previous advancement period. The Momentum Bonus is equally subdivided among all participants who qualified on the basis of “Payment Level”. The Momentum Bonus Pool includes approximately three percent (3%) of the sales generated by the countries  participating in the Momentum Bonus, and does not include orders on which a Fast Start Bonus was paid. The volume accumulated for the Momentum Bonus within a four (4) week rank advancement period is not transferred to the next four (4) week period. Compensation for each rank may vary from period to period. Brand Partners may participate in pools at each Momentum Pin rank for a period not exceeding twelve (12) months after the date on which they were recognized the Momentum Level Pin. Brand Partners who do not meet the requirements for the level that has been recognized may still participate in a lower pool for which they meet the requirements. All Brand Partners who achieve the Diamond Rank or higher and have a Gold “Payment Level” on each side of the enrollment line will pass from the Momentum Bonus to the Platinum Club Bonus.
 
   
   
 NEWSLETTER No. 10 OF MARCH 10, 2014 27 “PAYMENT LEVEL”: SILVER Bronze ** on each side of the enrollment line and 500 reward points consisting of Automatic Shipment orders and/or Builder Pack along the enrollment line on each side of their business. Maximum payment per participation fee: Up to US$ 200
33. Lastly, to earn the “
 Platinum Club Bonus
” the brand partner must be active and qualified with an Automatic shipment order of 120 reward points. The Brand Partners must have purchased a Silver Builder or higher pack in the first 60 days after enrollment
10
. 34. A report by the Finance Police, who interviewed some of the network associates who earned the highest incomes documents the existence of a bonus called “frenzy bonus”. The interviewee stated that “
each associate has two sales lines, the right and the left. When one line accumulates at least 180 points and the other at least 360 points, a "volume cycle" is generated producing a credit of approximately
!
 15.  Income may also come from the so-called momentum bonuses and frenzy bonuses. The former, which may  generate an income ranging from 75 to 225 euro, depending on the role one has in the network, is  produced by the accumulation of at least 500 points per line over a one month period defined by Vemma. To earn the “frenzy bonus”, instead, one has to enroll three associates in a week, and is paid as a  proportion of the latter's purchases; this bonus can vary from 150 to 30 euro [sic]. Compensation is paid by bank wire transfer from abroad
” (doc. 30, Exh. 8). 35. Additional requirements to access the commissions and bonuses set out in the Plan limit the amounts earned, and in any case result in their being not directly linked to the total sales volumes generated by associates, directly or indirectly (through their sponsored participants).
".
 
Brand Partners must achieve the Diamond "Payment Level" or higher and have a "Brand Partner paid as Gold" on each side of the enrollment line and 500 reward points consisting of Automatic Shipment orders and/or Builder Pack along the enrollment line on each side of their business, in a four week advancement period. Once the Brand Partners are eligible for the Platinum Club, they may receive the bonus every time they meet the requirements during the four week rank advancement.
 
   
   
28 NEWSLETTER No.10 OF MARCH 10, 2014
d) Vemma products
36. The manufacturer has produced all the dietary supplements distributed in the Italian market. All the supplements (Bode Burn, Bode E-cleans, Mangosteen Plus, Vemma Premium, Verve) are registered in the Ministry of Health's Register of Dietary Supplements. No health claim is contained in the labels. 37. In promotional materials acquired during the proceeding, some Vemma supplements were  promoted claiming specifically their outstanding efficacy as antioxidants. 38. In view of the manufacturer's promotional messages boasting the health benefits of Vemma supplements, which are emphatically presented with expressions like “
arguably the most  powerful antioxidant liquid
” or “
discovering the perfect supplement

11
, the products' characteristics have been examined. 39. The descriptions of product properties provided by Vemma in regard to vitamins and minerals seem to comply with the provisions of EU Regulation no. 432 of May 16, 2012 (Claims).
iii) The manufacturer's defense arguments
a) On the pyramid nature of the Vemma network
40. Vemma pointed out that: a) preliminarily, it does not recognize the role of consumer to the sales associates who join the Vemma network. The manufacturer - on the basis of the tax treatment applied, which benefits from reliefs and “[…]
is related to commercial intermediation operations
” and stating that an associate is comparable to a “
 franchisee
” - maintains that “[…]
associates are financially independent from the principal company, are organizationally autonomous and conduct their business assuming all business risks
”;  b) that a pyramid scheme exists if an associate earns on average more commissions "...
 from other consumers joining the network
" than from the "...
 sale or consumption of products
”, and that Article 5, paragraph 1 of Law no. 173/05 makes no distinction between direct and indirect sales; c) the so-called “fast start bonus” is not applicable in some European countries (including Italy), therefore the charge concerning the existence of a bonus payable immediately upon enrollment of a new associate is groundless. d)
“The possible presence of incremental payments to associates linked to the forming of a team, and therefore to the involvement of other persons in the sales organization, certainly does not prove the prevalence of enrollment of new associates over the primary goal, which remains the generation of revenues from sales of products
.
[..] we do not believe that the presence of individual incentives to enrollment may of itself qualify the sales network as a pyramid scheme. [..] the network is not a pyramid scheme in that it does not reward mere enrollment in the absence of product sales”
12
. In fact, “No compensation is paid for the enrollment of new associates, on the contrary, all compensation is linked to sales of products, in a spirit of
""
 
See doc. 9, Exh. 11.
 
"#
 
See doc. 9, paragraph 3.
 
 
   
 NEWSLETTER No. 10 OF MARCH 10, 2014 29
 paying higher compensation to associates who demonstrate the ability to sell, directly or indirectly,  greater volumes of products”
13
.
e)
“Autoship is an organizational mechanism the purpose of which is certainly not to impose anything, least of all the obligation to make periodic purchases. As such, the automatic shipment mechanism (autoship) is simply an order submission method and is neither mandatory nor irrevocable, as it may be canceled at any time”
14
.
In this regard the manufacturer specified that
“Joining the Vemma sales network does not entail any obligation to buy […] Besides not requesting any payment at the time of registration, Vemma does not require the associates to purchase any promotional package to acquire the role of sales associate”
15
 
and that
“At the time of enrollment, no incentive exists - in law or in fact - for the new associate to make any purchases”
16
.
This is allegedly demonstrated by the percentage of associates who, at the time of joining, bought one of the Silver or Gold packs (equal to 22% in the second half of 2012 and the first ten months of 2013)
“Until positive evidence exists that the associates are mainly compensated (meaning in a proportion of 50% + 1 of the bonuses and/or compensation actually received) on the exclusive basis of enrollment activities, in our opinion the compensation system is not to be censured in any manner”
17
. “The possible presence of incremental payments to associates linked to the forming of a team, but in any case linked (as in the case at hand) to sales revenues generated by the new associates certainly does not  prove the prevalence of enrollment of new associates over the primary goal, which remains the  generation of revenues from sales of products. [..] the network is not a pyramid scheme in that it does not reward mere enrollment in the absence of product sales”
18
.
b) On the health properties of the products
41. In regard to the messages that have been censured, the manufacturer points out that the properties attributed to the products correspond to the actual properties of said products. The descriptions of product  properties provided by Vemma in regard to vitamins and minerals comply with the provisions of EU Regulation no. 432 of May 16, 2012 (Claims). 42. For the food products under comparison, the nutritional element values were derived from the database of the US Department of Agriculture
19
. Furthermore, with specific reference to the oxygen radical absorbance capacity, the latter was obtained using parameters and values developed by the Research Center of the aforesaid Department and applicable to fruit and vegetables.
c) Proposed changes to the Compensation Plan and to the promotional methods used for Vemma products
43. On July 29, November 26 and December 23, 2013 the manufacturer proposed changes to the adopted distribution model, specifically: a) by making the Compensation Plan even more comprehensible;
"6
 
See doc. 9, paragraph 3.
 
"$
 
See doc. 34, paragraph 6.3
 
"7
 
See doc. 34, paragraph 4.7
 
"8
 
See doc. 34, paragraph 4.9
 
"9
 
See doc. 34, paragraph 5.2.
 
":
 
See doc. 34, paragraph 6.1
 
";
 
See doc. 9, paragraph 4.
 
 
   
30
 NEWSLETTER No.10 OF MARCH 10, 2014
 
 b) by introducing a bonus called “retail bonus”, which will be clearly described in the new compensation plan as one of the main tools for generating revenues. This bonus will allow the Brand Partners to receive 5 to 40 euro in commissions on each order. The commission will be equal to the difference between Vemma products wholesale price (the “brand partner price”) and the recommended price to end consumers (“
recommended retail price
”). Within this framework, the brand partner invoices and receives payment for the product from the end consumer, acting as a professional distributor rather than as a sales associate. In essence, this  bonus is compensation for intermediation of sales (those intermediated directly by the associate) and does not require the creation of any sales network for the associate to receive it
20
; c) the so-called momentum bonus, which required sales volumes to be generated through the autoship mechanism or through the purchase of builder packs, is now awarded taking into account the volumes and the respective revenues generated by sales to consumers
21
; d) by removing the “Platinum Club bonus” (which required the purchase of a builder pack), thus eliminating the incentive to buy builder packs; e) the bonuses known as “enroller matching bonus” and “second tier matching bonus”, which required the presence of 4 and 6 associates, respectively, in the enroller's downline, are replaced  by a single bonus (the “Team Bonus”), organized on two tiers, which requires a simple structure consisting of 2 to 4 associates in the downline; f) the bonus known as “Cycle bonus”, which required the enrollment of at least two associates in the downline, can be obtained simply by intermediating sales without being required to enroll any associates; g) changes to the internal procedures for the enrollment of new associates; enrollment can be completed free of charge and without the need to submit any initial order; h) removal of the mechanism called “
autoship
”. In order to remain active in the network, it will no longer be necessary to submit an autoship order (periodic product order) or a wholesale order. The associates will also have the possibility of using direct sales to their customers to remain active in the network, even without making personal purchases; i) the autoship mechanism has been eliminated altogether, both at the time of enrollment and as a method for activating associates into the sales system (for participation in the Compensation Plan), and as a requirement to receive any kind of bonus
22
; l) Vemma will give even more visibility, at the time of enrollment of new associates, to their right to cancel orders or return the products within 30 days, thus exercising their unquestionable right of withdrawal. The enrollment procedure will not take place unless the associate has read and understood Vemma's return and withdrawal policies; m) Vemma undertakes to strengthen control over the advertising of its products by unauthorized parties, and to establish specific, stricter measures in case of violation of the  provisions prohibiting misleading advertisements or those contained in the Consumer Code; n) a prospective associate will not be asked to sign the participation form without having carefully read and understood the Compensation Plan and the “Policies and Procedures” document, which expressly prohibits even mere emphasis on the earning opportunities involved
#.
 
See docs. 16 and 28
 
#"
 
See doc. 28
 
##
 
See doc. 28
 
 
   
 NEWSLETTER No. 10 OF MARCH 10, 2014 31
in participation on the Vemma network, so as to avoid creating expectations beyond what can reasonably  be earned on the basis of the Compensation Plan
23
. 44. Lastly, in regard to the promotional aspects, the manufacturer shall automatically terminate the agreement with the associate if the latter carries out advertising activities of whatever nature without the company's consent
24
.
IV. OPINION OF THE COMMUNICATIONS REGULATORY AUTHORITY (AUTORITÀ PER LE GARANZIE NELLE COMUNICAZIONI - AGCOM)
45. As the business practice discussed in this ruling has been made known to the public through the press and broadcast media, on December 24, 2013 the Communications Regulatory Authority was requested to express an opinion in accordance with Article 27, paragraph 6 of the Consumer Code. 46. In the opinion submitted on January 23, 2014, the Authority found the business practice under examination to be unfair pursuant to Articles 20, 21, paragraph 1, letters
b)
and
c
), and 23, letters
 p)
and
 s
), of the Consumer Code, on the basis of the following considerations:
a)

based on ruling no. 20123 issued by the Competition and Markets Authority on July 22, 2009, "Waste  Disposer", the rationale of article 23, letter p), which establishes that any pyramid promotional scheme is deceitful, is - among other - (see paragraph 45) "to prevent the excessive expansion of distribution  systems based on the progressive widening of the base of enrolled persons, detrimental to those who have invested in the pyramid once the chain expands exponentially
";
b)

even assuming that Vemma associates cannot be defined as "consumers", they would then meet the definition of "microenterprises" under article 18, letter d bis) of the Consumer Code
”;
c)
additionally, “
an average consumer would be induced to establish an improper relationship between constant consumption of the drinks and significant effects for the prevention of premature aging and weakening of the immune system
, whereas no particular health properties have been demonstrated by scientific evidence, and “
the information provided by the manufacturer in its commercial communications is unsuitable to inform the public on the actual characteristics of the product”.
V. FINAL CONSIDERATIONS
 Introduction: Pyramid sales schemes
47. Law no. 173 of 2005, “Direct home selling and protection of consumers from pyramid sales schemes”, regulates the so-called “multilevel sales programs”, or direct home selling. In these systems, the participants are given the possibility not only of intermediating sales for a given company, but also of enrolling other people into the network, sponsoring them as new associates. The compensation received  by each associate is directly linked to the sales he/she generates as well as to the sales volumes generated  by the associates he/she sponsored, and these programs never impose
25
 any constraints or prescriptions concerning the sales volumes that
#6
 
See doc. 34, paragraph 11.2.
 
#$
 
See doc. 34, paragraph 11.4.
 
#7
 
See among others the ruling issued by AGCM, no. 22299/2011, PS 6425 Xango.
 
 
   
32 NEWSLETTER No.10 OF MARCH 10, 2014
must be achieved by the associate, together with his/her sponsored associates or otherwise, in a given time period. 48. By contrast, pyramid sales schemes - while sharing with multilevel schemes the structure that governs the intermediation of direct sales, are actually illegal, i.e. they are “sales organizations” where the primary economic incentive of the participant in the organization is  based on the mere enrollment of new associates, rather than on their ability to sell or promote the sale of goods or services, directly or through other members of the organization”
26
, and as such are strictly prohibited
27
. The Consumer Code, in article 23, paragraph 1, letter
 p
), also defines as unfair the conduct of a business organization that starts, manages or promotes “
a  pyramid promotional scheme where consumers provide a contribution in exchange for the  possibility of receiving payment mainly from the enrollment of other consumers into the  scheme, rather than from the sale or consumption of products

28
. 49. In particular, in pyramid sales schemes the sponsor's income does not depend only on the total sales volumes generated together with the associates he/she sponsors, (to which, moreover, they are not directly linked
29
) but results mainly by the enrollment of other persons in the sales or promotional network, this being the primary aspect of this scheme, which determines the earnings level that will be recognized to sponsor. The mechanisms for the calculation of compensation, commissions and/or bonuses are extremely diversified, and the same can be said of the system for cashing the amounts that will then be returned as compensation (commissions) to the sponsors: in general, high participation fees are requested for this purpose from persons  joining the sales network, and/or mandatory purchases of the products and/or services to be  promoted or sold. Additionally, limitations are imposed on the payment of compensations through clauses introducing obligations relating to the specific characteristics of the organization formed by the sponsored associates: such characteristics must be achieved and maintained for a certain period of time, and/or requirements are set in connection with the associates' qualifications, and/or with the sales volumes to be achieved. 50. In other words, while a company that operates through multilevel direct selling pays its agents or sales representatives commissions that are always directly linked to the value or quantity of goods or services sold directly or through other associates that the agent/representative was able to enroll in the network, in a pyramid sales scheme the product or service to be sold becomes secondary, simply providing the pretext and opportunity to enroll other consumers to participate in the pyramid by making personal orders (purchases), thus artificially enabling the scheme to feed on itself. For this reason, newly enrolled sales representatives, as soon as they join the pyramid scheme, will pursue the primary objective to find other representatives and have them pay for the right
#8
 
Article 5, paragraph 1, Law no. 173 of August 17, 2005.
 
#9
 
 Non-compliance with this prohibition is severely punished: under Article 7 of the above referenced law, anyone who starts or participates in pyramid sales schemes is punished with imprisonment from 6 months to one year or with a fine from
 !
 100,000 to
 !
 600,000.]
 
#:
 
Article 5 of the Code's final provision provides that “… Articles 5, paragraph 1, and 7 of Law no. 173 of August 17, 2005, n. 173, regulating direct home selling and the protection of consumers from pyramid sales schemes, are repealed in the part concerning pyramid sales schemes between consumers and business organizations as defined in Article 23,  paragraph 1, letter p) of Legislative Decree no. 206 of September 6, 2005 (Consumer Code), where it envisages a possible contribution by a consumer as defined in article 18, paragraph 1, letter a), of said Code. The above mentioned articles 5,  paragraph 1, and 7 shall therefore remain applicable to pyramid promotional schemes involving any individual or entity acting within the framework of their business, industrial, craft or professional activity”.
 
#;
 
Whereas in multilevel schemes even a single unit of product sold entitles to compensation, pyramid schemes impose minimum volumes to be sold personally and/or as a group (together with the sponsored associates), and no compensation is paid unless these volumes are achieved.
 
 
   
 NEWSLETTER No. 10 OF MARCH 10, 2014 33
to join or remain within the pyramid; the latter in turn will seek others, and so on. 51. The rationale underlying the regulation is to prevent the spreading of systems aimed not so much at selling goods or services, as at gaining economic benefits linked mainly to the progressive expansion of the associate base, through the deceitful representation of easy earnings
30
. Those who last joined the  pyramid scheme will only be able to earn the promised amounts - in some cases, to recover what they  paid for participation - if a high number of participants join and make sales
31
, while there is a strong risk that the chain will break and that the new associates will never obtain any actual economic benefit
32
. 52. This possibility – the likelihood of which depends among other factors on the type and nature of the requirements set out in the compensation plans – is of course omitted at the time of enrolling new associates, to whom on the contrary the possible earnings are represented as immediate and rather significant, also through participation in meetings or events where the allegedly outstanding properties (e.g. health benefits) of the supplements are emphatically boasted.
i) On Vemma associates meeting the definition of consumers
53. Preliminarily, it should be noted that both in multilevel sales networks and in their degeneration, represented by pyramid schemes, what matters is not so much the formal title of the participants, i.e. sales associates, but rather the substantial fact of the activity they carry out, which normally ends up being an occasional activity. In the case of Vemma, according to the data provided by the manufacturer, only
[omissis]
of the associates have a VAT number, while all the others are occasional associates; moreover, only an extremely small number of associates received six-monthly commissions of more than
 !
 1,000. 54. It should be added that, particularly in pyramid schemes, at the time of enrollment the new  participants are subject to obligations and solicitations to buy products: these aspects undoubtedly qualify these individuals as consumers rather than professionals who carry out sales activities. 55. Further confirmation of this is provided, in the Vemma scheme, both by the small number of orders submitted by the associates (less than a quarter of the associates made at least one order) and by the implementation of the autoship mechanism, involving a considerable number of these orders. On the basis of the information provided by the Party, during the period from September 2012 and June 2013, the manufacturer's revenues were generated mainly by autoship sales, and to a much lesser extent by other sales (the former amounting to
[omissis]
, while the latter amount to
[omissis]
euro). In this case, the associate does not intermediate any sale to a third party external to the schema, but buys for him/herself, unless one is willing to assume that the purchased supplements may have been sold by the associates to others "on a retail basis". 56. Lastly, the same regulation referred to above (Law no. 173/2005), in defining the role of sales associates of individuals operating as part of a
6.
 
See ruling no. 19163 of November 20, 2008, PS121 – Telme telephone systems with VSIM-NGR, in Newsletter no. 44/08
 
6"
 
Thus, the result in most cases is a purchase network rather than a sales network, where the buyers, however, are the associates/consumers themselves.
 
6#
 
Indeed, in general only a very small number (a few dozens) of associates with high sales qualifications receive compensation of some significance (a few tens of thousands of euro per year), even for sales networks consisting of several tens of thousands of participants.
 
 
   
34 NEWSLETTER No.10 OF MARCH 10, 2014
“multilevel marketing” scheme, identified the elements that characterize a sales organization as a pyramid scheme, going beyond the formal aspect related to the sales associate's role.
ii) On the pyramid nature of the Vemma network
57. Before analyzing the nature of the Vemma network, it should be noted that, in the documents presenting the Vemma network and specifically in the Compensation Plan distributed to consumers who are about to join, the earning opportunities are extensively emphasized (e.g.: “
 possible total earnings: US$ 414,100
” or “
we have a strategic plan that will make you earn $ 500, $ 5,000 or even $ 50,000 per month
!” “
 If you are ready to make your  financial dreams come true without limits, now is the perfect time to become a Vemma Brand  Partner. Simply choose a Builder Pack to maximize your opportunities. As you will see, this  small investment in your business is nothing compared to the potential income that this opportunity offers
.”
33
, while on the other hand the same completeness and/or clarity is not found in regard to the mechanisms for the calculation of compensation for each type of commission or bonus. 58. What emerges very clearly, instead, is that the network for the marketing and sale of Vemma supplements is structured according to rules that appear to be mainly aimed at acquiring new consumers within a complex compensation system. In particular, the presence of the so-called Builder Packs and of the periodic and automatic purchase order is undoubtedly anomalous in a multilevel sales network, whereas they constitute - as set out in the introduction - the typical elements of a pyramid system, in which the purpose of the manufacturer or  business organization is to receive a significant contribution from consumers, both initially and in the form of subsequent purchases. Indeed, it is only through these enrollment methods that associates are able to benefit, to different extents, from all the commissions set out in the CP. In particular, the purchase of autoship products is a requirement in order to be considered active, and therefore to be able to benefit from the different bonuses set out in the CP, which represent the real attraction for the new associates. Thus, it is clear that the purpose of the scheme is not to create a multilevel sales network, but a purchase network with consumers fictitiously enrolled as sales associates
34
. 59. To appreciate the relevance of these aspects, it is enough to recall that in the period from September 2012 to June 2013, approximately 20% of the total income generated from product sales was obtained from the sale of the so-called Builder Packs, and over 60% was generated from autoship sales.
 
During the same period, only about 16% of the income was generated from the sale of products to third parties. It is evident, therefore, that “personal” orders or purchases of Builder Pack products, as well as subsequent ("autoship") purchases by associates play an absolutely predominant role in the scheme under examination. 60. Additionally, to recover the sums initially paid the associates need to sponsor other associates to join the network; specifically, the recovery occurs through payment of the compensation called “
 Enroller matching bonus
” (whereby the enroller receives 10% of all the cycle bonus amounts earned by the associates he/she personally enrolled) and of the “
 second tier matching bonus
” (equal to
66
 
See doc. 12, page 14.
 
6$
 
This aspect confirms the anomalous nature of the Vemma sales network, making it more similar to a purchase network where the associates/consumers are primarily required to buy the manufacturer's products in order to remain within the scheme and earn indirect commissions.
 
 
   
 NEWSLETTER No. 10 OF MARCH 10, 2014 35
 
10% of all the cycle bonus amounts earned by the associates in turn enrolled by those whom the enroller enrolled personally). Based on this mechanism, the associate is induced, firstly, to enroll new consumers, also to recover the sum initially paid. 61. A particularly important element, for the purpose of determining that the Vemma network is in fact a  pyramid scheme, is the requirements for earning the commissions/bonuses on the sales generated by the organization to which the associate belongs, as well as the presence of certain specific qualitative requirements of the sales organization and of the individual associate. While the mechanisms for commission calculation are characterized by a high level of complexity and confusion, it appears clear that the Compensation Plan involves the obligation of submitting monthly personal orders. Under the CP, the associates are under the obligation to produce monthly orders, and subsequently for a minimum amount, in order to participate in the distribution of the compensation and maintain the rank achieved. 62. It should also be noted that, in the Vemma network, the sales commissions provided by the CP are not granted in direct proportion to the total volume of generated sales, but only on a subset of the latter. In particular, the volume calculation mechanism, based on only one of the created downlines, excludes sales for a volume amount equal to that generated by a single line. 63. In this regard it should be noted that, out of all the associates, only
[less than 50]
received (in the second half of 2012) six-monthly commission of any significance (2,000 to 5,000 euro) and
[less than 50]
received higher compensation amounts (more than 5,000 euro), while all the other associates received rather low if not paltry compensation; only 24% of the associates had a VAT number during that period. 64. Conversely, no relevance is to be attributed to the statement contained in the Party's defense brief of July 3, 2013 according to which it is possible for the associates, under Section 13 of the Distribution Agreement, to return the products through the Customer Service, as this action takes place after the effects of the mechanism (sponsoring the participation of other associates in the network) are already underway, and in any case the loss in product value (even if less than 10%) in case of return, combined with the onerous administrative procedures, undoubtedly act as a deterrent for returns to occur with any appreciable frequency. 65. In summary, the contested conducts were: the fact of setting up a sales network with the characteristics of a pyramid scheme, where the manufacturer makes a profit mainly from the enrollment of associates and the purchases of product made directly by the latter, and where the associates'  promotional effort is aimed at constantly enrolling new associates and creating a purchase network (with  purchases made by the participants themselves), rather than generating product sales. 66. Conversely, the changes introduced by Vemma in the Compensation Plan, described on July 29,  November 26 and December 23, 2013 shall not be examined in this ruling. The reason is, on the one hand, that these measures cannot be accepted as commitments, considering the seriousness of the business  practice under examination and the Authority's interest in investigating the matter. On the other hand the  proposed measures, while they certainly address some of the more questionable aspects of the CP (elimination of the mandatory monthly orders and need for any type of purchase to be enrolled in the network; changes to some of the bonuses), still maintain certain elements of the old scheme - specifically, the calculation method, which considers the so-called “short leg” - and introduce new ones - e.g., the so-called “team bonus”, which still requires, in order for
 
   
36
 NEWSLETTER No.10 OF MARCH 10, 2014
the associate to receive it, the presence in the latter's downline of a certain number of other associates. These changes require a new, complex review of the scheme, which is not part of the investigation into the subject conducts.
iii) On the nature and the health properties of the product
67. A synergistic role in enhancing the effectiveness of this pyramid scheme is generally the misleading representation of the supplements, so as to make them more attractive by attributing to them properties they do not possess. 68. In regard to the content of the health indications, however, it should be noted that the claims used are in line with the recent list contained in EC Regulation no. 432/2012; therefore, with respect to these provisions, the business practice adopted by Vemma, as set out in section II of this ruling, does not appear to constitute a violation.
VI. AMOUNT OF THE SANCTION
69. Pursuant to article 27, paragraph 9, of the Consumer Code, in issuing the ruling that prohibits the unfair business practice the Authority may provide for the application of an administrative sanction of
 !
 5,000 to
 !
 500,000, taking into account the seriousness and duration of the violation. 70. In regard to the amount of the sanction, the Authority should keep in mind, to the extent they are applicable, the criteria set out in article 11, Law no. 689/81, as referred to in article 27, paragraph 13, of the Consumer Code, and in particular: the seriousness of the violation, the efforts made by the company to eliminate or mitigate the violation, the personality of the agent, and the financial conditions of the company. 71. As to the seriousness of the practice, factors to be considered are the importance and size of the manufacturers, which in the case at hand is a company with large sales revenues, known in the specific sector as a company operating in some EU countries and in the United States, where the parent company Vemma Nutrition
has its place of business.
27. The seriousness of the violation is also determined on the basis of the widespread nature of the practice, which involved a high number of consumers, approximately
[1,000-5,000
], and of the particular nature of the violations, i.e. the adoption of a  pyramid distribution scheme. 73. In regard to the duration of the violation, according to the available information the business practice was first adopted in early 2011, also through the use of  promotional materials dedicated to the products, and is still ongoing. 74. Based on these considerations, this Authority deems it appropriate to determine the amount of the administrative sanction applicable to the company Vemma Italia S.r.l. to be
 !
 100,000 (one hundred thousand euro). DEEMING, therefore, on the basis of the considerations set out above, that the  business practice under examination is unfair because the complex system for the marketing and sales of products has the nature of a pyramid scheme, in violation of articles 20, 21 paragraph 1, letters
b)
and
c
), and 23, letter
 p
), of the Consumer Code;
RESOLVES
a) that the business practice described in section II of this ruling, implemented by the company Vemma Italia S.r.l., constitutes, for the reasons and within the limits set out in the Grounds of the Ruling, an
 
   
 NEWSLETTER No. 10 OF MARCH 10, 2014 37
unfair business practice pursuant to Articles 20, 21, paragraph 1, letters
b)
 and
c)
, and 23, letter
 p)
 of the Consumer Code, and prohibits its spreading or continuation;  b) to apply to Vemma Italia S.r.l. an administrative pecuniary sanction of
 !
 100,000 (one hundred thousand); c) that the manufacturer shall be required to communicate to the Authority, within sixty days after being served this ruling, the actions it has taken in compliance with the caution under  paragraph a) above. The administrative sanction set out in paragraph b) above shall be paid within thirty days after  being served this ruling, using the attached Form F24 with identification information, in accordance with Legislative Decree no. 241/1997. The form can be submitted in paper format to any bank, Poste Italiane S.p.A. office, or Tax Collection Agent. Alternatively, the form can  be submitted online and the amount be debited to the company's bank or postal account, through the home-banking and CBI services made available by banks or Poste Italiane S.p.A., or using the online services of Agenzia delle Entrate (Internal Revenue Agency), available at
www.agenziaentrate.gov.it
. Pursuant to article 37, paragraph 49, of Law Decree no. 223/2006, individuals and entities having a VAT number are required to submit the F24 form through online channels. After the period specified above expires, if the delay is less than six months, interest on late  payment shall apply, according to legal rate, from the date following expiry of the payment  period to the date of payment. If payment is further delayed, pursuant to article 27, paragraph 6, of Law no. 689/81, the sanction amount shall be increased by one tenth every six months, from the day after expiry of the payment period to that on which the roll is transmitted to the tax collection concessionaire; in this case, the increase absorbs interest on delayed payment accrued in the same period. Once payment is made, notice of it must be immediately given to the Authority by transmitting a copy of the form documenting payment. Pursuant to article 27, paragraph 12, of the Consumer Code, in case of non-compliance with this resolution the Authority shall apply an administrative pecuniary sanction of
 !
 10,000 to
 !
 150,000. In case of continued non-compliance, the Authority may order the suspension of the company's business activity for a period not exceeding thirty days. This ruling shall be notified to the parties concerned and published in the Newsletter of the Competition and Markets Authority in consideration of the nature of the unlawful conduct and to ensure that the public is duly informed of its institutional activity.
 
   
 38
 
 NEWSLETTER No.10 OF MARCH 10, 2014
The Party may file an appeal against this ruling with the Lazio Regional Administrative Court (TAR), in accordance with article 135, paragraph 1, letter
b
), of the Code of Administrative Proceeding (Legislative Decree no 104 of July 2, 2010), within sixty days after notification of this ruling, unless a longer period is granted under article 41, paragraph 5, of the Code of Administrative Proceeding, or may submit an extraordinary appeal to the President of the Republic in accordance with article 8 of Presidential Decree no. 1199 of November 24, 1971, within one hundred and twenty days after notification of the ruling. THE SECRETARY GENERAL THE PRESIDENT
 Roberto Chieppa Giovanni Pitruzzella  __________________________________________________________________
 

 93 
 on: September 07, 2014, 06:59:49 AM 
Started by Piccolo - Last post by Ayuvo
https://www.truthinadvertising.org/vemma-deemed-pyramid-scheme-italy/

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Published on April 24th, 2014
0
Vemma Deemed Pyramid Scheme in Italy

STORY HIGHLIGHTS

• Vemma deemed pyramid scheme in Italy

• Company makes changes

• TINA.org analysis shows not much new

• Full translation of Italian decision

An Italian watchdog authority has ruled that Vemma operates an illegal pyramid scheme and prohibited the supplement company from spreading or continuing its unfair business practices in Italy.

The investigation by Italy’s Competition and Markets Authority (AGCM), which sanctioned Vemma €100,000 (roughly $140,000), began in June 2013 after two consumers complained about the Arizona-based company’s marketing and sales practices. During the investigation, Vemma proposed changes to its Italian compensation structure. It also announced changes in its U.S. structure. But a TINA.org analysis has found that the changes to the U.S. compensation plan do not make the plan significantly different from the one Italian regulators found to be a pyramid scheme.

Vemma Nutrition Company CEO Benson K. Boreyko said the company is appealing the Italian decision. In an email to TINA.org Boreyko said:

First and foremost, we strongly disagree with their conclusions. Our business model does not breach the Italian consumers’ protection law and doesn’t bear resemblance to a pyramid scheme. We continue to operate our business in Italy and have appealed their decision. Our European legal team is very confident that the Antitrust Authority’s decision will be overturned.

During the proceedings Vemma was given a full opportunity to defend itself – participating in an October 2013 hearing and submitting a defense brief in December 2013. Its primary argument was:

the network is not a pyramid scheme in that it does not reward mere enrollment in the absence of product sales. … No compensation is paid for the enrollment of new associates, on the contrary, all compensation is linked to sales of products, in a spirit of paying higher compensation to associates who demonstrate the ability to sell, directly or indirectly, greater volumes of products.

Rejecting Vemma’s arguments, the AGCM said:

in a pyramid sales scheme the product . . . to be sold becomes secondary, simply providing the pretext and opportunity to enroll other consumers to participate in the pyramid by making . . . (purchases), thus artificially enabling the scheme to feed itself.  For this reason, newly enrolled sales representatives, as soon as they join the pyramid scheme, will pursue the primary objective to find other representatives and have them pay for the right to join or remain within the pyramid; the latter in turn will seek others, and so on… Those who last joined the pyramid scheme will only be able to earn the promised amounts . . . if a high number of participants join and make sales, while there is a strong risk that the chain will break and that the new associates will never obtain any actual economic benefit.

Show me the data

In determining that Vemma is a pyramid scheme, the AGCM analyzed data from Vemma’s Italian operations for the period September 2012 to June 2013. While the AGCM didn’t divulge all the data because of confidentiality considerations, it revealed that it found:
Only 27% of associates were eligible for bonuses by regularly ordering products from Vemma.
Fewer than 100 individuals on average generated six-month sales commissions higher than €1,000 (about $1,300 in June 2013), while nearly all the other associates received quite low or even paltry compensation.
A significant portion of the orders consisted of purchases made by associates themselves, presumably for their own consumption, which in the network are known as “autoship” sales.
Approximately 20% of the total income generated from product sales was obtained from the sale of expensive Vemma packages called “Builder Packs” that cost €599 or €999 (about $700 to $1,300 in June 2013), and over 60% was generated from autoship sales.
Only about 16% of the income was generated from the sale of products to third parties.
Only 24% of associates had a VAT number, which would enable them to sell products to third parties.

Vemma reacts

Clearly sensing that its business structure could be determined fundamentally flawed, Vemma proposed on July 29, November 26 and December 23, 2013 radical changes in Italy to its compensation plan. Specifically, Vemma proposed 10 changes to appease the AGCM. Most notably, the company proposed:
A “retail bonus’’ as one of the main tools for generating revenues. The bonus was to be equal to the difference between the wholesale price of Vemma products and the recommended retail price to end consumers. This bonus would not have required the creation of any sales network for the associate to receive it.
Eliminating its “Platinum Club” bonus, which require consumers to buy the very expensive Builder Packs.
Replacing two of its bonuses that require enrolling four to six individuals into the Vemma program with a single “Team Bonus” that would require enrolling two to four associates into the program.
Ending the requirement that associates must enroll two associates into Vemma to qualify for a “Cycle Bonus.”
Removing the requirement for a monthly autoship order for associates.

While the AGCM chose not to consider the proposed changes because it found them speculative, it did go on to say that these changes would address some of the more questionable aspects of Vemma’s compensation plan but would not alleviate all the problems with the plan.

Health claims fuel scheme

In addition to analyzing Vemma’s business structure, the AGCM also considered the legality of the health claims made by the company and its role in the pyramid scheme. While saying the health claims didn’t violate the law, the AGCM found that the claims played into the pyramid scheme. It said:

A synergistic role in enhancing the effectiveness of Vemma’s pyramid scheme is generally the misleading representation of the supplements, so as to make them more attractive by attributing to them properties they do not possess…

Vemma 2.0

Twenty days after the AGCM’s decision was made public, Vemma issued a new compensation plan in the U.S., Puerto Rico, and Canada. This plan, which became effective April 1, did not contain the vast majority of the changes that Vemma proposed in Italy to the AGCM. The New York Post said Boreyko told the paper it was changing its business practices to get ahead of any possible fallout from the FTC’s investigation into Herbalife, a supplement company under scrutiny as a pyramid scheme.

In an April 1 press release, Boreyko said:

If your goal is to become a household brand, it only makes sense to make a few more necessary operational and compensation plan changes to complete the move. To be more like Amazon.com and less like Amway.

The company also signaled that changes were going to be rolled out in other counties in coming months as well.

Breaking down the plan

But a TINA.org analysis has found that Vemma’s compensation plan really hasn’t changed at all. In fact, Boreyko said that himself in video blogs on at least two occasions in November 2013:

Our compensation plan is going to stay the same. It’s an amazing compensation plan. The way we do business is going to stay the same but the way we describe how we do business . . . [will change].

Like I said before, the way we pay is not going to change, our compensation is not going to change . . .

And in January the company again said:

Vemma’s Compensation Plan won’t change; we’ll just describe it differently in updated terms to better explain how we do business.

So while Vemma may have done some wordsmithing with regard to its U.S. plan, the fact remains that monetary success is still dependent upon enrolling new participants into the program. This isn’t to say that there weren’t certain tweaks made in an attempt to provide cover for pyramid allegations but an analysis of the “new” plan shows the futility of this endeavor.

Here are two major changes and what they mean:
Auto-Delivery: Mandatory monthly auto-delivery was eliminated as a requirement for many Vemma bonuses and commissions, perhaps to dispel the appearance of inventory loading, a key component of pyramid schemes. However, mandatory monthly purchase requirements are still required, and auto-delivery is still explicitly required for some programs and bonuses. As a practical matter, all Vemma affiliates are still required to sign up for auto-delivery.  As Boreyko said in a March video: “It is important that everybody understand that you need to have an auto-delivery on file…  [T]hat auto-delivery – it’s important that you have it on file because it tells us the important information about what products that you are going to be able to earn for free and also make sure that you are qualified for affiliate bonuses.”
Qualifying for Compensation: In order to make money with Vemma, you must obtain about $150 worth of product every month and personally enroll two individuals, who obtain a minimum of about $75 worth of product every month. According to the new plan, affiliates can earn half the value from customer purchases and put this toward their monthly purchase requirements.  For example, an affiliate would need four customers buying about $75 worth of Vemma products each and every month in order to meet the necessary $150 monthly product purchase. But the data supplied by Vemma in its 2013 U.S. Disclosure Statement showed that on average no affiliate had four personally enrolled customers – rather the average was 2.34 customers per affiliate. As such, it doesn’t seem likely that many Vemma affiliates will be able to meet their monthly mandatory purchase requirements through personally enrolled customer purchases.

Other claimed changes such as ending sign-up fees and/or renewal fees are simply red herrings as Vemma never had sign-up or renewal fees under its old plan.

And here’s what hasn’t changed – in order to be fully eligible for all commissions, bonuses and free product, you still must:
Obtain about $150 worth of product every single month.
Purchase a $500 “Affiliate Pack,” which replaced the silver and gold builder packs. (At Vemma’s recent Las Vegas “All In” convention, Boreyko said that after reviewing what “haters and critics” were saying about the changes, he was rethinking this requirement and that starting June 1 he was going to give affiliates an alternative to purchasing the $500 pack. If an affiliate can sign up six customers who each purchase about $75 worth of Vemma products, they can be fully qualified for all bonuses without having to buy the pack.)
Have an auto-delivery order on file.
Personally enroll at least six individuals who have to acquire about $150 worth of product every single month. To maximize bonus possibilities with your six enrollees, you’d have to
Enroll three individuals who buy a minimum of $150 worth of product in the same week; and
Enroll three individuals who buy a $500 special Vemma pack and enroll with auto-delivery to buy a minimum of $150 worth of product in the same week.
And if you want to earn about $30,000 a year, you’re going to need at least 100 people under you who are also willing to do all of the above. As for making top dollar (as in more than $2 million), TINA.org’s best estimate is that you’d need more than 100,000 people below you.

Truth be told, as a practical matter Vemma’s new compensation plan still suffers from many of the multiple faults that Italy’s AGCM found with the old pyramid plan.

Full translation of Italian decision

Vemma Translation

 

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 94 
 on: September 06, 2014, 09:49:23 PM 
Started by Borodor - Last post by ama
http://www.mh370.at ist im Ring.

http://www.bookbook.at ist seit gestern auch im Antares-Webring.


 95 
 on: September 04, 2014, 08:35:20 PM 
Started by velzan - Last post by velzan
You won't believe your eyes how unscrupulous these guys lie. Call themselves medical doctors, but don't have the slightest clue about pharmacy.

"Homeopaths are qualified doctors and they study as much as allopaths, including subjects like anatomy, physiology, surgery, obstetrics and gynecology. The only thing they don't study is pharmacology, which explains the chemical reactions of the drugs and its prescriptions."

Nail that to the wall. It is impostors.

http://www.drbatras.com/en/corporate/news/2014/an-exclusive-featured-article-by-dr-mukesh-batra.aspx

[*quote*]
News @ Dr. Batra's
16 Jun 2014
‘Homeopathy will become less popular, lose charm’

By Dr Mukesh Batra

I believe it is extremely important to practice what you study. Why would one study homeopathy and then want to practice allopathy? I strongly feel that homeopaths should stick to this pure and natural form of this medicine derived from plants and minerals. It is the most beneficial and affordable form of medicine known to have cured severe chronic ailments.

Homeopaths are qualified doctors and they study as much as allopaths, including subjects like anatomy, physiology, surgery, obstetrics and gynecology. The only thing they don't study is pharmacology, which explains the chemical reactions of the drugs and its prescriptions. Then why opt to practice that forcibly? I am completely against the decision to allow homeopaths to practice allopathy after the one-year course. If this comes into effect, homeopathy will gradually become less popular and lose its charm.

The government argues that the decision is being taken to cater to the shortage of doctors, mainly in the rural areas. Instead, the government should have popularised homeopathy and offered this branch of medicine to the people. Homeopathy is not dependent on diagnostics. Therefore, x-ray machines, CT scans and other such costly equipment are not needed and it is perfect to be practiced in rural areas. It is not only proven that this branch of medicine is effective, but also affordable. By coming up with this 'bridge course', the government has, in fact, complicated things and mixed up two different fields of medicine.

The World Health Organization has acknowledged that homeopathy is the second largest system of medicine across the world. It is also the fastest growing with a 30 per cent increase in homeopathy practice reported every year since last the five years. This system of medicine has seen such growth only because of the safety associated with it. People are now waking up to safe medicine. A majority of cases we deal with are 'drug-related diseases', meaning patients who have suffered due to the side-effects of allopathic drugs. Homeopathy, on the other hand, has none and is thus extremely popular when it comes to treating children.

While there is no denying that we cannot do without modern medicine, the government should encourage other fields of medicine to supplement allopathy. Not only homeopathy, but ayurveda and unani are also known to yield the best of results, and authorities should strengthen the healthcare system by enhancing each field of medicine instead of mixing two varied ones. Also, what is the guarantee that the homeopaths will practice in rural areas after completing the one-year pharmacology course?

http://www.mumbaimirror.com/mumbai/others/Homeopathy-will-become-less-popular-lose-charm/articleshow/36645930.cms
[*/quote*]

 96 
 on: September 04, 2014, 06:06:09 PM 
Started by Borodor - Last post by Thymian
In Walachs Zauberschule ist promoviert und gemastert worden:

http://www.europa-uni.de/de/forschung/institut/institut_intrag/Forschung/Publikationen.html

[*quote*]
Institut für transkulturelle Gesundheitswissenschaften

Publikationen
> Publikationen von Harald Walach - Gesamtliste

> Publikationen von Stefan Schmidt - Gesamtliste


Abgeschlossene Promotionen

Abgeschlossene Promotionen bis Ende Mai 2013:

Dr. med. Natalie Jansen M.A.: "Einfluss der westlichen Ernährung auf die Entstehung und den Verlauf von Tumorerkrankungen. Der Stellenwert von Glucose bei der Tumorentstehung"

Gerd Heinen: "Selbst-Handeln bei Epilepsie: Eine subjektwissenschaftliche Grundlegung einer psychosomatischen Epileptologie"


Liste neuer Masterarbeiten

Folgende Masterarbeiten wurden in den letzten Monaten abgeschlossen:

Andreas Hauptmann: "Die Entmystifizierung der Meditation"

Dr. Barbara Sterner: "Komplementärmedizin in der deutschen Gesundheitspolitik: eine explorative Analyse von Einflussfaktoren gesetzgeberischer Entscheidungen"

Gerhard Probst: "Gemmotherapie - Gesundheitsförderung durch den Einsatz von embryonalem Pflanzengewebe. Einordnung der Methode im Vergleich zur Homöopathie und Phytotherapie"

Dr. med. Ursula Eder: "Homosystemik - Ein neuer therapeutischer Ansatz - Praxisorientierte Kombination von systemischer Aufstellungsarbeit und Homöopathie"

Dr. med. Rainer Hauerwaas: "Vergleich zweier Methoden zur Beurteilung des Heilungsverlaufes anhand der Hering'schen Regeln und der Sechs-Phasen-Tabelle der Homotoxikologie"

Dr. Siddhartha Popat: "Die psychoemotionalen Aspekte der Behandlung von chronischen Schmerzen am Beispiel des unteren HWS-Syndroms"

Nick Dollhausen: "„Vorstellungen von Krankheit und Gesundheit in der chinesischen Strategietechnik Qimen Dunjia  -  奇 門 遁 甲"

Ina Hamann: "Die Integration von Achtsamkeit in die osteopathische Praxis"

Claudia Blomberg: "Beeinflussung erhöhter Triglyceridspiegel  durch eine Eigenblut-Autonosode"

Gabriele Duesmann: "„Die vergessenen Pole. Die nachlassende Bedeutung der Magnetmittel in der Homöopathie von Samuel Hahnemann bis in die Neuzeit"

Beate Thorbeck: "Homöopathische Arzneimittelprüfungen im Wandel der Zeit: Eine vergleichende Analyse an Beispielen von gestern und heute"
[*/quote*]


Wenn das der Deckers wüßte... ! Der würde der Beate Thorbeck ihre "Homöopathische Arzneimittelprüfungen im Wandel der Zeit: Eine vergleichende Analyse an Beispielen von gestern und heute“ ungespitzt in den Boden rammen. In

http://www.ariplex.com/ama/ama_amp.htm

hat Deckers bewiesen, daß es für viele Homöopathika gar keine Arzneimittelprüfung gibt, nicht mal eine einzige, und daß diese Glaubuli trotzdem von den Herstellern verkauft werden. Was sagt die Thorbeck zu dem Betrug durch die Homöopathikahersteller?

Und überhaupt! Von wievielen der Homöopathika wurden in den zwei Jahrhunderten ab Hahnemann die Arzneimittelprüfungen mehr als nur einmal gemacht? Kann man beim Deckers auch nachlesen.

Eine vergleichende Analyse, aber eine echte, die gibts beim Deckers seit Mai 2003 online. Von den Homöopathen bleibt am Schluß nichts übrig. So klein mit Hut macht er die...


Im "Newsletter" des "Instituts" feiert der Bullshit Freudenfeste:

http://intrag.info/newsletter/2014-07/

[*quote*]
Promotionen und Masterarbeiten

Promotionen

Manuela Pietza
"Kontrollierte Studien zur Wirksamkeit der Quantenheilung"



Masterarbeiten

Kristin Mühlberger
"Wasser als Informationsmedium und individuelles Heilmittel. Möglichkeiten und Grenzen für Diagnostik und Therapie aus der Perspektive der Erfahrungsmedizin"


Ellen Schlenker
"Wandel der Phytotherapie von seinen Anfängen bis heute aus sozialpolitischer, ethnomedizinischer, kultureller und topografischer Sicht am Beispiel von Beifuß"

Dr. Ulrich Werner
"Die Bedeutung der sekundären Pflanzenstoffe in der Prävention"

Dr. Jochen Henn
"Messen, Analysieren, Regulieren - Klinische Relevanz eines optimierten Fettsäurestatus durch natürliches Fischöl-/Olivienölgemisch"

Silke Philipp
"Eine Hausarztpraxis in neuem Licht - eine Reflexion über den Einfluss geisteswissenschaftlicher Aspekte in der naturwissenschaftlich orientierten Medizin im Zusammenhang mit der hausärztlichen Tätigkeit"

Christine Weber
"Wie wirkt sich ein individuell in der Apotheke durchgeführtes Ernährungscoaching und die Stoffwechselmessung mittels E-Scan auf das Gewicht und das Wohlbefinden der Teilnehmer/innen aus? Eine Pilot-Beobachtungsstudie"

Dr. med. Christoph O. Hiendl
"Achtsamkeit im Unternehmen - Analyse von Erfolgs- und Misserfolgsfaktoren anhand von 2 Fallbeispielen"

Ronald Käppler
"Achtsamkeitspraxis in der Arbeitswelt von Organisationen und Unternehmen"

Harald Messmer
"Auswirkung einer 6-wöchigen Klangtherapie mittels Körpertambura auf Blutdruck, Herzratenvariabilität sowie psychologische Parameter beim geriatrischen Patienten"
[*/quote*]



Das ist eine Promotion:

Manuela Pietza: "Kontrollierte Studien zur Wirksamkeit der Quantenheilung"

Will will der die Quanten geheilt haben?

Die üblichen Märchen vom Wasser als "Informationsmedium":

Masterarbeiten

Kristin Mühlberger
"Wasser als Informationsmedium und individuelles Heilmittel. Möglichkeiten und Grenzen für Diagnostik und Therapie aus der Perspektive der Erfahrungsmedizin"


Wasser ist kein Informationsmedium!

Wann kommt die erste Doktorarbeit über die Dynamik der fünfdimensionale Struktur der Backenzähne in Abhängigkeit vom Zauberkleid der Zahnfee?


Wieso kommt eine "Universität" immer noch mit solchen Betrug durch? Wo bleibt die akademische Qualitätskontrolle? Warum ist dieser "Lehrstuhl" noch immer nicht beseitigt?

Wie lange darf diese "Universität" noch solche Lügen verbreiten? Die Kommission hat sich ganz klar gegen den Verbleib des Instituts an der Uni ausgesprochen. Wieviel wurde wem bezahlt, damit er die Klappe hält und Walach und Co. mit ihren Märchen auch weiterhin PR für Homöopathie machen können? Darauf läuft es nämlich raus: auf PR für die Hersteller und Heiler.

Alles nur gekauft.

 97 
 on: September 04, 2014, 05:32:32 PM 
Started by Thymian - Last post by Thymian
Die Quelle im WWW gibt es nicht mehr, weil Parsimony die Foren aufgegeben hat. Das Pendel-Stück ist von ariplex gezogen.

Damals gab es das TG-1 noch nicht, sondern hätten wir das hier bestimmt auch ausgehängt.

Die Mutter im Forum der Homöopathin:

http://f25.parsimony.net/forum63595/messages/8772.htm

[*QUOTE*]
Re: viburcol oder Paracetamol? bitte lesen

Geschrieben von Rapunzel am 06. Juli 2005 12:33:49:

Als Antwort auf: Re: viburcol oder Paracetamol? bitte lesen
geschrieben von Pat am 05. Juli 2005 23:06:27:


Hallo Pat,
meinem Buben geht es schon viel besser,er ist fieberfrei,
hat wieder Appetit, es ist nur erschöpft.Ich habe gestern
noch ausgependelt zwischen Aconitum,Viburcol und
Paracetamol, nach dem er Wadenwickel als äusserst unangenehm
empfunden hat und ich gab ihm Viburcol Zäpfchen, weil
erfahrungsgemäss danach die Nacht gut übersteht.
So war es
auch, am Anfang hatte er noch ein wenig wirres Zeug vor sich
geredet, dann schlief er ein, zwar immer noch glühend heiß,
aber ruhig und gegen Morgen ging das Fieber runter auf 37,2.
Wir sind nochmal zu der Ärztin gegangen,sie meinte er ist
auf dem weg der Besserung und es war bestimmt ein
Sommervirus.Er wurde vor drei Wochen von einer Zecke
gebissen und so bestand ein kleiner Verdacht auf Borreliose
(besonders die Schwiegermutter machte Panik deswegen) und
die Ärztin meinte, wir können Blut testen lassen, weil sie
in letzter Zeit mehrere Borreliose Fälle in der Praxis
hatte.Ich kann es mir das eigentlich nicht vorstellen,aber
man weiß es ja nicht.Ich habe nur Schiss vor der Blutabnahme ,
er hat noch nie in seinem Leben was mit einer Nadel zu tun
gehabt und wird bestimmt schlimm für ihn sein.
Vielen Dank für deine Unterstützung, ich fühlte mich dadurch
nicht ganz allein, wenn einem spät abends doch ein wenig
mulmig wird.Mein Mann sagt immer, ich soll auf meinen Bauch
hören,ich tue es auch meistens,aber es ist in solchen
Situationen nicht immer einfach.
Liebe Grüße,
Rapunzel

Antworten:

Re: viburcol oder Paracetamol? bitte lesen Ilse 06.7.2005 14:22 (0)
Homöopathie-Forum
[*/QUOTE*]

Mütter! Verblödet durch Esoteriker. Die Ärzte können verschreiben, was sie wollen, aber die Müttter pendeln in Seelenruhe am Kaffeetisch es aus, was sie den Kindern geben. Den Ärzten sagen sie natürlich nichts. Wozu denn auch!? Wenns nichts wird, sind natürlich die Ärzte an allem schuld. Wie immer.

Hier steht der restliche Kontext von dem Zeug:

http://www.ariplex.com/ama/ama_ho25.htm

[*quote*]
Homöopathie
Wann werden sie auf dem Besen reiten?

07.07.2005

Homöopathie ist eine tödliche Gefahr. Das zeigt sich immer wieder bei der Homöopathin Patricia Nastoll aus Celle.

In diesem Bericht: Schon wieder Forumsbeiträge im Forum von Patricia Nastoll, eine Beratung in ihrem Web-Forum am 5.7.2005:
[...]
[*/quote*]


Wenn sogar ne Volkshochschule schreibt

"Mithilfe des Pendels werden Sie in der Lage sein, Ihre Lebensmittel, Medikamente, Kosmetika und mehr auf Verträglichkeit und biologische Qualität zu testen."

dann muß es ja wahr sein. Die haben se doch nicht mehr alle. Zumachen den Laden, zumachen!

 98 
 on: September 04, 2014, 05:13:58 PM 
Started by Thymian - Last post by Thymian
Dumm, dümmer, Volkshochschule Mainz. Aber echt. Da machen se erst Kurse fürs Pendeln und dann jaulen se, wenn man denen sagt, daß das Betrug ist.

Die Volkshochschule Mainz bietet unter anderem an (mit der expliziten Bezeichnung "Esoterik"):

http://www.vhs-mainz.de/neu/Neue_Wege_Esoterik

[*quote*]
Kurs   Start   Ende   Dozent   Kurs Nr   Preis

1   Pendelpraxis I   08.11.14   22.11.14   Gerhild Schinabeck-Lohnes   U12301   40,00 €
http://www.vhs-mainz.de/neu/U12301

2   Mit der Wünschelrute unterwegs   19.04.15   03.05.15   Manuela Eichwald   U12302   50,00 €

3   Jahresabschiedsritual   19.12.14   19.12.14   Beate Lugner   U12303   16,00 €

4   Tarot - die Grundlagen des Kartenlegens   07.10.14   09.12.14   Johannes Korth   U12304   55,00 €

5   Tarot, ein Weg zur Persönlichkeitsentwicklung   24.02.15   12.05.15   Astrid Schollenberger   U12305   60,00 €

6   Tarot, ein Weg zur Persönlichkeitsentwicklung Workshop   13.06.15   13.06.15   Astrid Schollenberger   U12306   12,00 €
[*/quote*]


Zur "Pendelpraxis" sollt man mal die Ärztekammer herbeizitieren. Steht da doch, daß mit dem Pendeln Medikamente getestet werden können:

http://www.vhs-mainz.de/neu/U12301

[*quote*]
Pendelpraxis IKurs-Nr:    U12301
Ort:    Innenstadt; vhs-Haus; A; 23
Beginn:    Samstag den 08.11.2014, von: 10:30 Uhr bis: 13:00 Uhr
Dauer:    3x 3 UStd.
Dozent:    Gerhild Schinabeck-Lohnes
Kurstage:    08.11.2014, 15.11.2014, 22.11.2014, .... - SA
Entgelt:    40,00 €
Es sind noch ausreichend Plätze verfügbar!

Sie erlernen in diesem Kurs, Ihre bisher unentdeckten und noch nicht entwickelten Fähigkeiten zu aktivieren. Mithilfe des Pendels werden Sie in der Lage sein, Ihre Lebensmittel, Medikamente, Kosmetika und mehr auf Verträglichkeit und biologische Qualität zu testen. Somit beschreiten Sie einen Weg zu mehr Lebensqualität. Ein wichtiger Teil des Lernprogramms ist der Umgang mit Pendeldiagrammen.
Einfache Übungspendel können für 3,00 € im Kurs erworben werden.
[*quote*]


"Mithilfe des Pendels werden Sie in der Lage sein, Ihre Lebensmittel, Medikamente, Kosmetika und mehr auf Verträglichkeit und biologische Qualität zu testen."

Medikamente auf biologische Verträglichkeit prüfen? Ich glaub, mein Schwein pfeift! Nachher pendeln die Tussen aus, ob sie ihren Kindern die vom Arzt verschriebenen Medikamente geben. Haben wir alles schon erlebt.

Das ist tödlicher Irrsinn. Für den gibt die Volkshochschule Mainz Kurse. Natürlich ist das Ganze subventioniert mit Geldern von Stadt, Land und Bund, jede Wette.


Voll der Wahn die "Persönlichkeitsbildung" mit Tarot-Karten. Haben die noch alle Karten im Deck!? Mit diesem grottenblöden Seich werden Labile in Abhängigkeit und in psychische Grenzsituationen getrieben, wo sie nicht mehr raus kommen, und zum Schluß landen se in einer Sekte und laufen mit Alu-Hut rum.


Aber, mußte ja kommen, die Volkshochschule Mainz jault, weil sie Wind von vorne kriegt.

Das Gejaule:

https://www.facebook.com/VolkshochschuleMainz/posts/695268583886771

[*quote*]
Volkshochschule Mainz / vhs Mainz
Yesterday at 3:24am ·

Ein Wort in eigener Sache

Seit zwei Tagen werten einige Personen die vhs Mainz auf unserer facebook Seite ab. Diese Abwertung basiert nicht auf Erfahrungen als Interessenten oder Teilnehmende an unseren Kursen sondern auf der Tatsache, dass auch Angebote aus dem Bereich Esoterik in unserem Programm zu finden sind. Insbesondere ist der Kurs „Pendelpraxis I“ Stein des Anstoßes.

Dazu ist Folgendes zu sagen:

Volkshochschulen stehen allen Menschen offen. Sie trennen nicht, sondern sie verbinden. Sie teilen nicht auf, weder nach sozialer Herkunft noch nach akademischer und nicht akademischer Ausbildung. Sie sind Orte der Offenheit und Toleranz und bieten damit auch Menschen mit unterschiedlichen und gegensätzlichen Auffassungen die Möglichkeit, individuelle Bildungsbedürfnisse zu befriedigen. Volkshochschulen sind damit ein Abbild unserer pluralen Gesellschaft, und das ist auch gut so.

Die Teilnahme an Veranstaltungen der Volkshochschule basiert auf dem Prinzip der Freiwilligkeit. Niemand wird gezwungen gegen seinen Willen eine bestimmte Veranstaltung zu besuchen. Erwachsene entscheiden selbst, welche Themen sie interessieren und sind daher engagiert bei der Sache. Und auch das ist gut so.

Manchmal hilft auch ein Blick auf Zahlen, um eine vermeintliches Problem angemessen zu bewerten. Die Volkshochschule Mainz hat im vergangenen Jahr 74042 Unterrichtsstunden durchgeführt. Der – einzige - Pendelkurs umfasst 9 Unterrichtsstunden. Dies entspricht einem Anteil von 0,12 Promille. Selbst wenn man alle Veranstaltungen, die im Übrigen auch unter der Überschrift „Esoterik“ angeboten werden, zusammennimmt, ergibt dies 77 Unterrichtsstunden. Dies entspricht einem Anteil von 1 Promille, d. h. von 1000 durchgeführten Unterrichtsstunden entfällt 1 Unterrichtsstunde auf den Bereich Esoterik.

Schließlich – auch durch dauerhaftes Wiederholen wird aus einer Unwahrheit keine Wahrheit. Die Behauptung, hier würden Steuergelder eingesetzt, ist schlicht falsch. An dieser Stelle können und sollen nicht die komplizierten und nach Bundesland unterschiedlichen Bezuschussungen in der Weiterbildung dargelegt werden. Nur – wer solche Behauptungen aufstellt, sollte sich, an den eigenen wissenschaftlichen Ansprüchen gemessen, vorher sachkundig machen.



Like · Comment

    Top Comments
    Angelika Hiebl, Zumba Maggie, Alfred Wilhelm and 16 others like this.
    3 shares
    George Orwell Ändert aber doch nichts daran, dass eine Volkshochschule auch einen Bildungsauftrag wahrnimmt. Was hat da dann bitte Esoterik und anderer pseudowissenschaftlicher Humbug zu suchen, der keiner seriösen wissenschaftlichen Betrachtung standhält und teilweise sogar gefährlich ist? Ganz abgesehen davon, dass von Leuten Dinge versprochen werden (gegen Bezahlung der Kursgebühren) die faktisch nicht wahr sind und ebenfalls eine Gefährdung darstellen? Mit solchen Angeboten macht sich eine VHS wirklich nur lächerlich und kann was Bildung und Wissenschaft betrifft wirklich nicht mehr ernst genommen werden.
    53 · Yesterday at 5:39am
        6 Replies · 5 hrs
    Günther Steininger "Sie sind Orte der Offenheit und Toleranz und bieten damit auch Menschen mit unterschiedlichen und gegensätzlichen Auffassungen die Möglichkeit, individuelle Bildungsbedürfnisse zu befriedigen."

    Soweit so gut, aber das Pflegen "gegensätzlicher Auffassungen" darf nicht so weit gehen, dass falsche Versprechungen gemacht werden. Nochmal:

    "Mithilfe des Pendels werden Sie in der Lage sein, Ihre Lebensmittel, Medikamente, Kosmetika und mehr auf Verträglichkeit und biologische Qualität zu testen."
    Diese Aussage ist absolut unhaltbar und sehr gefährlich. Wenn ein Kursteilnehmer auf die Idee kommt, für sich oder seine Kinder verordnete Medikamente erst mal auszupendeln und dann lieber wegzulassen, weil das Pendelergebnis negativ ausgefallen ist, dann kann das sehr sehr böse enden. Glauben Sie, für Betroffene spielt es in so einem Fall eine Rolle, wie wenig Unterrichtsstunden der VHS Mainz jährlich auf esoterische Themen abfallen?
    45 · 21 hrs
    Jörg Lorenz Auf der Website der VHS (http://www.vhs-mainz.de/neu/Lehrkraefte) steht:

    "Bei der Auswahl unserer Dozentinnen und Dozenten achten wir daher darauf, dass die folgenden Anforderungen erfüllt sind:

    - fundierte fachliche Kenntnisse, die durch Zeugnisse oder Zertifikate nachgewiesen sind"

    Welche Zeugnisse oder Zertifikate wurden durch Gerhild Schinabeck-Lohnes vorgelegt?
    41 · Yesterday at 9:20am
    Björn Marquardt Nach dem eigenen Internetauftritt der VHS ist diese gemeinnützig (und damit steuerbefreit. Auch das sind natürlich Steuermittel, wenn man Kurse anbietet mit einer steuerbefreiten Einrichtung und der Infrastruktur. Konkret heißt es auf der Seite der VHS: Sie ist gemeinnützig und von parteilichen, politischen und religiösen Interessen unabhängig. Die vhs Mainz orientiert sich an den Prinzipien der Aufklärung, Demokratie und Würde des Menschen. Aufklärung kann ich nicht unbedingt erkennen, wenn man Zauberei, Wunderheilung und Esoterik anbietet, jedenfalls wenn man nicht dazu schreibt, dass man in diesem Kurs keine echten Fähigkeiten erlernen kann außer vielleicht andere oder sich selbst zu täuschen. Die Verträglichkeit von Lebensmitteln durch Pendeln zu ermitteln oder gar zu verbessern, dürfte wohl unstreitig "Humbug" sein und nicht wissenschaftlich aufgeklärt. Bei der In Anspruch genommenen Neutralität verbietet es sich, solch einen unwissenschatlichen Kram anzubieten. Ich finde, dass sich die VHS, die auf welchem Weg auch immer staatliche Vorteile in Anspruch nimmt, zum Mittäter einer Täuschung gegenüber den Kursteilnehmern macht und damit einen Schaden sowohl finanziell herbeiführt (Kursgebühr und Verschwendung öffentlicher Förderung) als auch moralisch (Förderung von Humbug, Täuschung der Teilnehmer).
    26 · Yesterday at 9:06am
    Andreas Brandt Sie verteidigten ihre Eso/Pseudomedizinkurse weiterhin, anstatt ihren Bildungsauftrag wahrzunehmen bieten sie "Scharlatanen" einen Ort wo diese Leichtgläubige abgreifen können!!! Das ist für einen Ort der Bildung unwürdig! #Fail
    26 · 20 hrs · Edited
    Mark Ta Pendeln funktioniert aber nicht. Wenn ich eine Entscheidung durch "Auspendeln" treffe, ist das reine Willkür und damit gefährlich. Der Kurs [1] verspricht aber dadurch mehr Lebensqualität, indem man durch Pendeln herausfindet, ob ein Lebensmittel/Medikament/... verträglich ist. Solche Entscheidungen sollte man (besonders bei Medikamenten) besser dem Hausarzt überlassen.

    [1] http://www.vhs-mainz.de/neu/U12301
    22 · Yesterday at 8:51am · Edited
    Rouven Schaefer Danke für den Kommentar, aber eine VOLKSHOCHSCHULE mit Bildungsauftrag argumentiert rein ökonomisch Das ist ja befremdlich. Als privater Anbieter kann man ja alles verkaufen, aber die VHS sollten eigentlich mit einem anderen Auftrag unterwegs sein. Und Unfug und Pseudowissenschaften mit Toleranz und Offenheit begründen ist mehr als traurig und Realsatire. Und klar ist das freiwillig, was für eine Argumentation. Dann wären Kurse wie "Impfen - es geht auch ohne" oder "Schwere Krankheiten durch Karmareinigung für Anfänger" bei Bedarf dann ja auch okay? Oder "Schädeldeuten für Führungskräfte - wie sie Mitarbeiter besser einschätzen können", vielleicht auch "Wünsche ans Universum - Ein Praxisworkshop für den persönlichen Erfolg". Ich hoffe die Verantwortlichen schämen sich wenigstens hinter den Kulissen für diesen Ausverkauf der Grundidee der Volkshochschulen und dieses Versagen der Qualitätssicherung.
    20 · 19 hrs · Edited
    Guenther Rindfleisch " Volkshochschulen sind damit ein Abbild unserer pluralen Gesellschaft, und das ist auch gut so. "
    Soll also heißen: für alles, wofür es Anhänger und Begeisterte gibt, sollte es auch ein entsprechendes Lehrangebot an ihrer Schule geben. Andere Qualität...See More
    16 · 19 hrs · Edited
    Björn Marquardt zunächst erscheint es mir sehr billig, Argumente pauschal zu bringen "Steuergelder stimmt nicht" und die Kritik als sachlich falsch abzutun, ohne die Argumente zu unterlegen. Zumindest nach Wikipedia sieht die Finanzierung wie folgt aus: Finanzierung
    In der Regel finanzieren sich die Volkshochschulen durch die sechs „Säulen“:
    Zuschüsse des Landes,
    Zuschüsse der Gemeinde(n),
    Zuschüsse des Landkreises,
    Einnahmen aus Teilnehmerentgelten
    Spenden und
    Drittmittel (z. B. Fördermittel des Bundes, der Bundesagentur für Arbeit, Projektzuschüsse aus dem Europäischen Sozialfonds oder der Bezirksregierungen)
    Da die Volkshochschulen nur einen Teil der Kosten durch Teilnehmerentgelte decken müssen – ohne Gewinn zu erzielen –, sind VHS-Kurse vergleichsweise kostengünstige Angebote und damit den meisten Bevölkerungsschichten zugänglich. Weiter findet man nacvh wenig Recherche: Nach §9 des Weiterbildungsgesetzes (WBG) des Landes Rheinland-Pfalz
    vom 17. November 1995 (GVBl. S. 454) , Zuletzt geändert durch Gesetz vom 16.12.2002, GVBl. 2002, S. 481, dass das Land die anerkannten Volkshochschulen durch Zuschüsse fördert ( http://mbwwk.rlp.de/.../Rechtsvo.../Weiterbildungsgesetz.pdf ) aber vielleicht überweist die Volkshochschule Mainz das Geld ja gleich wieder zurück.
    15 · Yesterday at 9:21am · Edited
    Bernd Harder @vhs Mainz: "Volkshochschulen stehen allen Menschen offen." Und das ist gut so - aber was hat das mit der *Angebots*-Seite zu tun? Eine Volkshochschule ist eine Bildungseinrichtung. So, wie ich von einem VHS-Kurs Englisch oder Buchführung die Vermittlung von aktuellem und seriösem Wissen erwarte, erwarte ich das auch von allen anderen Kursen. Esoterischen Unsinn kann man aber nicht "seriös" unterrichten, da die zugrunde liegenden Behauptungen nachweislich falsch sind bzw. dem Reich der Phantasie entstammen. Sie gauklen Ihren Kunden und Interessenten vor, dass Pendeln eine seriöse und empfehlenswerte Methode zum Erkenntnisgewinn sei. Das ist sie nicht - und wirft ein verheerendes Bild auf den Anspruch einer VHS. Nach Ihrer Argumentation wäre die Mainzer VHS also mithin auch für Kurse in Luftgitarre spielen oder für ein Jodeldiplom oder für Falschgeld drucken oder für das Nähen von unsichtbaren Kleidern offen, weil es sicher auch dafür Interessenten gibt?
    31 · Yesterday at 9:13am
        2 Replies
    Udo Hilwerling Wie ärmlich. Auf den berechtigten Vorwurf der Unwissenschaftlichkeit, ja sogar aktiver Volksverdummung reagiert die VHS Mainz mit einem Belehrungspamphlet in ablenkendem altväterlichem Politikerduktus.
    14 · 19 hrs
    Helmut Dietrich Das Argument, es wären nur 0,1 Promille Esoterik verrät ein schlechtes Gewissen. Seien Sie konsequent und streichen das bisschen Esokram ganz !
    12 · 18 hrs
    Daniel Schmitt Sie befördern die Verbreitung realitätsfeindlicher Ideologien, die schlimmstenfalls die Gesundheit Dritter - beispielsweise der Kinder der Teilnehmer - gefährden können. Das ist nicht gemeinnützig, das ist gemeingefährlich. Dass Ihnen das offensichtlich nicht bewusst ist, verbessert die Sachlage keineswegs. Würden Sie unter dem Stichwort "Esoterik" auch beispielsweise Impfgegnern eine Plattform bieten? Wie stünde es mit der Abwehr von schädlichen Einflüssen durch "Chemtrails"? Wäre das im Sinne einer pluralistischen Gesellschaft auch "gut so"? Falls dem - wie ich sehr hoffe - nicht so sein sollte, wo genau und wie ziehen Sie die Grenze?
    11 · 17 hrs
    Björn Marquardt Das sieht mir doch sehr nach Steuergeldern aus. Ich bin aber offen für die Erklärung, warum das bei der Volkshochschule Mainz nicht so sein sollte. Abgesehen davon wird auch die Infrastruktur zur Verfügung gestellt, selbst wenn der Kurs selbst sich wider Erwarten selbst finanzieren sollte.
    10 · Yesterday at 8:56am
    Karl Brauckmann Wenn in Mainz nicht gerade die Gesetze der Physik neu geschrieben werden sollten, reicht die Feststellung, dass der Aberglaube als Lehrinhalt an einer gemeinnützigen Bildungsinstitution schlicht nichts verloren hat. Pluralität kann doch nicht heissen jedem Quatsch seine Plattform zu bieten?
    9 · 10 hrs
    Andi Weimann Ich las heute zum Thema (aber nicht zu Mainz sondern zu Wien) einen wie ich finde ausgezeichneten Artikel von Florian Freistetter, den ich gerne hier einstellen möchte: http://scienceblogs.de/.../gefaehrliche-bildung-esoterik.../
    9 · 19 hrs
    Oliver Debus Als Dozent an mehreren Volkshochschulen wäre solch eine verquaste Verteidigung von Aberglaube ein Grund, meine Arbeit an dieser VHS sofort niederzulegen. Und den Kollegen würde ich Gleiches raten.
    Die Verbreitung von Aberglauben in Volkshochschulen widerspricht deren Satzung und Bildungsauftrag.
    8 · 9 hrs · Edited
    Markus Steinkamp Wenn ich im letzten Jahr 9 schwere Körperverletzungen begangen habe und insgesamt 77 Gewalttaten, wird das dann dadurch entschuldigt, das ich 73.965 Menschen, denen ich in Fußgängerzonen und im Straßenverkehr begegnet bin, nichts angetan habe? Nichts anderes ist die Argumentation hier. Für eine Bildungseinrichtung ungeeigneter Unsinn bleibt für eine Bildungseinrichtung ungeeigneter Unsinn, egal wie sinnvoll der Rest ist.
    8 · 9 hrs
    Corinna M. Blumenfeld "Schließlich - auch durch dauerhaftes Wiederholen - wird aus einer Unwahrheit keine Wahrheit." Eben. Pendeln ist und bleibt potentiell gefährlicher Humbug.
    16 · 19 hrs
    Benjamin Strack-Zimmermann Wurde diese ziemlich peinliche Antwort mit einem Ouija-Bord erstellt oder doch eher von Feen aus der Anderswelt diktiert?
    7 · 10 hrs
        2 Replies · 8 hrs
    Steffen Itterheim Es ist vollkommen egal ob Pendeln nur 0,00001% der Kursstunden beträgt. Fatal ist, das durch das Lehren an der VHS das Pendeln u.a. unwirksame Lehren davon profitieren, das die VHS im Grunde eine seriöse, angesehene Einrichtung ist. "Ja, also wenn das sogar an der VHS gelehrt wird, muss ja was dran sein ...". Die Sache kleinreden zu wollen zeugt nicht gerade davon, das man den eigenen Bildungsauftrag besonders ernst nimmt. Letztlich kann es nur eine Konsequenz geben: diese Angebote aus dem Programm nehmen.
    7 · 17 hrs · Edited
    Guru Mir Das ändert aber nichts daran, dass eine Volkshochschule auch einen Bildungsauftrag wahrnimmt. Bei Bildung hat Esoterik und anderer pseudowissenschaftlicher Humbug nichts zu suchen. Sie betreiben Volksverdummung! Was für Pendeln gilt, gilt auch für Wünschelrutengehen, Homöopathie, Bachblüten, Schüssler Salze, Reiki, etc. Die Liste des Schwachsinnes bei VHSn angeboten ist sehr lang. Danke, dass Sie darüber nachdenken. Hilfe dazu gibt es im Internetportal PSIRAM!
    17 · Yesterday at 7:48am
    Mārtigena Quis-Ut Deus Summus-Pontifex Achso, wenn es nur 1%o Volksverblödung ist, denn Esoterik ist keine Glaubensrichtung, sie ist Beutelschneiderei mit der Leichtgläubigkeit von Menschen (s.a. http://newcage.wordpress.com/ ) dann ist das für Sie schon in Ordnung.
    Kommen Sie Ihrem Bildungsauftrag nach, und unterstützen sie nicht ein Milliardenindustrie die sich an der Angst und Leichtgläubigkeit einfacher Leute berreichert sondern klären Sie darüber auf - das wäre Bildung!
    6 · 9 hrs
    Sam Ronstar Pendeln lernen in 9 Stunden? Wie bitte rechtfertigt sich das? Ein Pendel in die Hand nehmen und schwingen lassen kann jeder Mensch, und darüberhinaus wahrscheinlich noch etliche Primaten. Dazu braucht's keine einzige Unterrichtseinheit! Ich möchte bei Ihnen einen Kurs abhalten: "Münzwerfen als Entscheidungshilfe" in 18 Unterrichtseinheiten, geht das dann auch?
    6 · 9 hrs
        2 Replies · 4 hrs
    Johannes Berthold Gibt es eigentlich auch einen Kurs "Kreationismus"? Könnte man doch gleich im Anschluss stattfinden lassen...
    6 · 10 hrs
    Julia Schwarthoff Den Pendelkurs durch Bildungsbedürfnisse verargumentieren zu wollen, ist einfach nur peinlich. Frei nach dem Motto "Einbildung ist auch eine Bildung", oder wie darf man das verstehen?
    5 · 11 hrs
    Peter Ruoss Selbst wenn der Anteil an der gesamten Unterrichtszeit im Nanobereich liegen würde, und selbst wenn es stimmt, dass kein Cent an öffentlichen Geldern dafür eingesetzt wird, ist die Verbreitung solch gefährlicher und nachweislich falscher "Lehren" durch eine Volkshochschule schlicht beschämend
    9 · 18 hrs
    Georg Mackowiak Sie schreiben: "Schließlich – auch durch dauerhaftes Wiederholen wird aus einer Unwahrheit keine Wahrheit."
    Richtig. Esoterik ist Scharlatanerie, Ihre Esoterikkurse sind im reinsten Sinne des Wortes "unwahr". Auch wenn SIe noch so oft versuchen, Ihren Esomüll zu rechtfertigen, das ist und bleibt übelste Scharlatanerie. Ein anderes Wort dafür ist "Volksverdummung". Ihre Volkshochschule betreibt Volksverdummung. Schämen Sie sich!
    9 · 18 hrs
    Jan Ruzycki Zu lesen im Kurs "Mit der Wünschelrute unterwegs": "Die Anwendung der erfahrungswissenschaftlichen Technik des Rutengehens ist uralt." Ich denke nicht, dass das selbstverständnis von Wissenschaft mit dem Bildungausftrag vereinbar ist.
    3 · 9 hrs
    Günther Steininger "Der – einzige - Pendelkurs umfasst 9 Unterrichtsstunden. Dies entspricht einem Anteil von 0,12 Promille."

    Umso größer die Aufregung, die das bei uns Skeptikern auslöst. Spricht das am Ende schon für die Homöopathie … ja, dummer Scherz, aber ich konnte nicht anders. Bitte um Verzweiflung!
    2 · 5 hrs
    Diether Ast Wehret den Anfängen! Mehr ist nicht zu sagen.
    1 hr · Edited
    Alexander Stötefalke Kann ich bitte mal einen Link zur Kursbeschreibung haben?
    2 hrs
    Florian Neuberger Danke für den Hinweis, sonst hätte ich ganz übersehen, dass ich da noch eine 1-Sterne-Bewertung abgeben muß... Und zum Erbsen-Zäbhlen... Das Geld der Zuschüsse wird vom Staat wohl einfach so nach Bedarf gedruckt und kommt damit quasi aus der Luft?
    2 hrs
    Elli Mantor Recht haben sie.
    19 hrs

[*/quote*]


"Schließlich – auch durch dauerhaftes Wiederholen wird aus einer Unwahrheit keine Wahrheit." Schreibt die Volkshochshcule Mainz. Die sollte mal in den Spiegel gucken. Da sieht sie jemanden, der Lügen wiederholt. Nein, die werden vom Wiederholen nicht besser!

Für diese Lügen

"Mithilfe des Pendels werden Sie in der Lage sein, Ihre Lebensmittel, Medikamente, Kosmetika und mehr auf Verträglichkeit und biologische Qualität zu testen."

sollte man den Laden auf der Stelle dicht machen. SOFORT!

Von wegen "Bildungsauftrag"! Die sind eine Gefahr für die Allgemeinheit.

 99 
 on: September 04, 2014, 04:49:17 PM 
Started by Thymian - Last post by Thymian
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 100 
 on: September 02, 2014, 05:22:09 PM 
Started by Machtfalter - Last post by Machtfalter
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