The $10,000 “unfair and deceptive practices” challenge

 By Jon M. Taylor, MBA, Ph.D.
President, Consumer Awareness Institute – web site: mlm-thetruth.com

According to the web site for the FTC (Federal Trade Commission):

 “The basic consumer protection statute enforced by the Commission is Section 5(a) of the FTC Act, which provides that "unfair or deceptive acts or practices in or affecting commerce...are...declared unlawful." (15 U.S.C. Sec. 45(a)(1)). . . "Unfair" practices are defined as those that "cause or [are] likely to cause substantial injury to consumers which is not reasonably avoidable by consumers themselves and not outweighed by countervailing benefits to consumers or to competition").

Having gathered decades of research, experience, and worldwide feedback on problems related to multi-level marketing (MLM), I am prepared to issue a challenge. I have pledged $10,000 from my limited retirement funds to be paid to the favorite charity of the first official from the FTC, SEC, U.S. Dept. of Justice, U.S. Postal Services, offices of Attorney General and Consumer Protection in all 50 states, or Better Business Bureau, who can identify any class of income or business opportunity that – as an identifiable industry – is verifiably more unfair and deceptive, more viral and predatory (causing participants to suffer more aggregate losses , or injury) – than recruitment-driven MLMs [which includes virtually all MLMs, with the possible exception of rare retail-focused MLMs, like some in-home demonstration (party) plans].

Below are the requirements and criteria for the reward:

To qualify, you must read my articulation of the problems associated with MLM in my new ebook The Case (for and) against Multi-level Marketing, which summarizes thousands of pages of research and worldwide feedback. It can be downloaded for free from this research-based web site. The website offers numerous other reports that will aid you in your basic understanding of this flawed business model and in clearing up any questions you may have about MLM industry practices and effects. You will also find much useful information at other web sites linked from our annotated list of recommended web sites.

Based on conclusions drawn from extensive independent research, the minimum criteria in the table on the next page would have to be met. After reading my book, if you can identify any class of income or business opportunity that is more unfair and deceptive, more viral and predatory (causing participants to suffer more aggregate losses, or injury) – than recruitment-driven MLMs, based on the criteria in the table, please send details to Dr. Jon Taylor at the following email address: jonmtaylor@juno.com.

For a list of the criteria for meeting the challenge, click here (pdf file).

The deadline for this challenge is being extended to July 1, 2012. If the challenge is not met by then, those of us advocating for consumers are justified in concluding (based on extensive research merely confirmed by this challenge) that MLM as a business model and as an industry is an unfair and deceptive practice that is causing substantial injury to consumers and is therefore in violation of Section 5 of the FTC Act, as well as many state statutes. This would also underscore the need for disclosure of information crucial to decisions by prospects on whether or not to participate, such as average income of participants, references, etc.

– December 28, 2011 (revision of challenge in comments to FTC, January 10, 2011)