Wednesday, July 16, 2008

MLM Sics Lawyer On Bloggers

Forensic accountant and fraud busting blogger Tracy Coenen has fired a return salvo in a brewing dispute with the attorney for MLM company Shop To Earn.

Fraud Files Blog: Shop To Earn lawyer bullying bloggers

It’s clear what ShopToEarn is trying to do: They are trying to silence critics of their multi-level marketing program. A couple of weeks ago, Gerald Nehra sent a similar letter to another blogger who wrote about his opinion of this MLM. It seems as if they’re trying to use scare tactics to stop people from writing about their opinions of companies.

But a clear message was sent in the case of Usana Health Sciences versus Barry Minkow and the Fraud Discovery Institute. People are allowed to analyze and critique companies, their business plans, and their programs. The key is in being clear about what is fact and what is opinion. Facts should be true and verifiable, and opinions should be clearly defined as such.

ShopToEarn isn’t going to bully me into not talking about their program. We have the right of free speech in America, which means I’m permitted to give my opinion about Shop To Earn, even if that opinion is negative. I’m allowed to discuss the company and its pay plan. I’m allowed to say that I think it’s not a program people should get into.

I don't pay a lot of attention to the MLM thing, since I've got other interests, but the one thing I've noticed about the interactions of MLM supporters with bloggers is the absolute inability of the followers to ignore criticism. If (or more like when) a personal finance blogger makes a negative comment about an MLM company, legions of dupes descend on the comments section, posting a cornucopia of logical fallacies: syllogisms, ad hoc arguments, and specious appeals to authority. Maybe I'm just being mean, but if these people actually had a business to run, and were busy making money, they wouldn't have the time to sit on the Internet all day like metaphorical poo-flinging chimpanzees.

All of which might seem to be beside the point to this particular story, where a new MLM on the block has lawyered up and threatened bloggers with dire legal consequences for stating their opinion. However, the principal remains: if your company actually has value to offer, you can point to it in response to your critics. On the other hand, if all you have is a house of cards, and you fear the slightest breeze might knock it down, the temptation to start throwing legal threats around to silence critics is overwhelming.

Sphere: Related Content


Tracy Coenen said...

You've got it right, Lee. I invited the attorney to point out any factual inaccuracies in my writings so that I could make the necessary corrections. Of course, he offered no examples. :)

Charles Farley said...

Kind of reminds me of Cross Fit. Right Caoch!

Flatland Pastor said...

An old axiom from my world may also apply - "Point weak? Pound pulpit harder!"

In this case hire lawyers with hammers.

In the end MLM's (in my never-to-be-humble opinion) are just ponzi schemes that sell just enough product to appear legitimate.

I've been approached by all of them and in the final analysis, whether you think they're legit or not, every single one of them wanted me to turn every relationship I had into a 'business' opportunity. I can't think of a better way to alienate your friends and relatives and ensure you never make another real friend again than being an MLM entrepreneur.

THAT's why you'll NEED the big profits - cause you're gonna be REALLY, REALLY lonely. Maybe your lawyer will hang with you - for $300 an hour.

'Nuff said!