Wednesday, August 24, 2005

What a day yesterday was! I'm not impressed with Arbonne at all at this point. On Monday, I sent their customer service an e-mail at 3:30 pm stating I wanted to cancel my order that was being processed. According to their order forms, buyers have 3 business days from the date of purchase to cancel an order. When I looked my order up on their website, it was placed Friday at 11 pm - good because I thought I ordered everything Thursday! Anyway that means I was on Day 1 of the cancellation period, meaning canceling my order should be no big deal.

So yesterday, I had not gotten a reply from anyone there by 11 a.m., so I decided to try and call their customer service at 1-800-ARBONNE., I sat on hold for 26 before my cordless phone decided to die on me. I figured maybe they were just really busy at that time and I would try back again later. I went ahead and sent another e-mail to customer service, just in case they didn't get my first one since I'm now on day 2 of the cancellation period.

So it's now 3 pm, I still haven't heard a word from them so I decided to try and call again. This time I waited on hold for 20 minutes, but had to hang up because I had an incoming call. By now, I'm starting to get a little bit irritated. I want to call them and tell them to shove their stuff up their ass at this point (Remember - I'm pregnant with raging hormones lol). So I send them ANOTHER e-mail. Basically at this point, I tell them if they don't cancel my order, I will be putting a chargeback through my credit card company.

Now it's 6 pm....STILL NO RESPONSE from Arbonne. So I whip out the cell phone while I'm out with the family for dinner. I plug in the ear piece and sit on hold for a total of 28 minutes. At this point I figure I will call back and say I want to place an order just to see how quick they answer (Instead of saying I have an order inqury). Wow, at least if someone calls to say they want to place an order, they are told that they are experiencing very high call volume. You get NOTHING if your calling for any other reason. I only waited on hold for 10 minutes at this point and gave up. I figured that they obviously NEVER answer the phone now.

We get home from dinner and I check my e-mail, and I just about went through the roof when I saw what they sent me:

"We appreciate the time you have taken to e-mail us. Please know that I have reviewed order, 18049940, and it appears that this order is already in the process of being packaged and shipped out to you.

Therefore, we are unable to cancel this order. Should you no longer want the products you ordered, simply refuse the package when delivery is attempted. The order will then be returned to us and a refund processed.

Again, we appreciate the time you have taken to e-mail us, and for your interest in Arbonne International. Should you have any further questions, or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact us either via e-mail or at the number listed below.

You may reach our Field Support Representatives, Monday thru Friday, 6am-6pm PST. And Saturdays from 6am-3pm at 1-800-Arbonne.

Have a great day!


Sherry Foley
Customer Service E-mail Representative

WHAT THE HELL!!!!! What really amazes me is the fact that when I login to their stats site, it shows no tracking number or anything at this point. I think they do this deliberately, hoping that people will change their mind once they receive their products. NOT THIS BITCH. I hope to god that when the UPS man drops off their stuff, my dog pisses all over the boxes at this point (and if she don't I will make sure she does!)

At this point, this experiment is ENDING. I would not recommend ANYONE sell, buy or invest ANY of their time and money into this ridiculous company. I tried to be unbiased, and fair, but when you are treated like this by ANY company, I would tell you to run the other way PERIOD.

Anyone have any suggestions on my next mlm experiment? Let me know!

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

I'm sorry but I just have to rant some more. What the F*** is going on with Yahoo Search Marketing (previously known as Overture). It was much better when it was run by overture. I had to go through this whole account verification bull crap after my ads were online for two days - they shut them down and said I had to call and verify my account in order for my ads to run.

So I did just like their email instructed and called from the phone number listed on the account, gave their crappy computer phone system all my info - then it decides that it doesn't like my phone, says its not the number my account was signed up with and I had to call back and try again. So I jump through their hoops again, just to be told the same thing! So this time I waited to talk to someone.

My god you would think I was signing up for a lobotomy with the amount of information they had to have over a lousy 30.00. Then after I give the rep just about everything but my underwear size, she then tells me she has to call me back at the number listed on the account and will I be available and I told her, "Well I sure hope so since its the number I'm calling from", and shes like "oh, really? Let me call you back then". Honestly, how many people try to steal online advertising?

I swear since signing up this new account, it is nothing but crap! The site was down all weekend "due to maintenance", then today I haven't been able to access my account AT ALL. Their e-mail system sends out duplicate automated e-mails. Their system took my ads offline THEN charged my credit card another 30.00, but since their friggin site isn't working, I can't get them back online. WHAT A JOKE THEY HAVE BECOME!!

Good god, get it together yahoo! OH, i did get my 100.00 credit last night after sending several e-mails....

So yesterday didn't end as well as it started. After I got those five leads...nada, zip zilch. So after many hours of deliberation. I decided to cancel my standing order with Arbonne. I just didn't feel comfortable with having all that product. I was afraid it would end up sitting in my Garage like 99% of other people who fail at this stuff, so now I've reduced my start-up cost significantly.

Cost Now: 1328.27

I can live with this number much easier than almost 3500. I did find a really interesting blog yesterday on Arbonne. It's called "The Mayor Speaks...". There is quite a few interesting posts on there. I added one asking all the current Arbonne consultants to provide me with:

"I have a question for the people that are ACTIVELY selling arbonne. I would really like to see some figures if this is at all possible (estimates are fine):

a) How long have you been with arbonne?
b) What is your current status level (C, DM, etc)
c) How much time and money have you invested in your consultant/business?
d) What forms of advertising do you use when your warm leads are all gone?
e) And the big question -- how much return on your investment have you received (aka - income)
f) Do you use the puppy dog/REsults approach?
g) Did you frontload (Buy products to sell retail)?
h) What do you think your chance of success is?

Any info you can provide would be greatly appreciated!"

Now here's what's interesting. Not ONE had given me a straight number on c) or e) ( You know, your costs - profits - your time) = your actual income. They all seem to throw out numbers like "Oh my biggest check was 1200..." and "I usually spend 25% of my commission back on Advertising" and "I put in about 10 hours a week". I'm sorry (NO offense to the person that posted those answers as I think she is truly working hard at her Arbonne business) but that all sounds to "info-mercialish" to me.....

Ok thats great, BUT what is your bottom line?
How much money did you spend to make that 1200.00 check?
How much time did you ACTUALLY spend?
I have a feeling these people really don't know how to document stuff to know their actual bottom line.

The other thing I have found is that so far, all of them that have responded use what is called the REsults approach. This is nothing more than a glorified Pyramid scheme. This is where you give your friends a 266.00 kit of anti-aging products to "try" for a while. So basically you rope your friends into buying the stuff because you leave it with them, and they feel like shit if they don't buy it. Then they feel like crap because they spent so much money on this stuff that they decide that they will be come consultants, spend more money on the 711.00 kit worth of stuff to rope in 4 more people, etc. What is wrong with these people? I cherish and value my friendships much more than a 266.00 bag of anti-aging products!

Ok, enough of my ranting and raving for today...I have real work to do....I'm finding it harder and harder to be unbiased about this whole thing. I think I need to take a few steps back and re-evaluate this....

Monday, August 22, 2005

Welcome to my MLM Experiment. This should be interesting as I am not one for doing sales....I couldn't sell water to a dying man in the desert. I always see these so called "rich" people (we all know this is blown WAY out of proportion anyway) that make a living at Network Marketing/MLM. I am going to attempt to give my totally UNBIASED review of what I think of MLM.

You must realize up front that MLM is NOT for everyone, nor is it something that just anyone can do (I'm probably in the 1% of people who will fail category). If you put any posts on this blog about how wonderful your company is, IT WILL BE DELETED. This is not a promotional site, this is a HARD CORE STATS on MLM site. I want people to realize how much time and effort a MLM/Network marketing company REALLY requires.

I personally don't have any hobbies, so I thought I would create one. I have to admit, it was pretty much inspired by Martin Spurlock (You know, the "Supersize Me" guy). He has this new show on FX (I think?) called 30 days. He and others do things for 30 days, just to see what it's like and to see if their original opinion about it is biased, etc. So I thought, hey this could be fun, how about I pick something I totally detest, and try it for 30-60 days, just to make sure I hate it for the right reasons lol.

I'm a software architect, so I figured this was at the complete other end of the spectrum for me. My profile is: A married white female, 34, business owner, with three girls (Girl #4 on the way), as well as a part-time college student (Attempting to get a PHD in Psychology - by the time I'm 60). Needless to say I probably don't have enough free time to put into this.

I'm lucky though, unlike most people that get themselves into these companies, I'm not really doing it for the money, it's just a hobby. I'm hoping it will help develop my social skills that I have managed to loose over the last 10 years of working out of my home with the only interaction being with a computer....

So how did I end up with this? Well I was on my pregnancy message boards and somewhere someone mentioned that they worked for this "totally great company" called, Arbonne International. I had never heard of them before so of course, the geek in me just had to google it. The products looked someone reasonable, and I though, hey - why don' t I try this for fun?

I'm a pretty motivated person, so getting myself motivated to do it isn't too hard. The thing that I find most interesting is that it's a numbers game, so of course the geek in me lights up like a christmas tree. The sad part is - now that I've put some effort into it, the numbers just don't seem to add up yet.

So I sign up on their website for 29.00, which is their fee for their "Basic" starter kit that contains very limited marketing materials (basically just enough for you to read it and be totally clueless), so during the sign-up process I decided what the heck, I'll go all the way and spend 95.00 more on their "Open Now for Business" pack which contains a lot more marketing materials. SO, before I even get started, I've already spent 149.80 (With shipping and Tax).
I figured that it was pretty reasonable for starting up a business. I think just to get started with Mary Kay it takes around 300?

11 days after my credit card was charged for the 149.80 - My package of marketing materials arrives. I know it's really no big deal, but merchants are NOT suppose to charge cards until the product actually ships - which tracking records indicated that it didn't ship for 5 days after I placed the order.

I take a week going through the stuff, searching google about the company etc. before I actually put any effort into it. I find that if I want to sell their products and receive leads on the internet, I HAVE to use their third party company to create my website (Which blows out the ass if you ask me since I'm a programmer myself). The cost? Oh gee, only another 120.00 annually. Cha Ching - cost now up to: 269.80. Still not too bad I guess.....

Now here is where it gets tricky. They claim that there is no inventory required, nor do they support their consultants maintaining or keeping an inventory. BUT when you go to their website after signing in as a consultant - bada boom bada bing...For ONLY 350.00 you can get 700.00 worth of products - it's their "Right Start Value Pack". I had a bunch of spending money I had saved up and though, well, at worst I just wasted all my spending money - I can recoup some of it on eBay if I don't sell the stuff (NOTE: Yes I checked on eBay FIRST, before I purchased anything to see if it would sell). I figured that I needed a "Right Start", so I purchased the starter pack. With my purchase, I got 1 free product of my choice, so I did like everyone else and selected the most expensive (a 72.00 jar of nighttime face cream).

Now here's what's even more interesting.. As you place your order, at the bottom of the screen, they show you what "wonderful" discounts that you are eligible for as you add things to your shopping cart, so just for fun I kept adding and deleting stuff just to see lol. Eventually I settled on a 700+ kit of their anti-aging products, which then made me eligible for all kinds of bonus stuff plus my SECOND RSVP pack at 350.00. Needless to say, by the time I was done, I had purchased over 3300.00 worth of products for 1600, plus some sales aids and samples that were not included in my "Business starter pack", Total cost to start business is now up to....drum roll please.......$2372.00. It took me a total of three hours to place the order, as I kept trying to optimize my discount. By the time I was done, I ended up with a 49% discount on everything (Yes I actually put everything in a spreadsheet and CALCULATED my costs). Now I think it's starting to get a little bit expensive.

Due to contractual obligations with clients for programming, I decided to put aside Friday for my efforts with my Arbonne business. I started my marketing efforts on a Friday morning, I was totally gung hoe about it.

My efforts included, submitting my Arbonne Site to about 200 search engines (Free), Creating Google Ad Words (Total cost for click thrus to date: 25.00), Yahoo Ads (In which I was suppose to get 100.00 credit from yahoo, but a week later, still have not seen, so My cost is 30.00 right now), Ads on Kanoodle ($50.00). Listed some of the products I would be getting at a discount on iOffer for just a little over my cost (Free until sold). Created a flyer to send to leads with my "Discounted Inventory" products. I also had to purchase some mailing lables (38.00) and presentation paper to print some of the product flyers on (21.00). Found a couple of WAHM (Work at home Mom) sites that I could post my "Job" listings on for free)

I surprisingly managed to actually get a few lead that day in my inbox from my site, I hated the fact that I really had no Idea what the person was interested in so I created my own custom survey page and put that on my server to capture that information (Time spent, about 3 billable hours @ 52.00 hr - 156.00) and added that to my crappy canned website I paid 120.00 for.

So now my cost is up to: 2697.00 (remember tax too) - Not including my actual time spent doing all this work, which I would normally bill out at around 52.00 an hour, so add about 520.00.

Now, saturday was quite interesting. That morning, I started off with about 11 leads from Friday which is actually pretty good considering I had just started my efforts, so that helped my motivation. I tried to ignore the amount of money I had put into it at this point. Out of those 11 people, 8 wanted catalogs, and of those 8, 5 wanted information on how to start their own Arbonne business. So now I had 8 direct mail pieces to send out which ranged in mailing cost from 1.82-2.12 (Average per mailer 1.97 x 8 = 15.76). While doing this, I received several more leads that ALSO wanted catalogs/more info so I packaged up 3 more...5.91). I made sure to include my "discounted Inventory" lists to these people as well.

Now my costs was up to: 3238.67 - Ouch, this is starting to really hurt

Now the programmer in me decided, that there had to be a better, more cost efficient way to do this so I came up with an automated response system. (Honestly, I did not have time to stuff envelopes every 5 minutes!) When a customer filled out the survey and selected what they were interested in, I fired off an e-mail that contained attachments of the products they were interested in with my sales flyer, contact info, etc. (Time spent, about 4 billable hours @ 52.00 hr - 208.00)

Cost Now: 3446.67

I ended up with a total of 4 people signed up as clients and 20 leads by the end of saturday - ok so maybe it will payoff eventually?

So Now we are at sunday, I spent the day submitting my work at home opportunity to some classified sites, and again realized I was NOT going to do all it manually. Most of the software was more than I was willing to spend, and programming would take too long so I decided on a service that was 29,.00 a month that was suppose to include opt-in email marketing as well as classified site submission, search engine submission, etc. Well after paying their 29.00 the only thing that I see I am able to do is submit classified ads so today(Monday), I need to get a hold of someone and find out what's up with that or get my damn money back. I'm not spending another dime on this project until I start to see some return! By the end of sunday, I had gotten 3 more clients, 6 more leads, and one order of 30.00 - of which I will get 1.20 - whoopie!

Cost Now: 3445.47

Ok, so now I'm done spending on this project. At this point, the only thing I will be putting money into is the Google Ad words, and Yahoo (IF they give me the 100.00 Credit I'm suppose to get!!). I want to start seeing some returns!

Ok, It's 9:50 a.m. Monday Morning. So far I have received 5 leads from my website - that's pretty darn good I think. I'm curious to see what the tally will be at the end of the day today as I will not be putting ANY effort in since I put so much in over the weekend.