Published on March 22nd, 20140
But what gets most consumers is the promise of making $15,000 a month or more. And how exactly do you do that? That isn’t easily answered in this complicated compensation plan (which is your third red flag). What you have to do to start making the big bucks is pay. (And that’s your fourth red flag.) When TINA.org investigated further, we found these costs.
- There’s an initial $19.95 affiliate fee that is then billed monthly.
- There is a $25 monthly membership fee.
- There is a $100 fee per month for something called “inner circle” training.
- And there is another fee of $19 per month for “Aweber” to manage your leads. Leads for what? Leads to get others involved in this vague business that has to do with blogging software and business training.
When you add up just what the company initially asks you to pay (about $2,000 a year in basic expenses) and compare it to what the company’s own income disclosure form reveals, which is that two-thirds of distributors earn less than $500 on average per year, you realize that most folks lose money. Indeed the company’s fine print says that the income claims presented are not guaranteed and are designed to give you an idea of “what’s possible.” If you are not making that kind of money, Empower Network, co-founded by Dave Sharpe and Davie Wood, says it is because you are simply not working hard enough. (Dave Sharpe stepped down from the company in April citing health reasons.)
But many consumers tell a different tale. The FTC has received more than 160 complaints about the company. In the complaints, which the FTC released to TINA.org in response to a Freedom of Information request, consumers said the company offered products that didn’t have any useful information, they were pressured into investing thousands of dollars to qualify for higher commissions but ended up in debt, and were pushed into recruiting others to earn revenue. When they asked for refunds on the products they found useless, and requested the company stop charging their credit cards each month, the company gave them a hard time.
Said one consumer:
I joined Empower Network in Dec. 2012, I bought the blog for $25 a month, the inner circle $100 a month, Costa Rica training for $500 and the 15k formula for a $1000 then in March 2013 I bought the master $3500 because every Leader in Empower Network told me that’s why I am not making the money I want, I went threw [sic] all the training more then once, took action daily like they tell you to do After doing a lot of research I find everything I bought is free information on the internet already, [except] the blog. After doing what the Leaders in Empower plus Dave and Dave told me to do I have made $136 off the products…I am over $12,000 in debt because of this company.
They are selling “blogging” when the blogging you do is purely for promoting recruitment of people into the program. They have cleverly masked it as a legit MLM but the intellectual property they are selling (training videos) only teach people how to recruit more people. They also have created an elaborate gifting scheme by making all members get their own merchant account and process monthly payments of each other’s payments, so the company itself isn’t paying commissions. This thing needs to get shut down quickly.
You should also know that the BBB has given Empower Network a “D” rating.
Before you sink a dime into a vague online business opportunity promising high income and which pressures you to act quickly, you need to do some research and ask some key questions. Find out how many people earn the $15,000 a month the company is promising and review its income disclosure form. How many retail sales does the company make outside of selling products to fellow distributors? How much of your income is based on recruiting new distributors? If your primary source of income is recruiting others to join the company and not in selling an actual product, then the company may be a pyramid scheme. Ask the company how many recruits drop out each year. Is the product the company selling overpriced and easily found elsewhere at less cost? Is it a good product?
You may not get any of this information from the Empower Network. It says in its disclaimer: “We do not collect information regarding the results our members get as a result of using our products, as that is proprietary to them.” And there’s your final red flag.
This story was updated on 6/10/2014
Too frequently, the term proves to be simply a euphemism for sending your money along to an unknown person or company and then watching your money magically disappear
(See Fine Print).
Multi-Level Marketing – a way of distributing products or services in which the distributors earn income from their own retail sales and from retail sales made by their direct and indirect recruits.