I received a mysterious invitation via phone call last week from… well… I’ll just say an acquaintance. When he invited me over to his house with no other pretense than “I’d like to introduce you to some people” I wasn’t sure what to think. My first question was “are you going to kill me?” To which he replied “No.” Whew.
Unsure about the nature of the event, I chose a comfortable and flattering outfit for work the next day and started brainstorming with my roommates what I could possibly be in for. My favourite suggestion was Tupperware party.
- Plain old social event – sure, that could be it, but like with every other possible suggestion why was the only information provided that he wanted to introduce me to some people?
- Goodbye Party – Acquaintance is heading out of town for a bit, but a goodbye party on the Thursday with invite only on a Wednesday? Maybe.
- Alone time – or what my sister so eloquently put as ‘Pound or No Pound‘, this was pretty much a zero percent chance but I still picked a cute outfit
- Tupperware Party/Pampered Chef etc – Would be a bit out of left field, but I could always use some extra tupperware or random kitchen accoutrement that I’ll never get around to using. Plus, those events tend to have booze – bonus.
- Ponzi Scheme – With the cover of mystery settling over the evening, more than one person brought this up.
I settled into not knowing what was happening and tried to not think about it – Type A hyper-planners such as myself are not OK with this situation, I was definitely a bit anxiety ridden that day. I sent one final text asking if I should bring anything along with me either than Pepper spray and his response only included an address. Prior to heading off into the unknown, I went for drinks with a friend (and possibly the best poutine I’ve ever had) – and was very thankful for the booze in my system later in the night.
When I arrived at the apartment, it was pretty clear that this was not a social gathering: The apartment was spotless (not that I really had a reference point, but it wasn’t ‘party clean’ it was ‘staged clean’), the seats were all arranged to face the TV and there were stacks of materials on the coffee table. It took about a minute or two for me to be able to read one of the items on the coffee table (which was upside down for me) before something clicked and I knew what was going on. The Magazine was Success From Home. Oh. Dear. God.
Over the next 45 minutes I listened to three separate presentations and watched a DVD. In truth though, it took me about 30 seconds to figure out the gist of the situation. When someone opens their presentation with stating that their background was in ‘traditional business’ and that they had slaved away working for someone else before they learned about this business model, my mind went straight to two words: Pyramid Scheme.
According to Wikipedia:
A pyramid scheme is a non-sustainable business model that involves promising participants payment or services, primarily for enrolling other people into the scheme, rather than supplying any real investment or sale of products or services to the public
Now in the interest of not bashing the company (which is actually legit, seriously) or my acquaintance’s ambition, I’m going to leave out the specifics. I will say that there were actual products and services for sale, and something at least semi tangible in return for your original investment. However, while there really is a lot more to the business than I originally feared, it still boils down to this: You Invest. Then you get two friends to invest. Then those two friends get two friends to invest. And so on and so forth, all while your income increase with each step (of the pyramid) that you create below you.
I don’t care what legal business practices you apply – when your compensation plan includes images like the one below, its a Pyramid Scheme:
Thankfully, when the presentation ended there was absolutely zero pressure for me to get on board or sign up for anything further. Thank God. While I realize that the right kind of person likely can profit from this type of investment, that person is definitely not me – first and foremost because I wouldn’t be caught dead inviting people over to get sucked into an evening such as this.
I really wish there was some sort of Dictaphone device that could record my thoughts – because I was doing everything I could to hold it together (especially during the DVD) and, honestly, one sideways glance would have sent me off the edge into the territory of hysterical laughter. Is this really happening? Why? Why Me?
Lesson Learned: Never accept mysterious invitations.