Business Opportunity Rule #535221-00064

Submission Number:
Justin Durand
Initiative Name:
Business Opportunity Rule
To whom it may concern at the Federal Trade Commission: My name is Justin Durand and I am writing about the Proposed Business Opportunity Rule. I have to say I was pleasantly surprised (and felt it was a long time coming) when I found out that MLMs were included within the spectrum of the Rule. However, when I found out about the change published on March 26, 2008 and when I subsequently read the arguments and rebuttals from both the industry and consumer protection groups, I was shocked and dismayed to realize that the FTC was so easily coerced by the entire MLM industry, their respective lobbyists and by congressmen who depend dearly on MLM financial contributions. This is a classic example of how interest groups can operate within a democracy to allow a very small minority to profit at the public expense. I find it shameful that the FTC, the very entity that is empowered by the federal government to protect consumers, cannot see through this ruse. Not only do I find it a nuisance when my friends or family endlessly try to sell me the next "MLM scheme", but I have seen how lives can literally be ruined by an obsession with multi-level marketing. Specifically, one friend comes to mind. He is older than me by many years and worked for my parents in our family business as a baker. He was a former cook in the Navy in World War II and gave over 20 years of service to his country. But starting in the mid 1970s he became obsessed with "get-rich-quick schemes". Recruiters from MLM companies filled his head with how easy it was to make money in the business, how he could "live the life he always imagined" and have a huge house, a beautiful wife and multiple cars. Let me tell you - Chris worked as hard as you can imagine at following his recruiter's directions on how to sell and market his products, but whether it was Amway or Herbalife, he barely made a dime. He literally spent every one of his monthly Navy pension checks on new programs or on trying to sell the programs or the products to someone else. Did he ever come close to having his "dream life"? Definitively not, and instead, I saw his truck impounded by creditors at least 5 times because he could not afford to make his car payments - he was spending all his money on MLM programs. Chris is not simply an example of one man who became obsessed in an otherwise "honest" industry, but literally the standard case. It was not a failure of effort, but the failure of our government to protect him from an industry who peddles what are, at heart, sugar-coated pyramid schemes from salesman who repeatedly make false earnings promises. To this day, with Chris now 86 years old, he is still trying to make it rich in the MLM industry, spending every last dime of his Navy pension on new offers. His example is not unique, and if you do a simple google or youtube search on any standard MLM program, you will find an entire swath of America that is in a similar state to Chris. I strongly ask you to please reconsider including MLM's within the Business Opportunity Rule. If this is impossible at this date, then at the very least, please kill the entire rule, for if you do not, the MLM industry will use it as precedent to justify all the actions of the industry. The Rule is meaningless anyway without the inclusion of MLM's and would be a waste of both your time and taxpayer resources. With this rule killed, maybe a different political environment will allow a new and better Rule to take its place. Please note - I am not some raving lunatic who has it in for corporate America. I was educated at Swarthmore College and now work on Wall Street and I simply believe that this industry survives by lying to and taking advantage of the poorest and least educated members of society - they deserve to be protected. Sincerely, Justin Durand