are you ready for OPPORTUNITY?

This is the first Sunday in weeks that I haven’t encountered some fraudulent multilevel marketing (pyramid scheme) operator working a mark at Diedrich’s Coffee, my usual hangout. Maybe there’s a convention.

Just about always the table next to me on the patio is occupied by one of these scenes. After a few minutes of reading I’m drawn into eavesdropping by key phrases (“new technology”, “growth potential”, “own business”) and I sit back, sip my beverage, and drift into their world.

Some examples:

  • Aging, tanned guy with comb-forward hair, sunglasses, Texas accent talking about diet and hair restoral technologies with hapless eager couple. He keeps talking about things like “this technology protrudes into the hypodermis” and the $10 billion market for something or other. He has lots of binders with him. He keeps talking about the people involved, including “Lars” who is a star in this world. “You can’t lose with Lars.” They seem happy about it all.
  • Wide eyed unhappy 20something gay guy trying to get another somewhat less wide eyed guy to go for a scheme that isn’t apparent just from eavesdropping. He’s using the SPIN technique to sell the guy, but goes from Situation to Problem and can’t seem to go further, sliding back to the S part. This goes on for roughly two hours as my friend Pretty Boy Dave and I sit nearby. The experiment is a failure and they both leave.
  • Large comfortable woman with lots of binders tries to convince another large woman that Primerica is the way to go. Lots of braying about how “AS SINGLE MOTHERS WE NEED TO PROVIDE!” and heavy emphasis on work-at-home success. Papers are exchanged and a long discussion of how much money a person could be known to make at this type of situation! ensues.

Rule: do not ever do business with anyone who has no office and wants to meet you at a coffee house.

9 thoughts on “are you ready for OPPORTUNITY?

  1. Overheard conversations
    Sometimes I can’t help but overhear, and sometimes I’m in an eavesdropping mood. This sort of thing comes up in conversation with my friends quite a bit, and there are a couple of classics we always go over:

    Natalie hearing “I don’t know if you can do that with just one rabbi.” from a woman talking into a cell phone. I have done research on this subject, and I have yet to figure out what you need more than one rabbi for. (There are some things you need three men for, but only one has to be a rabbi.)
    Willis, my roommate, as he was waiting tables at Black-Eyed Pea, heard as he was passing a table where two men were seated, “Don’t think of it as a pyramid scheme.” Oh, holy crap. My advice: RUN, DON’T WALK.

    A popular use of the whiteboard at our apartment is to put up bits of overheard conversation. A recent one was “Who’s touching my nipple?”.

  2. SPIN technique
    My only experience with mulit-level marketing occured when I was about 18 or so. My two best friends and I were hanging out at some new friends’ house, smoking pot and talking. The mew friends kept referring to some great videotape they were going to play and how it had changed their lives.
    FInally the tape in question was played and it was some Tony Robbins-type guy on a stage hocking organic, non-toxic elixers and whatnot. Then our new ‘friends’ started pushing the products that they just happened to keep at the house.
    I ran away like a frightened rabbit, but one of my friends was ensnared and wouldn’t leave! Eek!

  3. They are not only at our usual Diedrich’s, but also at the one across from work. There was the middle-aged guy, with the total salesman look, with his binder (open, to reveal glossy brochures), talking to some wide-eyed woman about how many friends she can get into the scheme. I was unable to hear the details of the scheme in question, as I had to return to work, but it certainly smelled very MLM.
    I am from the People’s Republic of Unified Nigerian Provinces. I want to share with you the magic of hair tonic contained in this blue pill. The only side effect, weight loss, is beneficial to all. So, to show you are a trustworthy person, have 20 of your friends give me their bank account information and I will deposit $100,000 of my family’s fortune in each account.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.