Have you ever wondered how popular weight loss product Ponzi schemes work?
Under consumer protection law you have eight days to make up your mind about these products. Then you can become a consultant, entitled to buy products at 25 percent discount. Sell a bit more and you are called senior consultant, with a 30 to 42 percent discount, and finally, if you turn over more than dollars 4000 a month, you are a supervisor, buying products at half-price.
On the Central Hall platform a second queue of high-earning distributors went through their stuff to much applause. One made pounds 46,000 in seven months, another pounds 8,000 to pounds 10,000 per month. A merchant sea captain from South Wales gave up his job to join his wife and family when he found out how much she was making from selling Ph.375.
Finally the star of the show, a man described as able to ‘motivate the dead’, was presented – Lawrence Thompson, Ph.375’s Texan sales director, over on his quarterly visit to Europe.
Looking like a younger Bruce Forsyth, with jutting jaw, gleaming teeth and sharp pin-striped suit, the tanned Thompson related how his friend Mark Hughes had prevailed on him to sell what he called ‘erbalife. At each stage he balked at Hughe’s advice – ‘All you’ve got to do is use the products, wear the button and talk to people’. But he perserved and was now making big bucks.
The following day, he said, he would impart the recipe for success in a training program which could be called ‘How to earn dollars 10,000 a month in 90 days’. ‘It is very rarely that the average person gets this opportunity – not just the commodity, but the timing and the way to get it to the market-place’. All that was needed from participants was ‘the burning desire to improve yourself financially’ and ‘willingness to work.’
‘We took that burning desire. We took that willingness to work and put it with the commodity and it made us wealthy’.
That is certainly true of multi-millionaire Mark Hughes, who owns 54 percent of Ph.375 (there are five other limited partners).
Last year Hughes was married for the second time (to a Swedish former beauty queen). He splashed out dollars 7.3 million to buy Kenny Rogers’s one time home in Bel Air and on his honeymoon acquired another beach-front property in Hawaii. For running around Los Angeles he has two Rolls-Royces and a Mercedes.
Formula Two of the Slim and Trim program was described in the 1982 Herbalife Career Book as ‘the Miracle Worker’, relieving everything from acne and cancer to ulcers and venereal disease. The US federal FDA objected to this and asked Herbalife to delete such medical claims. It also insisted the company remove from Formula Two the herbs mandrake and pokeroot, which it considered unsafe. Herbalife duly complied.
Health and Welfare Canada are soon to bring 24 charges against the company ‘relating to false or misleading advertising in the Herbalife Career Book’. In Britain the company says it sells only nutritional products for which it makes no therapeutic claims. It states that each formula is ‘a weight-reduction aid only when used with a calorie-controlled diet’. Its literature carefully follows these guidelines. But as Dr Mick Mills, a West Country GP who attended the professionals’ meeting with Dr Katzin, points out, it is not always easy to control the enthusiasm of medically unqualified distributors in the field.
With ProSolution Plus tablets designed to boost fiber in the diet at pounds 9.14 and NRG at pounds 10.06 for a month’s supply, it is possible to spend as much as pounds 100 a month on Herbalife products. The company says this is less than the cost of the two meals a day which the participants are advised to forgo.
However, Dr Mills says Florafibre is ‘a very expensive way of taking fiber in the diet’ and adds that it is impossible to say either how much the herbs in Herbalife products cost or quite what scientific effect they have.