Is Usborne Books a Scam? Book of Truth Propped Open

Once upon a time, there was a humble peasant by the name Susan. With her rounded red lips, hair as black as starless night, skin as white as snow, and face molded by angels, she was loved by the people of her town. She was the fairest of all the ladies and, so, it was no doubt why all men followed her in each gaze. Then, one day, Susan met an old witch and offered the lovely maiden an opportunity that would turn her into a princess: Usborne Books! With great delight, Susan accepted the bag of papers and tried to sell them at retail price around town with all her might. With her enticing beauty, she easily sold all of them but to her surprise, calculating her investment, she just profited no more than $45! Her eyes instantly swelled with tears and that was when her fairy godmother appeared to console her. With her beautiful crying eyes buried on the glowing fairy’s dress, Susan asked, “Is Usborne Books a scam?”

“You fool!” murmured the fairy.

“What?”

“I mean, bibidi-bobidi-boo! I’ll show what fooled you!”

The Basics

  • Company: Usborne Books
  • Products: Books and Educational Materials
  • Founder: Peter Usborne
  • Website: www.usborne.com
  • Cost to Join: $75 or $125 for Educational Consultant Kit

Building a company that sells books and aims to educate the young minds would surely give you an innocent and respected reputation in the market. Perhaps, this is one of the reasons why Usborne Books became one of the big companies in multi-level marketing (MLM) that reached the peak of the industry.

The start of the company itself could be compared to a fairytale. Peter Usborne, the founder of the company, received a call from his wife in 1973 telling him that he was going to be a father. With the utter excitement and bliss he felt that instant, Peter Usborne decided to create books that would be colorful, exciting, and captivating for his soon-to-be child and so as for other youth.

After years of success brought by a perfect vision, the company managed to grow and expand in different places. The child who started Peter Usborne’s dream, Nicola Usborne, then became the company’s Deputy MD who has been working alongside her father now for further development of the company.

Usborne Books was originally founded in the UK but in 1989, Usborne Books started its direct selling wing to further enlarge its sales by focusing on conducting “home parties” that would directly offer and sell books to customers. With this, the company became a member of the Direct Selling Association that operates under an MLM model business.

Its parent company, the Educational Development Corporation (EDC), is the company’s sole US trade publisher. It was incorporated in 1965 aiming to create curriculum materials that would be fit for the education being offered in schools and in 1978, the Publishing Division of the company was started to distribute its books. EDC has also been recognized twice by Forbes as one of the best and fastest growing companies in the world.

With that, the Usborne Books continued to make a mark in the industry and even garnered different awards.

In 2014, Usborne Books was named both Independent Publisher of the Year and Independent Children’s Publisher of the Year in The Independent Publishers Guild awards. Then, in 2017, Usborne Books was hailed Nielsen BookScan data as the most successful children’s publishing company in the UK in 2017.

The company’s success continued in 2018 by ranking 137th in the Sunday Times HSBC International Track 200. This list tracks UK’s mid-market private companies with the fastest-growing international sales. This same year, Usborne Books also won the CILIP Carnegie Medal which is just one of the major awards that the company has received.

With that said, Usborne Books’ history can really be compared to fairytale. Only, would you also find your fairytale in joining this company or would you find a traumatic horror story?

The Products

Usborne Books offers a wide variety of books that are available for infants to young adults and with prices that range from $10 to $30. One of the good things about Usborne Books is that it houses a team of more than 35 editors and writers and over 50 designers who all have passion for creating books. This gives the company a personal touch and “complete creative control” in the production of its books as the company assures that “an Usborne book takes as long as it takes – it doesn’t leave the building until it’s just right.”

It states: “We employ the brightest, most creative people and ask them to put kids at the centre of everything they do. We ask them to think like kids and experience things like kids, with curiosity and wonder.

“As a company we are constantly innovating, looking for new ways to engage children with books and reading – and we’re ambitious for our readers. We know children are big thinkers with an insatiable hunger for fascinating facts and new ideas and we want to challenge them with complex topics.”

The company also brags its motto that says “Do It Better” as the company aspires to create books that would be “read again and again, that they carry with them everywhere, read under the bedcovers by torchlight and that they remember into adulthood.”

With its at least 2,500 selection of books, it is also surprising that the company offers its products to more than 130 different languages to serve other youths in other countries. Some of the language book translations being offered by the company are in French, German, Italian, Korean, Dutch, Spanish, Brazilian Portuguese, Catalan and Chinese.

To prove its sincerity in serving other countries, the website of the company also provides links in various languages that would direct its customers to specific sites that use languages fit to them. One of these sites is in the Usborne Korea that says: 어스본의 한국어 번역본은 어스본 코리아의 이름으로 출간 됩니다.  한국어 웹사이트 Usborne.kr 에서 확인 해 주세요.

Of course, Susan, we can’t read that. But in any case you want to check the links available in other languages, you can visit Usborne Books’ site.

How Do I Join?

Isn’t it fun to help in educating the youth while you earn? Well, that’s one of the perks of being an Usborne Organizer.

Finding the 2016 UK compensation plan of Usborne Books wouldn’t be hard for anyone. Unfortunately, finding the updated US-counterpart compensation plan of the company seems impossible unless you enroll yourself as an Organizer of the company. It was proven by owner and author of the review site Dear Boss, I Quit when he asked for the company’s compensation plan wherein he was asked to provide his telephone number and address to bring him “in contact with an Independent Organizer” in his area. Obviously, no one in the right state of mind would jump into such a situation without scrutinizing the compensation plan himself/herself. After a few more exchanges, the person in contact then asked him “what a compensation plan is.” Okaaay. That’s weird.

Anyway, after explaining what a “compensation plan” is, the author was still pushed to provide his details. Okaaay. That was one pushy individual and one crazy exchange.

With that, let us have the 2016 UK Compensation Plan. First off, to join the company, you need to purchase an Educational Consultant Kit that is in two choices: the New Consultant Mini Kit that costs $75 and the New Consultant Kit that costs $125. These starter kits would certainly help an Organizer to present concrete products to possible customers. However, Usborne Organizers are not required to have their inventory as most of the books are being offered online.

After this, you would be allowed to conduct an Usborne party by finding a party host. Of course, finding one could be really difficult and as a response to this, Usborne Books offers various perks for hosts who agree to have it. It includes a free gift which always comes in two choices and varies each month; 10 percent of the total party sales value in form of free books but a total of 20 percent would be offered for hosts who would welcome Organizers new to the business; and additional books at 50 percent discount for each future booking that should be held within six calendar weeks of the event. In this, the host may only order a maximum of three items. Nevertheless, according to the document of the company itself, these perks would be received by the hosts given that the parties could produce “Sales Value of £100+.”

In this, you could start offering and selling books to your customers who would join the party by presenting them the available stocks through catalogue and leaflets. Unfortunately, the available books could vary anytime since the production of books is continuous. That said, most Organizers are encouraged to print the available stocks themselves by visiting the website. Your customers, on the other hand, can pay you by cash, credit card, debit card, or by cheque. After your customers paid you the full value of the items they have ordered, you would enter the order online and pay the company the net value of the product after deducting your commission and leaving you with the balance.

However, there are teeny tiny things that are quite bothering about this. Here are some of them as stated by the company’s compensation plan itself:

There are some small charges for the following standard services:

  • £2 towards the cost of the party host benefits package.
  • £4.00 standard carriage charge for your order.
  • £1.50 extra handling charge for orders with a sales value of less than £100

I know. No need to further explain this but as a short statement: you shoulder the expenses just to make the sales for the company possible. Annnd you as an Organizer “pay £2 towards party host benefits.” Wow. I never heard of an MLM that grants rewards to hosts to the expense of consultants who are already bringing in sales to the company. Just wow.

Also, you need to meet specific sale requirements to keep your status active. According to the company:

“In the unlikely event that you do not submit orders to the total value of £100+ within 12 weeks of joining Usborne, you will be invoiced for the difference between the price you paid for the Starter Kit and the retail price.”

Hence, if you wouldn’t be able to make a value of £100+ sale requirement in your first three months, Usborne would make you pay the books! 

You got that, Susan? You pay them.

Compensation Plan: How Do I Earn?

So, after realizing the points that you should know before jumping into the business of selling Usborne books, how would you earn? According to Usborne’s compensation plan, Organizers are eligible for a 24% Organizer commission from the total sales value of each order. For school and library orders, it’s 20% commission.

Nevertheless, the perks of Organizers are not limited to the provided compensation above. Given that, here are the other ways you could earn at Usborne Books. Let's have a look at Usborne Books' compensation plan.

  • Personal Sales Bonus

An Organizer is eligible for 2 percent Personal Sales Bonus a month if – and only if – he or she would be able to produce sales exceeding £1000. Hence, in every £1000, you would have £20. Basically, it’s twenty for your compensation versus a thousand of your hard work. Hmm… Compensating?

  • Mentor Bonus

By recruiting other Organizers to be a part of your team, you earn 6 percent Mentor Bonus which is taken from the sales of anyone you recruit. However to do this, you must be able to reach at least £100 sales for the month and so as your members.

  • Rank Advancement Bonus

This bonus is given to the Organizers who are able to be promoted to specific ranks such as Team Leader (TL receives £100 but would be turned to £200 if the individual could achieve the promotion within three calendar months from the end of the month in which he or she first joined as an Organizer), Group Leader (£ 250), Divisional Leader (£500), and Executive Leader (£1,000).

  • Personal Team Bonus

This bonus starts at the Team Leader rank up to Executive Leader rank that would all receive 5 percent commission on their Personal Team Sales (PTS or the sales that include your personal sales and the personal sales of all Organizers in your personal team, on all levels, down to but excluding the next Leader and their team) every month.

  • Team Productivity Bonus

Since leaders are just required to at least reach a number of £1,500 PTS a month, Usborne Books grants £100 Team Productivity Bonus for those leaders of any status who would be able to generate more than £3000 in any computed month.

  • Team Building Bonus

Through the continuous growth of your team with you leading your downline as a TL, you would soon have your own generations. These generations could be formed by producing TLs from the recruits you have under you.

Team Building Bonus is of three levels: Level 1 (TBB1 – Team Leader), Level 2 (TBB2 Group Leader – Divisional Leader), and Level 3 (TBB3 – Executive Leader). By producing your first TL, you will earn 6 percent TBB1 on the Personal Team Sales of your 1st Generation TL, provided that both you and him or her qualify for Team Leader Commission. On the other hand, TBB2 gives you 2 percent of the Personal Team Sales of all qualifying Team Leaders on your 2nd Generation while TBB3 gives you 2 percent of the Personal Team Sales of all qualifying Team Leaders on your third 3rd Generation.

  • Executive Productivity Bonus

As an Executive Leader, you could be eligible for 1 percent of your Total Title Sales (TTS includes your personal sales plus the personal sales of all Organizers in your downline down to but excluding the TTS of an Organizer with the same or higher title as yours) when those sales reach £40,000+ in a computed month.

  • Executive Leader Bonus

Once reaching the Executive Leader rank, you should also help others in your downline to reach the highest possible promotion they could have. By generating an Executive Leader out of your team, you would be eligible for a 0.5 percent bonus of the TTS of the Executive Leader who would be promoted out of your downline. Nevertheless, do remember that this bonus is only paid on one generation of promoted Executive Leaders.

With that, here is the succession of ranks at Usborne Books that you need to need to attain before benefitting from the said compensations.

  • Organizer
  • Team Leader
  • Group Leader
  • Divisional Leader
  • Executive Leader

How Much Do Usborne Consultants Make?

We do applaud MLM companies that bravely provide their own income disclosure statements. Besides the fact that it adds to the integrity of the company by being transparent, it also allows the public to have an insight of what to expect before diving into any opportunity.

However, after a lot of digging, I found nothing except the sugar-coated estimations of what Organizers could earn as stated by the company itself or claims from its Organizers.

However, I read an 2017 article from a website name Smart Money Mamas wherein the author of the article claimed that she conducted a survey among 20 Usborne Organizers who had been with the company for an average of a year and a half, ranging from 1 month to several years.

According to the author’s self-conducted survey, “Average monthly income for the consultants I surveyed ranged from $150 to $4,100 with $550 of monthly earnings as the median.”

Furthermore, the article stated that 27 percent of the Organizers had less than $1,000 monthly income, 18 percent had $501 to $1,000, 41 percent had $201 to $500 and 14 percent had $0 to $200.

Though it is truly impressive that the author made the effort of conducting a survey to limited numbers of Usborne Organizers, we just can’t simply rely on these figures since 20 heads wouldn’t even be able to cover half the number of Usborne Organizers worldwide.

Also, with the conclusion that the median earnings of those 20 Organizers didn’t even reach half of the indicated highest possible earning proves that such opportunity couldn’t replace a full-time job.

Lastly, with the compensation plan being offered by Usborne Books that apparently favors the extreme high positions, it is impossible for those at the bottom of the system to earn a fair amount of income unless they push for higher ranks – not to mention the demanding requirements of the company to stay active and to attain bonuses.

With this, it is no wonder why Usborne conceals its Organizer’s figures.

Is Usborne Books a Scam?

Despite the obvious downsides being offered by Usborne Books, we can certainly assure you that the company is not a scam – at least legally. But why do individuals speculate and entertain such an idea about the company? Well, because Usborne and the rest of companies in the MLM industry use a system that resembles a pyramid scheme.

A pyramid scheme relies on the flow of investment being entrusted by unknowing individuals believing that there is a product or service that could generate profit for the entire system. However, the scam only depends on the investment of recruits that feeds the pockets of the members of the scheme. Unfortunately, the flow of these recruits would soon exhaust that would cause the fall of the structure.

On the other hand, an MLM produces its profit by selling products and services to the market. Nonetheless, the fact that it builds its system by piling the recruits in a pyramid structure is something you should think about. In this system, the TOPPs (top-of-the-pyramid promoters) get most of their earnings through the commission they are sucking away from those new recruits under them or their downline. Despite the fact that MLMs present the term “commission” as some sort of positive compensation to the public, it serves as a burden for those at the bottom of its structure. This always explains why the few TOPPs receive large sums of earnings while a lot of individuals at the bottom of the system get little to nothing that soon leads to the failure of system.

According to Jon M. Taylor, MBA, Ph.D. in his study entitled “The Case (for and) Against Multi-level Marketing,” such an arrangement contributes to the systemic problem of the industry.

The study states:

“MLM as a business model is the epitome of an ‘unfair or deceptive acts or practice’ that the FTC is pledged to protect against. It is even worse than classic, non-product pyramid schemes (for which the loss rate is only about 90%) and ‘pay to play’ chain letters. For promoters to present MLM as a ‘business opportunity’ or ‘income opportunity’ is a misrepresentation.”

So, could you really find a fairytale in the MLM industry? Bibidi-bobidi-NO!

Weighing Things: Pros and Cons

Before diving into this opportunity, let us first see the advantage and disadvantages that you should consider.

Pros

  1. The company has a good reputation in the industry. With the awards it is bragging about, it wouldn’t be hard for you to get your customer’s trust in the quality of the products.
  2. The products are quite impressive. A lot of them received positive feedback from customers.
  3. The products are affordable.
  4. Organizers are not encouraged to have their inventories and that’s a good thing since maintaining inventories could be expensive.
  5. Joining the opportunity is affordable unlike other MLM companies that charge you monthly for some crappy website thingy. Right, LimeLife?

Cons

  1. The company’s compensation plan presents demanding requirements before being eligible for a piece of bonus.
  2. The company doesn’t provide an income disclosure statement and its updated compensation plan to the public. We all want a transparent company. No one would dive into an opportunity without a clue of what he or she would be having.
  3. In any case you wouldn’t be able to produce a £100+ sale in your first three months, you would be charged for the books. Ouch!
  4. You need to pay £2 towards the cost of the party host benefits package. Ouuuch!
  5. You need to conduct a lot of parties if you want to make great numbers of sales. This might not work if you are an introvert. Also, don’t forget that you also need to invest time for preparation of these parties.
  6. Despite us not being able to see the company’s income disclosure statement, just the details of the compensation plan obviously tells us that you won’t be getting much from this opportunity… Unless you instantly and miraculously got promoted to the highest rank which, of course, is impossible.

Conclusion: The Verdict

It is undeniable that Usborne Books made an impressive mark in the industry through the recognition and awards it received. Nevertheless, the triumph of the company doesn’t just stop there. It includes the success being earned by the people it shelters. With the obvious facts presented, you know where Usborne Books falls and where you would fall after joining this opportunity.

Thank you for reading this article. I hope that I helped you to be enlightened with those facts about Usborne Books. Nonetheless, if you are still looking for better ways to earn, we could help you! No more sharing of commissions or pestering friends and relatives! Click here and know how.

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Santiago

Santi used to work as a private school teacher and a YouTube script writer. Through the recommendation of his friend, Kyle, he decided to make affiliate marketing his full-time job. Now, it helps him to earn more and to enjoy his work at home.

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