Is ViSalus a Pyramid Scheme?
- Company: ViSalus or Vi
- Founders: Nick Sarnicola, Ryan Blair and Blake Mallen
- Products: Weight Management Products
- Website: vi.com
- Cost to Join: $79 to $999 Starter Kits and optional $29 to $39 for Vi-Net sites
Who doesn’t want to live a life like one of the Kardashians? Who doesn’t want to have a wallet as fat as your miserable ex? Who doesn’t like to ride a sleek black BMW with a plate saying “F!LTHY R!CH” on your way to Starbucks just to meet someone? Would you turn it down if someone would offer such dreams to you? Heck! No one would… unless it is being offered by one of those multi-level marketing (MLM) folks out there. No, you wo-own’t! You know its reputation! You surely don’t want to be affiliated with such a dubious industry that can’t even draw a fine line that would separate itself from a pyramid scheme. Nevertheless, why are they still out there, immortals like the Queen? Why do we have MLM companies that despite being apparently suspicious still thrive? If there is one MLM company that reflects all those definitions, it’s ViSalus. In the face of this company’s problematic standing, why is still on the loose? Most importantly, is ViSalus a pyramid scheme?
Vi, Formerly known as ViSalus Sciences, is an American MLM company based in Los Angeles, California. With products promoting weight management, it penetrated various countries such as the United States, Canada, Italy and the United Kingdom.
In 1997 the company was started by two friends, Nick Sarnicola and Blake Mallen. In 2005, Vi was purchased by a wireless Internet developer, Ryan Blair. The two, despite what happened, were retained; Sarnicola as a sales chief and Mallen as chief marketing officer.
The company’s rollercoaster-like journey continued in the 2008 recession. That year, the company was on the brink of bankruptcy only to be saved by Robert B. Georgen, founder of Blyth, Inc., an MLM company selling home décor pieces. In 2010, the company managed to return to a state of profitability and in 2012 it reported extremely high growth rates which reached up to 450 percent. Unfortunately, with 114,000 distributors, its revenue declined in 2012 and in September 2014, Vi announced that it would be a private, independent company with only 31,800 distributors left. That same year, Vi stopped reporting its sales figures.
After all the ups and downs of this John McClane-like MLM company, Vi still manages to operate despite various allegations and lawsuits it faced. It includes Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act violations in October 2013 filed by Ocean Avenue, one of Vi’s rival direct selling nutrition companies. It was, of course… just like any other MLM companies, accused of pyramid scheming. It was pronounced by one CNBC commentator, Herb Greenberg, in 2012 saying that Vi marches "a controversial line between legal direct selling and pyramid scheme." Well, I’m sure Greenberg is not the only one thinking the same thing to Vi… and the entire industry, I must say.
The Products: The Price of Weight Loss
Vi promotes weight management products that are being offered in wide variety from drinks to snacks to supplements. Some of the most well-known products of the company include Vi-Shape Nutritional Shake Mix, a low fat, low sodium, low sugar, and lower carb protein blend; Vi-Slim, a supplement made of blended herbs which claims to support the body’s fat-burning process promoting lean muscle mass; and Nutri Bar, a snack made of blended whey, pea, rice, prebiotic fibers, vitamins, and minerals.
Just reading the components of the said products above might flatter anyone, especially those who are trying to be mindful of their food intakes. Nevertheless, despite the glitz and glamor gracing the visuals and packaging of Vi’s products, some question the ingredients the company is using in the production of its products.
It includes the use of garcinia cambogia which contains an ingredient called hydroxycitric acid (HCA). Various studies have been conducted to prove the efficacy of garcinia cambogia as an ingredient for promoting weight loss. Some results from these studies have produced amazing weight loss results, while others showed the supplement had little to no effect. Hence, its effects may vary.
The use of garcinia cambogia is also questioned due to some side effects that it could impose to some individuals. It includes headache, nausea, skin rash, common cold symptoms, digestive upset and lower blood sugar.
Obviously, the MLM company’s products cost higher than other dietary supplements available in the market. If you are going to try to check Vi’s website for its products’ prices, you might find yourself in a complete disappointment. Different from the typical sites presenting you directly the products’ prices, Vi’s website just gives its visitors the estimated prices that each serving of the product could cost. I know, infuriating. I mean, do I have to do the math just to get the price of a product’s entire pack? Worse, you need to first provide some information before being able to access the list of prices. Amazon, on the other hand, offers it for $52.95 for 29 ounce (Thanks, Amazon!) and even offers it at lower prices if purchased in two packs.
The site also features some videos comparing the nutritional value of each Vi Shake serving to the amount of vegetables and fruits that an individual needs to consume to get the same amount of nutrition. Witty. Well, yes it is. You might save a great deal of money in doing that. Only, there are other products offering the same nutritional value yet in loweeeeeer prices. Not just lower, even freaking H-A-L-F its freaking price. See it for yourself.
Then, Vi armies would contest, “But Vi Shake products are more effective and of more quality!” Oh, Brother, aren’t all companies producing such products say the same? Unfortunately, dietary supplements are not FDA-approved giving these companies all the freedom to produce desperate testimonies. So, present the public a study-based fact and it might consider believing all those claims.
How Do I Join?
You don’t need to worry about this part. If the company’s website is crashing EVERY SINGLE TIME you access its FAQ and Return Policy page (a lot of people say they experience the same, BTW… I mean, Vi, seriously?), accessing the links to get enrolled in the company is a pure picnic. The fact that the site is already requiring some of your information before it presents the price list obviously leads to this part.
To be a part of the company, you need to choose from three available Vi’s starter kits and purchase one. The starter kits are the Basic Starter Kit ($79), Executive Starter Kit ($499), and the Star Starter kit ($999). Obviously, the contents of the starter kits depend on the price you are willing to pay. But with the last kit’s price, I’d rather love my body.
Also, don’t forget that upon starting as a Promoter, expect that you need a website to promote your products. Vi offers three types of subscription for this. First is the Vi-Net Lite which is free, so expect limited tools and activities that you could do in this subscription. Your second subscription choice is the Vi-Net Pro that costs $29 a month. The payment gives you your website, tools and a magazine. In this way, you can simply refer your prospective buyers to your website where they can place their orders and you can access your site’s activities with tools provided. Lastly, the $39 Vi-Net Swipe comes with all the features of Vi-Net Pro with an access to the company’s exclusive ViSalus Swiper Technology, a unit you could plug into your device where your customers could swipe their credit cards. The swiper costs a one-time payment of $49.
Well, it is a good thing that ViSalus offers a free subscription for Vi-Net Lite though I am sure that the tools available there would totally be limited. However, the fact that it charges its Promoters, which is basically its OWN people, just to have access to the complete tools in promoting the business is quite offending. It is like charging office-based workers just to have access to their computers. Lastly, with the state of the company’s site that frequently C.R.A.S.H.E.S. whenever someone is accessing certain pages, it is surprising that ViSalus still has the audacity to promote charges just to have an access of this Vi-Net BS.
Compensation Plan: Finding Profit in a Maze
Vi’s compensation plan would promise you the world and the moon like a desperate teenage boy with a funky body smell trying to win a girl’s heart. I mean, all MLM compensation plans do the same just like in our other past reviews and you basically know where everything ended: ugly income figures. But it’s Vi! I mean, it is tougher than Queen Elizabeth II and Nokia 3310 phone! Perhaps there is some beauty hiding in its complex compensation plan that keeps the company running. With that, let’s see the ways you could earn at Vi and maybe, you might consider it giving it a try.
- Personal Customer Commissions
This commission is available to all “active” Promoters. Hence, before being eligible for this commission, you must first meet certain requirements to be considered active. It includes the quota for the Personal Qualifying Volume (PQV). The minimum of the PQV to be considered as an active promoter is 200 PQV a month which seems to be quite a struggle for anyone starting the business. With this, Vi offers an optional monthly delivery that consists of 125 PQV. Vi gets ensured of continuous flow of income for the company and the Promoter doesn’t need to bother selling more products to get the remaining 75 PQV. Win-win, at least that’s what they think.
Once considered active and depending on the Personal Bonus Volume (PBV or the volume that is generated by your personal purchases and the purchases of your customers) you would be able to collect during the commission period, you would be eligible for percentages of commission from products you would be able to sell. It starts at 201-500 PBV granting you 10 percent commission and up to 2,501 PBV and above giving you 30 percent commission. Sadly, unlike other MLM compensation plans that only require low PBV, you won’t get any commission in Vi unless you reach the 201 PBV requirement. So, with that 200 PBV, no soup for you, Honey.
- First Order Bonus
First order Bonus (FOB) happens when you enroll a new Promoter under your downline. After purchasing a starter kit and the Promoter purchases “additional” purchases besides that kit (as if $79 to $999 kits are not enough), you as the personal enroller would be eligible for a 20 percent commission from that additional item. Not just that, your uplines would also benefit from that purchase ranging from 5 to 10 percent. You see, that’s the power of pyrami… I mean First Order Bonus.
- Fast Start Bonus
Just like the FOB, you could benefit from the sale you are personally selling to someone. In this case, you need to promote the Executive Promoter System (EPS). It is just like a bigger version of starter kits, only it consists of a lot of products like magazines, training booklet, guides, compensation plans, product guides, journal, sample products and packs of Vi-Shape Nutritional Shake Mix. By selling it, you could earn commissions depending on your rank. Thus, the higher the rank that sells the EPS, the bigger the commission would be. Just like the First Order Bonus, your uplines can also benefit from this bonus without even doing anything. Say, you as a Director managed to sponsor someone the EPS, you would get the $115 bonus. Your upline closest to you is your Area Director. That rank then gets the difference between your FOB rate and his or her FOB rate. Hence, $115 minus $130, your Area Director gets $15.
Some parts of the sale would also be reserved for the commission of the 2nd Generation, if the said generation is available.
- Team Commissions
This allows you to be eligible for the commissions from the Product Volume (PV) made by your team. ViSalus uses a unilevel compensation plan which means that you are going to earn certain commissions from certain levels on your downline. The higher your rank is, the deeper the level you would be eligible for. Once you reach the high ranks, starting from Ambassador to Global Ambassador rank, you would be able to enjoy the commission from Level 1 down to Level 8. The good thing about this commission is that an Active Promoter, which is the lowest rank, is already eligible for two commission levels. Sadly, every rank in this structure is getting the same percentage of commission given the fact that most of them are uplines that have nothing to do with particular sales generating the PV. Thus, they are getting the same benefit as those who personally worked for certain sales.
- Leadership Depth Bonus
Once reaching the Ambassador rank, you would be eligible for this bonus that lets you go deeper beyond Level 8 in the Team Commission. This makes the Ambassador and the higher ranks to be eligible for a 4 percent bonus from Level 9 to infinity levels, depending on how massive their downlines would branch out.
- PBV Club
I certainly don’t know why they included the word “club” in this jargon phrase. It might make someone think of it as a fun club or organization granting you enjoyable freebies and prizes but actually, it is far from that. This bonus simply means you need to exceed or provide more than a thousand PBV just to earn an additional $50 in your monthly income. Geez.
PS: You know what is more interesting about Vi? It is their former Free BMW bonus where in specific ranks used to get BMW as a “compensation” for their hard work. The qualified Promoters in high ranks would receive $600 given that they reach specific quotas and requirements. And that’s the catch. Once you fail, you wouldn’t get the $600 to pay the BMW car UNDER. YOUR. NAME. So, yeah, basically, you would pay for it. Lucky for you, it seems that this bonus doesn’t exist anymore as it is not included in Vi’s Compensation Plan (that I found by doing third-party research… Vi’s crash-prone website is secretive as hell).
Income Disclosure Statement: Making Money at Vi
As you know, the income disclosure statements of all companies reflect the efficacy of their compensation plans for their people. That’s simply true! It shows whether the lucrative fantasies MLM recruiters are mentioning are something attainable or just pure bait. Some companies, despite the concrete ugly numbers they have, manage to release their income disclosure statements. Covering it with twists and turns, glitz and glam, sugar, spice, and everything nice, these MLM companies try to lead you in a maze of numbers and words that you would barely understand. That’s how MLM companies try to pathetically conceal failure.
Then, we have ViSalus which stopped reporting its sales figures in 2014. Yes, you read that right. ViSalus stopped reporting its sales figures together with the release of its Income Disclosure Statement. So, no, none, zero and nadah! Nothing available on its mysterious information-lacking site and not even on third-party websites. Nothing. Squeeze the internet all you want and you’ll find nothing. ViSalus founders are probably sitting on those papers containing the figures we want to see.
So, what do we do? Do we give up unanswered how much an average ViSalus Promoter earns? Well, no. let’s have some theoretical calculations based on the available information I managed to rummage.
According to the site named PR Newswire in its March 2013 article, Vi’s total 2012 annual sales reached $623 million. That seems to be a large sum of money, doesn’t it? Of course, but let us dig deeper. On another site named Lazy Man and Money, it was reported that of that astounding million sales Visalus made in 2012, it generated $136.7 million with over 92,000 Promoters in its most recent quarter. So thinking about it, with quarters made of three months divided to 92, 000 individuals, it gives us at least $495 if that amount would be equally distributed to those people. Unfortunately, and most possibly, more than half of those millions of dollars were taken by ViSalus since it needed to continuously produce products. So, just think about that theoretical $495 cut into half. Two hundred forty-seven dollars.
Worse, that idea is based on 2012 information. The worst? In 2016 the company laid-off 87 workers at its Troy facility due to declining sales and legal problems and prior to that, ViSalus Promoters declined to 31,800 in September 2014. Oh, good! Less numbers of heads sharing those millions, right? No. Remember, less Promoters, less income for the company. This shouldn’t surprise us why Vi isn’t releasing its Income Disclosure Statement anymore.
Diving in: Is ViSalus a Scam?
Despite strong accusations that seemed to be backed with logical reasons, ViSalus is not a legit MLM company. It is not a scam. There is a fine line between the two. Legit MLMs rely on the flow of income being generated by the products being sold by its people. This income flows starting from the bottom of the MLM’s pyramid-like system to the top ranks in the structure. This system leaves those at the bottom with little to nothing while those at the top enjoy lucrative earnings. On the other hand, illegal pyramid schemes rely on the flow of money coming from recruits who were fooled to believe in investing in something that doesn’t exist, not even products or service.
Though Vi’s past scandals put it on a faded line between MLM and scams, it is still standing and trying to thrive in its own way. We do despise its spiteful BMW Bonus and its secrecy in its information but as of now, admit it or not, ViSalus is just a feeble company trying to survive after all the things it has gone through. Frail as an old woman but still a snake you should be cautious of. ViSalus reflects the last dull phase of MLM companies. Failure.
So, should you join and dive in? Well, of course you can. I heard you’re suicidal.
Weighing Things: Pros and Cons
Before you make your final verdict, let us first recount the advantage and disadvantages of joining Vi.
- The products seem amazing. Reiterating it: Seem. At least that’s what I saw from a lot of testimonies out there. Of course, with proper diet and exercise, it would work.
- The products never go out of style. As I’ve said, products focusing on health care are always on demand and you can always find your target market everywhere.
- At early rank, you can already enjoy various bonuses and earn commissions.
- The Vi products, just like other weight management products, are not proven. Despite all those claims and before and after shots, those remain claims unless backed with truthful data.
- Some ingredients of the company’s products are something you should be careful of.
- The website, oh… that freaking site always crashes. A lot of people have been reporting the same experience and worse, ViSalus is charging its Promoters to get access to Vi-Net Pro and Vi-Net Swipe. The audacity!
- The website offers small to no help to you when it comes top scrutinizing its background. That’s a red flag. Trust me, Honey.
- The Vi’s Compensation Plan favors those at the top. I mean, all comp plans do but Vi is doing it in a whole new level, especially on its Team Commissions. Really, five percent on all ranks? Also, you won’t get anything from your Personal Customer Commission unless you reach the 200 PBV requirement.
- Vi is not releasing its Income Disclosure Statement. No explanation needed why it is one of the cons.
Conclusion: The Verdict
To be honest, ViSalus is one of the MLM reviews that took me some time doing. Not just because of its secretive nature and unavailability of information about the company but because of vast points that should be covered. I know that you still have questions that remain unanswered and that prove how clueless you would be in any case you consider diving into this MLM opportunity.
We know that all companies want nothing but prosperity and that’s what ViSalus is doing: fighting despite its apparent adversity. Only, you wouldn’t want to join a company that is on the brink of collapsing and meeting its final moment.
I hope I answered most of your questions regarding this MLM company. I know that you are still looking for something better and legitimate that would offer you certain possibilities of earning beautiful figures. Well, we can help you! We have been enjoying our lives at the comfort of our homes while earning well. Click here and discover it!