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Sound Familiar? 5 of the 15 Most Hated Multi-Level Marketing Companies Right Now [August 2018]

On August 10, 2018, just two days prior to the Watts Family Murder, Cheat Sheet published an authoritative list of the 15 most hated MLM companies in America.

The article opens with these ominous words:

If you have a social media account, then you’ve probably received a message from an old friend you haven’t spoken to in years. But usually that person isn’t reaching out because they miss you — they’re trying to rekindle your relationship so they can sell you something.

Multi-level marketing (MLM), also known as direct selling, is a strategy that some companies use to peddle their products. Consultants get paid by selling the product directly to friends and family in addition to recruiting new sellers into their “downline.” There are no physical store locations for this type of merchandise — if you want to order your leggings or anti-wrinkle cream, you have to call up your local sales rep.

Not all MLM companies are pyramid schemes — but many are universally reviled by both the people who work for them and the potential customers who are sick of constantly being pestered by friends to buy the products. Ahead, discover the most hated multi-level marking companies today — including the one with a billion dollar lawsuit pending (number 7).

Number 1 on Cheat Sheet’s list is LULAROE. Guess who sold LULAROE from home?

Number 12 on their list is YOUNIQUE. Guess who who was selling YOUNIQUE from her bathroom?


Cheat Sheet lists LE-VEL as their 13th most hated MLM company. Cheat Sheet’s description of Le-Vel is appropriately cautious:

If you’ve seen someone wearing a curious looking sticker on their skin, you may have come in contact with a Le-Vel brand promoter. If you believe that vitamin nutrition patches are just what you’ve been missing in your life, then go ahead and strike up a conversation with them.

The company sells these patches to help with weight management, mental clarity, increased energy, improved circulation, and appetite control. Do they work? That’s for you to decide — but it won’t be cheap to find out. Like other MLM companies, the more people you recruit to sell magic vitamin patches, the more you earn.


Two other hated MLM companies worth noting on this list are AMWAY and HERBALIFE.

Here’s the Cheat Sheet lowdown on Amway:

The largest and oldest MLM also has some of the biggest critics. Amway reported sales of $8.6 billion in 2017, making it a bona fide direct sales success story. But not everyone is thrilled with what they’re selling — or how they’re selling it.

MLM companies often tout flexibility and the opportunity to get rich quick. But Amway distributors aren’t always successful. One former rep put it this way:

“The two years I was supposedly building my Amway business, I lost nearly $10,000 on tapes, seminars, books, gas, and travel expenses for out-of-town seminars. My earnings? Less than $500 total. Since I was unemployed — and pretty much unemployable for any nonburger-flipping job — those $10,000 came exclusively from my grandmother, who was also my biggest (and only) Amway customer, buying expensive, ‘concentrated’ Amway products she didn’t need, every month to support me.”

Now, Herbalife.


Want proof that people hate Herbalife? The Federal Trade Commission mailed checks to 350,000 people who lost money running Herbalife businesses. This is one of the largest settlements and distributions the agency has ever made.

While they were never officially called a pyramid scheme, the PR disaster forced the company to restructure and seriously rethink their marketing efforts. The majority of profits came from recruiting new sellers, not from selling product. And that is the very definition of a pyramid scheme — whether they admit it or not.

If Shan’ann Watts was in over her head with Le-Vel, the fact that she was also drinking the MLM Kool-Aid with at least two other companies shows just how deep into a debt-trap the Watts family must have been in the summer of 2018.

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  1. Cheryl

    So in search of a more authentic, affordable brand, Chris exchanged his LeVel patch for a Metallica tattoo? At least the tattoo only had a one-time cost—or did it?

    This is interesting. I did not know she was selling other MLM products. When you asked what was in the basement, I’m now wondering if there wasn’t a lot of unsold MLM stuff stored below. Based on generally poor sales for MLM product, it must have been accumulating along with debt in the thousands. I recently read that only four-tenths of one percent of MLM promoters actually turn a profit, which is loosely defined as a mere minimum of $100 annually! Juxtapose that figure to the thousands of dollars spent on product, travel, leased cars,etc., and you have a real disaster. I would suspect the Watts were in worse financial shape in 2018 than in 2015, when they filed for bankruptcy. Tick tock—what a time bomb. And she was still hawking MLM product during the North Carolina trip just a few weeks prior to her and the children’s murders.

  2. Pauline

    I think Cheryl, she was planning on expanding her business to North Carolina in the event she and Chris split up (her suitcase full of product). If her parents were already using the product, and her brother, then she would hit on Hair Jazz customers, church goers, her parents friends, her brother’s friends, and so on while still keeping in regular internet touch with all of her Colorado people. It’s so very pie in the sky thinking though. It’s really Chris’s salary that is paying the bills, and once he left she would be counting on child support, and alimony to get that next house. Would Chris also have to continue to carry insurance on 2 children and his wife and new baby? But what I was wondering is when you of file for bankruptcy, don’t your assets have to be liquidated and sold to go toward paying off your debts? In that case all she would have would be her patches to sell, child support and alimony. It’s possible when Chris told a neighbor “we might have to sell the house” he wasn’t referring to divorce, but to his bankruptcy claim. More resentment – she’s responsible for the bankruptcy too, for if she got a modest job with a steady paycheck, it could at least go toward paying off some of those debts and dues.
    And what about the new car she was going to upgrade to? If she can’t make quota then not a good idea to get a new car with high car payments.

    In order to purchase a new house don’t you usually have to show a tax return? These MLM companies help you cover up the truth when it comes to tax time, simply pointing out all of the write offs you can enjoy when you file jointly with your husband because your tax return is going to show VERY little in either sales or commissions. And why? Because it all gets put back into the company, buy more products, sales aids, travel expenses, seminar costs, it’s a “pyramid” of inflated sales and no cash to show for it.

    • Cheryl

      Pauline, you are a great resource with your firsthand knowledge of MLM chicanery. Excellent points all, especially about Shan’ann’s MLM business relying on Chris’s steady paycheck to basically finance disaster, as well as likely selling the house because of another imminent bankruptcy, although I don’t think your primary residence is up for grabs in a filing; however if they sold the house for a profit, I believe those proceeds would be on the table. An absolute mess overall. These companies should be illegal.

    • Spock

      Pauline. They filed bankruptcy in 2015 and their debts were discharged. The assets are only sold if there’s enough equity in them to reasonably pay off other debts. I would guess that there wasn’t enough equity in the house at that time to force the sale. By law, they cannot file again for 8 years so a second bankruptcy would not be an option for them until 2023.
      So the only way out of any financial black hole would be to sell the house and use the equity to pay off all the debts.
      The fact that Chris even mentioned selling the house is the big red flag for me that they were circling the drain again financially.
      You make a good point about her getting a real job. In the videos we’ve learned that both the girls are in school.
      If she’s thinking she may have to move back to NC then I agree she would view that as a whole new market to add to her downline. I think the big LeVel payout for her was all the gliteratti that came with the whole MLM scheme. The car, the vacations, the business trips and most importantly the LeVel “family” that was always there for her at the click of her fingertips. The “family” that made her a star in her own productions.
      I’ve come to believe she didn’t want to sell that house and she didn’t want to give up her la-la land of LeVel.
      I don’t know if her brother was a Thriver but Chris’ sister was.

      • Cheryl

        Spock great clarification regarding the bankruptcy issue. If they couldn’t refile for another five years, it sounds as if the Saratoga home was as good as gone. “Circling the drain” indeed. Another good point about Shan’ann’s infatuation with the MLM bling: luxury cars, trips, but, I suspect, most importantly of all—the “friends.” With LeVel she acquired an instant community of “friendly” followers such that she never had growing up, where she was made fun of by, presumably, the in-crowd of popular girls.

  3. Pauline

    I think they did have an emotional conversation – at least it was very emotional on her part – Friday Aug. 10 before she left for Arizona. He may have gone back upstairs to continue the conversation Aug. 10 or 9 as she was packing. He used that bit of truth in his lie about it occurring at 4 a.m. Aug. 13. This is why she wasn’t feeling well that weekend. He looks at the baby monitor then, to make sure the kids aren’t disturbed by the arguing. By Saturday morning Aug. 11 he had made up his mind. Take them to the birthday party, come back and do what needs to be done, then wait for the big kahuna to return. No more talk, no more tears.

    • Cheryl

      Pauline, interesting—weaving truth into lies. You may be right about the scenario and its timing.

    • Spock

      Very interesting thought. So often bits of truth are intertwined with the lies.

      • Megan

        The same thing with murderer Jodi Arias.
        After she realized they had evidence she was there that day, she told the detective a long story how how the ninjas killed Travis. A man and a woman, a gun and a knife. What Travis said, how he was on the floor, etc.
        You then realize she’s telling bits of truth in there.

  4. Pauline

    Everyone here is so very knowledgeable and perceptive! I truly think we are getting to know the fake Chris and the real Chris here, something the news media will never be able to piece together. When this story first broke do you remember what the media said might have been the motive? That she was making so much more than he was and he was jealous! Wow.

    I did think at first $82 grand a year is nothing to sniff at. But I think it’s false reporting. It could be that her downline is generating $82K a year not in sales, but purchases. LeVel counts it as sales – it’s the sale of their products to YOU. Not the sale of your products to others. And if you are compelled to buy product every month (remember Sha’nann said she was excited she had just received the new pro bars and one of her Thrive family members said he was jealous because he hadn’t received his yet?) just to stay in multiply a monthly purchase buy times at least 10 recruits every month and you have an impressive “salary” at year end. I had to purchase $600 worth of product a month just to stay let’s say, relevant, I had 30 women “under” me, each of them purchasing $600 a month for which I received a small commission check, and really small when you consider it’s the MLM company who’s making all of the money, who’s selling, to you. If we could see her tax return we’d know the whole truth.
    I believe Amway has been sued several times. When one of these companies start to feel the heat they simply expand into other countries as seen in the picture above.

  5. Right44

    I just realized that Avon is an MLM. Maybe not quite so gross as others because sellers are not required to stockpile product, but still an MLM.

  6. Kelly McCauley

    Could all the vision of being wealthy ,successful, huge house ,expensive cars be the revenge she was hoping for?that hoping one of those bullies from the past would see a perfect life on her fb and she would get her revenge, no matter if it wasnt real, didn’t matter that They couldn’t afford that life , did not matter that those two little girls and husband was getting pushed aside until she needed them for props and basically give them a script, Chris watts is simply moving to another prison but this time with much more freedom.

  7. Rodney99

    This degrading of the murder victim must stop now. All these insinuations about Shanann are like some grotesque made up story. She is not here to defend herself.

  8. Julie

    I was enjoying the insightful discussion until Rodney came along. No body was degrading Shannan, Rod, smart people are just trying to understand the underlying possible motives for this heinous crime.

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