Local entrepreneurs fire back at FTC report

Statements in multi-level marketing study upset some business men and women

By Nikki Kimbleton - The Morning Show anchor
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - There's been backlash against the federal trade commission after they issued results from a study of multi-level marketing companies.

Last week, the FTC said that 99 percent of people lose money with MLM's. They stated, "these companies make even gambling look like a safe bet in comparison."

With the economic downturn, a lot of people who rely on these companies to put food on the table are sounding off to Channel 4.

When we aired the story from the FTC last week, we heard from all kinds of people selling items like Visalus, Mary Kay and several different jewelry companies.

Like all of the company representatives in MLM's, they had to put down some money to start selling, but they disagree with the FTC's findings.

Stylist Beth Sullivan appears on "The Morning Show" often, but her side business as a Lia Sophia jewelry consultant has her fired up over the FTC's comments.

Sullivan said, "I'm going to strongly disagree because if you're in something that you love, you're going to naturally sell the product. That's what it's been like for me."

And Lia Sophia is just one of many MLM's Sullivan has worked for.

"I've done Mary Kay, Doncaster, Protandim and now Lia Sophia," she said.

Mike Craig is also surprised by the FTC's comments. He and his wife have been involved in multi level marketing companies as long as they can remember.

"We've been in and around it for almost 20 years," Craig said.

The couple found huge success when they helped bring Visalus to Jacksonville several years ago and they're also sounding off about the FTC calling the MLM industry "flawed, unfair, and deceptive" as well as "extremely viral, predatory and harmful."

"My comment would be there's a serious lack of understanding from that level of what a good sale business is all about," Craig said.

While Sullivan and the Craig's have found success, not all of the stories involving MLM's have a happy ending. That's what fueled the FTC's investigation. Still, those who tell us it pays their bills claim anyone can have success. The key is putting in the effort and treating it like a real job.

"It's not a get rich quick situation," Craig said. "And anyone touting that are just flat out wrong."

Sullivan added, "you absolutely get out of it what you put into it and it's like a job. It's still a 40 hour work week. If you put in 40 hours doing that job, you're going to make money and you're going to make really good money."

The Federal Trade Commission claims that 99 percent of the people who pay to get involved in a multi level marketing company lose money. They also said most of the participants are female.

We left several messages over the last few days with the FTC to comment, but our calls were not returned.

Read the full Multi-Level Marketing report from the Federal Trade Commission.

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