Friday, June 27, 2008

My Experience with "Ohio Premier"

I've been posting this (and reposting it) pretty much whenever I get an e-mail from someone letting me know they've been contacted by this group. This is, of course, merely my experience, YMMV.

Back in October 2007, I was contacted by "Ohio Premier" for a potential business opportunity in the health and wellness industry. They would not tell me much about it over the phone, preferring that I instead come in to their office and talk to them. Ohio Premier is located at 195 Byers Road in Miamisburg, Ohio. It is a suburb of Dayton. (If you’ve ever thought about doing a work-at-home plan about selling “health and wellness” things, you should read on anyway.)

I could find nothing about Ohio Premier on the Internet, which was a warning sign in and of itself. (That is part of the reason for this write-up.) A co-worker's husband (who also attends the university I do) had been contacted by Ohio Premier, but he had not followed up.

So I went.

Ohio Premier is a front for Symmetry ( http://www.symmetryinternational.com/ ) a direct marketing company that has a multi-level marketing component. (You sell to a few people, then you get a cut of the people they refer, and so on.) They sell herbal supplements, including "Genesis", laughably labeled "the infused Bible juice". As the CAI points out (link at the bottom), 99.96% of the people who get involved with Symmetry LOSE MONEY. Only 0.04% makes money.

When you first walk into 195 Byers Road, there is no sign for Ohio Premier, just "Suite 101". You see a receptionist's desk, a few other office desks in the back, and several well-dressed professional types in the "U" shaped open office space. There are no - repeat, NO - hints of Symmetry or what you will be doing when you first walk in. It is not until the entire group is ushered around and sat down (about 16-20 people) that you see the supplements. The professionally dressed people made sure that they sat down with the newbies.

What followed was a very slick hour-long sales pitch. The planted workers responded to everything the presenter said, so you got the opinion that others agreed with him. The video presentation was hypnotically fast - but full of things about past trends that other people got rich from. "Wouldn't you get in on those trends if you knew about them?” "Facts" were tossed out so fast that it was hard to catch what was said - and often times, the facts were not relevant. For example: "One report from an Ivy League University was printed in 509 newspapers!" Except, of course, that it was only one report. Apparently, they had never heard of AP or Reuters. Many of their facts were correlations at best, non-sequiturs at worst. Yeah, buying stock options in Microsoft in 1985 would have been a good deal - but that is not the same thing as the (saturated) supplement market today. But the plants in the crowd were quick to support every thing the presenter said.

There were MANY rhetorical questions, especially at the beginning, that were designed to get you to agree with the presenter. "Do you like making money?" "Wouldn't you like to work less and make more?" And so on. Getting into a pattern of agreement like that is a well-known brainwashing (my term, not theirs) technique. One woman left, and was made fun of throughout the rest of the presentation. Another asked very pointed questions - and she was made fun of to her face. Especially when she tried to ask questions about marketing and the cost of the supplements. Not surprisingly, her questions were dead-on. (The basic pack is $160 dollars, up front.)

The sneakiest (and most bastardly, IMHO) technique was this: "This opportunity isn't for everyone. I am not trying to convince you. Some people just can't get it. Not everyone is able to see the chances in front of them, or is wise enough to ..." You get the idea. High SOCIAL pressure techniques in a group setting... even as they said, "I'm not out to convince you."

Of course, there "just happened" to be ANOTHER hour of training right afterwards for those who were motivated - and a special trip to Chicago that leaves... TOMORROW. (That costs $300. Only two seats left!) Enticement both by scarcity, a "money back guarantee" (not in writing), and more social pressure ("if you're serious about making money and not having to work so hard...") So you would be quickly uprooted and put into a hotel FULL of other people like this? Starting to sound like a cult, anyone?

Look, these techniques - and using so many of them so brutally - could not have been happenstance. To the best of my ability to discern, Ohio Premier is a multi-level marketing scheme front for Symmetry Direct. Their "interviews" are hour-long brainwashing sessions. It was *hard* to resist them for the whole time. Knowing the techniques they were using (and identifying them as they used them) helped a lot; not actually needing the money or job helped more. Even still.... That feeling you get when watching infomercials, where you start to wonder if maybe it actually IS worth buying? It was like that - only much, much more intense.

I do NOT repeat do NOT recommend anyone else even bother going to an "interview" with them. The sales pitches are slicker than you think they are - and they want you to commit right away, before you have a chance to go and check them out.

Ohio Premier (and yes, I'm repeating the name and address on purpose so that others who Google it can find this report) at 195 Byers Road in Miamisburg Ohio is a front for Symmetry Direct.

They do not call themselves a Multi Level Marketing scheme or MLM scheme, preferring the term direct sellers. But, as the CAI points out: "Avoid falling for the semantic trap of chain-selling promoters who say they are not MLM, or multi-level marketing. If the program pays on more than one level of participants, it is multi-level or MLM. If you get paid only for selling directly to customers and get no override commissions (other than a small referral fee) for recruiting more than one level of participants, it is single level compensation and could be considered true direct selling."

Cockeyed.Com's 27 unsuccessful Herbalife (a similar company) stories:

http://www.cockeyed.com/workfromhome/epilogue/unsuccessful/unsuccessful2005.html

His basic primer on pyramid schemes is here:

http://www.cockeyed.com/ebay/scam/laptop_pyramids.html

MLM Watch is here:

"Accurate information about multilevel marketing is not easy to get. Few publishers, editors, and broadcasters are willing to examine this topic in depth. Most reports reaching the public express what the companies and individual distributors would like people to believe. Nearly all MLM companies selling health-related products exaggerate their value, and the vast majority of people who become distributors do not make significant income."

http://www.mlmwatch.org/

Consumer Awareness Institutes 5-step DIY evaluation of MLMs is here:

http://www.mlm-thetruth.com/Symmetry.htm

CAI's profitability report is here:
http://www.mlm-thetruth.com/COMPARE12MLMs-vsSellingvsNPSvsVegas-2p-6-06.pdf

And apparently, Ohio is not the only place where Symmetry has a front organization:
http://www.ripoffreport.com/reports/0/173/RipOff0173038.htm

Ohio Premier does have a BBB listing that lists Symmetry as their website.
http://dayton.bbb.org/WWWRoot/Report.aspx?site=51&bbb=0322&firm=699

And here's a site I reviewed back in June 2006 for my homeschool resource list:

http://www.skinnyshoestring.com/reviews/

"You want to make money in an at-home job. That makes you a sitting duck for scam perpetrators who just want your money. Plenty of people online are willing to take your payment, while promising you big returns that they cannot deliver. And you just can not know what works and what does not unless you try, right? Wrong."



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1 comment:

bobjones said...

I just wanted to let you know that I have recently sent in a 100+ page packet of information to the Michigan State Attorney General's office and the FTC about this company. I had previously set up the website http://symmetrydirectscam.weebly.com but was forced out of operation when my personal home phone number, my address, and other false information were pasted all over the web for me speaking out against this company. I included a printout of your blog with the information about what happened to you in it. You are not alone.
800notes.com and whocalled.us has many many of the same type of information. They get a phone call for an "interview" for "employment" and they show up and get pressured into trying to sell vitamins and other garbage.
Thanks for keeping up the fight. This company has got to go.