As I spend time in Internet forums, various blogs and other social networking sites, I find this recurring theme being played out like a broken record. The Berry Tree is a scam. This complaint is due, for the most part, to a few supposed problems; they charge a membership fee to join, the bonus pools are too small, it takes a too long to make any significant money and too many people fail with the business. In this article I will address these complaints, as well as the accusation that MLM’s in general and The Berry Tree in particular, are scams.
I’m intrigued by how freely the word scam is thrown around these days, aimed like a sniper’s rifle at anything that smacks of MLM, The Berry Tree included. In most cases these accusations are by people who are simply misinformed. Or, they are by people who feel they’ve been burned by MLM and they’re on a mission to bring the entire industry to it’s knees! Not exactly what I would call credible witnesses. I wouldn’t build a court case based on their testimony.
To determine the truth of such accusations, I suppose some definitions are in order. I turned to our good friend, Mr. Webster, and what I found was both interesting and informative. The definition of the word scam is “a fraudulent or deceptive act or operation,” or, “an attempt to make money by fraudulent means.” Fraud. Scam. Deception. Those are strong words and should not be spoken lightly! If one is going to hurl those words like a cannon ball at the MLM industry, and more specifically, at The Berry Tree, one had better be sure of ones facts.
Let’s take a closer look at the above accusations in light of these definitions. MLM’s like The Berry Tree, charge a membership fee in exchange for which the distributor receives products, marketing and training tools, mentorship, etc. They in turn, get the rights to profit from the business. That sounds pretty fair to me. It’s not unlike buying into a McDonald’s, or Starbucks Franchise. To own a franchise, one will have to pay Franchise fees. So what’s the difference?
If a membership or start-up fee makes The Berry Tree or any MLM a scam, then by definition, charging franchise fees to open a McDonald’s or Starbucks is also a scam. Now, the start up cost for most MLM’s is under $100, whereas the franchise fees above are in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Which of these do you suppose would enable the average person to become a successful business owner and realize great wealth and financial freedom?
If promising someone they will make money with an MLM, only for them to end up in failure, is a scam, then the same is true with traditional business owners who start out with that same dream, only to fail, and go out of business. It happens every day. Most often that failure is attributable to failure on the part of the business owner to do the things necessary to succeed. And, in those cases where it was the fault of the company, insufficient training, poorly designed compensation plan or whatever, it’s still not fraud, and therefore not a scam.
Remember, scam means “by a fraudulent or deceptive act.” Just because the business owner doesn’t make the money they or the company thought they would make, either by their own fault, the company’s fault, or some combination of the two, this is not a scam. It’s not fraud. It’s bad business practice, maybe, a bad business model, maybe, bad luck, maybe, but it’s not fraud.
I’m not implying that there are not real scams out there, there certainly are. There are those phony envelope stuffing schemes, chain letters, pyramid schemes, and perhaps the most successful one of all, that inheritance that suddenly has become yours from some rich philanthropist in Nigeria who has passed away and somehow their attorney or a family member has found you and wants to give you a large sum of money, yada yada yada. Now, pay attention class, those are scams. Remember, “by fraudulent means?”
So why is The Berry Tree being accused of being a scam? Several reasons. They charge a membership fee to join, we’ve already addressed that point. It takes time to make money and the bonus pools are small. The Berry Tree is not intended to be a get rich quick scheme. It is a compensation plan based upon growing and developing a deep and stable downline. The idea is not just to build numbers, but to build quality, distributors capable of reproducing themselves and duplicating the process downward. It takes time to accomplish this. Sure, this will pay less in the beginning, but over time, this process will produce significant long term passive residual income. The small bonus pools do not indicate a problem either, but quite the opposite. The company is entering a phase where more people are qualifying for those bonuses, which of course will deplete them somewhat. However, those same people are sponsoring new members and growing the business, which will in turn increase the bonus pools, over time. This perceived problem is in reality evidence of growth and stability.
To further solidify the legitimacy of this company they have applied for a U.S. Patent for their compensation and profit sharing plans. Would a company that is nothing more than a scam do such a thing? There will be a network television spot on The Berry Tree this fall on CNBC, Eye on America with Diane Sawyer. One would think that a company that intends to defraud people and rip them off would be taking measures to stay out of the limelight, rather than seek to be in it. Another thing this company does that lends credibility is to allow people to “test drive” the business, if you will, for a full month at no charge. Their btstartfree program gives prospective distributors a chance to use all the websites, all the training tools, everything and will even send them product samples to try, all they pay is the shipping cost. My suggestion to anyone wanting to know if this business is legitimate, go to their btstartfree.com site and check them out for yourself.
In summary, a scam is a fraudulent or deceptive act or operation, an attempt to make money by fraudulent means. It implies intent. Before slinging the word scam at this or any other MLM company, it would best to be sure of your facts. Poorly run companies, bad business models, people not making money due to their failure or their company’s, are not scams. They are problems for sure, but they’re not scams. Membership and franchise fees are not scams. Businesses fail, people fail, this is a fact of life. This does not make the company a scam. MLM is a solid business model and The Berry Tree is one of the best this author has ever seen, and I have seen plenty.