Sunday, February 23, 2014

Is USANA a scam? Yes, it is.

I’m sure you’ve heard from many wised-up people that if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. And so if ever you’re offered with a nutritional supplement called USANA Essentials by USANA Health Sciences, outright reject it regardless of who (friends, marketers, it doesn’t matter) endorsed it. Don’t get involved in their retail business either. It’s a scam. Don’t believe me? Just do a simple Google search and you can easily verify that USANA just have exorbitantly priced products to help fuel its fraudulent business.

USANA Health Sciences

My experience with USANA

My first encounter with a network recruiter (or whatever euphemistic term they call themselves to hide their hidden agenda) was at a coffee shop. I was invited by a friend to hear some sort of proposal, and he wouldn’t reveal the exact details so as to apparently keep my interest piqued. With pyramid networking already a common thing in the Philippines—Cebu seems to have a prolific level of these illegal businesses—I sensed something wrong in this invitation. Nevertheless, I made myself present at the meeting since I just couldn’t say no to a friend (a weakness on my part).

First came the introductions. The recruiter described his ordeals and how he managed to survive and eventually continued to live a successful life. Then came the idea that people these days are conscious of their health, how diseases are spreading at a disturbing rate, and what we can do about it. So, finally, we got to talk about USANA Health Sciences, a company based in the USA that has recently ventured into the Philippines. In retrospect, the recruiter orchestrated everything so that the topic of our conversation would somehow naturally change to USANA.

The recruiter’s pitch went on for an hour. The focus was mostly on the company’s main product called USANA Essentials, a nutritional supplement that’s been formulated to include (as the product name implies) the fundamental minerals and vitamins needed by the human body. I started doubting about the benefits of taking the product when the recruiter gave other people’s testimonials. A diabetic whose leg had taken for the worse no longer required a surgical operation after she had started to take the pills. A female college student, on the other hand, got back her perfect vision. A middle-aged man who was once categorized as obese had become a bodybuilder with six-pack abs.

Hearing all those so-called true stories would make the ignorant and gullible easily label USANA Essentials as the cure-all wonder drug, but I’m quite aware that no such thing exists at the moment. USANA should be all over the news by now if its products really do what they claim to do.

The latter half of the pitch was about how USANA products could be the main source of income for individuals. He went into detail several scenarios of how to earn money. There were the direct selling of the products, the commissions to receive when you recruit people into their cause and they make a sale, and others. I’m not a business major myself, but I know his money-making suggestions are made to sound sophisticated that one may be fooled into thinking they’re legit and feasible.

Finally, the recruiter concluded his proposal by inviting me to join the company. As with all multi-level marketing companies, I won’t be able to receive any stuff to sell if I don’t pay the initial membership fee. I was asked for around Php30,000 in order to get started. I didn’t want to look like I already knew this was all a scam, so I just said I would think about things and contact them in the future. I never did the latter, something the recruiter wouldn’t be bothered about since he had probably just went on pitching his illegal business to more people.

My second encounter with USANA was quite annoying and unexpected. As of this writing, I belong to an organization of dormer residents, and, as their treasurer, I handle the funds and decide on how to spend it. There was this close friend of the dorm supervisor who wanted to set up coffee machines in our dormitories, so he arranged a meeting with me. But we never got to talking about the machines. Instead, he inspired me with things like how network marketing is now a legit bachelor of science degree in top Philippine universities (for the record, no such degree exists), his accomplishments as a successful investor, his upcoming marriage, how he started his own businesses and the ideals that guaranteed their prosperity, and so on.

Once again, the conversation was rigged to ensure that the focus could be diverted to USANA. At the time, I was also in the prospects of starting my own business with a partner and was keen to receive useful advice. I must say that some of what he said did help me, but I was just so pissed off by the fact that all he did was made to encourage me into learning more about USANA. I just kept mum and pretended I was all new to the stuff. My business partner and I finally excused ourselves by telling we had another important meeting.

Is Usana a scam or not?

If you’re also one with the habit of questioning everything you read, I’m sure you want to verify if my post is legit itself. So here are some proofs explaining why USANA’s multi-level marketing business is fraudulent.

They use false information to back their claims.

Of my two encounters with USANA, both recruiters promoted their health products by using the NutriSearch Comparative Guide to Nutritional Supplements. Apparently this book was conducted by a third party to generate an unbiased review of all existing nutritional supplements. In reality, this book is indeed affiliated with USANA and uses a selection criteria designed to make sure their products come out on top of the list. This book is merely used as a sales tool to boost the false credibility of the recruiters. MLMPyramid.com have written a detailed post about this.

If you listened carefully throughout their proposal, you probably noticed some great things about USANA and its people. For instance, company founder and former CEO Myron Wentz is said to be a recipient of the Albert Einstein Award (but actually he’s not), USANA is apparently a Fortune 500 company (but nope, its revenues don’t even compare to the last company in the list), and Manny Pacquiao is a product endorser. The last one I can’t discredit just yet since I don’t have a solid proof, but all online posts and pages talking about the Pacquiao endorsement looks like they were written by people hired by USANA.

Again, make a Google search and verify.

USANA’s business model is actually a pyramid scheme in disguise

Of course, it would be bad for recruiters to mention pyramid scheming when making business proposals. Terms like network marketing and multi-level marketing were used instead. BUT THEY’RE ALL THE SAME. Basically, this type of marketing relies on you enlisting more people so that you earn a commission whenever they make a sale. These people, in turn, can also enlist more under their umbrella to get commissions themselves, but a percentage of which also goes to you. The pyramid is now established with you on top. Sadly, this business model is unsustainable: as the pyramid grows larger, the individuals at the bottom tier has fewer people to potentially recruit. Established pyramid businesses like USANA already have leaders raking in the money at their top positions, while upcoming recruits will only end up wasting their money on the “entrance fee” and won’t even recover their losses.

A product that sounds too good to be true

Like what I’ve mentioned in my personal experience, recruiters portray their nutritional products as the best of the best, complete with wondrous health benefits. The products, while they work to some degree, are just the means to hide the true nature of the scam. One can simply buy an alternative nutritional supplement and enjoy the same degree of health benefit but for a cheaper, more reasonable price.

Shaky company background

The Wikipedia page of USANA Health Sciences shows that the company is riddled with lawsuits and controversies. Granted, whatever written in Wikipedia can’t be downright considered as solid information because of its error-prone nature, but proceed to the list of references to learn more about these lawsuits and controversies. Many of these references are reliable dispensers of the truth.

Other well-informed people have spoken, too

Do a simple Google search with terms like Is USANA a scam? or USANA Essentials review. Make an informed decision after reading all the praises and criticisms of the product and the business.