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QNET MLM Compensation Plan Review

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Introduction to QNET MLM Compensation Plan

My name is Brad, and the guy who runs this site with me is also named Brad.  The other Brad and I have been friends since elementary school.  The summer before fifth grade, the other Brad went on vacation to Miami with his parents.  He made it sound so awesome, and I really wished I could go, but my parents’ idea of fun is riding around the Midwest in an RV, which is also enjoyable.  Anyway, the other Brad brought me back a souvenir of his trip.  It was a commemorative coin from the Miami Metrozoo.  He had made it by putting a penny into a commemorative coin making machine, pulling a lever, and squishing the penny until it came out as a flat oval with a picture of elephants stamped on it.  I still have it.

So why did I tell this story?  The first is as a reminder that people sometimes visit Florida for reasons other than multilevel marketing (MLM).  The other reason will become obvious when you read my QNET review.

QNET: The Company and Its Products

Over the course of its history, QNET has been variously known as GoldQuest, QI Limited, and QuestNet.  It operates or has previously operated in many countries in East Asia, South Asia, Southeast Asia, Europe, Africa, and the Middle East.  The QNET website is available in English, French, Arabic, Indonesian, Russian, and Burmese, but all of my searches as to whether the QNET business opportunity is available in the United States have turned up inconclusive.   The company was founded in Hong Kong in 1998.  Its founder, Vijay Eswaran, grew up in Malaysia and studied at the London School of Economics.  He then went to Southern Illinois University, which isn’t too far from here, and the 80s.  That was when he first got involved in the multilevel marketing (MLM) industry.

Let us think for a moment, Midwesterners.  If someone were to found a worldwide business based on something that originated in the Midwest, what would you most want to basis of that business model to be.  The electric blues music of Chicago?  The Motown Sound of Detroit?  The mild-mannered demeanor of Midwestern traveling salesmen?  A mail order business in the tradition of the one started by Aaron Montgomery Ward in Chicago?  The zipper, also a product of Chicago?  The stentorian Sousaphone, invented in Elkhart, Indiana?  (Elkhart, Indiana is not too far from here.)  How about the windowed envelope, the curtain rod, or the paper towel?  Why not hamburger buns or grocery bags?  Why not toasters or blenders?  Why not Eskimo Pies or garage doors?  Why not water skis or Q-Tips?  Why not masking tape, the Reuben sandwich, or the Tilt-a-Whirl?  Why not Kool-Aid, recliner chairs, or staple removers?  Why not the great Midwestern county fairs, with their deep fried everything?  We Midwesterners are such a practical bunch, and we really know how to have a good time, so why, of all the things someone could get to know in the Midwest and then export to the rest of the world, would Vijay Eswaran choose MLM?

But he did, and in 1998, the same year in which I went to a Pink Floyd planetarium show and got so inspired that I spent the rest of my high school career writing an e-zine (that is what we used to call blogs in those days) called Classic Rock Ragnarok, Vijay Eswaran founded a company in Hong Kong.  The company, which Eswaran founded with his business partner Joseph Bismark, was called GoldQuest, and it specialized in making commemorative coins, many of which were custom made.  Now, if QNET were still focusing almost exclusively on commemorative coins, this QNET review might have turned out very differently.

See, on my quest to review as many MLM business opportunities as I can find, I have frequently returned to the point that it is important for an MLM company, or any company, to have a unique product, or at least one for which the market is not completely saturated.  If you have ever read Notebook Crazy before, or even if you have actually worked with an MLM company or operate in a social circle where MLM is a big deal, you know that there are too many copycat MLMs out there selling the same old products.  Most of them sell nutraceuticals, which are my absolute least favorite kind of MLM merchandise.  The ones that don’t seem either to sell costume jewelry, anti-aging skincare products, or a little bit of everything (usually including essential oils, household cleaning products, and a limited selection of nutritional supplements and anti-aging skin care products).  The ones that actually sell something outside of the usual same old same old MLM merchandise are the ones I still remember after writing so many reviews.  Pampered Chef sells overpriced kitchen gadgets.  Thirty-One sells overpriced handbags.  Healthy Headie sells overpriced cannabis paraphernalia.  (I am not sure whether it is overpriced, because I do not know what the going price is for cannabis paraphernalia.)  Discovery Toys sells overpriced educational toys.  CieAura sells overpriced hologram patches.  Amega, before it folded, used to sell these wand things that claimed to make your cytoplasm dance and give the avocado cells in your guacamole a boost of energy.

On the scale of uniqueness among MLM products, commemorative coins rank pretty highly.  Sure there is another MLM company called Karatbars that sells collectible gold something or others, but collectible coins are something that people actually collect.  Almost every grandpa in the Midwest has a coin collection of some size, whether it is just a drawstring bag which once served as packaging for a ring he gave your grandma for their anniversary many years ago, except now it has a few wheat pennies, a JFK half dollar, and the odd bicentennial quarter, or whether his coins are arranged neatly in a display case and range from British shillings to a gold doubloon that arrived in New Orleans on a pirate ship.  When the Delaware quarter came out in 1999, even I endeavored to collect the commemorative quarters for all 50 states, and I am two generations away from being a grandpa.  And I actually succeeded.

So now I am kicking myself.  Why didn’t I make that bet with the other Brad, the co-founder of Notebook Crazy?  I should have bet him that, when the Hawaii quarter was released, I would put in on a cardboard coin display board with all 49 other quarters, meaning that I had kept track of all 50, and he would have to buy me a pizza in each of the 50 states.  Why did I make that stupid fitness bet with him?  I should have known that it would lead to me buying the other Brad as much diet Vernors as he can drink all spring.  Of course, while we are on the subject of my bet with the other Brad, it would kind of be fun to make a collectible coin to commemorate our bet.  It could show two cans of diet Vernors clinking in a toast, with bubbles all around.

But the commemorative coins that were the original QNET products were arguably even cooler than the elephant squished penny the other Brad got me from the Miami Metrozoo when we were kids.  QNET made the official commemorative coins for the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, the 2004 Olympics in Athens, and the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.  In 2004, QNET also made commemorative FIFA coins in 89 countries.

Early in its history, the QNET business opportunity expanded its operations into Malaysia and Singapore.  It also began to expand the range of QNET products.  The first new QNET products were things that logically go along with collectible coins, such as jewelry and watches.  So far so good.  Then it expanded into India, Indonesia, Thailand, and the United Arab Emirates, which is also fine.  But the trouble started, at least from the perspective of this seasoned reviewer of MLM business opportunities, when the company authorized QNET distributors to sell things like vacation packages, telecommunications services, and nutritional supplements, the usual MLM stuff.  According to an article published in Forbes Magazine in 2013, nutraceuticals account for 30% of QNET products sold.

The QNET business opportunity has never been without its detractors.  The customer complaints started coming in almost right from the beginning.  Customers were saying that the QNET products delivered to them were not of the quality advertised, when these QNET products were even delivered at all.  Countries whose government officials have denounced the QNET business opportunity and likened it to a pyramid scheme include Afghanistan, Australia, Iran, Nepal, Indonesia, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Rwanda, and Turkey.  Dar al-Ifta al-Misriyyah, an institute for the study of Islamic law in Egypt, even said that the company’s operations in Egypt are haram (not permitted by Islamic law).

The QNET Compensation Plan

The QNET compensation plan contains one of my least favorite attributes of MLM compensation plans, namely binary structure.  Luckily, though, it uses this binary structure for purposes other than making its sales team hop along on its weaker leg, which is what a lot of other MLM companies out there do.  Rather, some bonuses in the QNET compensation plan are based on achieving certain sales goals on both sides of your binary sales team.

I found the QNET compensation plan document on the QNET website, and it is 24 pages long.  The QNET business opportunity offers 10 different ways to earn income, namely retail profits, early payouts, step commissions, retail sales points, the Main Plan rank advancement, the RSP Plan rank advancement, the RSP Rank Advancement Bonus, the RSP Rank Maintenance Bonus, the New Programme Bonus, and Year-Round Incentives.  (The spelling of the word “programme” on the QNET compensation plan indicates that this document was not written for a U.S. audience.)

Advantages and Disadvantages

Advantages

  • Commemorative coins are a lot more fun than nutraceuticals. I would take a basement full of collectible coins over a basement full of nutritional supplements every day.
  • The QNET website is the only MLM website I know of that has a Burmese language version.

Disadvantages

  • If the governments of countries on three continents are trying to warn you about the QNET business opportunity, maybe you should listen.
  • It is unclear whether the QNET business opportunity is available in the United States.
  • Unlike some other MLM companies, the QNET compensation plan does not let you keep your rank indefinitely when you advance. You have to keep requalifying for it.  Those of you who have dealt with MLM before know that having to keep meeting requirements to keep your rank in the company often means buying a lot of the company’s merchandise from yourself.
  • As much fun as commemorative coins are, luxury products and MLM generally don’t mix. People join MLM companies because they fear for their financial security and an MLM member who is desperate for a Fast Start Bonus plays on their fears and makes them empty promises.  Sometimes I wish I had a squishy penny machine like the one the other Brad used at the zoo in Miami to make the commemorative coin that I have kept in my house for over 20 years.  I would take it to an economically depressed town and make elephant pennies and zebra pennies and sloth pennies and maybe even a Petsuchos penny.  I could squish pennies so the people could watch me squish pennies to pass the time; it would take their minds off of their financial worries until payday.  It would only make them a penny less wealthy than when they started, unlike the mountains of credit card debt you get from MLM.

Conclusion

If you live in the Midwest for a while and want to take part of it with you when you move onto your next destination, there are so many things you can choose.  Take some Cincinnati style chili.  Take some Vernors, if there is any left after the other Brad is finished claiming his reward for winning our bet.  Don’t choose MLM.  It is not an accurate representation of the Midwestern character.

Hey, Grandpa!  What’s in your coin collection?  Schedule a call with me, and we can compare notes.

 

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