Introduction to Shopping Sherlock MLM Compensation Plan
We spend a lot of time here on Notebook Crazy talking about the multilevel marketing (MLM) lifestyle and the sometimes disastrous financial and social consequences it brings. You have probably heard the story many times before, and if you have ever tried your hand at MLM, there is a good chance you have even experienced it yourself, maxing out your credit cards with autoship payments while virtually unmarketable vitamin supplements pile up in your basement. Every time the mail truck arrives with a new shipment of vitamins and meal replacement shakes or, worse yet, the latest credit card statement, your life feels more and more like a Tetris game you are playing on an old Nintendo controller that is so old and encrusted with sour cream and onion potato chip dust that none of the buttons work. I have told versions of that story on this site in so many different forms, ranging from first person confession to shaggy dog story about rock bands and search engine optimization (SEO). But today, let’s try something different. Today, let’s talk about another lifestyle that has financial freedom as its goal and a financial fallacy at least as big as the financial fallacy that drives MLM as its starting point. Today, let’s talk about extreme couponing.
Extreme couponing is a lifestyle (one could substitute the word “lifestyle” with “strategy”, “business model”, “hobby”, “addiction”, or any of various other words, depending on your opinion of the practice) in which participants devote a substantial amount of time to finding and using coupons in order to save as much money as possible on groceries and other items. In its mildest form, before it gets to the level of being “extreme”, coupon shopping can be quite a practical thing to do. I can hardly criticize people for deciding what to buy in advance of buying it instead of making impulse purchases, and there is certainly no harm in looking through the newspaper to see if there are any coupons for any of the items on your shopping list. If you were planning to buy granola bars anyway, there is certainly no harm in buying the brand that is on sale instead of the brand that isn’t on sale. But the difference between using three or four coupons a week at the supermarket and truly extreme couponing is like the difference between taking out a small business loan to open a Steak and Shake franchise and taking out personal loans and constantly badgering your downline sales team on the phone in order to stay afloat in MLM.
The parallels between extreme couponing and MLM are eerie. Both the MLM scene and the extreme couponing scene are famous for exchanging potshots with people with 9 to 5 jobs. I can’t tell you how many times my relatives who sit in rush hour traffic every morning have told me that MLM is for financially illiterate people who don’t have enough skills to start a real business. Likewise, the extreme couponing scene tends to be populated with stay at home moms, so the extreme couponing financial model gets caught in the crossfire of the mommy wars. Women with full time jobs outside the home accuse extreme couponers being shopaholics who leech off their husbands, a working class version of trophy wives, while extreme couponers fire back that working women are the ones ruining their husbands financially, because they are too busy writing legal memorandums or grading students’ homework or sweeping the floor of the nail salon, or whatever it is that working women do at the end of the day to get ready for the next workday, to find the best deals on basic necessities like groceries.
In the case of both extreme couponing and MLM, the media hype makes it worse. If you have ever done MLM, or even if you have not but have had the misfortune of being on the warm list of someone who does, you have probably seen those promotional videos of people who supposedly made millions through MLM, lounging on the beach or standing on the deck of their yacht with the wind in their hair. To everyone but the most gullible, when you see these videos, you cannot help but think of the second act of almost any movie about ill gotten money, from The Godfather Part II and Scarface to Goodfellas and The Wolf of Wall Street. You can’t help but wonder if it is all going to come crashing down before the credits roll. Extreme couponers got their own media hype a few years ago, with the TLC reality show Extreme Couponers. The show featured people who devoted 40 or more hours per week to organizing coupons and shopping for maximum discounts. Some of them fished the coupon pages of newspapers out of trash cans. One woman had had an extra room built onto her house so that she could keep her bulk purchases organized so that she and her family could eat them before they expired. (She had all her purchases organized by expiration date, with the soonest to expire in the front. If she did not think that she could finish the food while it was still good, she would donate it to food banks and other charities, so that someone could eat the food and it would not go to waste.) Of course, the bargains on the show were exaggerated for TV. Sometimes stores will double the value of coupons, but usually it is only for small coupons; for example, if you clip a coupon for 35 cents off a bag of Doritos, a store might give you 70 cents off. Some of the grocery stores featured on the show doubled every single coupon the shoppers brought in while the cameras were on. They did this in order to promote their stores and attract more shoppers. Not only that, but some shoppers used coupons in illegal ways, and they used so many coupons in a single shopping trip (sometimes several hundred) that it would have been almost impossible for the cashiers to verify each one individually.
Of course, the reality TV version is the most extreme and exaggerated version, but there are many people out there who devote so much attention to coupon shopping that it causes more problems than it solves. At its worst, it can be an addiction, much like gambling, clothes shopping, day trading, or any of a variety of other financial behaviors. Personal finance journalist FarnooshTorabi (who also is no stranger to reality TV; she once had a show called Bank of Mom and Dad, where she gave financial “makeovers” to young women who lived beyond their means) does not consider coupon shopping a sound strategy for improving one’s financial situation for a variety of reasons. First, couponing can be a gateway drug to hoarding, since many coupons are only valid on larger sized products than you need, or else they make you buy four bottles of body wash when you only need one. Next, coupons can tempt you to buy things you don’t need, including junk food. (Coupons on fresh vegetables are few and far between. I am no one’s coupon shopper, but I personally have never seen one.) This is especially true of the “save $10 on a purchase of $30 or more” type of coupons. Are you really saving when you spend $20 on what could have cost $30, when the only thing you really needed to buy only cost $5?
Well, there are parts of some people’s brains that light up when they see the total getting lower and lower on the cash register, and there are others where these same parts in their brains light up when they think of waking up at their leisure and making a commission off of other people’s labors. The former easily become addicted to couponing and the latter to MLM. But what if they got together? Well, they just did. Now there is an MLM company for discount seekers. If the pleasure centers of your brain blink at the thought of both coupons and online sales, then I advise you to read my Shopping Sherlock review.
Shopping Sherlock: The Company and Its Products
Easily, the best thing that Shopping Sherlock has going for it is its name, such alliteration. I daresay it’s an even better name than A Lukewarm Shout Out to a Reasonably Attractive Fungus (but don’t tell that to anybody who already bought the concert T-shirts). The service that Shopping Sherlock offers is access to a website that offers discount on travel and consumer items. It is free to have access to the discounts; you simply have to enter an invite code that a Shopping Sherlock distributor sends to you. (Of course it costs money to become a Shopping Sherlock distributor, but more on that subject when we discuss the Shopping Sherlock compensation plan.) Users can then enter the names of items they want to buy and compare prices on the item. Other Shopping Sherlock reviewers, including those who have provided screen shots, have said that, when you search for most products, the layout of the site requires you to keep clicking back and forth among different tabs. The only item for which the Shopping Sherlock website displays al the search results on one screen is airline tickets. There are plenty of people out there that would want to use a database for comparison shopping and discounts. The trouble with Shopping Sherlock is that it creates artificial scarcity by making access to the database available by invitation only.
The Shopping Sherlock Compensation Plan
The cost of becoming a Shopping Sherlock distributor is a steep $249, and that does not even include the monthly membership fees. Not only that, but, like so many other MLM companies, Shopping Sherlock sells training materials to its distributors at high prices. An MLM reviewer on a YouTube video once said that MLM companies don’t make their money through the sale of products; they make their money through the sale of training materials. The Shopping Sherlock starter kit, for which the distributor pays the one-time $249 fee, consists of additional tools and materials that Shopping Sherlock distributors can buy. These tools include things like coupon creating software, autoresponders (programs that generate and send out emails), and a blogging platform.
I went to the Shopping Sherlock website to read about the Shopping Sherlock compensation plan, and I found that the link to get to it led to an enrollment form. I was expecting it just to ask me to enter an email address or something, but the form actually asks for a social security number. That is a huge red flag. I did not enter mine or fill out the form. So I may not know many details about the Shopping Sherlock compensation plan, but at least I know that I have not just made it a whole lot easier for some doppelganger of mine to go shopping at my expense.
Advantages and Disadvantages
- Shopping Sherlock will not ship meal replacement shakes to your home nor send bottle of fungus pills to the people who thought you were their friend.
- If people want to comparison shop, it is absolutely free for them to type the names of the products they are thinking of buying into Google. No one has to pay $249 to make it possible for their friends to do research on things they are thinking of buying.
- The shameless grab for people’s social security numbers on the Shopping Sherlock website gives me the creeps on so many levels.
Aside from the name, there is little to recommend Shopping Sherlock. A database of deals on products is not something people go out of their way to get invited to. It is not possible to convince your friends otherwise.
Hey, want to compare battle scars from our years in the MLM scene? Schedule a call with me today, and I can give you advice on how to make your MLM business profitable.