Is My Shopping Genie A Scam?

Update: 11/8/2011 – People behind My Shopping Genie

I’ll be going into details about the people behind My Shopping Genie as well as top earners in the company  this month.

Original Post Follows:

There has been a debate raging for several years between people who call My Shopping Genie a scam and others who defend it as a legitimate business opportunity. I’ve pulled together some of the information from both sides of the debate and will be posting it here on a regular basis. My attention was initially drawn to My Shopping Genie when I received the following question:

“I was wondering if you might share your thoughts on “My Shopping Genie” from “My Net Universe”.”

High profile internet marketer Stephen Pierce states in his My Shopping Genie review that “From an internet marketing standpoint, I thought it was a goldmine.” He later goes on to say,

“I wasn’t really interested in like what they call the distributor dollars like with network marketing and all that, because personally I think that with network marketing it is hard to make money, because you have to have such a huge volume with a low percentage payoff. What appealed to me was the superior affiliate model inside – how you can make the money just by giving away the free software. So, you give away the software for free for people to use – and if you know how to give it away and you have thousands of people using it, that’s like walking around with your hands in the pocket of thousands of people.”

You can watch Stephen Pierce‘s video of his My Shopping Genie review below:

In fact, as far as I can tell there doesn’t seem to be much debate about whether or not the My Shopping Genie application works as claimed. From the reports I’ve seen about it, it does. The controversy surrounds the structure of the compensation plan and the nature of the payments the company behind My Shopping Genie makes to its distributors.

Since this type of business opportunity is outside the scope of my expertise I decided to look into what the experts in this area thought. I first talked to Lynndel Edgington of Eagle Research & Associates who pointed me to a June 13, 2011 post at Rod Cook’s MLM Watch Dog site which says:

“Complaints are coming in about selective commissions paid to Distributors. To the WatchDog, this is usually an indicator of a Ponzi-Pyramid meltdown. There are not enough new funds coming in to pay first or large distributors. There has always been debate that the licensed icons My Shopping Genie sold did not return money on shoppers as the company promoted. Editor’s Note: If the signup fee is all that is carrying My Shopping Genie…..the commission payment complaints certainly make sense.”

The potential problem with the compensation plan structure has been cleanly described in the My Shopping Genie review by UK writer Marian Owen at Business Opportunity Watch which states the following:

“My Shopping Genie does pay its distributors for recruiting new distributors. The fact that this payment is structured as the fee for a licence to distribute free copies of the software does not alter this fact. Obviously, if it were this easy to get around the law then everyone would be doing it. So the law is widely drawn to catch any arrangements which have the effect of rewarding participants in the scheme simply for the act of recruiting other people.”

The companies response to these types of allegations was covered by freelance Sunday Independent’s Rory Egan in his My Shopping Genie expose that he did in conjunction with the Irish Television show Prime Time:

“Prime Time offered a right of reply to all three of the distributors featured in the report; Hugh Paul Ward, Tony Lynam and Harry Rayburn, but each of them declined. We put it to the company that they were in contravention of the consumer protection acts of 2007 and in a written reply, MyNet Universe said, “The distribution method is common in the software industry in both individual and enterprise software rights. There is no commission paid for the act of “recruiting”, commissions are paid on the sale of a product: the Genie software license.”

A follow up story about My Shopping Genie by Sunday Indpendent write Don Lavery stated the following:

“An expert in commercial law said it had all the hallmarks of a pyramid scheme and this was confirmed by a representative of the National Consumer Agency.”

You can watch the Prime Time expose of My Shopping Genie in the videos below:

A similar point has been made by Troy Dooly in the following videos. The second video includes a letter written to Troy Dooley with a potential counter-argument to the “My Shopping Genie is a “Ponzi-Pyramid” viewpoint:

The following video is the one that includes a letter containing a potential counterargument to Troy Dooly’s video. In the video Troy states that the letter is from Anders Berglund, who according to Direct Selling News Europe has held the following positions:

“Between 2000 and 2006 (when he retired), he was General Counsel of Lux International AG. Back in 1987 Anders became a board member and legal advisor to the Swedish Direct Selling Association. Since 1989, he has represented Sweden on the board of delegates of the Federation of European Direct Selling Associations (FEDSA). He was Chairman of the Association from 1999 to 2002 and has been Vice Chairman since 2007. He has represented Sweden on the Board of Delegates of the World Federation of Direct Selling Associations (WFDSA) since 1993 and was Vice Chairman, Governance, of WFDSA from 1997 to 1999.”

There is further discussion about this My Shopping Genie video here.

And again, in the comments section in Business Opportunity Watch’s review of My Shopping Genie, Marian Owen counters Anders Berglund’s position. (Note, I have NOT verified that any of the information that Troy Dooly or Marian Owen discuss – including the scribd document – is in fact from Anders Berglund).

Allegations of unpaid My Shopping Genie distributors:

According to a June 13th, 2011 post at which apparently is a letter from Kalpesh Patel, Kalpesh Patel has claimed about MyNet Universe:

“They have not paid most of my distributors since January unless they were globals or they asked several times to be paid, even then it was a hard struggle…. I can provide dozens of emails if required, to this day hundreds of reps have not been paid in my team alone, thousands worldwide. They owe me over $50,000, emails to prove this too if it ever gets there. Nobody replies to my emails, calls or texts since they stopped paying me 5 weeks ago, have proof of this too.”

And again, according to a June 13th post at, Andrew Burling sent them the following letter (again I haven’t verified the letter was actually from him):

“They owe us TENS OF THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS, and after asking, then begging, then threatening to get paid, they turfed us! We were turfed on June 6, 2011. We were accussed of CROSS SPONSORING, but we were not even in another Company.”

One of the commenters there asks a question that appears to be directed at Andrew Burling: “how come a video was uploaded to you tube on june 3rd ( 3 days before your termination, coincidence ?)”.  The upload date can be seen in the following image:

Limu video

Limu video

The video referenced can be watched below:

MyNet Universe’s Response

MyNet Universe has written a letter countering both Kalpesh Patel’s & Andrew Burling’s allegations. Click here to read the full text.

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Rich Dad Seminar Warning

Attending the “Rich Dad Education” seminars run by Tigrent? If you are a budding entrepreneur, chances are you may be considering attending them. You might even be really excited; after all, who gives you get-rich-quick education and for free to boot?

Well, there is bad news and the bad news is that “free” is only a word they use to lure you in. According to the Better Business Bureau (BBB), you need to be extremely cautious when signing up for the upcoming seminars. In fact, one of them has already been concluded. Called “Property Management & Cash Flow”, the seminar was conducted during May 20-22 which Tigrent’s Learning website called “an essential for every serious real estate investor who is building a portfolio to generate wealth and cash flow.” The seminar was held at Hilton St. Louis Airport, 10330 Natural Bridge Road, Woodson Terrace. The same location is going to serve as a site for a three-day marketing seminar which is scheduled for June 24-26 and as the company website puts it, the seminar will “break down the marketing blueprint to fast track your marketing message to increase your market share and increase your profits”.

So, what could possibly be wrong with a company’s seminars that help you grow as an entrepreneur? Why is the Better Business Bureau warning us to take caution? Because the company has been having some major issues lately, that’s why. Besides the “F” grades (which is the lowest grade any company is capable of achieving with the Better Business Bureau) Tigrent Inc. and its affiliate Rich Dad Education have, the BBB has received some 140 complaints against the companies, 28 of which have been unanswered. The “F” grades, by the way, have now changed into “No rating” as the BBB in St. Louis has learned that the company has responded recently to consumer complaints with the BBB in Florida.  However, the most important thing to consider with the BBB isn’t really the ratings – it’s the pattern of complaints…and so far the pattern of complaints against Tigrent tend to center around consumers claiming that Tigrent didn’t give them what they had promised and/or also misled them into signing contracts worth thousands of dollars.

Here’s what usually happens when you attend those seminars. First, you will be able to attend the seminar for a day for free. The “free” seminars typically last for one day. Once you get to the venue and attend the one day seminar, salespeople get to work using high pressure sales tactics on you urging you to pay for a three-day seminar. When you do pay for the three-day seminar, that is when the nightmare begins.

You will be highly encouraged to buy expensive products for thousands of dollars. Not only that, but the BBB has had a couple of complaints where consumers have claimed that company salespeople pressured them into joining the course work by telling them the price would go up if they did not sign up immediately.

The company has not responded to most complaints and money of several people has not been refunded. The company does provide a three-day grace period for a refund, but that too doesn’t seem to be without flaw as most customers claim that three days is not time enough to assess the value of the classes. The other problem is that you are required to submit your refund request in writing which adds additionally to the hassle-factor for such a limited 3 day refund period.

Now the question is, “What should we look out for when attending investment seminars or other programs designed to market wealth-building courses?” Here is what the BBB suggest you do:

  • Understand that “free” or low-cost business seminars are not what they sound. They are usually words used to lure the attendees into buying other products.
  • Don’t fall for high pressure sales tactics and offers that look too good to be true.
  • Make sure that when you make the decision to spend thousands of dollars on a course to help you amass wealth, it won’t be something you are going to regret later on.
  • Read any contract thoroughly before signing it. OR you can also take it home to investigate or get some legal advice and if the company denies you the permission to do your home-work, it is wiser to walk away.
  • You must get in writing within how much time you will be able to cancel your agreement and still get the full refund. If the company refuses your request or if the time is too short, it’s a red flag.

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Adwords Shenanigans Continue – Adwords Ad Promoting Fake News Site

On the heels of the recent FTC “Fake News” sweep announcement I was curious to see a new advertisement pop up promoting a fake news site allegedly promoting products such as Search And Social Media & Eprofits. You can see that in the video below:

You’ll notice that site promoting Search And Social Media doesn’t disclose that it’s a fake news site. You’ll also see the usual fake countdown timers. And you’ll notice that the McAfee security seal is actually for Plimus and not the site referenced on the order page.

I’m not 100% sure how Plimus works, but it doesn’t appear that this product is being sold through Plimus at all.

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