By Kerry Kobashi
Last week I was at Frys looking for a netbook and along comes this engineer who came off as friendly person. We talked for a good 15 minutes and had an enjoyable talk. So he asks for my business card which I didn't have on me. He then asks for my name and email address (BIG MISTAKE). Emails me a few days later and wants to meet for Starbucks coffee because he finds me interesting.
So today I go over to Starbucks and this guy tries to warm me up. Says he has an idea he wants to run by me. He pulls out a crumpled dark marketing advertiser out of his pocket. It was then sirens went off in my head screaming "what the hell did you just get into".
So he starts his pitch by feeling me out asking some questions hinting that I had no life. The ole "What do you truly want to do in your life" kind of crap. By then, I was offended that a fellow Engineer would even stoop down to insult me with a stupid sales pitch. I had gone into this meeting thinking this guy had a technology idea and was going to be a good friend. But instead, I unfortunately found myself being dragged into Starbucks on a 100 degree day (seriously it was that hot) to hear a sales pitch.
Before he even gets 5 minutes into it, I cut him off. I started grilling him and point blankly tell him "Lets cut to the chase". I ask him what does he sell? He wouldn't answer. I asked him is this some pyramid scheme and he tries to say that everything in life that he knows that is a pyramid scheme is legal. Then I tell him, you know, this sounds like Amway. He fidgeted in his chair.
So he goes on blabbering and tries to get me back on his sales pitch by pointing at his script (the marketing brochure) - but I wasn't about to let him. He starts talking about the Internet, sales distribution and things that sound techy but in reality the basics are he is just trying to round up people to work for him.
I interrupt him saying "I know about this stuff. This is nothing new to me". By then he was getting irritated. I asked him 2 times, Is this Amway? And he would sidestep the issue. I then tell him, "you aren't answering my question". At that point I really wanted to play the guy.
He then shows me more of his sales lit and before I even let him speak my eyes caught wind of a multi-tiered chart with payouts on each level. I chuckled because it was obvious to me this was a pyramid marketing scheme. The sales literature was intentionally created to show levels in blocks not arranged in a pyramid structure. I then quickly change the subject and ask him how long has this company been in existence. He said the Internet site has been up since 1995.
So I thought to myself. Hmmm. A website that has been online for nearly 20 years and this guy is trying to get me interested in the company? I then ask him, "So where are you on this chart? What level?" And he sidesteps the issue saying it doesn't matter. At that point I noticed a change in his voice - he was getting upset. To truly piss him off I said out loud "Sure it matters! This is a business model that uses a pyramid structure!".
By then he was getting even more irritated because he knew I was onto him. Just to piss him off one more time I ask "Is this Amway? And he says "For the third time I already answered you!" and starts getting emotional waving his hands and animated even more than before.
Thats when I told him he's wasting my time and got up to leave. As I headed out of the parking lot, I noticed the look on his face. He was upset. I rolled down the window to my Mercedes and told him "Good luck with your pyramid scheme!".
I returned home and remembered I left his business card on my desk. It so happens he belongs to an organization called Team INA. If you go to that website, it clearly does not look professional. Its just a site with a password. Looking more at his business card it says he is President and it turns out he is an affiliate of Team INA.
Digging a little bit on the Internet I drag up some information and lo and behold the same exact sales literature. The same charts, the same quotes, the same spiel that I saw in Starbucks.
On the bottom, it says "Duplication Prohibited". The page is littered with quotes from famous people to make it seem as if those people are in the organization. Everyone from Ray Kroc, Sam Walton, Michael Dell, Jeff Bezos, and Robert Kiyosaki I seriously doubt these people belong to Team INA and that it was there to give the illusion that they were.
And then something that was made me laugh out loud. Towards the bottom of this literature is a chart showing Team INA being associated with Quixtar.com. Quixtar is Amway Global! So this is the reason why this guy didn't want to let me know his Team INA was associated with Amway. He was hiding that he was a middleman.