Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Are Empower Network Members Hiding Something?

UPDATE August 2017: Empower Network has declared bankruptcy. I had almost forgotten about this blog entry, until recently. I wasn't totally surprised to discover that this entry no longer appears in Internet searches. So, it seems that this blog entry got buried and hidden since it was last updated three years ago.

It may have helped Empower Network in the short term, but they still went down in flames.

UPDATED August 5, 2014: I've decided to revisit this entry and add new information that has become available, as well as remove outdated items.

While looking for Work From Home scams being advertised on Hawaii Craigslist, I answered an ad that was posted through one of my throwaway accounts and received a reply a couple of days later that told me about the "Empower Network".

As far as I can tell, the Empower Network is another multilevel marketing operation where people buy memberships of different levels and price-ranges and then recruit more people to buy memberships. They aren't selling anything, aside from memberships. Your "opportunity" is the chance to make money by selling memberships to other people so that they can go out and sell memberships to other people, who will then do the same and so on. Aside from membership, there is nothing else being bought or sold, aside from training courses on how to sell more memberships.

Doing any kind of impartial research on Empower Network is hard, mostly due to the flood of websites and blogs set-up by members trying to recruit more people into their network. All these sites tell readers how great Empower Network is and I have to admit that it was very difficult trying to find any sort of review posted about it from a neutral or critical standpoint.

I cannot fully explain how the system works, because it gets rather complicated and that's not the purpose of this post.

What does concern me is the near impossibility of finding reviews of the Empower Network from either a neutral or critical standpoint. No business can have 100% satisfaction from its customers. There will always be someone with something negative to say about it, no matter how good the service or product might be.

It may be possible that Empower Network has not have been around long enough to attract the attention of impartial reviewers. But, given its current Internet presence - including blogs, websites and YouTube videos - an impartial review will be needed. Current websites that claim to offer reviews of Empower Network have every appearance of advertising it and trying to get more people to sign-up.

What really made me think that something was not quite right was how certain websearch terms appear to have been hijacked by people attempting to recruit members. Search terms like "Empower Network scam", "Empower Network review", "Empower Network fraud" and "Empower Network ripoff" have been included in websites that advertise for Empower Network, most likely by recruiters looking to sign-up more people. I have to admit that this is a good way - though I believe it to be more than a little underhanded - to get people to find your site. After all, a prospective member will use those search terms in an attempt to do their own research before they sign-up. I must have run across over a dozen members' sites that, at first glance, seemed to be offering some sort of critique of Empower Network only to discover that it was really someone looking to sign-up new members.

If people can't find anything bad being said about Empower Network, they're more likely to sign-up. If they find a critic that gives them second thoughts, they'll either take longer to sign on the dotted line or they may decide that it's not for them and try to find something else. For every monthly membership payment delayed or denied, there's somebody who's unhappy about not getting their commission.

Remember that anyone who is trying to recruit you into a multilevel marketing system isn't doing it for your benefit, they are doing it for the sake of making a commission from your signing-up under them. They'll tell you about how great it is, how you can make a lot of money, take care of your family and live the life of your dreams. But, ultimately it's really all about how much money they can make off of you and the people you sign-up.

So, my question is: why are so many Empower Network members co-opting the above-mentioned search terms? Are they trying, even inadvertently, to prevent potential recruits from learning anything negative about it?

UPDATE: While doing further research, I discovered the Terms and Conditions members agree to when they sign-up. Under the agreement, not only are members forbidden from criticizing the Empower Network themselves, they must actively prevent others from doing so. Under the legal protection of the Fair Use Doctrine, I will quote directly from section C, paragraph g:
You agree that you will not make any derogatory statements, either oral or written, or otherwise disparage us, our products, employees, services, work or employment, and will take all reasonable steps to prevent others from making derogatory or disparaging statements. You agree that it would be impossible, impractical, or extremely difficult to fix the actual damages suffered by reason of a breach of this paragraph, and accordingly hereby agree that Company may determine recover five thousand dollars ($5,000) as the amount of damages sustained by reason of each such breach, without prejudice to Company's right to also seek injunctive or other equitable relief. 
It is perfectly legal to prohibit members from criticizing the product. However, telling them that they must actively try to prevent others from doing so makes me think that Empower Network does, in fact, have something to hide. The use of the word "others" can be taken in different ways. It can mean that you try to prevent current or former members from disparaging Empower Network, or (more dangerously) to prevent people who have never been members, like myself, from criticizing it.

This could explain why members have been co-opting the search terms I cited above: flood the Internet with positive reviews and try to drown-out the naysayers.

Noteworthy is the coincidental similarity that Empower Network's Terms and Conditions are almost word-for-word similar to the members' agreement from another get rich quick offer, called Simple Make Money Formula and you can read it here. Look at section 5g.

I found three videos posted on YouTube by mikewellwood that offered a decidedly negative opinion of Empower Network. Sadly, his videos were all removed from Youtube when his channel was closed-down and his blog is also gone. I have no idea what caused his channel to close.

However, NoMoreBSReviews posted this video and I think he gives a very detailed explanation regarding his problems with Empower Network.

If you prefer to read, here are some websites that give reviews of Empower Network. I had listed some others, but they have been removed since this blog was last edited:
I remember when people were out there trying to sell the latest fad in health food products. There were hundreds of websites advertising Noni juice, Alaskan blueberry products, colloidal silver, etc and all these websites extolled the virtues of their respective product and they all reacted with great hostility to anyone who said anything negative about the products they were selling. But, those people never tried to co-opt search terms to either actively or inadvertently prevent people from reading that the products weren't as healthy or beneficial as advertised. It seems that some Empower Network members were blazing a new trail with this tactic, which is one reason why I personally had no interest in becoming a member myself.

For the sake of honesty on my part: Empower Network LLC does have a B rating from the Better Business Bureau, even though it's not a BBB-accredited company. You can read the complaints at this link.

It is possible that Empower Network is everything its websites claim and that it is an exceptional way for people to work from home to make a lot of money for themselves. But, as with every multilevel marketing system, there comes a saturation point where the influx of new members slows to a trickle, either by disaffected former members speaking-out, a new system coming out and becoming popular or when so many people have heard about it that sales pitches become white noise and fade into the background. If/when these things happen, the people who got in early will have made their money while the newer members will feel ripped-off because the fad has run its course and there is no real money to be had for them.

I think that Empower Network has been around since 2011 and - judging by how previous multilevel marketing systems have fared over the years - I give them another couple of years before Empower Network reaches its own saturation point and fades into history.

Edit: Apparently, that day has come right on time. I haven't seen a new pro-EN YouTube video in a long time from the once-enthusiastic evangelists for this company. In the Comments section below, I received a very polite detailed rebuttal from Mike Moffitt, who was at the time an active member of Empower Network. He included a link to a webpage where he had to write his complete response, due to lack of space in the Comment box. I allowed the link to be posted because he wasn't selling anything and - as I said - he was very polite. I checked the link today and it is no longer active. Neither is the URL on Mike's name in his comment and his EN website hasn't been updated in almost two years.

Furthermore, I checked on Facebook to see if any of the Empower Network groups were still active. I didn't see any recent posts for EN, but I did notice numerous posts for other MLM schemes in their news feeds. So, it looks like Empower Network is no longer the Big Guy on The Block anymore.

So, if anyone wants to comment on this post, feel free. However, I will not allow anyone to advertise themselves in comments. Empower Network members get their own blogs with their memberships and I will not allow you to extend your reach into my blog. This extends to anyone who is engaged in any sort of multilevel marketing system, not just Empower Networks members.

Duane Browning
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