After 20 years and 5 relocations, my husband was about to be laid off.

I went into panic mode, reinstated my teacher certification, looked for work options that would allow me to be home for my children.

And then it came.

I met Marci at a convention for “small business opportunities”. She was sitting in the lobby using a portable fax machine, and I approached with interest.PAAL

She told me she was a distributor for an innovative personal electronics company “Quorum”.

I left with her business card and an invitation to a weekly training meeting at a Marriott hotel.

Their signature product was PAAL, a personal attack alarm that was affordable, providing an introduction to other products, which all dealt with safety and security.

Home and auto security systems, pool safety, childproofing home products, bicycle and luggage locks, a Christmas tree heat sensor; products that made sense to me.

I was hooked.

When she found out I had a teaching background, the partnership was formed. We developed seminars that dealt with safety issues, going to schools, PTA meetings, civic and social groups, industry shows.

My husband built display boards, my kids designed a child-friendly coloring book; it became a family affair. It was fun, but not yet profitable.

Months later, his layoff came, but lasted one week. We were to be transferred to Pennsylvania.

At about the same time, there were signs of trouble with Quorum. Cheap copies of the personal alarm were showing up at discount retailers. There were mechanical complications with the auto security system. The home system was very pricey.

I took what remained of my inventory to our new home.


Less than one year later, Quorum filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

The toll free phone number that was stamped on all of my brochures had been sold to a porn site, a fact I discovered a few years later.

The folks who invested early became millionaires, feeding off the initial success of their sales recruits in a classic pyramid structure, one which they called  MLM, Multi-level marketing.

My timing did not match my enthusiasm. I was left with product. And a major life lesson.

** This was a follow up to the post “Scam”, the story I left for another day.

*** Note…Please ignore the Special Olympics ad featured on the Reader with this post. I deleted it when I found out it was still being used on a current e bay ad. Not sure how a deleted image ended up on this post. Sorry. There is no Quorum, no charity matching funds.

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40 Responses to Pyramid

  1. Thanks for the warning

  2. I know several people who’ve been caught up in “be your own business” marketing scams. They make a little money but the promises of riches depend on recruiting more people, thus creating another layer of the pyramid. I don’t know one person who has made a living. Live and learn. Thanks for sharing your experience, Van 🙂 Wiser for the experience!

  3. This is really interesting. I am always fascinated by the people who set these scams up then reap in profits knowing it is at the expense of others. And to keep that going for years.

  4. LaVagabonde says:

    The people who come up with these pyramid marketing schemes are total parasites. Amway…gross…I lived for 3 years in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where their headquarters were located. Now, you’ve got a lot of natural medicine schemes like Young Living essential oils. Totally overpriced products. But so trendy! Plus I read that the owner is really dodgy. It’s funny how people who seem so level-headed can end up falling so hard for these scams that they start seeing friends as relatives as merely way to climb the pryamid higher.

  5. The V-Pub says:

    Thanks for the warning, Van. I suppose those at the top of the pyramid care little for those on the bottom. Live and learn, indeed!

  6. Judy Martin says:

    It is so easy to get caught up in this sort of thing Van. It is a hard lesson to learn though.

  7. Erika Kind says:

    These things sound so great when presented. Last Friday I went to a presentation not knowing what was really the background and it too turned out like a pyramid system although differently presented. It is based on investments and credits. But when you are a little good in maths you find out quickly that it takes you quite a while until you get rewarded … and you can only hope that the system has not broken down yet…. no thank you! I am very cautious with these things!

  8. George says:

    It’s hard to put so much energy into something like this and have it go wrong. It’s a painful lesson.

  9. sorry this happened but thanks for sharing! a good thing for all to hear and be warned about!

  10. Van, you much wiser for the experience bad as it was. At least others will benefit from your advise.

  11. I have always had an issue with MLM. It always falls apart and someone is left holding anot empty basket. Good thing that your husband was retained.

  12. TanGental says:

    Glad you came out the other side ok. At least there’s material for a couple of stories there

  13. lbeth1950 says:

    Almost everyone falls for it once!

  14. AmyRose🌹 says:

    Van, you are not alone in this kind of lesson. I too got burned and out of it, NOW my instincts sound the alarm when something comes my way that just seems too good. Sorry to hear your experience was less then satisfactory, but if you learned from it, then GOOD truly did come from out of it. Live and learn or so the story goes …. 🙂 ❤

  15. I’m so sorry you had this experience. Thank you for sharing the lesson.

  16. Hard lesson to learn after a layoff. Yikes.

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