Update by user Apr 25, 2012
Location is southern California, not Pennsylvania.
Original review posted by user Apr 25, 2012
My husband is usually smarter than this, but he got suckered into signing up as a Preferred Customer and as an Independent Marketing Executive for Melaleuca last night. When he got home, I researched the company, read all the fine print on the paperwork, and drafted a cancellation letter. The morning, he canceled his debit card at the bank and I put the cancellation letter to Melaleuca in the US Mail via Express Mail. He is going to call the enroller today to let her know that he is cancelling. The debit card had not yet been charged as of this morning when we went to the bank, so I do not anticipate any problem with unwanted charges.
However, *I* am the fine print reader in our family. My husband's first language is not English, and he is prone to overlook details. He had no idea that he was signing up to have $52.99 + shipping and tax deducted automatically from his business checking account every month, whether there is money in the account or not, and whether or not he wants or needs to purchase 35 points worth of Melaleuca products that month. He had no idea that he was risking a $33 overdraft charge every month that his bank balance drops below $60 on the day of the automatic debit.
He thought he would be earning real dollars when he made purchases, not "shopping dollars" that amount to credits against future *additional* purchases, above and beyond the monthly minimums. He thought this even when I specifically asked him if he would be earning money or credits.
He did understand the idea of making $1000 per additional member that he signs up, and that there is a one-time $29 enrollment fee associated with that. He could think of a handful of friends to pitch the products to, but didn't think beyond the first month or two, and that the only way to get people to come to these pitches is to mislead them about the purpose of the meeting, and only hit them with the real purpose after they are already there - such as happened to him on this occasion, as it has on so many previous occasions with other products and services. The reason he experiences it so often is because, like spam, as low as the success rate may be at converting someone brought under false pretenses into a buyer, it's higher than telling them up front that you'd like to invite them to a sales presentation.
He thought he could try the products once and then cancel. Based on the high-pressure sales tactics he was subjected to at the sales presentation, and the number of people who report problems with cancellation, and the dependence upon one's enroller to actually complete the cancellation process (from what I have read here, if you follow the process outlined on the web site, you can *suspend* your "Preferred Customer" privileges, but doing so does NOT cancel your relationship with Melaleuca; that requires action on the part of your enroller), and the inability to view the cancellation form until you actually have an online account, and the terms of the cancellation as outlined in the fine print of the contracts, I conclude that cancellation is unlikely to be trouble-free. I've dealt with canceling a health club membership before, and it can be done, but it takes a lot of time and energy to escape without losing an extra month's worth of fees above and beyond the extra month that the contract spells out.
Fortunately, per the California Department of Consumer Affairs web site, in California we have a three-day grace period in which my husband does not have to jump through hoops to cancel his agreements. The Customer Membership falls under the category of Discount Buying Services, and the Independent Marketing Executive falls under the category of Seller-Assisted Marketing Plans. All he has to do is notify Melaleuca at the address they give on the contract paperwork, in writing. He does not have to do so by the 25th of the month if he is mailing the cancellation within three days of signing the paperwork.
My husband is NOT a sales person. He is an artist. He is very personable, but very impressionable and likes to please others. He would hate being one of those people luring marks to sales presentations and trying to persuade them to sign up. He doesn't even know if he likes the Melaleuca products or not, he's just assuming he will because that's what the sales people told him. He knows he would hate being one of those people who waste his time bringing him to sales presentations under the pretense of being interested in his art or in promoting his art, or under the pretense that this was somehow related to the staff meeting for employees where he has a part-time job.
He knew he had reservations at the time of the presentation, and voiced them there. He told them that I am the one who buys personal care products and cleaning products, not he. He told them that he wanted to discuss this with me before making a decision, because it affects both of us, and he told them that he didn't think I would go for it (he knows me well). He was encouraged to sign up in secret, and not tell me about it. He was told he only had 10 minutes to make up his mind. He figured he could just do what they wanted, and then cancel later.
Fortunately, the State of California has consumer protection laws that allow us to do that, but we have canceled the debit card as well, just in case.
Product or Service Mentioned: Melaleuca Membership.