Warm Chatter: A Mary Kay Victim’s Story of Attempted Manipulation (Part 1)

pink-pyramid-selling-scamWritten by Jersey McGoody

Hey everyone!  First off, I want to say thank you to this website and all on it!  I’ve been reading through some of the posts on here and let me just say it’s some great reading material!  🙂

A little about me…I just turned 30, I got married last year and have a beautiful 10 month old daughter, I work full-time at a small bank as an assistant manager…it’s not the best-paying job, but it’s “safe”…meaning I get PTO, benefits, and it pays the bills.   I got my BA in English a few years ago and plan to go back to school soon to become a paralegal (yeah, at the time I really only went to college because my parents kinda made me, I wanted to become a makeup artist at the time, so I just picked something I like because I enjoy writing…one of my bucket list items is to publish a book one day)

I own a modest home, and yeah I’m kinda dead broke right now…my husband is doing side work and looking for something part-time while he goes to school to get his CDL.  So right now I’m carrying it ALL.  And part of me had always wanted to be involved in the business of making people feel good with the right touch of makeup, but not in the business of pushing products… or pushing people.

But anyway…here’s my Mary Kay “story”…at least as best as I can remember…it’s a little long-winded, but it’s decent reading if you’re bored this weekend…I’ll try to abridge it as much as possible 🙂

I was working on a Friday evening, and a fortyish-year-old lady comes in to deposit some checks for her mother (a long-time Mary Kay beauty consultant).  She’s wearing business clothes and chatting with a teller, and I overhear her mentioning how she got her BA in English from the same university I attended.

I chime in, all “Me too! Gotta love the job market, right?  Hey, if YOU managed to find decent work that doesn’t require 3 years of internships, help a sister out!” with a giggle.  (*facepalm* I should’ve known..)

She looks at me intently, then says “You know what? I think I can help you…let me take your number.”  I grab a receipt and jot down my name and number, and thank her.  She says, “oh actually, can you write down your info on THIS card?”  She hands me a card with the Mary Kay logo on the top.  Um, okay?  We exchange info and she hands me and the other girls lipstick samples, then says “let me know how you like these!  I’ll be in touch with you tomorrow!”  I’m thinking, wow she must be serious about getting me a job if she’s willing to discuss business on a Saturday…cool!

(I won’t be completely cruel and disclose names…hmm…this lady reminds me of a cross between Sandra Bullock’s character Mary in All About Steve {with all the peppiness}, and Mia’s best friend Lily in The Princess Diaries…I’ll just call her Marily.)

We agreed to meet at her mom’s home office on a Friday night…”a pajama party with focus on nighttime skincare… and if I know of any women friends who would like to join, bring them along!”  So now I’m not sure whether to dress to impress or wear pajamas… this was turning out to be the oddest “interview” ever!  As I said before, I’m all about the makeup and consulting aspect of it, not the sales and recruiting…but I figured, maybe the company is looking for someone to skillfully demonstrate the products, or for customer service, or processing orders, or bookkeeping/accounting? Re-invent the wheel, perhaps? Tee-hee…

Friday night, Marily answers the door before I can knock, wearing a Mary Kay  outfit with a “Miss Enthusiasm” badge under her nametag (whatever that means?).  She takes my coat, and offers me some hot tea.  I look around and there’s candles glowing everywhere, classical music playing in the background.  (Was this an interview or a date?)  She says “oh, it’s unfortunate that you didn’t bring anyone else, but that’s okay!!”  (riiiight…I didn’t think it was necessary–or professional–to bring anyone to an “interview”…reminds me of that scene in StepBrothers where they BOTH go in tuxes…lol)

She starts off with the “Satin Hands” routine, while talking about the products, constantly asking how my hands feel.  I ask if the stuff would be beneficial for my best friend, who has psoriasis (and actually works in a lab which tests skin-care products). She stammers and says it’s best for her to check with her doctor.  Then we sit down, my table has a mirrored tray with products, and she hands me yet another information card to fill in.

She says “so you’re an English major too, huh?”

“Yeah, which I do want to thank you so much for having me over… as you probably know after YOU graduated, at least for me, the only job offers out there either required years of experience, or those pyramid schemes..”  I continue to fill out my card, but can feel her eyes on me.

After a few seconds, “How did you know they were pyramid schemes?”
I casually wave my hand and say “They all have the same spiel… no guaranteed salary/only commissions, you have to head-hunt to find people under you, and what you earn gets split between you and your supervisor and their supervisor… like a pyramid, basically.”

Marily’s quiet for a minute, as I continue filling out the card, which also includes questions about my favorite skincare/makeup companies, and my skin type, then says “Yeah, so many of them are so vague on what they do, it’s like they try to rope you in and then you just get stuck!”

“Exactly!  So I see your mom has done very well with Mary Kay, huh?”  I motion to an entire bookshelf lined with MK products.

“Yeah, she used to drive me to school in a pink Cadillac, but now she’s actually on her way to retirement, and just trying to get rid of the inventory she has.”

(Cause, you know, that entire bookshelf of products “sell themselves”!) And that’s also what she said to me when I admitted I wasn’t interested in sales… plus the whole “not looking for the sales type” thing etc etc…

I joke, “Yeah, nobody wants to be like those folks at the mall kiosks… don’t make eye contact! Right?”

She doesn’t laugh or say anything…now that I’ve read a bit on Pink Truth, I can see why…that’s pretty much what they do to recruit strangers!! Whoopsie-daisy!!

As we talk some more, I tell her about how one of my friends “won” a party in a drawing when I was 15, and we had fun trying out the stuff, and then I went to another party a few years ago for a friend, etc… she tells me about how after college, she worked as an assistant counselor for a drug/alcohol rehab, and said she left because she wanted something more fulfilling.  So she quit and started working for Mary Kay full-time about two years ago.  (In my opinion, saving addicts’ lives and helping them to recover seems pretty fulfilling in itself!)  Her mother originally advised against her following in her footsteps, and her friends told her it was a pyramid scheme, but “they were just being negative…it’s nothing like that at all!”

I explain my situation about semi-desperately needing ANY extra work on my own free time, just to keep my head above water financially.  How I don’t get to actually enjoy any of my own paycheck, and my credit cards are maxed out from buying Christmas gifts.  So that way, in all fairness, she knows up front that I don’t have alot–err, ANY–money to spend or invest.

I hand her the card and she reads it over.  There was an entire space dedicated to “List 10 women who would enjoy a session of pampering!”  I left it blank intentionally, and she called me on it…”how about 3 women?”  I said that I really didn’t know many women “like that” and immediately, “how about at work?” with a huge grin on her face… I said that my supervisor works for Avon and I really don’t want to risk losing my means to pay my bills by stepping on her toes.  (Only partially true…she stopped selling years ago and would casually leave catalogs on the counter every so often)

She says “Come on, wouldn’t it be great to catch up with some old friends, and they would help you with your new business opportunity?”  I firmly told her that it would seem kind of rude and insincere to say “hey, how’ve you been in the last year, and by the way make me some money, pretty please?”  (Believe me, I get Facebook notifications from casual friends/acquaintances about MLMs and their parties all the time, and it’s annoying.)  Marily explained that SHE would be the one to “reach out” to them, and that’s when I reached for my purse and said no thank you.
(Uh-oh…damage control!! Sound the alarm and lure her back in!!)  “Oh, uh-umm, w-well, w-w-we don’t have to do that right now!   Here, try the products in your tray!”

So here I’m pampering myself… I was thinking maybe she wanted to evaluate how well I can blend and spackle.  So I’m very meticulous with it… she asks about if I liked doing this, and I mentioned how I had always wanted to be a makeup artist…

3…2…1…EXCITEMENT EXPLOSION!!!  “Really?!?! Tell me more about that!!!”  Honest to goodness, this chick actually clapped her hands and bounced up and down.  I swear, the whole time I’m there, she’s talking to me in an overly-thrilled — almost patronizing — tone, like a kindergarten teacher.  “Oh, you really need to come to our Monday Night Makeover meeting!!  Please, please, that would be perfect for you!!”

Now half of me is wondering if she found a perfect opportunity to lure me in further… or “layer” me… and the other half wonders if she sincerely wants me to demonstrate my application abilities and network with others in the industry.  Take a guess which one it was.  She says “I can tell you’re a nice girl… if this isn’t for you, at least then you’ll know after you come to the meeting.  Will you give it a try? I can pick you up!”

I shrug and agree.

“So, does your skin feel great?”
“Yeah, pretty good!”
“Which of the products do you like the best?”
I try to be nice and say “Well, they all work good, I guess the makeup remover?”
“Which of these would you like to take home with you?”
“Oh, I get to take something home?”
She jumps right in and reaches over to the products.  “Well, the Miracle Set is $xx, this is $xx, this is $xx, if you combine these it’s $xx, and the makeup remover is $15.”

Did she miss the part where I said I was here because I NEEDED money, not to SPEND money that I DON’T HAVE??

“Oh, I–uhh…I didn’t know I had to buy anything…”
“OH NONONONONO you don’t have to!!!”
“Well I feel kinda bad…I really meant it when I said I was broke, but I guess the makeup remover.”
“Okay, great!  How would you like to pay…you could do cash, check, card, or what we call the Husband Unawareness Plan… meaning, you pay some with cash, some with credit, some with a check…heehee!”

Wow.  I hand over my card, saying “I really hope there’s enough left on here.”

As we continue, she motions to a large handbag and says “So what would you say if I told you there was $400(?) worth of products in this bag, and you could start your business with this for only $100?”

Gee, for a college graduate, she really doesn’t seem to grasp the concept of me repeating myself that I. AM. DEAD. BROKE. I. HAVE. ZERO. DISPOSABLE. INCOME.  I’d say it sounds great if I could magically pull the money out of my butt.

Completely changing the subject, Marily asks “What would you like to change about your current job?”  I say alot of things…mainly more pay, more availability for my family, all the typical stuff you hear.  We continue talking, more about non-MK stuff and university professors we’ve both had, she keeps complimenting my skin and other little details, then I head home.

“See you Monday!”

The next morning she asks how my skin feels.

That weekend I start Googling and type in “Mary Kay scam” just out of curiosity…

The PinkTruth website comes up…

Part 2 tomorrow!

19 Comments

  1. BestDecision

    I got so sick of seeing people do this! They’d trap someone in a facial or class and immediately try to recruit them without them being a customer. I had so many unit members desperate to get into their Red Jacket doing the same thing, and then they’d wonder why even I couldn’t get them to sign! These people don’t understand “the MK way”, aren’t in love with the product line, and haven’t experienced what a Consultant does for them as service.

    One of the first things that made me look at Court winners differently was meeting the Queen of Recruiting who shared with me how she did it. She offered the Starter Kit/business as A SET a her appointments! I was shocked, appalled, and so disappointed. No wonder she was on the Court!

    Even since I resigned, it’s interesting to see the same old is still happening in MK today!

  2. Not happening

    Some of these phrases and mannerisms are exactly like the sales director I met at the Mary Kay party I went to in July. Very, very similar experience in that regard. It’s really so creepy. These people are taught to act like automatons. Instead of thinking for yourself, you’re told what to think and what to say (scripts).

  3. cindylu

    It seems to me that Jackie Brown was hired by MK herself to simply go out, sell and recruit. It’s an mlm and so the product is an add on. Recruiting or sharing the opportunity has always been the focus. Now that ebay has thousands of items at discount prices and women are tired of being employees of an mlm, recruiting isn’t working. Yes those phoney facials and sales pitches at meetings are cringe worthy. Too many changes to products is always annoying. Temporary specialty products for Christmas that most women don’t buy. Another waste of money for the consultant. The ridiculous you are in business for yourself but not by yourself. Actually you are rarely on your own. The company and its lawyers have micro managed the mostly female sales force into oblivion. No where to advertise, products that are over priced and a marketing plan that hasn’t worked in decades without front loading. Today’s women hopefully will research this pyramid scheme and realize absolutely no one in 2016 is interested in a 1960’s style make up party.

    1. BestDecision

      Great points! I just realized Fall Retreats are coming up. Sad these people aren’t realizing that if their business was so solid and their company thriving so much, there be no need for ANOTHER event to go to for re-charging. Seminar just ended a month ago. If you aren’t motivated 1-2 months later, it’s because the business model and products suck! Prosperous companies only have yearly rah-rah events to reward their top sales people and launch new products.

      Think about it. If Apple wasn’t doing well, do you think they could survive on just 1 launch event a year like they do now?

      As an added bonus, Directors work their tails off at Fall Retreats. One of my worst memories was giving up an entire day of family or business to travel hours away and then be bossed around by my Senior who was trying to act like a National. We were on our knees putting together decorations and exhausted by that night, only to wake up early to welcome our Red Jackets. I’ll never forget the ride back home where one of my Red Jackets described what she observed to be “way too hard of work” and that she had doubts over being a Director after seeing all we had to do. I had no words to overcome THAT objection!

  4. enorth

    “Directors work their tails off at Fall Retreats”

    Auri ordered her SDs to go ready to SERVE. So, SDs are expected to attend (no excuses!), pay for the event, pay for travel, give up family time, and – essentially – go there to work from dawn to midnight for nothing.

    Must be the “servant leadership” the NSDs are always spouting.

    1. BestDecision

      I still think it’s odd that Directors are charged a higher registration fee than Consultants for the same event.

      And get this. Linda Toupin, for example, just posted her Christmas workshop. For the 2 days, they’ll pay $75! What’s also interesting is they’ll have recognition for those profiting $400 in a month. $400! Someone is going to be proud of making $400 a month?! Someone is going to be onstage for making $100 a week?!

      Boy, times are pitiful in MK. So glad I shipped it all back!

      1. enorth

        I see Fall Advances advertised at resorts, the beach, etc. But Cyndee Gress is holding hers in “fabulous” North Jersey. Same hotel where she holds all of her other events. Yawn. Consultants one night, but SDs and DIQs must attend two nights. $300 pp for first night. Extra night is $135 pp. Stipulation: “No more than two people per room.”

        1. BestDecision

          Sharing rooms at Seminar and Career Conference are some of my worst memories! They even assigned a roommate to us for DIT week. A total stranger! Grown women sharing hotel rooms does NOT give an air of “executive income”, does it?

          1. Out of the Pink

            I attended a Career Conference event during my short MK “career.” The hotel/conference center was over booked, so four of us ended up in a room in an overflow hotel a car drive from the main conference location. The place was pitiful. Ok, it was crappy. Not a hotel I would have otherwise chosen. Each moment of the event was dictated from what to wear in the car ride up to when to go to bed. After first day of conference, we had to have a “sleepover” in my directors room before catching a cab (on our own dime) back to our crappy hotel to try to sleep. I just remember being so tired since I drove a car load of IBC’s the three hours to the venue and sat for hours in conference all after working my demanding job all week. “Don’t suffer from FOMO! Some amazing things will happen and are planned for our super fun sleepover event.” It was basically just to share introductions and goals. More rah rah in the middle of the night.

          2. enorth

            “we had to have a ‘sleepover’ in my directors room”

            Did you have to “earn” it?

            For being “business women”, they’re obsessed with sleepovers and pajama parties. Adult women in pajamas taking photos of each other in hotel bathrooms and posting them on social media.

            And they wonder why people make fun of them.

        2. BestDecision

          PJ parties in a crammed hotel room reak of success, don’t they? Most corporate women who travel eat in a restaurant, but then they go to their OWN hotel rooms and separate ways. No sharing a room, no PJs, no faking excitement and proclaiming everything is “awesome”. And then no pure exhaustion when they get home.

          Fall Retreats, Feel the Power (don’t even get me started on that one), Leadership Conference, CareerConference, and Seminar. Waste…of…time.

          1. enorth

            There’s a PJ party at Auri’s upcoming Advance. She told the directors which PJs to wear and that they have to go buy them. She said,”Everyone not in the program and not wearing the pajamas will look like a fool.”

            Still want to be a MK consultant? A director? You’ll be told how to dress, what pajamas to wear, where you have to be and when, what to say, what to do, what books to read, what to drive, what DVDs to watch, whom to hang out with, whom to remove from your life, etc.

          2. Out of the Pink

            “Did you have to “earn” it?”

            Not that one but there have been pizza parties at the SD’s house, coaching calls with NSD’s, beach “vacations,” etc to earn. Once I got a dinner with my SD and we just discussed how I was going into DIQ and to directorship in the next three months. Others had earned the beach trip (by being a Star of a certain level or above.) My friend who signed up after me (as my recruit-thanks to my director) came back and told me about it. Wasn’t really a “vacation.” More dictated events and MK rah-rah and warm fuzzies.

          3. Lazy Gardens

            she told the directors which PJs to wear and that they have to go buy them. She said,”Everyone not in the program and not wearing the pajamas will look like a fool.”

            This is such a “girl gang” mentality … where they all wear their colors.

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