Facts, opinions, and the real story behind Mary Kay Cosmetics.

Is Avon Just Another Pyramid Scheme?

avon callingI’ve long felt that Avon is really no better than any other MLM out there which pushes recruiting and building the pyramid. For years, Avon did have more of a focus on retail sales, but the profits to be made from doing so were very low because the products have such a low pricepoint. As Avon lost market share and watched other MLMs grow exponentially, management realized the key was recruiting.

Over the last 5 years or more, Avon has shifted to become more of a recruiting-focused operation, with inventory frontloading a new and exciting part of the company. And so Avon is just as damaging as the rest of the MLMs I oppose. One of our readers provides this insider’s perspective on the business of Avon:

Avon is a pyramid scheme now. When I try to bring this to the attention of reps on the internal message board, they attack, as expected.

But this must be searchable on the internet. Is Avon a pyramid scheme? Yes.

In 2008-2009, Avon has instituted huge bonuses for Leadership. And not just one bonus scheme, at last count, two bonus schemes that can both be earned at the same time. Now Avon has added yet another bonus scheme open only to the women in Leadership. I believe they can all be earned together.

We are talking thousands of dollars and gifts, too.

Avon has changed. These Leaderships representative are encouraged to call and harrass their ‘downline’ when the downline doesn’t place an order or doesn’t pay an order.

And Leadership has sales goals they must meet to get their bonuses. They can choose to motivate their downline to sell. Only Avon and the Leadership reps have recruited so many reps in single areas that it is difficult to create a sales base.

Or they can take a shortcut and pressure their downline to order more and more inventory and demos to help guarantee the ‘upline’s’ bonus check.

I have even witnessed uplines getting so desperate to get that check that they buy inventory themselves to make up for the difference. And that inventory starts to age the instant it hits her porch. Which means more old inventory out on the street giving customers a negative impression.

Sadly, nearly everything that’s happened at MK is happening at Avon now.

And if you don’t go into Leadership, stay off the Leadership radar. Because they (the unethical scary ones that is) will punish you and try to put you out of business. Try to stay safe. Never confront a Leadership Cult member who threatens you or your business directly. Instead, go to Avon corporate, an attorney and the police if necessary.

(Attornies aren’t really that expensive if you shop around. Some will accept retainers for as little as $100 to keep an open file on potential cases. Some only charge $50 or so to create legal letters that will keep you out of lawsuit hot soup. Think how much you spend on brochures and product.)

Approach your District Manager with caution. She may be on your side if you are threatened or otherwise harmed, but she may not. Get the contact information for the representative through Customer Service or 1800 FOR AVON instead of your DM if you can.

Look up what you can do legally-speaking on the internet. You will be surprised that just like with Mary Kay, there are protections in place already. You just have to tap in them.

Be careful out there, and approach other representatives with caution. They may be good women, they may not.


  1. BeeBee

    I am an Avon rep and they do not encourage you to “frontload”. I used to do MK when I got out of high school, and yes indeedy, they are a scam.

    Nobody in Avon bothers me, and my upline is a woman from upstate NY whom I have never met. We have monthly meetings in my area, but they are not required.

    I didn’t get into Avon to recruit, I just sell, and I have a lot of clientele. But doing Avon is *hard work* –you have to pound the pavement and hustle, make calls, send e-mails, make flyers, walk the communities, post cards, flyers, give out your business card with samples. I don’t bother people or hound them, if they are not interested, I tell them to have a good day and move on.

    I agree with all of the crits of MLM on here, and lost money in MK. BUt not in Avon. No one messes with me and I design my own cards and lit (I am also a graphic designer).

    1. lolli121

      I too have gone through the Mary kay scam and let me tell you after reading not only the posts on this site but others…it sounds soooo familiar and exactly like the sales director I had! I am now doing Avon and honestly, I have not been pushed to do ANYTHING. You can’t even recruit people unless you choose and ask to. Also, Avon dm’s are salaried and can’t even sell Avon. They are considered employees of Avon, not independent reps. I haven’t been asked to buy any kind of inventory or demos, so as far as my experience with Avon, I don’t find this article to be very true with Avon. Maybe it’s just my district and my upline, though. If I felt I was getting the same scam as I did with Mary kay and my sales director there, I would be on the run already. I know someone who has done it for a long time. She doesn’t do sales leadership and she only sells to her family and friends and herself and that’s it. She is not forced or pushed to do otherwise. It definately was not the same experience I had at all with Mary Kay.

        1. Tammy

          Ew…what a hateful and ignorant statement. I no longer sell AVON. In fact, I lasted only 6 months because I lost interest. Looking back, I can fairly say that my experience was a good one while it lasted. It’s true, district managers are salaried, and don’t sell Avon.

          My upline, whom I “met” through her Avon website, was (and is) a wonderful, kind woman who never pressured me, and never encouraged me to front load. She constantly comes up with ideas to share with her down lines, makes flyers for them, etc., but only as resources; nobody is ever forced to use the things that she comes up with.

          When I told her that I was too tired from taking care of my family to continue with Avon, she simply said she understood and hoped that I would return one day. Nobody I met through Avon, including my former upline, ever shunned me. We still keep in touch.

          I was never pressured to buy any expensive “starter kit” or load up on products to sell, neither from my former upline nor Avon. It cost me only $20 to join, and that was to cover the training materials and generous amounts of products that I was sent to start my business. Oh, and there weren’t dirty, high-pressure tactics in the training guide either. The guide simply covered product knowledge (which was more detailed in the online training) and the pay scale.

          I almost never comment on forums that I don’t know, but I feel that your “pink fog” comment is very unfair. I have been out of Avon for a long time now, and can look back on it objectively, yet also fondly at once. I can honestly say that my experience with Avon proved the saying “You get back what you give in” to be accurate. It was hard work, and flipping burgers would have earned me more money faster, but I loved the feeling that I got when I witnessed first-hand that the months that I worked harder in, were the months that I sold the most in.

          I am actually a frequent reader of Pink Truth. I cam here initially because I felt that a close family friend was being taken advantaged of by Mary Kay. Sadly, she is still trying to break even for the several hundred dollars that she spent on her starter kit, but the longer she stays in each month, trying to break even, the more it is costing her. This breaks my heart.

            1. Nacole

              Why do you dismiss any experience that goes against your opinion? You would have made an awesome MaryKay upline because you are deceptive and cult like in your behavior as well. Because you were a failure at anything but being negative does not mean others had the same experience. What about Aunt Barbara at Tupperware? Let me guess, his career is a sham also is what you will say. In fact, you won’t even allow this comment to be posted because it is against your cult and unwarranted claims not based in fact.

              1. TRACY

                It doesn’t go against my opinion, it goes against the facts. All MLMs are the same recruiting scam, and almost everyone (over 99%) loses money in them. Those are just the facts, and I have a very successful business, thank you very much. (A real business, not a fake MLM business.)

                While there are a handful of people “making money” in MLMs, they are only doing so because thousands of people below them lost money to the scam. That’s not a business. And the fact that they profit from the scam doesn’t make it a business either.

                No, Pink Truth is not a cult or anything like it. However, we do stick to our mission with the information we post here. Just as Mary Kay will not allow any messages contrary to their mission on their site, we tend to follow the same rule here. If you would like to praise Mary Kay or any other MLM, you’ll have to find some other site to do that. (Don’t worry, there are plenty of them out there.)

  2. Elizabeth Magee-Thomsen

    Took down the website for Avon two more campaigns and I am out. Starting to get the harassing emails and phone calls. I am getting well versed at the delete button and deleting messages off of my voicemail. My suggestion to those in this MLM is get out. I never made money in fact I went into the hole. For them to say that you can make enough to pay cash for a car is a joke. And you are pressured to sucker others into the system. Not worth it and in the end you are left with a ton of inventory for things that you will never use. Just my 2 cents. Trust me I am telling you the truth about Avon it is nothing more than another MLM that takes your money and runs and your upline really doesn’t care about you like they say they do.

  3. Nita

    Avon is a total scam. I have been in it for seven months and never made any money. My up line constantly bugged me when I was in leadership. What’s worse, Avon can take your down line away if you don’t title after a certain number of campaigns. What a waste of time, money and energy. I worked hard for 6 months and have given up. I no longer buy 100 brochures and hand them out to everyone I talk to. I’m broke, disillusioned and disappointed in Avon.

  4. Gone from heree

    Yes, Avon is a huge scam. I’m a representative they tricked me into spending $200 on products and brochures, I’ve been busting my butt off and haven’t seen a cent yet. They send you fake e-mails in order to trick you into buying brochures and products I faild for it one time then I realized these people are losers scaming there representative to pad there own pockets. They constantly sending you threating letters in the mail telling you to pay for products and brochures that they force on you. I say we report these scam artists before more people fall for this crap and go bankrupt .

  5. I also worked for them, my mom worked for them, my grandmother worked for them. It is a huge pyramid scheme. I am actually in the middle of doing a report on them and a few others exposing them as an MLM pyramid scheme. I sold for them for almost six months and did not make a dime. I lost money. I have been scammed by these so-called MLM companies more than once sadly. They bring you in with the promise of making it big, only to later realize that the only way to make money is if you are at the top of the food chain. There is only 1% of those who sale that make money from these scams…that’s 99% who do not. Those who are claiming to make money, well, I’d like to see their reports with factual information on them personally. I want to see their earnings minus anything else that they have paid. I demand to see it before they claim to be making a ton of money. Without proof, I cannot believe it.

  6. Janet

    I did Avon for 3 months and ended up owing Avon. I made very little money selling their products. I think the most i made in the 1st month was $7. Where they get you is you have to keep buying brochures and samples for each campaign. I never got any harassing phone calls from anyone. I didn’t mind selling the product, but i ended up in the hole from Avon from having to buy brochures. This was just my experience, but i do know another person who sells avon and she does make a good amount of money. She also had a-lot more time on her hands than i did, so maybe if i had more time to sell, i might have made more money, i don’t know.

  7. Susan Davidson

    I don’t understand what you mean about owing for products. Does Avon force you to buy a certain number of brochures or samples? Can you not join just to get discounts on products for yourself?

  8. Laura

    I grew up with AVON so I had a lot of respect for them, my mother sold it in the 70s. I used the products through high school and college. I started selling AVON in 2011-2012 and didn’t make much. I was okay with that. However, I was annoyed that the pay structure kept changing. Towards then end there, I didn’t make a dime as I did not sell enough.

  9. Jean

    I think it’s a joke. I’ve been doing it since October and made ONE $50 sale. I’ve been reprimanded to not say anything negative on the Avon FB pages, been called names and even told to not drop brochures in people’s driveways, the DM said someone complained. I live in an urban area with hundreds of houses near me and I suffer from arthritis and fibromyalgia and I refuse to walk up to everyone’s door. Some people just don’t answer their doors around here I think their restrictions like only 1 return per month and if you are owed money they credit your account/no refund which I think is just awful!!!! It’s like a hamster wheel and you can never get off.

  10. Former Avon Customer

    I always liked Avon products–I wish they’d just drop the MLM stuff and sell them online. But I guess they make more money scamming representatives now. 🙁

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