So very disappointed
I was introduced to LipSense about a year ago, by a young friend. At last! Truly long-lasting lipstick, that really stayed put. Heaps of great colours. I was in love! And after a few months of thinking about it, I signed up.
I tried to do due diligence. I scoured the web for critical reports about SeneGence. At that time, there weren't any (now there are, and this blog is part of that drive to educate). I read the Policies and Procedures guide carefully (but without a whole lot of understanding about MLMs). I've never liked MLMs, so I was very leery about signing up. But it looked like a bit of fun, if nothing else.
My upline was awesome, but also new to the business, so we were both stumbling about learning how to do it all. She never hassled me to place orders, and was very supportive.
It was easy to get caught up in the excitement of buying all the testers, whee! And orders arriving several times a week was fun. I cautiously got involved in the various Facebook groups. I found the other distributors were mostly younger women, seemingly kind-hearted.
I really loved LipSense, and it wasn't hard to be enthusiastic about it with my friends and family. I gradually grew a customer base, and greatly enjoyed getting together with them to do demos, mostly in small groups. I ran a few parties. I wore my stripes. I spoke to random women at the shops. I went to distributor trainings. I even got a couple of downlines, and spent heaps of time helping them, happily.
I spent a lot of money on printing all the various things — business cards, flyers with colour charts, 'how to apply' cards — and the various bits and pieces — packaging supplies, envelopes, mirrors, disposable tester sticks, gifts for customers and hostesses, and so on. Paid far too much for the crappiest website on earth. SeneGence supplied nothing, really, except for a shitty, badly written book by Joni (which I threw into recycling, after reading a few chapters), and a bunch of DVDs. You really have a large outlay to get everything you need for the business set-up. In no way is the 'only $55 to start your own business' an accurate estimation of costs!
I was always wary of the corporate culture and cult-ish nature of the company's communications and more senior upline discussions on Facebook. I avoided the annual 'conference' Seminar. All those tiaras and sashes, for starters ... all the 'rah rah rah go team' stuff freaks me out 😖
Inevitably, I ran into compliance issues after a few months. This made me realise that no, it's not really your own business. You can do 'whatever you like', as long as they let you. You can't discount more than 15%. You can't decant small samples of the skin care into sample pots for your customers. You can't remove the awful packaging labels. And heaven help you if you want to ask slightly probing or critical questions in one of the Crown Princess (CP) groups. Attack by the mob.
I have run my own business for many many years, and do know how to work hard and how to make a small business work.
I have had plenty of sales, and very happy customers, but am still several thousands in debt. If I can sell my remaining stock, I'll be lucky to break even. And I was working hard at it, putting in several hours a day on the business (in addition to my other work). I still love LipSense, and some of the other cosmetics. Not sold on the skin care. I won't be renewing my distributorship when it rolls around.
Here's a list of my main grievances with this company, and the reasons I'm quitting:
The 'royalty' scheme for advancement is frankly offensive to most modern women. I guess there's a subset of women who want to be the 'prom queen', but it's setting actual female empowerment back by 50 years. And this really doesn't translate well to other countries (I'm not based in the USA). If you want to reward us, give us actual tangible rewards, like improved earnings — not shitty plastic 'gems' from China, or tiaras and sashes. It's just insulting.
'Pay to play' is not cool, guys. To be paid your downline's commission, you have to place an order that month as well. Sailing very close to the P word (pyramid) definition, there.
Inventory rubbish. This is just bollocks. Cut half the colours, with no warning. Panic buying en masse, when we can actually get anything. Then suddenly they 'find' some in our local warehouse. What, were they hidden under the bed? They know damn well how much stock they have of everything (or else they don't, and that's just as bad). My guess is they're keeping stock of discontinued colours in reserve, and then releasing it a little at a time, to generate panic buying. Don't forget, we distributors are the customers keeping SeneGence running, not our customers.
Not stopping recruitment during the worst of the Out of Stock dramas. It's simply unethical to continue signing up distributors when there's nothing for them to sell. Firstly, this tells you that SeneGence is making a lot of money from sign-up fees alone. And secondly, do I need to mention the 'P' word again? Taking sign-ups with nothing for them to sell is text book pyramid scheme. A CP told me they wouldn't halt recruitment because they 'didn't want to hurt our businesses' — bollocks. Hurt their business, more like it.
All their packaging and publications are just embarrassing. The post below on branding nails it. I'm too embarrassed by how it all looks to be able to sell it, especially the skin care range. I removed all the labels from my testers (ha!) — they look lovely now.
I suspect lies. Many many lies. Where's the proof of the 'warehouse break-in'? 'Red pigment shortage'? Really? I found no mention of it anywhere, in industry sources. (Although I did find mention of red pigments recently becoming more expensive worldwide 🤔.) Skin care is their top seller? In nearly a year, I've sold one skin care product (and not for want of trying). All my customers want is LipSense, and some of the other cosmetics. I suspect that if they really do sell a lot of it, it's to distributors only, who get it to hit their monthly PV (points value) amount, because it's so frigging expensive.
Plain old stupidity. Crap 'science facts' being promoted, showing a true failure in education (the gals over at Nerdy for my SeneSisters are doing a great job of fighting back against the tide of stupid.)
Being pushed to front load (buy lots of inventory) because you can't 'sell from an empty wagon'. The official Policies and Procedures document says that they don't encourage front loading, because that's what they need to say legally to avoid being called a pyramid scheme. On every order, we have to tick a box certifying that we've 'sold 70% of our previous order'. Which very few of us have done. Again, they're covering their arses. It also means that they can limit how much unsold stock they refund you for, if you quit and want to send stuff back. Cos you've 'legally verified' that you've sold 70% of everything, haven't you! Even if you've got thousands in stock piled up.
Communication by Chinese Whispers via the CP groups. 'He said, she said' sort of garbled messages, with various interpretations and confusion. Amateurish (like so much of this company).
The bullying culture in the Facebook groups for distributors. Mean girls abound. Distributors ratting on each other, as 'compliance police'. It's fine if you just Like and Love everything, and don't push back on anything. But want to discuss anything? Have some criticisms? Nope. It's like the worst aspects of high school, all over again. Who needs that?
The language used by the Princesses and Queens and such. I find the use of unearned endearments like hun, bae and babe are demeaning. When I come to an upline with a problem, the last thing I need is a dismissive 'positive whitewash' answer, hun. Lack of empathy — what's so hard about saying 'Yeah, that sucks, I'm sorry that's happened.' No, everything has to have a positive spin. It's an effective way to stifle discussion.
The cultish manipulation of language and social interactions. Lots has been written about this, and SeneGence does it. This article is just one. Just one relevant quote from this article:
Another thought-stopper is the exhortation to “think positive” and to not think about the negatives. According to the motivational speakers and other scamsters who push this nonsense, thinking positively makes us happy and fulfilled, and magically improves our lives.
This is a quote from the ManaGence manual (for more senior distributors):
Building a Positive Attitude Maintaining a positive attitude through the up and downs in your business and in your private life takes work. Build a positive attitude by starting each day with an inspirational thought, book or tape. Stay connected to positive people and never share a negative thought with your Downline team.
The Christian aspect is a huge turn off for me. At least this isn't so noticeable outside of the USA.
The fact that Joni's husband Bennie/SeneGence's Chief Strategist was the biggest donor to Trump's inauguration fund in Oklahoma was the absolute final nail in my SeneGence coffin. He donated $250,000. $250,000 😱
These are just my main problems with this company. I've got more. My experiences have only reinforced my original view of MLMs. Never again.
By the way — thanks for ruining royal blue for me, too 🙄.
— Distributor 3