The Send Out Cards MLM – Scam? Ripoff? Get the Facts.

Send Out Cards MLM Scam Ripoff

I think Send Out Cards is a scam and that Send Out Cards sucks. The facts seem to agree with my opinion, but you can decide for yourself. Here’s what you need to know about Send Out Cards, and the MLM world in general.

For a few years I was an independent distributor with a Network Marketing Company (also called a Multi-Level Marketing Company, or MLM for short) called Send Out Cards (SOC for short). Like most people I met who got involved with that MLM businesses I really didn’t understand as much about what I was getting suckered into as I thought I did. As I tried to work the business, and learned more about how it really functions, I came to an important realization: MLM businesses suck, and Send Out Cards is very useful as an example of why.

Note that this article was originally published on one of my other blogs, one I am closing down, but the information is valuable so this is being preserved. I moved it here and updated the graphics. Click the button to read more.

I went to training sessions. I spoke with my upline. I met a lot of well-intentioned people offering advice. I listened to the motivational speeches of the top earners. In the end, though, the reality of it began to sink in: the business model sucked, the company sucked, the higher-ups sucked, and the entire function of the business is, for all practical purposes, to suck the money out of bright-eyed, hopeful masses of people and channel it into the pockets of the top dogs. I tried to help myself and others by teaching practical sales skills and the like, and I spoke out against some of the worst practices on the company web forums. They banned me from the forums for that, and eventually kicked me out of the company, did not refund my fees, and kept money I had on account without returning it.

This is no shock to those of you who hate MLM companies already, and think of them as pyramid scams. When you read this article all you will find is validation (with math to back it up) of your existing opinion. If you feel like sending an “attaboy” that’s great, but you’re not my real target audience. I am really writing this for the poor masses of people still being suckered by MLM businesses. I’m going to show how MLMs suck the money out of you, show how to see it clearly in any MLM company, and hope that will save a few people from losing their shirts to this awful, evil industry.

The crux of seeing just how bad an MLM is resides in a document they are required by law to make available. It’s called an income disclosure statement. As I write I have another window open looking at the most recent one available for SendOutCards. It’s their 2012 calendar year document, and can be found at this link as of march 24, 2013.

It’s a PDF. Here’s what it looks like:

SOC Income Disclosure 2012 Full Size

SOC Income Disclosure 2012 – click for Full Size

Income disclosure statements are required to present the actual income figures for the MLM business in question. That does not mean they cannot be assembled and worded in ways that make the company look good when it’s not, or at least look good to the untrained eye. Sadly, most consumers are not mathematicians, and do not really understand the significance of what they see in that document. That’s why I am going to pick it apart for you.

For starters, keep in mind that it opens with a disclaimer. All that language in black above the red bar basically says: Swim in these shark-infested waters at your own risk, sucker. And they’re not kidding. If you don’t make money at this (and you won’t, rest assured of that) they will blame you for it even though the real fault is with the business model itself. People will tell distributors to work harder, do more, put in more time – anything and everything except to see that the system is not designed for them to succeed. I’ll get back to that point later.

The Numbers
The first thing you will notice about this is that it has a lot of numbers, breaks distributors down into classes like “active” and “inactive” and uses mathematical terms most folks haven’t really evaluated since middle school like “average” and “median”. In fact, the one term (average) that most people will relate to isn’t what most people think. Let’s start by taking a look at what an average actually is.

An average, in this case, is the number you get when you total a set of values and divide that total by the number of entries. It sounds more complicated than you remember, right? And that’s for a good reason: because it is. Averages can be misleading when they contain extremely low values, extremely high values, or both. Let’s simply this with an example.

Think back to your school days. If you have a sheet cake shared by 4 people, and they averaged 25% of the cake each, how much does each person get? This is what most people will assume the portions look like:

What most people think an average of 25% looks like

What most people think an average of 25% looks like

The problem with that assumption is that it is far, far from the only way to arrive at that average. Here’s another way, showing what happens when one person gets greedy and wants all the cake:

This is also a 25 percent average

This is also a 25 percent average

It’s even worse when applied to larger numbers of people. Imagine we’re talking about people earning money. If you have 100 people, who earned an average of $100, it could mean each person earned that $100. It could also mean that 99 of them earned nothing, and one earned $10,000. The average turns out exactly the same. This, in fact, is close to how things work at SendOutCards, and every other MLM I have investigated.

Now, let’s go back to the income disclosure sheet to prove it. Take a look at the text below the chart. The second line says this:

Sixty Two percent (62%) of U.S. Distributors did not earn any commissions in 2012.

Think about that. That means of everybody in the United States who ever signed up, more than half of them earned nothing last year. Zero. Zip. Goose Egg. All those figures in the chart talking about people who made money? That’s just the remaining 38% Think about that earlier example with the four boxes. Imagine that instead of 4 boxes you have 100 of them. That one statement from the Income Disclosure Sheet means the first 62 of those boxes are filled with zeroes just like this:

What 62 percent making nothing looks like

What 62 percent making nothing looks like

That’s what “62% of the distributors made nothing” looks like.

But wait, it gets worse
That’s not the entire story of how bad the situation is, however. To understand the real horror of it you have to keep something else in mind: Distributors are paying, out of their own pocket, just to participate. It’s what we call a “pay to play” model. When I was still a distributor the act of enrolling as a distributor cost about $470, and distributors were “strongly encouraged” to go on the auto-order system for $31 per month, or $372 per year. That would allow them to receive commissions and cover the cost of sending 50 cards per month (which, of, course, distributors were also “strongly encouraged” to do. That did not include postage, however, which would cost another $276 per year at today’s prices.

In other words, the most basic of distributors would typically pay, in the first year:

  • About $470 to sign up
  • Another $372 to buy cards
  • Another $276 in stamps
  • Total of about $1,118 in the first year

Keep in mind as you look at that total that, according to the Income Disclosure Sheet 62% of people paying that will never earn a cent. It’s a straight loss of over a grand to just shy of 2/3 of all distributors. And guess what? It gets even worse.

Worse how?
SendOutCards also allows people to send gifts with cards, and “encourages” distributors to do so frequently in order to “demonstrate the product”. The most-suggested item when I was with the company was a box of brownies. They cost almost $10 per box, and increased the postage cost as well. That $1,118 isn’t even close to what someone will lose in year one if they follow SOC’s suggested plan for using the product yourself to promote it to others. Add to it the cost of training materials, pamphlets and the like and that overall loss would typically double to over $2,000 in the first year. Add to that the cost of phone calls, driving to meet people, gasoline, etc. and it runs up even more.

My understanding is that now SOC has added fees necessary to advance in rank as well. When they rolled out new product features, like their Picture Plus 2.0 item, Distributors had to buy it for themselves if they wanted to use it (and understand it enough to sell it). It really is kind of a nightmare. And there’s more.

Wait, that’s not all?
No, of course not. Take another look at the income disclosure sheet. The first two ranks of distributors make up 93%-94% of the entire distributor base (both of the first two columns total in that range, so we can look at them as one group.) The entry level group (Distributors, top row)  averages only about $18 a year. They are still in effectively the same boat as the people who made nothing, losing a grand total of about $1,100 the year they sign up. The second group (Senior Distributors, 2nd row) does a little bit better – but it’s still a massive suck-fest. Senior distributors only average about $36 per year. They’re still out almost as much as the entry level folks.

Adding the third tier (Manager, 3rd row) the average is still not enough to recover half the first year basic expenses.

What’s that bit about a “median?” Is that the same as an average?
Good question. No, it’s not. A median is the value that half the sample is higher than, and half is lower than. In other words, going back to that first row, the median of $7.44 means that half the people in that row made LESS THAN $7.44 in a year. That means it’s not a matter of half the people making less than the average and half making more. It means so many people are making so little that half of them don’t even make 41% of the average.

Here’s another set of four items:

Average 25 percent, median of 12 percent

Average 25 percent, median of 12 percent

In this case the top guy gets 3 times as much cake as the next-highest earner, and 75 times as much as the two guys stuck at the bottom of the ladder. Those four values still have an average of 25, but a median of just 12.

If you notice, that trend continues through all the ranks – the median is always a lot lower than the average (with one exception). That means there are a small number of people who make way, way more than the average, dragging that number way higher than the median.

In fact, if you take a look at the top 4 categories (and let me tell you, it is not easy to reach that 4th one, you have to recruit a TON of people to get there) they account for 98.2% of all the distributors around. I know a guy who reached that rank and had a downline of over 550 people and still could not break the barrier to the next level. Even at that rank the median is almost identical to the first year minimum expenses. That means of the bottom 98.2%, half of the top-rank in that group STILL barely make enough to break even with the first year’s expenses – and it takes them mainly longer to reach that rank than a year, so the expenses all pile up even further.

In the end, this horror show is what it actually looks like. These numbers are what SOC distributors make per year, in thousands of dollars (remember, they are SPENDING over a grand a year just to follow SOC’s “recommended method”:

Send Out Cards Approximate Actual Income Chart

Send Out Cards Approximate Actual Income Chart

So, after expenses: You have about 96% of them who, including expenses, make nothing or take a loss. You have about 2% who make about $1,000 a year. After that comes a tiny sliver that makes about $21,000 per year. About 2% above that make about $87,000 per year. All the way at the top are the Eagles, which are LESS THAN 1/100th of 1% of all distributors, making about $538,000 per year.

The really, really evil bit about this
All that money the bottom level people are throwing down the SOC hole isn’t just disappearing. It’s creating commissions checks for everyone above them in the chain – the person who recruited them, the person who recruited that guy, and on and on up the chain. That means all that money being lost by one rank’s expenses is actually considered the profit of the higher ranks.

Those people in the 5th tier who appear to finally make some real money at this? All that money being lost by the 4 ranks beneath them is filtering up into their hands. That’s how it works, and not just at SOC. That’s the entire premise of the MLM business model.

See, the rich folks at the very top don’t have to sell anything at all. Their whole job is to keep other people in the system so their network remains large. If you’re an Eagle (top rank, last row) with over 40,000 people in your downline (the suffering members of the lower ranks) you make most of your money this way:

The Eagle gets a percentage of every dollar that low ranking person beneath him brings in, sometimes as much as 25%-30%. Let’s assume that guy (and there is one just like that named Jordan Adler) get’s just $1 a month from money flowing upwards through his network of over 40,000 people. That would be making $480,000 per year just for sitting back and giving some motivational speeches to keep the attrition rate down.

Here’s where things get disgusting
The sick part is that MLM companies like SOC teach that as a GOOD THING. They call it things like “your passive income stream” because it’s money that rolls in even if you are kicking back on a beach – the very point, in fact, of Jordan Adler’s book Beach Money (which, of course, you can pay to read, but since I already did I will share with you that in my opinion it’s nothing but fluff). What’s not mentioned is that all that beach money comes in large part from the suffering and financial loss of people sucked into this rotten, vile system with stars in their eyes.

Think about it. Adler had, when I was with the company, over 40,000 people down his chain. If 62% of them made nothing, that is 24,800 people who each paid over a thousand dollars with no effect other than funneling money upward towards Adler. At $1,118 each that’s $27,726,400 spent by people who never recovered even a single cent of it.

And it’s not like people at that level don’t know how damaging this is. They have entire prepared speeches telling you that this is not a scam, not a pyramid, that anyone can succeed if they work the system, etc. They know the problem is there and are very well versed in how to deflect any concerns people voice.

And, of course, they proved in my case that when someone cannot be hoodwinked with distractions, distortion, and incorrect information, well, they can just kick him out to silence him.

A note about THE BIG LIE of Network Marketing
Remember that Jordan Adler made his riches by recruiting. He did not make it by selling cards. His entire success story is the result of him recruiting a bunch of people, and teaching them to be recruiters as well. The big lie of network marketing is when anyone in it tells you that it’s not about recruitment. It is absolutely about recruitment. Anyone telling you differently is wrong, and is either misinformed or flat-out lying to you. The ONLY way to make big money in network marketing is to follow these steps:

  1. Recruit as many people as possible no matter how harmful that may be
  2. Teach your recruits to do exactly the same thing, passing down that lesson level after level

The high earners will tell you that you do not have to be a salesman to succeed. They are wrong. You have to be able to thrive as one of the most hated kinds of salesmen in the world, selling membership rather than product, and have a shark-like ability to close in for the sales kill without remorse or concern – all while convincing everyone that you have their best interests at heart even while you can watch them go bankrupt.

The numbers get even worse, though
As if that were not bad enough, keep in mind that the first “successful” tier (Executive, 5th row) has an average income of just $22,076.27 per year, gross. If you can find a $10/hour job you can make more than that, without having to buy your way in and stack up endless expenses. Even at that rank (and there are darn few people who ever make it that far) the median is still just $10,597.25 That means half the people at that rank are making about 1/2 to 2/3 of what a full-time, minimum-wage job would earn them.

If you look at the left-hand column you can see that the portion of all distributors who reach the top two ranks, where a real, family-sustaining living can be had, account for less than .03 percent. That’s fewer than 3 out of every 10,000 people who get involved in SOC who actually make it into something really profitable – but that profit comes at the cost of the massive financial loss and suffering of others.

A side-effect worse than bad medication
The final kick in the head about this is that for most people, joining SOC (or any other MLM) carries an additional side effect: You lose friends. Lots of friends. Even all of your friends. Why? Because you’ll start seeing them as prospects, not friends, and everyone hates that. You’ll be “encouraged” to contact your friends and family, and try to recruit them, sell to them, and get them to host “parties” where you try to recruit their friends and sell to their friends.

It makes you a social outcast. You know that one person in your circle who sells Amway, and they never shut the hell up about it? That will become you if you join an MLM. People don’t start out consumed by their MLM. It’s a learned behavior, and one taught by cult-like indoctrination. You’ll get tons of new “friends” from the MLM, though – other victims sucked in by the system, all sharing the same struggle, swapping bad ideas, making “dream boards” and trying to “work the system.”

They’re not really your friends, though. They are your competition, because they are also commissioned sales reps for the same product you sell. You all have a direct, financial conflict of interest with each other. You end up trading your real relationships for these cult-like, zombie-brained connections with people you are trying to beat to the sale.

Take my word for it – you can do permanent harm to your friendships and family relationships, and not all of it can ever be repaired. I’ve been there and I know from personal experience just how high that cost can be.

The Last Word
I have researched a lot of MLMs. Every single one works the way I described in this article. MLM companies are not your big break. They are not your opportunity to make it rich. They are more like buying a lottery ticket that costs thousands of dollars, has a crappy payout even if you win, and that makes all your friends and family hate you. If you’re making a lot of money in an MLM you are hurting people to make it. The moral and ethical thing for you to do is leave. If you are losing money in an MLM you are making someone else rich while you suffer. The smart thing is for you to cut your losses.

If you get involved and lose money, which you will in about 99% of cases, your self-esteem will be undermined. You’ll be told it’s your fault. A system designed to rob you blind will never be blamed. You’ll work hard and accomplish nothing and be told you are the reason for your failure. It’s horrible to experience.

If you want to see what being in an MLM is really like, watch the movie Believe. It’s a spoof of the MLM world that is painful to watch because it is so accurate. The format is “mockumentary” but it is so spot-on that when my family watched it after I left the MLM world it took only the first 12 minutes to have us in tears of sadness at just how bad the real-life experience had been because the movie just nailed it. It’s available on Netflix, on DVD or streaming, as of this writing.

Do yourself a favor – stay as far away from MLMs as you can. MLM businesses suck. Remember that the system is not designed to help everyone in it succeed. If you do not make money in the MLM world it does not make you a failure. It does not mean you did not work hard enough. It does not mean you didn’t sell enough product, host enough parties, talk to enough people, or make enough phone calls. It means everything proceeded according to plan and you were a victim of a system designed to make other people rich.

Give yourself credit for the effort you put in. Give yourself respect for having given a solid effort. It is not your fault that the system is rigged against you. Reach out to your friends and family. Let them know you realize that the MLM world was a bad idea. Tell them you miss them and invite them back into your life. Your real friends and family will help you rebuild those relationships.

Expect that when you leave your former MLM colleagues will treat you poorly. They will try to bring you back into the fold, as all cults do. When that fails they will ostracize you. Resist the urge to give in to their calls to return to the MLM world. Like any cult members they are still drinking the Kool-Aid and want you back because it validates their choice to be in an MLM.

Protect yourself and your finances from this horrible trap. It’s OK to cut your losses and find a better path. I promise you that success in the MLM world is not “just around the corner”. You are a wonderful person, a one-in-a-million person, but the system does not reward that. It rewards cold-hearted, callous people more concerned about profit than they are about the harm they cause others; people who can smile to your face while planting a financial knife in your back. If you’re a good person you won’t act that way, so the system won’t work for you.

Be glad it doesn’t work, in fact. If it did, well, that would say very bad things about your character.

I hope the explanations in this article have been helpful and informative. I hope it will reach a great many people in the MLM world who are losing money hand over fist. I hope it will help some make the decision to save themselves from that despicable industry; even one person saved would be a wonderful achievement.

If you have a story about your escape from the MLM world it would be great to hear it. Please feel free to share it with us in the comments, or reach out to me by e-mail or my contact form.

You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

42 Responses to “The Send Out Cards MLM – Scam? Ripoff? Get the Facts.”

  1. Harley says:

    Andrew, I would love to see you and Eric Worre spar. Can we set up the debate?! :)

  2. I tried this company and it was a complete joke. Their website is NOT user friendly. The people I sent cards to from their site, didn’t even receive their card. Then to top it off, you have to purchase “points” to use a card, plus purchase postage. I had purchased points at the beginning thinking it would a great thing…but it turned out to be difficult to use and when I found out my people didn’t even get their cards, I was very unhappy. So I went to cancel the account and get my money back, they wouldn’t refund any of the money I used to purchase “points” – what a joke and what a scam.

    • Andrew says:

      Thanks for posting. I’m sorry you had such an awful experience. You’re not the only one to have told me about having trouble with the system, and in fact it failed to work for me on many occasions.

      As a financial “opportunity” SendOutCards is a really bad idea according to the numbers. As a print-on-demand card sending system it has failed to work for many people and has often been spoken of as having an unfriendly user interface. I urge people to avoid joining or using SOC since there are many alternatives that provide a better mailing-house function than that company without having the attached MLM problems.

  3. Pumpkin says:

    Thank you for a great article.I nearly joined SOC until I saw how eager the recruiter was to take my last 600$ without blinking an eye.My friends who did join did not make a dime.

    The founder promotes himself big time as being a person who is a humanitarian and works on behalf of civil rights and children,non-profit organizations and other charitable type work.Unfortunately I know him through a friend and he is not “all that”.One of the huge corporations he owned for a time and still brags about upgrading,went bankrupt.

  4. Belief is so important in what you love to promote. Thanks for your insights.

  5. DeAnn Shannon says:

    Hello! I found your article while trying to research SOC on my own because the info I was finding seemed off. It seemed the only way to make money was through recruiting. I do not have any experience with an MLM company. So your article was very valuable for me & solidified the impressions I was getting about SOC. Thank you!!

    In your experience have you ever found an MLM company that does have a fair & honest pay scale? I know I’ve heard people say for years that the only way to make money in an MLM company is to get in on the ground floor. Another company I have been looking into is IDLife. Have you ever heard of them? They are relatively new, having just begun in early 2014. I have used several of their products & the ones I have used definitely worked well for me, personally. So, naturally, I became interested in their business opportunity. It looks good, to me, but again, I have no experience with MLM & I don’t know what to look for when scrutinizing their business model. (With SOC some things were just readily apparent to me). Would you mind looking at IDLife & giving me your honest opinion? There are no distributors in my area, so I could get in “on the ground floor”, but I’m not interested in promoting a company that is not reputable, even if I do love their products. Here are their sites that I have been investigating:

    Thank you in advance.

    • Andrew says:

      The simple answer to your question is “no.” Every single MLM for which I have evaluated their comp plan and income disclosure yields essentially the same results. The percentages of who falls into what rank, and the losses generally taken, vary a little bit. The message, however, remains the same: the MLM model is simply not designed to let most participants do anything but lose money while enriching those above them.

      As to “getting in on the ground floor” – that’s only half of the formula. To be in “at the ground floor” generally means being part of the MLM company during its formation. Typically that means living in Utah, living near, and working in, a particular industrial park area in which most MLMs are headquartered, along with the accounting and law firms that organize them. The other half, of course, is still being able to being in a ton of recruits. Being in at the ground floor is meaningless without the capacity to recruit a huge downline.

      I would avoid any MLM, but particularly the ones involved in the “health/weight loss” market. The real secret to weight loss is to control food intake in terms of volume and quality, and to increase one’s exercise levels. Products sold via the MLM model are generally inferior to those available over the counter in traditional retail outlets, and they will tend to cost more because in addition to the product the cost must cover all the possible levels of commissions for all the reps in the chain. That’s typically 5 levels.

      Keep in mind that the more levels are eligible for compensation, the higher the markup has to be to accommodate them. MLMs that offer comp to 7 levels are known for having either obscene markup to cover the levels, or drastically low quality products to keep margins high, or both. IDLIFE appears to comp up to 10 levels. That means they have double the number of potential number of reps’ commissions to factor into their product pricing.

      You also mentioned not having distributors in your area meaning you would be getting in on the ground floor. Sadly that is not what it would mean – it would just mean you have fewer reps locally competing with you. Remember that as you recruit you are not just bringing people into a business model that will almost surely lose them a bucket of money; you would be creating competition for yourself.

      Ask them to provide you with an income disclosure statement and I will gladly evaluate it. MLMs must, by law, provide one unless they make absolutely no income claims. Companies that avoid doing so in order to escape the requirement to disclose what their reps make (or lose) should be viewed with the utmost suspicion. I have a feeling you will discover they are reluctant to provide such a document, as a quick look around their site provided a link to the comp plan but none for an income disclosure.

      You can try calling their customer service numbers, 972 987 4430 or 855 987 4430; or e-mailing them at info @ to ask for one, and let me know if you get your hands on it.

      Best wishes,


  6. Jeff says:

    Andrew, you are the balm, great article dude, very refreshing to just write the truth… Wish there was more of this type of writing, and way to stand up to those pushing back, nothing wrong with the push back, if it’s valid… I’ve been introduced to Sendout cards this week and have been going back and forth, you are saving me time and money. Thank you. Would you mind if I reach out to you from time to time as I research other business opportunities? You seem to be in the know.

    Thanks so much again. Jeff

  7. Kim says:

    Thank you Andrew…a very informative and well written article.

    I was introduced to this company a few weeks ago by a genuinely kind man in a way that was not apparent to me that I was being recruited.

    He was simply sharing a business idea with a friend that he is hoping to make work for himself. I did not understand the value of the product or the business opportunity and have had the chance to look at it today.

    I went in with my eyes wide open and discovered what I suspected; a product I don’t value, a business system that is convoluted within an overall system that is potentially fraudulent and a scam.

    I will warn my friend as I think he is well-meaning and naive in these matters…just the kind of person this business preys on.

    Thank you again.

    • Andrew says:

      Thanks for writing, Kim, and I am glad the article was helpful. A word of caution to you: If you confront your friend he may react badly. MLM businesses create a cult-like atmosphere in which belief in the goodness of the company, the product, and the “business opportunity” reaches a religious fervor. The MLM world even has tactics for turning aside warnings like the one you want to give: they tell participants that people like you are out to “kill their dreams” or otherwise drag them down.

      I tell you this because if your friend has really bought into the entire MLM world he may greet your well-intentioned cautionary message as if it were an attack on him personally. MLM participants often lose many friendships and damage family connections because they either lash out at, or cut contact with, anyone they know who sees their MLM in a negative light. My article mentions that MLM participation can harm these things, and that’s the reason why.

      If that happens your only recourse is to take a step back and let the person’s MLM career run its course. They will either fail out, as most people do; or they will beat the odds and make a lot of money by victimizing many other people. In the first instance you can simply approach them and, without saying “I told you so,” just reconnect and let them know you still want their friendship. In the second case, sadly, you will probably never have the friendship you once did because the money earned will blind your friend to the harm he is causing. That’s a tougher situation because the friend you knew is buried under so many layers of self-deception and rationalization that you may never know that person again.

      I wish you luck and hope your friend realizes that you have his best interests at heart.

  8. Cam says:

    I think you review is too narrow and biased against MLM.

    I would like to see how you would review the banks or even insurance companies.

    I think sendout cards cards system is a very nice tool in being able to communicate in a more meaningful way than the trend in society is going.

    The obsession with emails, facebook, twitter and mixed with mobile devices means that people are so preoccupied that they just cannot communicate in a way that shows care. Almost narsarsitic trend.

    SOC gives you the system to send cards on birthdays, anniversaries, xmas, and a hundred other events and or promptings in just a few minutes with a few clicks of a mouse.

    Its also offers people if they pay attention a great personal development program with seminars, webinars and constant contact. If you truly want to succeed in SOC or anything for that matter you will.

    Its one thing to count the cost but counting the benefits have been totally left out here because of your personal experience.

    Just look at so called main stream business statistics there are far worse than anything quoted here. For a few hundred bucks you can plug into a system that can bring great rewards on many levels.

    And for the record i have been a retail user of the system for 4 years and recommend it to many business people as a unique contact tool.

    Are there other companies that do similar things to SOC of course but not everyone drives a lexus do they and MLM does not suit everyone and it definitely doesn’t suit people that never really understand what it takes to be successful in this area..

    • Andrew says:


      Thanks for writing.

      Any review of anything is narrow because it is focused on the thing being reviewed. I’m not sure what point you are trying to make by calling a review “narrow.”

      As to calling it biased, by all means, find some item in the numbers I present that is incorrect due to some bias on my part. If you can find such a thing I will gladly remedy it – but you won’t, as the numbers are what they are. It sounds to me like you are calling something “biased” when it is actually just a negative review based on facts. The facts of the matter absolutely support a negative review of MLMs in general and SendOutCards in particular.

      Whether communication in the digital age connects us or separates us is an interesting topic, but completely irrelevant to the point at hand. Nothing about the effects of digital communication indicates anything in favor of, or against, the MLM industry. As to SOC giving people a way to send cards on important dates, well, systems for doing that already existed long before SOC. We called them “Calendars, pens, and stamps.”

      Perhaps you are saying that you find use in the automation that SOC provides – but that does not make people feel more cared for. A computer generated card that is easily seen to be just that rather than a personal message, printed with smudgy inks on low quality card stock, does not tell people you care about them. Quite the reverse: it tells them you did not care enough to take two minutes to write a brief note, stick it in an envelope, affix a stamp, and put it in your mailbox. “Look, I got an automated note from a guy who probably doesn’t even realize it was sent” does not make people feel like they matter to the sender.

      You are simply wrong when you suggest that anyone can succeed at SOC “if they really want to.” No amount of effort, and no amount of desire, can change the fact that the MLM business model is designed in such a way that most people will fail. It will not matter how hard they try, nor how much they want to succeed. The MLM model works like this:

      • The overwhelming majority of participants lose money.
      • A tiny number break even at best.

      • A microscopic number turn some modest profit.
      • An infinitesimally small number make a bundle.

      That’s how it works, and the numbers prove it to be true no matter how much you may wish otherwise.

      You’re also wrong that I “leave out the benefits.” My analysis and charts show the places in which people make money. They are simply few and far between, with most people losing money. I never said nobody makes money. I said that the overwhelming majority do not, and most take a loss. That is just the truth – but I do not ever say that there are no people whatsoever who make money in MLMs. There are – but they are all causing massive financial destruction to large numbers of people in order to attain that success.

      You suggest “looking at so-called main stream business statistics.” By all means, provide some links to data that shows what you are talking about. Without providing data you are simply doing nothing more than stating an unfounded opinion. The truth is that in the MLM world, and SOC in particular, “for a few hundred bucks” all you plug into is a system that is almost certain to make you lose money above and beyond that “few hundred bucks.”

      If you have been recommending it to other business people you have been doing them a grave dis-service. Reliable, high-quality print-on-demand mailing houses exist in abundance without having to resort to using the enormously destructive MLM-based ones. They offer better service than SOC, lower prices than SOC, and higher quality than SOC. If you are recommending SOC you are directing business people to overpay for a product and service that is inferior to its non-MLM competitors and which causes harm to it’s legions of sales reps. You should seriously rethink your decision to promote SOC.

      And yes, there are other companies that do “similar things to SOC.” And they are better, but (and this is something you really need to absorb) they COST LESS THAN SOC and DO NOT HARM THEIR SALES FORCE.

      Finally, contrary to your last statement I know exactly what it takes to be successful in the MLM world: One must be willing to inflict gross financial harm on large numbers of other people in order to generate personal profit. In other words, to be successful in an MLM a person must be willing to make money by hurting other people. That’s all there is to it. Every single person who is turning a profit in the MLM world is doing so by hurting other people. They hurt the ones who are plain customers by selling them junk at inflated prices. They hurt recruits by involving them in a business that will lose most of them a great deal of money.

      If one is capable of making money in the MLM world it does not make him a great business person. It makes him an unethical, immoral business predator willing to open the financial jugular of others by deceiving them, either overtly or passively, into buying MLM products or joining MLM businesses.

      The truth is that since MLM products and services are over-priced garbage compared to the offerings of traditional companies every MLM customer is harmed. Since the MLM business model is statistically a near-guaranteed failure for the entire recruit base it is harmful to recruit. If you sell MLM products or recruit MLM reps you are not doing a good deed. You are spreading harm like wildfire.

    • Andrew says:

      Also, having just done a little research on your domain name, it seems that you are involved in some way with a Carbon Credit MLM, which strikes me as a really unfortunate thing. Taking advantage of people’s commendable interest in preserving the world’s ecosystems in order to slap an MLM structure into place is a horrific abuse of the good intentions of people around the world. Carbon Credit MLM industries are also so laden with fraud and criminal activity that Interpol is warning people not to participate in them and has been arresting people who use them as money laundering schemes.

      That’s another thing you should seriously reconsider promoting, Cam.

      Read about it here:

      • Eva suzuki says:

        Hi I have the soc system and bought the distributorship too. I use it all the time. I think the software is wonky but it’s the only company that does what it does. Sending greeting cards and gifts from the same site is very convenient. Also I have really enjoyed making custom cards. Several of my friends are artists and I love to showcase their work. If there are other companies that do the same thing as you stated could you tell me the name. I wouldn’t mind using a less wonky system. Thank you.


        • Andrew says:


          Any print-on-demand card service or mailing house will let you do that kind of thing. This is not a new concept. Send Out Cards simply stacked an MLM platform on top of it. Just use Google to search for the ones near you or check your local business yellow pages.

          If you want to go the super-easy route you can make custom photo greeting cards online through Wal-mart. Just visit their site and use the search tool to look for Greeting Cards and select them option for “Greeting Cards in Photo Center.” You can also buy a lot more and a lot better gifts at Wal-mart and have them sent anywhere you like.

          If you must go the MLM route there are several competitors for SendOutCards at the moment, but I won’t direct you to them, as I do not believe in directing people to MLM companies.

          • Eva suzuki says:

            The only ones I found are hugely expensive. Yeah not driving to walmart to buy a gift. Have a good day sir.

          • Andrew says:

            You don’t have to drive to Wal-mart to buy a gift. Nor Target or any of the other major national retailers. Just visit their web site and specify a delivery address. Give it a try some time.

            And if you have not found anything that is better and less costly than Send Out Cards it would seem you are simply not looking hard enough.

  9. Wesley says:

    Andrew, thanks for putting this article together. I’m grateful for the insights but it makes me sad. I thought the concept of SOC was great and really liked the idea behind it. It seems like it would be relatively easy to promote. But alas, you’ve pointed out some glaring flaws in the company structure. I will have to pass – reluctantly.

    • Andrew says:


      Thanks for taking the time to write. Boiled down to its essence Send Out Cards is a print-on-demand mailing house with a network marketing structure built on top of it. There are plenty of other print-on-demand mailing houses out there which operate on conventional business structures, saving their customers the high cost of paying commissions to many levels of sales people for every card. Those mailing houses often use better quality paper, ink, and printing methods — along with frequently being much more reliable than SOC.

      It *is* a sad thing to see, because the idea of making it easy to do real greeting cards has some merit, but the MLM business model just sours the whole thing.

  10. Riel says:

    So true! Don’t know about this particular company, but my limited MLM exposure made me learn the hard way to stay away from them. You’re spot on! Very informative, Andrew. Thank you!

    • Andrew says:

      Thanks. In hindsight I wish I had not gotten involved. I learned the downside of the industry the hard way. I thought I should share the knowledge with the hope of saving others from what I had to deal with.

  11. REPORTED says:


    • Andrew says:

      Well, goodness. What a charming message you’ve typed while leaning on the caps-lock key with all your might. And such a creative fake e-mail address you chose to use – was that meant as a really immature joke or are you making a statement about your particular interests in the bedroom, Mr. Suck-a-dick from Gmail? As to your equally poorly chosen username, is that meant to indicate you are “reporting” me to SendOutCards? By all means, do so. See, I think you may misunderstand how this works.

      If you bring my post to their attention and they are foolish enough to do something like sue me for libel, well, that simply provides me a public forum with which to address these concerns – and one that can inflict legal remedy against the company. See, the defense against libel is the truth. Since this article is truthful and accurate they would have no case, while the legal system and the FTC would have a field day with the folks at SOC. So, by all means, report me.

      Also, if you think I am wrong go ahead and point out the flaws in my analysis. Show me where the numbers are wrong. Give evidence in support of your claim. Without doing so all you have accomplished with your gigantic capitalized letters is paint yourself as a raving internet troll, and one who does not even have the courage to reveal his or her identity.

      With such small reserves of courage as you are displaying it’s no wonder you chose to remain anonymous.

      • Jeff says:

        I really appreciate this analysis. I have been looking for something with numbers. Thank you.

        • Andrew says:

          You’re welcome. Let me know if you have any questions not covered in the article.

          • lisa says:

            Hey Andrew! I appreciate your review but I have to say….way negative. I’m an SOC distributor and my income has been going up ( not fast enough for my husband !) I have truly, truly enjoyed my send out cards business. when I give someone an account, which is what you can do with Send Out Cards I feel that I am truly giving them a gift.I have many, many very satisfied customers and there are many, many stories of the joy of sending out heartfelt cards. sometimes the site has been difficult but it’s a complex process in a technically changing environment. one reason I love it more than other kinds of mlms is because it won’t hurt anyone. No one is allergic to a nice card received in the mail. there are no promises about the product except that it’s of simple card or gift. Plus there are really no products to deliver or worry about it. Of course once in a while something can go down wrong with the production but in my years of sending cards that is very very rare. also, most of the people I have met through my SendOutCards experience has been very gentle, kind people, not hypey. plus I like it that you don’t have to do parties or anything you can just do it from your phone. I have found this business to have very much uplifted my life in many ways. it’s a fun product and it’s been a really fun business. maybe it’s that I don’t have extremely high expectations of the income I just would like some money coming in every month when we get old enough to retire. Which I have already accomplished with my SendOutCards business. for me it has been more of a hobby kind of thing than a serious serious kind of thing but I really recommend it anyway. But again maybe its that I don’t have that high expectations. I have just really gotten a lot of positivity out of this business. Take Care!

          • Andrew says:

            Hi Lisa,

            Thanks for posting. I always appreciate when people take the time to write, particularly when they invest substantial time in it.

            You’re right that my review is very negative. That’s the only reasonable stance to take given what the numbers reveal about the business model. In any situation in which people send a personal card you’ll tend to see some positive stories, but that’s not the focus of the review. Feelgood stories about someone who sent a card and got a happy outcome don’t have any impact, for good or ill, on the numbers behind the business.

            It’s also not that technically challenging. At its core SendOutCards is a print-on-demand service run with an MLM business model. Print-on-demand is not that complex. It’s been done before SOC, after SOC, and in the main better than SOC without the MLM baggage attached.

            You’re incorrect to say it won’t hurt anyone, however. The harm from MLM businesses is twofold. The first is financial. The article addresses that in substantial detail. Essentially you can either suffer great financial harm by participating in MLM businesses, or you can make significant money by causing other people suffer great financial harm. That’s not opinion, it’s what the numbers definitively show. If you’re making money in an MLM the business model effectively guarantees that many people in your downline are taking significant losses. The more you make the more people beneath you are being harmed. It’s the nature of the business model.

            The second harm is the interpersonal. You say that the people you meet are not “hypey.” That may or may not be true, but you’re looking at the picture from inside the frame, so to speak. If you really want an honest opinion of whether people are hypey you need to examine what happens to the relationships between your downline and their family, friends, acquaintances, and non-SOC business associates. If you ask those people you’ll hear a clear impression that MLM participants are pushy beyond the pale. They may be polite about it, and bubbling with misplaced positivity, but they’re still out there promoting. Again, it’s the nature of the business model, and people resent it.

            One of the big things MLM businesses get called to carpet for is that there seems to be a huge effort to target women to become reps for the MLM companies, preferably ones with husbands that make significant incomes. Such households either make enough money that the women see the MLM rep contract as a hobby because the losses they take don’t affect whether or not they can pay a mortgage or electric bill. It may even be that they just take longer to recognize the losses. If you want a clear view of how you’re doing financially, however, speak with a CPA.

            Present the accountant with all your financials – your commission checks from SOC balanced against an ACCURATE ledger of every cent you’ve expended in reaching that. In well into the high 90% of cases participants will find they are taking a loss, not making a net profit. And, again, those who ARE making a net profit are inflicting grievous financial harm on people beneath them to do it.

            I find myself wondering if you have a CPA and if he or she has an opinion on MLMs in general and your profit/loss statement in particular; as well as whether or not your household income is substantial from sources other than SOC.

          • Kim says:

            A thoughtful response to an enthusiastic post Andrew…thank you.

            I appreciate the level of detail and the clarity of thought you administer.

            It would also be worthwhile to know the actual number of hours put into SOC’s in order to weigh up the true return for anyone hoping to make any kind of income.

            Anything can be a hobby and enjoyable depending on our interests and that is great for the poster if it is working that way for them but for anyone considering it as even a very casual job, the income made per hour is critical, and when it comes to calling it a business that’s an even higher level of expected return.

            It was not sold to the friend who approached me with it as a ‘hobby’ or a part-time job, he was convinced it was a business opportunity.

          • Andrew says:

            Thanks Kim. I try.

            My concern with folks considering being a rep for SOC, or any MLM, as a hobby is that even if they see it that way, and even if they can absorb any amount of financial losses without any negative personal impact, that the same cannot be assumed to be true for everyone in their downline. Mathematically there is no way to build a downline without well into the high 90% of the people in it taking losses, and in any downline there will be people who simply cannot afford the financial damage such a thing will cause.

            Thus, what is a hobby for someone who is already affluent comes at the cost of inflicting significant financial harm on people in a downline who are not affluent enough to take losses and not care.

            The sad truth is that if one is unethical enough not to care how many people one harms on the path to making a buck the MLM business model can make them a lot of money. Such people can make huge profits if they are willing to stand on the financial corpses of many, many people.

          • Kim says:

            Yes, I understand and completely agree and it is sad when people are mislead into spending money they can’t afford…from what I could see it was what had happened with my friend and he may have gone on to innocently inflict that on others.

            Is it possible to join SOC without building a downline? I’m not really sure how it works specifically with SOC but I know in other MLM’s people do it to get access to a product they are interested in buying cheaply as in makeup kits and don’t necessarily have any intention of enlisting others…could the recent poster be using it that way and it really is a hobby and is costing her but she enjoys it regardless?

            Just curious really.

          • Andrew says:

            It is possible to be a customer of SOC without being a rep – but you have to “belong” to a specific rep to sign up as a customer. Customers still get promotional messaging trying to recruit them as reps, last I knew. The prior poster specifically said she is a distributor building an income with the program, however, so she’s recruiting, not just using it to send cards.

          • Kim says:

            Okay, thanks Andrew.

            I’m talking about the in-between step that is possible with some MLM’s. You aren’t just a customer as they buy at a retail price from a rep…a rep signs up and sells to others and recruits…the in-between I know of is signing up as a rep to get the wholesale price but having anywhere from nil interest in selling/recruiting to “I’ll do it as an interest/hobby”, or any other vocabulary they may use to describe it.

            I guess I found the previous posters description of what it is for her unclear and wondered whether she was in this middle group who don’t declare themselves as reps for a variety of reasons.

            Thank you though…I’m as clear as I can be that the other poster is in the rep category but using looser language around it all. And as I said, anything can be a hobby, you can sell used cars on the side and define that as a hobby but my definition of a hobby is a little different. If you are selling a business idea or product which goes beyond selling some cards you or a friend made, you are in business system and sales, and particularly if you have an interest in recruiting those closest to you.

            In fairness to the poster, a lot of MLM’s appeal to the psychology of good people and convince them they are doing their friends a favor, but as you have so rightfully pointed out, the numbers do not substantiate this to be the result.

            So in my mind, unless you are saying to those you care about and others, you’ll probably lose your money but it’s fun so come and join me anyway, it’s not an informed and/or honest approach.

            Thanks again.

          • Andrew says:

            I believe SOC has such a step, but again, that poster specifically said she is a rep, not a plain customer or a wholesale customer. Any mention of the system being used for revenue denotes a rep. The difference between a side job as a hobby, and an MLM-rep-contract as a hobby, is that jobs pay you. On the other hand, in an MLM you pay the company.

            I’d agree with you and take it a step further: I think it is not “a lot of MLMs” but rather ALL of the MLMs that use psychology to appeal to potential reps. In point of fact that’s pretty much all they have – they certainly cannot recruit people based on demonstrably profitable numbers.

            You also hit the nail on the head – one major issues with the MLM world is that almost nobody has the chance to make a real, informed decision about whether to participate since the numbers behind the plans are so hard to get and complicated to understand.

          • Kim says:

            Yes true…and thank you for clearing up my confusion…and also clarifying the way MLM’s work further.

            I have not ever been involved directly with an MLM from the inside so I am blurry around the edges of how they actually function and was getting tangled in the language used by the other poster.

            I have of course been the target of MLM’s, both by well-meaning friends and also others who were not so well-meaning.

            That is the only finer point I was wanting to make. The use of psychology is definitely an absolute across the board and they all use a variety of strategies for all kinds of people.

            I was wanting to highlight the strategy they use to specifically hook people who are genuinely good people and who have strong values. This is the example I have been most negatively affected by. The psychology aimed at this group of people uses dishonest techniques along the lines of ‘if you don’t tell your friends you would be doing them a huge disservice’, ‘surely you want your friends and family to benefit too’, ‘it would be greedy if you kept this to yourself’ etc etc etc.

            My worst experience was with dear friends in this category who were so mislead that they then naively imposed it on me and this was completely out of character, off-putting and potentially detrimental to our relationship. Thankfully they realized it was wasn’t for them and got out quickly (at their loss), and 20 years later we are still dear friends.

          • Andrew says:

            That’s a common tactic, yes. When I was in the financial services industry selling life insurance one reason I left it was the constant lessons in sales technique that amounted to what you’re talking about: telling sales reps that extracting money from people was really “doing them a favor.” It’s a very unethical way to teach people to behave.

          • Kim says:

            Yes, absolutely.

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