update 2/24/22: in a message posted on its website, team national says it will “no longer distribute products and services through the direct sales channel” and that distributors of team national may transition to become distributors for another mlm called acn, with which the company says it has established a business relationship. acn sells telecommunications and energy services. our original article follows.
Not much has changed in the six months since Team National, a Florida-based network marketing company, a way of distributing products or services in which distributors earn income from their own retail sales and from retail sales. made by its own recruits that sells discounts for a variety of third-party products and services, told tina.org that it was “seriously investigating” a database of exaggerated revenue claims that tina.org had compiled and tipped off to the company. nothing has actually changed.
every one of the 80+ deceptive income claims remains online. In addition, tina.org has uncovered over 100 additional inappropriate income claims made by MLM and its distributors since it posted its original sampling in December. now, tina.org is taking the more than 200 claims to regulators.
On Thursday, tina.org filed separate complaints with the FTC and the Florida attorney general urging consumer protection agencies to investigate claims of illegal income in tina.org’s ever-growing database and take the corresponding measures.
“Team National was notified of this serious misleading marketing problem months ago, has done nothing to address the problem, and continues to mislead consumers,” said tina.org CEO Bonnie Patten.
This is the fifth complaint tina.org has filed against an mlm for making illegal income claims. But what’s different about the national team are its close ties to the Direct Selling Association (DSA), the industry trade group that has made a habit of publicly congratulating itself on its commitment to ethical business practices, even when its member companies they are not up to par. to the hype.
Not only is the national team a dsa member company, its president and chief executive officer, angela chrysler, sits on the dsa board of directors and serves as chair of the group’s education committee. And Chrysler is not above the fray when it comes to making earnings representations that are anything but the norm, saying in a national team video archived by tina.org, for example:
I’m delighted to share with you how through a simple referral system you can live the life of your dreams and have more choice [with] how you spend your time and money. In 1997, my father developed our member savings program. I share his dream of creating more six- and seven-figure revenues than any other company in our industry, and we’re on the right track. …as an independent national representative of the team, you can own your own business, be your own boss, and can generate an incredible income without a huge investment.
what makes statements like these misleading (and therefore illegal under ftc law) is the fact that the vast majority of national equipment dealers (88%) earn no income at all , according to the company’s 2017 revenue earnings disclosure. And once you factor in expenses, which the one-pager conveniently omits, the vast majority of distributors are actually losing money.
Meanwhile, the DSA Code of Ethics, to which all member companies and their distributors are bound (to the extent actually enforced by the DSA), requires that earnings representations be “true, accurate, and presented in a manner that is not false, misleading or misleading.”
but it’s not just chrysler. all the couples you see around them in the collage below are national distributors of top gear who have also touted income claims that are equally out of reach, but for some, let’s give them a call and you’ll understand why in a moment, rare individuals .
here are some notable excerpts from testimonials from three of the couples featured above, all of whom have achieved the highest dealer rank on the double-platinum national team:
- brad and kristin barton (front row, first from left): (brad speaking) “just 10 months after building this wonderful business, kristin and I retired from education to be full – time to stay at the parents house…. the best part of all this is that every time we came home (on vacation), our business had grown and the checks were pouring in. with the national team, I can earn more in a week of vacation than working a couple of months at my old job.”
- larry and debbie mcdonald (middle row, first from right): (debbie speaking) “we’ve been able to go to europe and see places we never would have been able to. you know, even hang out in our homes, even though we love hawaii, we create a little paradise in our home, we have a beautiful home, fully paid for with national team money.”
- dennis and debbie martin (second row, second from left) : (dennis speaking) “we have a lifestyle that we only dream about because of the national team. we went to hawaii in 2003 and stayed in a beautiful spacious suite at the four seasons resort. we bought our son a truck for his 16th birthday and i bought debbie a 2004 corvette. the good thing is we don’t owe anyone anything; we are debt free.”
You can find all of these inappropriate income claims on the website teamnationalsuccess.com, which is owned by the national team. But wait, there is more. Here are some of the images tina.org created as part of a #tntruth twitter campaign in March, when the national team invited distributors to dallas for a convention called “inspire”:
team national could (and did this past december) argue that these are simply the “true and accurate personal success stories” of its distributors. But such a defense is unlikely to impress the FTC. as then-ftc chair edith ramirez said onstage at a dsa conference in 2016:
While it may be true that a very small percentage of participants have such success, it is likely that the testimonials from these rare individuals are misleading because participants generally do not earn this income.
That is certainly the case for the national team, as evident from the aforementioned company’s 2017 income statement. showed just 37 or 0.1 percent of distributors breaking double platinum, while more than 34,000 or roughly 77 percent failed to advance even one rung on the ladder from representative, the lowest distributor rank in the national team.
find more of our national team coverage here.