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Networks or Pyramids?

Pre-Paid Legal Story

Quixtar Revolution

Submitter: Here’s my question: What do you do when you come across a book that is nothing but an advertisement for a pyramid sche– I mean, a multi-level mar– that is to say, a network marketing opportunity? I just feel books like these are flying under false pretenses. I’d like to know your (and your readers’) thoughts.

Holly: I’ll take this stance:  We owe it to our patrons to provide them with a well-rounded collection.  We do not have to agree or promote anything in our collections.  We do have to teach people to use and evaluate information, and that includes books about pyramid sche-, um…”network marketing opportunities.” (Nicely put, submitter!)  We offer books on various religions and various viewpoints on social issues.  My problem with these two books is that they are old.  Quixtar is now Amway Global.  I’ve never actually heard of Pre-Paid Legal Services, but any book about law or legal services should be kept current.  This one is ten years old.

0 Responses to Networks or Pyramids?

  • Selection policies should keep things like this at a minimum, if not out completely.

  • I couldn’t disagree with you more Holly. What if your collection had a book about how great Extense tablets are ? I don’t think it’s fair to use public money to advertise a scam. Yes, I said it, scam. According to mlm-thetruth.com, approximately 99% of participants in any MLM business will lose money. Only those far up the chain will see any money.

  • I don’t think pyramid schemes can be compared to religion. There are studies that prove that religious belief – ANY religious belief – can improve one’s life. (For instance, prayer and meditation both reduce stress, when stress is reduced while sick, medicines actually work better. So say – a Pagan would benefit better and/or faster from an antibiotic then someone with no spiritual/religious beliefs because the Pagan would be less stressed out.)

    These things just ruin peoples’ lives. If you’re going to compare them to anything, compare them to diet books with false information in them. The kind you’d find listed on http://www.quackwatch.com/ like “Eat Right For Your Type” or that one “diet” book that claims that bagels are negative calories because your body works harder to burn them. I think it’s called “The Negative Calorie Diet” or something like that.

    • Like Scientology, maybe? Or Flying Spaghetti Monsterism? Nuwabianism? No thanks, I’ll continue to let my faith in the restorative powers of science run their course alongside the antibiotics.

      That being said, I still have continued to buy books such as the Reverend Creflo Dollar’s* (ahem) “No More Debt, God’s Strategy for Debt Cancellation” because the public demands them.

      *All of these names (Stonecipher, Barefoot) sound like characters from the Magliozzi Brothers Car Talk show on NPR–Dewey, Cheatem, and Howe!

  • Yeah, I used to work for Quixtar/Amway’s call center in good old Ada, Michigan. It is a pyramid scheme, and a predatory one. All the bad things you hear about it are true. I signed up hundreds of Haitians who had no idea what they were signing up for.

  • According to the fraud discovery institute, prepaid legal is a massive ponzi scheme. You can look at their work here:


  • Pre-Paid Legal is very much such a scheme…was solicited myself by an acquaintance who appeared to be clueless about what they were involved in. NY Times articles: http://topics.nytimes.com/topics/news/business/companies/pre-paid-legal-services-inc/index.html

  • Perhaps people will be warned off by the fact that “Harland C Stonecipher” sounds like a character played by Groucho Marx?

    • What’s even weirder about his name is that it’s almost the same as Harry C. Stonecipher, who was the CEO of Boeing (until he got caught boning one of his underlings). This Harland also goes by “Harold”. That seems too weird to be a coincidence.

  • Both my dad and stepmom worked for Pre-Paid Legal. I think they still have the stickers on their car, too. I actually had no idea they were on the bottom of a pyramid scheme until today!

  • These books are like infomercials. The difference is, when I catch one on TV at 3:00 in the morning, I know what I’m getting. Unfortunately, if I’m looking for serious financial/legal advice in the library, I cannot know that I’m getting an informercial (in print form) for a pyramid scheme. Yes, I agree libraries have an obligation to provide a wide spectrum of books supporting various sides of issues, but they are not obligated to be part of the underlying structure of pervasive fraud. I say, “Weed–and weed now!”

  • Actually, they are very much like a religion, at least the extremely large one I worked for was (and to clarify, I actually worked for the company, not as a distributor.) People were chastised for using products they hadn’t purchased from the store, the meetings with the ‘diamonds’ were very much like tent revivals. Lots of preaching, actually. The entire thing is also very Christian, but it has its own little cult feel to it as well. It was extremely similar to a religion, but one that was about a couple people making money and a lot of other people losing their shirts and alienating all their friends and family.

  • Hey, I read this book in my two bedroom apartment. Now I’m readin it on my yacht.

  • Coy Barefoot sounds like a Pornstar – erotic name, or what?

  • It’s in the library. I think it has a right to be in the library. Customers choose what books are in the library by checking out the books and library recommendations. If no one checks out the book and no librarians recommend it then it will eventually get weeded.

    Readers need to be educated and not rely on one source of information for any topic they are learning about. If readers do that then I think the problem takes care of itself.

  • A right to be in the library…well, does it meet the collection development standard for the library? Can the budget justify it? Did the author donate a dozen copies? Are you taking money from the ‘pyramid sche-, um…network marketing opportunitist’ by circulating a library copy? Hmmm. Not a bad idea.

    • Maybe not a right but if the library feels like it should be there then it should be there after all things are considered.

      If the public shows no interest then weed it or don’t even add it to the collection. If the patrons of a library has an interest in a particular book I think the library should do their best to carry that book. Any book not just the one mentioned in this particular blog post. Unless it’s like mentioned here is out of date or just bad advice.

      In this case these books probably just fall under the wrong/bad advice.

  • I had a patron come into the library and try to get me involved in pre-paid legal. She claimed she was a librarian also and that was why she was letting me in on this deal. She then went on like a steam engine, not letting up. I seriously was unable to stop her. I had to listen to her for 15 minutes. I kept hoping someone would come by who needed help, but it was a slow day at the library. The phone didn’t ring or anything.