Standard Operating Procedure:

1. You are an Indian graduate student walking in a mall, or in a Walmart, or in a grocery store trying to buy stuff on sale; you see an Indian couple or a man in his late 20s from a distance.

2. A minute later, you are only a few feet away and the man smiles and says 'Hello'. Seeing an Indian face and given your good and friendly nature you respond.

3. Then his hand shoots out, "Hi, I am XYZ". The hand seems to beg for completing the handshake and you have to shake his hand and make the obvious reply, "Hi, I am Hirak".

4. 90% of the time they will say, "Wonderful! What a nice name! What does it mean..."

5. Then, you spend the next minute explaining what your name means and unknowingly open the gates to more questions.

6. Now, you are asked- where you are from and what you are studying - and five minutes have gone by in conversation you don't want to indulge in.

7. Then, he starts talking about himself and says that he graduated 2-3 years ago and this is wife - EFG and he is now working in ABC company.

8. He then slips in the fact that he also runs a 'small business'. He will NEVER mention what he exactly does.

9. After this ten minute conversation, it is assumed that both of you are now best buddies and he will a) give his card and b) try to exchange phone numbers.

10. End of conversation. He promises to call; you shrug and move to get the chips that are 1$ today instead of $1.39.

A few days later, you will get a call from the same guy. He will shoot the breeze for a few minutes (thus wasting precious minutes on your cell phone) and after while let the cat-out-of-the-bag. He is looking for 'talented, bright young people like yourself' for a 'fantastic limited-time only business opportunity' that he is already a part of. He wants to give you a chance to make 'easy side-income'. He then invites you to a meeting later in the week.

The fantastic limited-time only business opportunity is some variant of an Amway pyramid-scheme called Alticor, Quixtar, etc. A pyramid scheme involves you selling some household products and taking a percentage of the profit. If you get others in the scheme you will get a percentage of their percentage. Everyone is told that at first you will not make much but, after a few generations of such hookups the effect will multiply and soon you will be so high up in the pyramid that you can even afford to retire and relax. The money accumulates in your account as people below you get more and more people to join; raising you higher in the pyramid. All you need is drive and determination and a year of hard work. Not to mention a 100-300$ charge for 'membership' and the 'training' material.

You can't imagine how many people are sucked into such schemes on the promise of easy money. Once stuck, you automatically become an associate (read: accomplice) and the only way to get out is to suck more people into it. How the proponents of these schemes play on the psychology of people is worthy of admiration. To the people who want to quit, there is a whole array of tapes on 'being self-motivated' and 'how to avoid getting discouraged by people who don't know better' also at a cost.

It would not take more than a few minutes of thinking to see why such a scheme is flawed. But people still cannot shake off the idea that there is something to be made and with relative ease. I see more often than not that, it is a person recently married, who wants to make that little 'extra' or a person recently graduated and now is working who wants a little 'extra' perhaps to get married who get stuck in such schemes. If business was so simple why did everyone not take up this idea?

I wasted a few hours one evening listening to man rave about Quixtar after quitting his high-paying, extremely satisfying job so that he could take care of his kids and not have to work at all. I questioned their logic and then mine. What I was doing there in the first place? I was lured into going by this guy, who met me in the Mall with this wife. I was trusted him since he was from Pune, an engineer from COEP and spoke in Marathi. That evening when the 'great business opportunity' and its hare-brained plan was revealed, I felt sorry for him and thought of sending him this link: The truth about Amway! Who was I to tell him that anyway? To each his own.

Now, I can smell them off by a mile. The moment an unsolicited Indian hand shoots out, I say to myself, "It's the Amway folks again, it's time to go".


CAR said...

i completely agree. I return to your blog after a long time and found it quite satisfying this time around. By the way this guy you speak off, he found me out too. Unfortunately, I have already seen these people work so i could quirk him off. The worst is when he spells out names from his batch which i know!

Simple person in a complex world said...

Hi Hirak,

You are only talking about unknown people trying to do this to people. Well, I've had a friend pulling this trick on me. I was invited by him to some "entertainment show", which turned out to have $20 entry fee in Hyderabad!!! I shelled out the money as I didn't want to ditch my 'friend' at the last moment. And imagine my feelings when I found out that it was just a motivational seminar by another variant of Amway. I sat there sulking for more than 4 hours!!!
Dude, you are the lucky one.