Whilst there are some multi-level marketing companies (MLM) that operate in a way that will benefit the customers, the distributors and the business itself, several multi-level marketing companies selling diet pills and other supplements fail in this regard. Many MLM promise huge benefits to anyone signing up to work with them and sell their products, but the majority of people – up to 90% – fail to make a living out of it. Some even lose money whilst attempting to set up their own business.
We take an in-depth look at Zrii, a MLM selling health drinks and supplements, to see whether or not its business plan is viable, or whether it is yet another MLM worryingly close to become a pyramid scheme.
Zrii is a multi-level marketing company selling a range of health drinks and supplements, as well as a skin care products. Several of their products contain amalaki, a fruit considered by some as ‘superfood’. According to the official website, “Zrii products are designed to support your optimal well-being and enhance your youthful appearance and natural beauty”.
Zrii was created early in 2008, and is based in Salt Lake City, Utah. Zrii is a Sanskrit word, which means “light, lustre, splendour, and prosperity”. The company appears to have been fast growing straight from the start with over 4000 independent attendees to the company’s official launch party. According to the official website, the company has grown immensely. They state that “from 2012 to 2015, Zrii Monthly sales have skyrocketed”, with an infographic stating, “1.5 to 10+ million growth in three years”. Zrii products are now sold in 18 countries.
Bill Farley, the founder and CEO of Zrii, has had great business success in the past, especially as the CEO of well-know clothing company Fruit of the Loom. However, his career has not been entirely smooth sailing: in 2009, 35 employees staged a walk-out of Zrii Headquarters, demanding that he resign from his position as CEO. They accused him of using the company’s accounts for personal spending. It inevitably led to a lawsuit and the 35 employees – who, in the meantime, had started a competing company – were eventually instructed by the courts to pay $400,000 in damages to Farley.
According to the official website, the product range is endorsed by Deepak Chopra and The Chopra Centre since the products fit in with a holistic lifestyle, and with Ayurveda (ancient Indian healing and medicinal practices):
The Chopra Centre is incredibly proud to endorse Zrii products and help people around the world experience a whole, balanced life – full of health, wealth, fulfilment and happiness.
The story told is that, back in 2007, Farley asked his friend Dr. Deepak Chopra a pivotal question: “What one thing would you take every single day to support great health?” Chopra’s answer was amalaki, the main ingredient in their first and flagship product, a health drink called Original Amalaki. They have added numerous products since then, both in their health and wellness range of drinks and supplements, and in their skincare range.
Ripoff Report describes Zrii as a ‘bait and switch’ scheme: they recruit new Independent Executives in fancy hotel conference rooms and ballrooms, tell stories of the wild success of the top-level executives and make it seem easy to reach a very high level of earnings, fast. However, the majority of Independent Executives – at least 90% – make little or no money, or even lose money. Even the term Independent Executive is designed to recruit new members; it sounds great, especially when introducing yourself to strangers, but ultimately means very little. You can become an Independent Executive without going through job interviews and without having years of experience, for only a ‘small’ sign-up fee. Of all of the Independent Executives selling Zrii products, only twenty are ranked 10 stars.
The official website does provide several links to an Income Disclosure document. The Income Disclosure document reveals the average annual income of each rank in the business and the percentage of active distributors that fall into each. Of the active distributors, 97.44% make less than $10,000 per year, with 86.64% being Independent Executives that have not achieved a star ranking and are making an average of $2210 a year – the bottom 10% is making an average of just $7.19 per month!
These figures do not include anyone who is not considered ‘active’, i.e. someone who is registered as an Independent Consultant but who is not making regular orders from the company.
Even these figures are misleading; they only reflect the commission received by Independent Executives over 2014 and do not account for other costs that have occurred. Giving customers discounts, purchasing samples to give to prospective customers for free, and even the petrol costs of delivering to customers, as well as any personal marketing costs, all push the ‘earnings’ even lower!
Distributors are encouraged to purchase a starter kit of stock, so they can start selling and handing out samples immediately – there are several sizes available and prices start at $500 and go up to well over $1000. This start-up cost makes it even more unlikely that distributors will make a profit.
A business is defined as a pyramid scheme when profits are derived from recruiting sales people rather than selling the products. These endless chains of salespeople, or down lines, are the lifeblood of any MLM company. New distributors pay to receive products and training packs but in a saturated market, it is often impossible to make sales. When this happens the distributors’ only option is to sign up new people as distributors and the MLM turns into pyramid selling with only the people at the top of the pyramid making profit.
See our previous investigation regarding pyramid selling and marketing schemes:
Zrii, in our opinion, definitely could be described as a pyramid scheme. Distributors are encouraged to sign up other distributors to make up their ‘down lines’. Their motivation is to receive a percentage of the other distributors’ commissions; therefore, the more people they recruit, the more money they will make themselves. The entire website, especially the promotional videos, is aimed at potential distributors, not potential customers. Even the endorsement video featuring Dr. Chopra refers to the company as “an opportunity for all of you to derive abundance in your life in all its forms; health, wealth, and well-being in all its aspects, as you are promoting something that improves the quality of life of individuals, families and ultimately communities.”
Zrii manufacture a range of supplements, health and energy drinks. Unfortunately, it appears to be quite difficult to purchase any of their products, or even get a quote for the price, unless you personally know a Zrii distributor. Many of the products are being resold on Amazon, but prices appear to vary hugely. A bottle of one product, Accell (a metabolism booster), containing only 20 capsules, costs over $40!
All of the supplements and drinks sold by Zrii are ‘Chopra Centre Endorsed’.
Zrii Amalaki is the company’s flagship product and is described as The Original Amalaki. It is a health drink that supposedly supports healthy digestion, helps to fortify the immune system and helps sustain energy. This particular drink contains an unknown quantity of amalaki fruit, which is described as a superfood that “promotes energy, vitality and enhances immune function”. The drink “is a scientifically formulated combination of Amalaki and a proprietary blend of synergistic herbs that unlock the full rejuvenating potential of this gift from nature”. They offer no clinical trial information or scientific references to support these claims.
They also offer a range of skincare products.
We have found numerous complaints about Zrii, their customer service, and how they operate. These complaints include withholding refunds, claiming that they are unable to verify that a return has been received, and charging customers even after they have cancelled their auto-ship programme.
When I sent the product back I should have been issued a refund in six weeks. Called them, they said they needed a tracking number from UPS (or whoever) to be able to link me to my return, even though I had my name, address, and the RMA (return confirmation number) on the outside of the package like they asked me to when I called for instructions for returns. Originally, I couldn’t find the tracking number. And they said, “Well we don’t have any way of knowing if we received your package.” Well, I found the tracking number because I used my credit card at a local postal company who keeps good records, and I have everything down to the computer signature of the actual person who signed it, and the date and time it arrived. My credit union says they’ll take care of that too, God bless their hearts! But only because I contacted them within 90 days of the original purchase!
Zrii is a multi-level marketing company that sells a nutritional drink. It’s backed by Deepak Chopra and some other famous people and owned by Bob Farley. It’s expensive. Not only could I not afford it anymore but it also didn’t agree with my digestive tract. I wrote them to cancel my order on October 26, 2009. I was away for a while and when I came back and looked at my mail I noticed that they had never stopped charging my credit card. $148.66 a month. I called Zrii and told them that I had cancelled and they said they never received my email. When I found the Oct. 26 email and sent it to them they said I did not state my name on it. I was told by one of their representatives that I had to cancel my account using the same email address that I signed up with them on. They told me that if I sent the two boxes back to them that they would give me a 90% credit. What crooks and liars. I’ve read on the Internet they never want to give credits even after they receive the unopened orders back. This is a crooked company and I discourage anyone from having anything to do with them. I know I have a long fight ahead of me to get some of my money back. I’m reading on the Internet that they have cheated a lot of people like this.
Overall, Zrii appears to be incredibly similar to many other MLM, with independent distributors putting in all the effort to promote the products and the company in exchange for commission on the sales that they make personally, and from the sales made by those in their down line. The website does try promote the products that the company offer, but is overwhelming focussed upon distributors and recruiting more people; the products page has ‘Sell Sheets’ for distributors to print out to show potential customers, but shows no prices. It offers no way to easily purchase the products described.
From the prices we have seen on third-party websites, the entire product range appears to be incredibly overpriced. They also fail to offer a money-back guarantee.
One point in Zrii’s favour is that they claim to donate a portion of the company’s profits to various charities, although we struggled to find specifics about how much is donated, and to which charities.
We recommend avoiding Zrii and its products.
Disclaimer: Our reviews and investigations are based on extensive research from the information publicly available to us and consumers at the time of first publishing the post. Information is based on our personal opinion and whilst we endeavour to ensure information is up-to-date, manufacturers do from time to time change their products and future research may disagree with our findings. If you feel any of the information is inaccurate, please contact us and we will review the information provided.