Is Arbonne a Scam? [5 Reasons Why You Should Be Careful]

You’re thinking that you want to start a business working from the comfort of your home. Maybe you’ve seen information on Arbonne, or have been approached by someone who wants you to join the company. But you want to know if Arbonne is a scam before you join.

You were probably told about all the great benefits and that you can even earn a Mercedes. But you’re smart to do your research because they probably didn’t tell you about the downsides

I’m going to take you through everything you need to know so that you can make the best choice. I’m even going to give you 5 reasons why you’ll want to be very careful before deciding to join.

Read on because I guarantee you will not want to miss any of it.

Let’s dive in!



Arbonne Quick Summary

Summary: Arbonne is a health and skincare company founded in 1975 and brought to the United States in 1980. They have a variety of products that are sold through independent consultants and therefore are considered a Multi-Level Marketing (MLM) company. You can join Arbonne as a Consultant for a fairly low price, but beware of monthly PQV that you need to hit.

Recommended? I do not recommend Arbonne as a way to earn an income. While it sounds great that you can earn a living – and even a luxury Mercedes – from home, there are way too many risks involved with it.

In fact, even the higher-up level of National Vice President (which only 2% of Consultants get to) may only earn $21,000 a year BEFORE expenses. Not only that, but being an MLM, the people at the top make money from the people at the bottom. People at the bottom have to lose money in order for others to make money.


What Is Arbonne?

Arbonne homepage

Arbonne is a Multi-Level Marketing (MLM) company that was started in 1975 by Tyler Mills and Pierre Bottiglieri, a chemist. The co-founder, Petter Morck, established the company in the U.S. in 1980.

As with all MLMs, Arbonne uses distributors (independent consultants) to sell the products and recruit others into becoming distributors for the company. This saves money on advertising dollars.

You are probably researching Arbonne to know if it’s a good idea to become a distributor yourself, or if it’s a scam. Let’s take a look at the opportunity, how it all works, the compensation plan and the positive reviews and complaints to help you decide.

I think you’ll find the information very enlightening.


How Does Arbonne Work?

Arbonne sells a variety of health, wellness and beauty products including protein shakes, skincare creams, essential oils, shampoos and conditioners, makeup and much more.

There are three ways you can be a part of Arbonne: 

  1. Client. You just want to buy Arbonne products. There are no fees that you need to pay, but you’ll pay full retail price for the products.
  2. Preferred Client. You pay $20 / year and you get 20% off the retail price on the products.
  3. Consultant. Pay $79 (and then a $30/year renewal fee), which gives you access to the business and 35% off the retail price on the products.

We’ll go into the compensation plan a little later, but here is a short breakdown of a couple of the income streams:

1. Sales Commissions

You get 35% commission on any Client who pays the full retail price. You get 15% commission on sales from Preferred ClientsYou don’t make any sales commissions off of other Consultants

2. Override Commissions

(Override commissions are a percentage you get for the overall volume of Arbonne)

  • District Manager = 8% override from overall volume on your team
  • Area Manager = up to 14% override
  • Regional Vice President = up to 17% override
  • National Vice President = up to 18% override

Confusing?

Of course it is. That’s how MLMs work.


How Much Does it Cost to Join Arbonne?

As metioned above, if you want to become a Consultant with Arbonne, you’ll pay $75, then $30 / year after that. That’s not too bad of a startup price, especially considering that starting a brick-and-mortar store would cost around $100,000.

However, there’s more to it than that.

Let’s talk about QV. That stands for Qualifying Volume. This is where Consultants can get into a bit of financial trouble. (Been there, done that.)

QV is a point system. Every product is assigned QV points. For instance, the RE9 KIT has a price of $338 and a QV of 338. I know from personal experience that most of the times the amount of QV matches up with the dollar amount of the product, but not every time.

In order to receive overrides, bonuses and other forms of payments, you need to qualify with a certain PQV (Personal Qualifying Volume) amount every month.

How to qualify for earnings at Arbonne.

Now, this is a little confusing to me, but I’m going to pull an explanation from Finance-Guy.net, since they summed it up nicely.

When you join, your initial rank will be as a ‘consultant’. At the entry level, you can earn up to 6% override commission. This is based on the total Arbonne products purchased in the calendar month, by all the consultants you have personally sponsored.

To qualify for the 6% consultant override, you’ll need to generate 500 PQV points in the same month. PQV is ‘Personal Qualifying Volume’, in the US, you get around 1 PQV point for ever $1 you directly spend on Arbonne products. If you register any retail clients, then their purchases will also count toward your PQV.

In other words, be prepared to spend some money on these products yourself. If you don’t hit that PQV, you won’t be able to get paid. This is a classic pay-to-play program. There is where I personally lost a lot of money in the MLM I was in.


How Much Money Can You Make with Arbonne?

This is where we go a little bit more into the compensation plan. First, let’s break down what each level can make on average.

  • District Manager = $240 – $1500
  • Area Manager = $1200 – $3000
  • Regional VP = $5000 – $10,000
  • National VP = $21,500 – Unlimited

There are actually four different ways you can earn an income from Arbonne, and I mentioned 2 above:

1. Sales Commissions 2. Override CommissionsNow the other two ways we haven’t mentioned yet are:

3. Mercedes Benz Cash Bonus Program. When you reach the level of Regional VP, Arbonne will cover your car payment for a Mercedes.  (Sort of. Keep reading because there’s a BIG catch to this.)

4. The Bonus Program. Every level has the opportunity to earn a bonus. You have to meet whatever requirements Arbonne sets for you. I have no idea what these requirements are.

If you want to dive more deeply into the compensation plan, you can go here to read it for yourself. To be honest, I couldn’t fully understand it. MLM compensation plans are ALWAYS confusing.


Arbonne Good Reviews & Complaints

As with any company, you will have people who love it and people who hate it. Here are some of the comments I saw regarding Arbonne.

Positive Comments: 

  • I have had the greatest success with Arbonne.
  • I love what Arbonne has done for my family and my life.
  • I have never felt obligated, berated or brainwashed.

Negative comments:

  • The goal is to get YOUR money.
  • I did not have the cash and my RVP told  me to “just put it on your credit card”.
  • I am stuck with thousands of dollars worth of products.
  • Arbonne is totally overpriced for an average product.

I hope that gives you a sense of what people are saying about Arbonne. The people who are selling it are going to say it’s great. That’s just a given.

Here’s a video from someone who was in Arbonne but learned the real truth about MLMs:


Is Arbonne a Scam or Legit?

I wouldn’t say that Arbonne is a scam. If they were a true scam, they would have been shut down long ago.

However, being an MLM basically means that the people on the top are making the most money and the people on the bottom are making very little money. In fact, they are likely losing money. Big time. (Yup. Been there, done that.)

Here’s an interesting point from this video that I found by YouTuber, Kiki. She says that Arbonne, like all MLMs, is a closed-market system. That means that most of the company’s sales are coming from the people doing the selling. Most of the independent consultants are the ones providing the sales.

Just think about that for a minute. You’re going to be investing a LOT in these products. The people at the top will thank you.

Here’s Kiki’s video. She has a lot of interesting information in it:

With that said, let’s go over the pros and cons.

Pros:

  • Low initial start-up cost
  • Good way to meet new people

Cons:

  • Expensive products
  • Recruiting people into the business isn’t easy
  • Most people lose money in MLMs
  • The “free” car incentive isn’t really that great
  • There are rumors that Arbonne is bankrupt

Related Articles:


5 Reasons You Should be Very Careful

While Arbonne might not be a scam, you still may want to really think before you join. Here are 5 reasons to be careful with this company.

1. Almost No One in Arbonne Makes Money.

Here’s Arbonne’s Compensation Summary for 2018. Let’s take a look at the chart:

Arbonne's Earnings Chart.

Source: Arbonne’s 2018 Compensation Summary

I find a couple of things fascinating here. First, even if you work your way up to Regional VP (which only 2% of the people make it to), you still may only make less than $30,000 a year. In fact, $27,884 is the average of the bottom 50. Which means there are plenty of people making much less than that.

Yikes!!

Second, is that little note at the bottom. That says:

Note: These figures do not represent Arbonne Independent Consultants’ profits, as they do not include expenses incurred by Arbonne Independent Consultants in the promotion of their businesses and do not include retail commission from reselling product.

So if you make it to Regional VP, you may only be making less than $30k a year AND you’re going to spending a boatload on products and probably brochures, business cards and other expenses. Double yikes!

Third, this chart only represents the independent consultants that have earned a commission. This doesn’t include all the consultants out there who didn’t earn any commission. Triple yikes!

2. Let’s Talk about that Mercedes.

Once you reach the rank of Regional VP, you qualify for the Mercedes. However, there’s a couple of catches here, including one BIG catch.

First, the car has to be a white Mercedes. You have no options. Second, the car is branded with Arbonne. Third, you are given a portion of the car payment per month, not the whole payment. Fourth – that big catch –  in order to keep qualifying for that car payment, you have to keep hitting your sales goals.

Arbonne's Mercedes Program is not great.

Think about that for a second. Let’s say you qualify for that car and you’re bee-bopping along and everything’s going great. Then, something happens to your business and you don’t qualify for the payment. What happens then? YOU will have to cover the cost of the car.

This isn’t a bonus. This is a burden.

3. Overpriced Products.

When you’re in an MLM, the products are always overpriced. Why? Because they have to pay the distributors. And guess who’s buying most of these overpriced products? Customers? No. Distributors. (We talked about that above. It’s a closed-market system.)

4. Recruiting.

What’s really interesting is that Arbonne says they don’t get paid for recruiting, and they only get paid for selling products. That may be technically true, but the more people you recruit, the more override payments you make on those sales.

So, you still make the majority of your money recruiting people. Good try, Arbonne. Good try.

5. People Have to Lose Money.

Above all, in order for an MLM to work, people at the bottom have to lose money. The people at the top are basically taking money from the people at the bottom. They’re pushing you to buy more, buy more, buy more. They collect on your purchases and you’re left with a ton of over-priced products and no money.

Sucks, right?

Look, if you’re still on board and want to join Arbonne, I wish you luck. I really, truly hope you succeed. Some people do. And they do very well.

But if you’re feeling a bit bummed, don’t. I have another solution for you that you may like.


MLMs Verus Affiliate Marketing

Because I’ve done the MLM thing, I understand how how hard it is to make it work. You can read my post on MLM vs Affiliate Marketing here and see all the ways that affiliate marketing is much better.

Here are some of the benefits of affiliate marketing:

  • Work is all done online
  • No parties or online classes to hold
  • You don’t need to buy any inventory
  • Small start-up fee for domain name, hosting and optional, but recommended training
  • No customer service to deal with
  • Promote anything you like
  • No hard-to-understand compensation plans

To put it in basic terms, affiliate marketing is promoting other people’s stuff for a commission. That sounds like and MLM, but it’s quite different.

Here’s how affiliate marketing works in simple terms: 

  1. You create a website around a certain topic (niche)
  2. You do keyword research to find out what people are searching for on that topic
  3. You create content that people are looking for
  4. You promote products around the topic that people are looking for
  5. You earn a commission

Read –> How To: Affiliate Marketing for Beginners

With affiliate marketing, there’s no recruiting and no need to buy any products. You don’t chase sales. You ATTRACT people to your site via keywords. 

Sound hard? It’s not! Especially if you follow proven step-by-step directions that all successful affiliate marketers follow. This is my #1 recommendation to learn affiliate marketing.


Conclusion

While I don’t feel that Arbonne is a scam, I do think there are plenty of things you want to consider before joining, as I mentioned above. The biggest issue with MLMs is that the people at the top are constantly trying to get the people at the bottom to spend more on products.

That’s because they make more money that way. Which means the people at the bottom are left scrambling because they are going broke. Of course you CAN make money with Arbonne, but will you? Probably not.

If you like the idea of earning money from your home, then I recommend you try out affiliate marketing. You have a MUCH lower start-up cost, no inventory, no recruiting and you can make MUCH more money. You can even create streams of passive income.

Wealthy Affiliate is where I learned how to start my own site, step-by-step, and I always recommend them to anyone new in the business. They have all the tools, training and support you need to be successful.


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4 thoughts on “Is Arbonne a Scam? [5 Reasons Why You Should Be Careful]”

  1. Like you said, the top level people may only earn less than $500 per week, and that’s before expenses. I appreciate that Arbonne is legit, but a lot of their reps try to sell the lifestyle more than the products. I remember years ago a few people were trying to recruit me to Arbonne, but I wasn’t impressed at all. Most MLM biz-opps don’t impress me. 

    But great overview of Arbonne! 

    Reply
    • Yes, those expenses add up! Especially if you end up going to the conventions. I never did a convention, but I always felt the need to buy the top-level promotional package every month in my MLM. That was up to $300 every month!! No wonder my upline was doing so well. 

      Holy moly. Looking back I don’t know WHAT I was thinking. I spend less than that for a whole YEAR of training and web hosting with Wealthy Affiliate

      Yea, I’m done with MLMs! I’ll stick with affiliate marketing. It’s so much more chill. 

      Reply
  2. Hi Cristina,

    Thanks for your wonderful and informative review about Arbonne. After reading your review the first time I have come to know that Arbonne is a scam. I have seen many people they scam by this type of MLM company. Because many people are getting interested to work from home and that’s why when they saw any work from home opportunity they just jump on it and most of the time get scammed. I totally agree with you. Instead of work with this type of MLM company they should consider establishing their own online business. And You are absolutely right Wealthy Affiliate is the biggest platform now in this world where they can get all those training and help to start their online business. 

    Reply
    • Thanks for commenting on my post, Nazmun. To be clear, I don’t think Arbonne is a scam. However, many people think they are just based on their pyramid structure, and of course, you’re allowed to think whatever you’d like. 

      I happen to think affiliate marketing is a better way to go because you spend WAY less money to get up and running. And you’re not dependent on anyone else to be successful. No uplines and no downlines. Just you. 

      Reply

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