Is It Works a Pyramid Scheme? [Does It Works Actually Work?]

Is It Works! Global a pyramid scheme? The short answer is no. It’s not a pyramid scheme. Not technically anyway. Is it trustworthy and worth it to join? That’s a whole ‘nother answer!

Let me take you into the world of It Works! so you can see what the products are like, the compensation plan, the income disclosure, positive reviews and complaints.

Hopefully that will give you a great idea of whether or not it makes sense for you to join It Works!

Let’s dive in!



What is It Works?

It Works homepage.

It Works! is a multi-level marketing (MLM) company started in 2001 by founder and CEO Mike Pentecost. The It Works! product line includes:

  • Beauty products such as cleansers and toners
  • Lifestyle products focused on weight loss, fighting fat and more
  • Nutrition products such as green drinks, immunity boosters, keto coffee and probiotics

It Works! products vary from nutritional to beauty.

It Works! became famous for its body wraps (they call them the Ultimate Body Applicator) that are supposed to help you lose inches off your waistline quickly and easily. Here’s someone to demonstrate the wrap for us:

She admits that she doesn’t look or feel any different after using the wrap. Do their other products work? We’ll explore that a little later.


How Much Does it Cost to Join It Works?

In order to become an independent distributor for It Works!, you will need to purchase a starter pack. You have four options to choose from:

  • Business Builder Kit
  • Results Add On Pack (Includes Business Builder Kit)
  • “Try It” Add On Pack (Includes Business Builder Kit)
  • Ultimate Results Add On Pack (Includes Business Builder Kit)

Business Builder Kit

Cost: $99

Includes:

  • 1 Single Pouch Ultimate Body Applicator
  • 1 Sample Defining Gel
  • 7 It Works! Keto Coffee (single serving packets)
  • 7 It Works! Super Greens (single serving packets)
  • 7 It Works! Keto Energy (single serving packets)
  • 7 It Works! Collagen Works (single serving packets)
  • Your own It Works! website, tools & apps and access to eSuite (first month free, then there’s a monthly subscription fee)

Results Add On Pack

Cost: $299

Includes everything in the Business Builder Kit, plus:

  • 1 bag Ultimate Body Applicator (4 applications)
  • 1 bag Facial (4 applications)
  • 1 bag It Works! Keto Coffee (15 single serving packets)
  • 1 bag It Works! Super Greens On The Go (30 single serving packets)
  • 1 bag It Works! Keto Energy (30 single serving packets)
  • 20 sachets Sample Defining Gel
  • 1 bottle ThermoFight X (60 caplets)
  • 1 jar Hair Skin Nails (60 tablets)
  • 1 tube Defining Gel

“Try It” Add On Pack

Cost: $589

Includes everything in the Business Builder Kit, plus:

  • 3 bags Ultimate Body Applicator (4 applications per bag)
  • 2 bags Facial (4 applications)
  • 5 bags It Works! Keto Coffee (15 single serving packets per bag)
  • 2 bags It Works! Super Greens On The Go (30 single serving packets per box)
  • 3 bags It Works! Keto Energy (30 single serving packets per bag)
  • 1 jar of Hair Skin Nails (60 tablets)
  • 1 tube Defining Gel

Utlimate Results Add On Pack

Cost: $589

Includes everything in the Business Builder Kit, plus:

  • 1 bag Ultimate Body Applicator (4 applications)
  • 1 bag Facial (4 applications)
  • 2 bags It Works! Keto Coffee (15 single serving packets per bag)
  • 1 bag It Works! Super Greens On The Go (30 single serving packets)
  • 1 bag Greens on the Go Blend Chocolate (30 single serving packets)
  • 1 bag It Works! Best Fat Fuel (14 single serving packets)
  • 1 bag It Works! Keto Energy (30 single serving packets)
  • 20 sachets Sample Defining Gel
  • 2 bottles ThermoFight X (60 caplets per bottle)
  • 1 jar of Hair Skin Nails (60 tablets)
  • 1 tube Cleanser
  • 1 bottle Toner
  • 1 box It Works! Cleanse (4 bottles)
  • 1 tube Defining Gel
  • 1 bag Hydrate+ (30 single serving packets)

In addition to the starter pack, you’ll also need to pay for your website after the first month. I couldn’t find the cost for that, but those fees are usually around $10 / month. There’s also a monthly sales volume goal of 150 Personal Bonus Volume (PBV) or $80 on autoship to remain an active and qualified distributor.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to personally buy this amount, but if you can’t get the sales for the month, you may have to make a personal purchase to stay qualified. This is where distributors can get into a lot of trouble and end up losing money much quicker than they can make it.


It Works Compensation Plan

Here is a pretty good breakdown of the It Works! compensation plan from YouTuber Jamela Johnson:

First she explains that BV = Bonus Volume. It’s the currency for It Works! and how much a product is “worth”.

To have a qualifying leg under you, that leg needs to have 400 GV (group volume). Here are the different ranks and their qualifications:

  • Distributor = $150 Personal Bonus Volume (PBV) a month or $80 on autoship
  • Executive = $150 PBV / month or $80 on autoship and 2 qualified unilevel legs
  • Ruby = $150 PBV / month or $80 on autoship and 3 qualified unilevel legs, one of which needs to be Executive
  • Emerald = $150 PBV / month or $80 on autoship and 4 qualified unilevel legs, two of which needs to be Ruby, OR a monthly GV of at least $8,000

The following ranks are Leadership Levels:

  • Diamond = $150 PBV / month or $80 on autoship and 5 qualified unilevel legs – one needs to be Ruby and one needs to be Emerald – or a monthly GV of at least $10,000
  • Double Diamond = $150 PBV / month or $80 on autoship and 5 qualified unilevel legs – one needs to be Emerald and one needs to be Diamond – or a monthly GV of at least $25,000
  • Triple Diamond = $150 PBV / month or $80 on autoship and 5 qualified unilevel legs – at least two Diamond legs and one Double Diamond leg – or a monthly GV of at least $50,000
  • Presidential Diamond = $150 PBV / month or $80 on autoship and 5 qualified unilevel legs – at least two Diamond legs, two Double Diamond legs and one Triple Diamond Leg – or a monthly GV of at least $100,000
  • Ambassador Diamond = $150 PBV / month or $80 on autoship and 5 qualified unilevel legs – at least two Double Diamond legs, two Triple Diamond legs and one Presedential Leg – or a monthly GV of at least $250,000

The compensation plan is 20 pages long. You can read the entire thing here.

There are different bonuses and percentage amounts that you earn at each level, depending on the qualification factors already mentioned above, plus others. In order for me to go over everything, this article would be about 10,000 words. Also, it would take me forever to even start to comprehend it all.

I don’t think it’s all that important, honestly, because I’m not going to recommend you join It Works, or any MLM for that matter.

Now let’s look at the It Works! income disclosure and see if people are making a good living with this company.


It Works Income Disclosure

The It Works! income disclosure is not unlike the ones I viewed for Arbonne, Younique, MONAT and others. They all paint a similar picture – that you are very unlikely to make money.

It Works income disclosure.

This shows us that 95.55% of people in It Works! only make an average of $51 – $474 per month. And that’s before expenses. (You can see this income disclosure and disclaimers here.)

This is why this report says that 99% of people in an MLM lose money. Those expenses add up! At a minimum, you’ll likely be on an $80 / month autoship so that you can remain qualified. Then there are usually other expenses such as brochures, business cards, travel, home party expenses, samples, etc.

These are also just active distributors. If you were a distributor but you couldn’t make any sales, then you would be considered inactive. The disclaimers say that the average monthly income for both Active and Inactive distributors was $179. (By the way, this is 2016’s income disclosure.)


Positive Reviews and Complaints

I did see some positive reviews from It Works! Independent Distributors. They said things like:

  • They have a sensational compensation plan
  • I love It Works! products
  • Best all natural products ever
  • I love that they’re a Christian-based company
  • I’ve gotten great results

To say that I found some It Works! Complaints is an understatement. In fact, on the BBB website, they’ve issues an alert for It Works! due to how many complaints the company has received:

BBB complaint alert for It Works!

I’ll go over why there’s an alert in a minute. You can read all the complaints and the full alert on the BBB website.

Here are what some of the complaints mention:

  • I spent $677 for an order and only received 4 of the items
  • I was put on autoship when I shouldn’t have been and I was charged for it
  • I can’t cancel autoship without being charged a $50 fee
  • I sent back unopened products and never received a refund
  • Customer service is terrible
  • The products are garbage and don’t work
  • The company is a scam

This complaint was so unbelievable I had to add it here:

It Works requires a doctor note to cancel, according to this complainer.

In case it’s hard for you to read, this person said that she bought a weight loss product but was unable to take it due to an adverse reaction. It Works! told her she would need to go to the doctor and get a written note stating she’s unable to take the products.

I mean, really?!

I even found another person who was asked to provide a doctor’s note. As if one wasn’t bad enough!

Another It Works complaint

That Alert

After reading through some of the complaints, I completely understand why there is an alert with the BBB for It Works! Apparently, when you sign up as a Loyalty Customer, you have to have your account on autoship for a minimum of 3 months, or you will be charged a $50 cancellation fee.

Apparently, this isn’t explained well when Independent Distributors are selling the Loyalty Program to customers and this has caused a lot of outrage.

It Works! complaints are mostly about their autoship program.

Because you need two people on autoship in order to earn a Fast Start Bonus, distributors are really pushing to get people on it. In the meantime, people are signing up trying to help out their friends thinking they can cancel right away and not knowing about the cancellation fee.

There are over 480 complaints with It Works! currently. That’s more than I’ve ever personally seen with any company – even ones that are outright scams!

Yikes!

The BBB gives It Works! a C+ rating due to the pattern of complaints and not having a great fix in place to resolve the issue.

These are great things to be aware of if you’re thinking of joining on as an Independent Distributor.


Is It Works a Pyramid Scheme?

Is It Works! a pyramid scheme? Technically it’s not because there is a product that can be sold to customers. Here’s where it always gets a little shady though. Most of the products being sold are being sold to other distributors, not to people outside of It Works!

That’s how MLMs go. They are closed-market systems which means that if you sign up to be a distributor, you actually become the customer of the products.

Your upline will encourage you to buy more products, “be the brand”, know about what you’re selling, “invest in your business”. I just saw a post in the Facebook group I mentioned where someone in the It Works! upline was encouraging her downline to buy 750 keto coffee pods for $1,400, which she said they could then sell for $5 each to make back $3750.

What kind of business advice is this? Who in their right mind is going to be able to sell even 1 pod for $5? But this is how the uplines make money. By selling this nonsense to YOU.

Pros

  • Relatively low start-up cost
  • It Works! has been in business since 2001
  • The wraps are popular

Cons

  • It Works! has way too many customer complaints
  • The $50 autoship cancellation fee seems a bit sneaky and unnecessary
  • It’s not proven that the products actually work
  • Over 95% of people only make an average of $51 – $474 before expenses
  • Most people lose money in an MLM
  • Shady business practices by some distributors (mentioned below)
  • Overpriced products are hard to sell to “regular” customers

Does It Works! Actually Work?

There are a few people who claim that the It Works! products do actually work. But, more often than not, people say that they don’t work. And it makes sense because there are no products that can magically make you lose weight!

I personally think the wrap is a total sham, and we basically saw that from the video posted above. Watch any of the videos on YouTube. None of them show results. Why would they? The wrap can’t magically make you lose more calories than you’ve taken in.

Maybe it can slightly reduce the puffiness in your stomach temporarily, but that’s about it.

The weight loss pills are also suspect. In fact, I’m sure they are a sham too. No different from the wraps, pills aren’t going to make you lose weight. The best thing they might be able to do is reduce your appetite a bit.

Here’s a customer service rep on the BBB website responding to someone about how the products don’t work. He or she mentions the product and why it’s great, and then we see a little disclaimer there.

“This key ingredient alone results in an average weight loss of 31 pounds over 90 days!*

*When used along with exercise and a reduced-calorie diet.

Of course if you’re on a reduced calorie diet, you’ll lose weight!

In my opinion only, this is another shady company trying to make a big profit from desperate people who want to better their health.

Something Shady I’ve Read That Distributors Do

I belong to an anti-MLM group on Facebook, and there’s something I’ve read in there – more than once – that people have complained that It Works! distributors do.

These distributors will go out and look for before and after weight loss pictures. They will then message the person asking them if they would like to be a “product model” and ask if they can use their story on social media.

In other words, the It Works! distributors want to use the success of someone’s weight loss and say it was because of It Works!

What?!

That seems so wrong in so many ways.

I’m sure not every distributor does this, and I’m not saying that the company condones it, but I’ve seen it mentioned more than once.


An Alternative to It Works

If you like the idea of being your own boss and working on your own time, then I have an alternative for you.

In fact, I used to be in an MLM and then I realized that I was bleeding money, so I switched over to affiliate marketing. Affiliate marketing is the act of earning a commission for promoting other people’s products.

Read my article on MLMs vs affiliate marketing to understand why affiliate marketing is 100x better.

To give you a quick summary, you can make money with affiliate marketing without recruiting, buying a starter kit, contacting your friends and family, making monthly purchases or needing to qualify to hit ranks.

There are no uplines, downlines or compensation plans.

It’s simply helping people to find what they’re looking for, and then getting paid a commission when they buy something from your site.

You can learn more about the affiliate marketing process right on my homepage.


Conclusion

While It Works! might not be an illegal pyramid scheme, you may still want to consider all the complaints and issues before deciding to join up with them. Is it worth it? That’s really for you to decided, but in my opinion, it’s not.

If you like the idea of working from home and being your own boss, why not consider affiliate marketing? You can promote anything that you’re interested in and get paid a commission for doing so! You don’t need to spend a ton of money to get started. In fact, you can even start for free.

Check out all the details here.

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