How to Say No to Friends Who Push MLM

Updated on November 19, 2018
K.S. asks from Littleton, CO
22 answers

Hi ladies, I'm hoping you all might have some smooth words to help me out. I have a neighbor who is also a really good friend. She sells Juice Plus, the MLM vitamin program. I have no problem with this, I'm just not interested in it. She hit me up about it 7-8 years ago and it managed to fade away. But from time to time, she goes all in again. Specifically, if I mention ANY health problem for myself or a family member, she inundates me with information and tries to get me to talk to others who Juice Plus has helped with this very condition.

I am pretty private about my health stuff, but I did recently share with her that I get terrible migraines quite often. It was at a bible study where we both attend, we were supposed to share a prayer request. Since then, she has sent lots of information started the whole routine back up. I'm a little resentful that she would use both something shared for prayer and something that affects my life in a profound way to sell her product. I can let that go because I know she does believe in it. However, I need to find a way to say no without hurting our friendship.

She currently must think I am the busiest person on the planet but I am running out of excuses for why I can't attend all of these events. I am SUPER non-confrontational, so the least in your face approach would work best for me. Jedi mind tricks encouraged. :-) Thanks!

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L.U.

answers from Seattle on

Well, if it's too hard to say to her you could always email or text it to her!
It sounds like she really is trying to help you, but I completely understand what you are saying about just NOT wanting all that information!
Next time she sends something just write her back, "oh thanks Sara for always thinking of me. I need to be honest though and let you know that I am not interested in ever buying any of this product." and then leave it at that.

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M.S.

answers from Washington DC on

In a very friendly tone just say," no thanks." And leave it at that. If she asks again just repeat it again. If she pushes, she is being rude.

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E.B.

answers from Honolulu on

I think that often, people confuse "confrontation" with "honesty". I had a friend who could not turn things down (invites, etc) even for a very logical reason (invited to a party on a night she already had plans for example) because she didn't want to be confrontational. I asked her how politely declining something is confrontational. To me, confronting someone means you're going to have to say "I saw you steal the money and you need to return it" or "when you told me I was fat, that was really hurtful and cruel".

You're just going to have to be firm, and polite. Tell her you're not going to become a customer and ask her to please stop sending you any sort of info from her program, but tell her that you hope her business is successful.

Or, tell her you are under a doctor's care and that your doctor has a plan for you, and you're not going to add in any supplements or foods of any kind that your doctor has not personally added into your care plan.

Don't make excuses for not attending parties, because that sends the message: "I would come except that time or day doesn't work for me" which only tells your friend that she can keep trying. Simply tell her "no thank you" and leave it at that. Leading her on, by implying that you're the busiest person on the planet is dishonest and misleading. Kindly let her know that you will not be attending any parties. Just say "I appreciate the fact that you're trying to encourage new customers, but I need to let you know that I won't be becoming one, and I don't want you to waste your time by sending me invites. I know your time is important, so I want to respect that and let you know that my answer is "no thank you", and that won't change".

If declining to buy something from someone means the end of your friendship, it isn't probably a healthy friendship. Be honest, be kind, be firm, be straightforward. That's not confrontation. That's truth.

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M.6.

answers from New York on

As a person that does 2 MLMs on the "side", I'd like to mention that not all of us are this pushy and while your friend is trying to be a good salesperson, its that type of pushy behavior that gives MLM's a bad rap (like they already don't have other negative issues anyways).

I'd just be direct - which is not confrontational, but rather provides an open line of communication in an honest way. Invite her over for coffee and just tell her right out how glad you are for her that she is being successful in her MLM (I mean, she has been doing it for a long time, something must be going right for her), but that you are so uncomfortable with her high pressure sales tactics that you really need her to hear you to please stop. Assure her that if you ever consider a purchase, that she will be the first to know, but that the continued push to purchase is really making you uncomfortable.

A friend would be happy to hear this and stop. Someone who isn't a friend? Well . . .

It's too bad that some MLM folks feel the need (and if you see some of the literature on how to capture a sale and their "don't take no for an answer" training, you can kind of understand why they get this way) to push, push, push. It actually does more harm than good. I actually had a friend who was also distant relative tell me that if I didn't purchase Amway from her, she could never speak with me again - she said that Amway told her she could only surround herself with people who were involved with Amway in one facet or another or she would never be successful. I walked out of her home and never spoke to her again, nor she me. She stopped selling Amway 12 months later and had no friends left . . .

Good luck!

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T.F.

answers from Dallas on

No thank you, is a complete sentence. You "owe" no explanations as to why you are not interested in her products or presentations of any kind.

If she can't respect your wishes, then she is not your friend.

Personally, I prefer not to mix business with my friends in any way because it can often lead to miscommunications and someone getting upset or hurt over it.

I am clear with anyone who approaches me that I do not mix my friendships and business but I wish them the best with their newest promotions.

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T.S.

answers from San Francisco on

I like Elena B's response. Saying no thank you is in no way confrontational. Your friend is obviously an aggressive saleswoman, which of course is a big part of these types of businesses. Making excuses just allows for her to keep hounding you. Just say, thanks for the invites and the information, but I'm really just not interested in these products. If she's really a friend she will hear you and back off. If she gets pissed I would question the "friendship" and distance myself a bit. I know that's hard when you're neighbors and part of a bible group and everything but some people just don't know how to take a hint.

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M.G.

answers from Portland on

I hear you. I have a friend who sells stuff and I knew I didn't like the line.

I just said (after trying it) and being bombarded with requests I said "Sorry, it's a little too pricey for me, and I really like the line I've always used but I know you'll do an awesome job".

She didn't ask me again.

Another acquaintance sells the same line, and I just keep declining her invites. I don't make excuses at this point.

Be sure not to encourage conversation. You can say you follow your doctor's advice and treat them according to her/his recommendations. That's what you're comfortable with - but thank her for her concern. You're sticking to that plan. If she brings it up again, don't really respond. Change conversation.

You don't have to support her business.

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D.B.

answers from Boston on

You're being too vague by saying you're busy on a given night. Stop making excuses.

"Thanks, Joanie, but I'm not interested. That's not going to change."

If she keeps pushing, then you don't have as valuable a friendship as you think, and you won't be risking anything important if it goes away. And she's not well trained by her upline if she keeps imposing - that's just now how to build a successful business.

MLM is no different than going into a store where the demo table is pushing little sausage bites or a restaurant server offers the day's specials. If you aren't interested, you say no to any businessperson, home-based or brick-and-mortar.

And by the way, I wouldn't let her get away with using something shared in a prayer meeting for business purposes. I don't care what her business is. If you fainted in WalMart, would you want the manager calling you to tell you what they have on special in Aisle 7 to help your problem? No. She's being unprofessional, and no good MLM company endorses what she's doing.

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M.D.

answers from Pittsburgh on

You need to be clear. It's not rude or confrontational. Actually, making up excuses is the rude (although easier) response, because you are leading her on by saying "maybe later" instead of "no thanks".

I solve this by being polite but clear: Thank you for your suggestion, but get my medical advice from my doctor only.

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S.T.

answers from Washington DC on

grrrrr.

i'm grring at you, not her.

you call it non-confrontational. i call it dishonest. making up excuses is a soft way to say 'lying.'

this is SUCH an easy fix.

'marylou, you are obviously a great businesswoman. you've been selling your juicers for years now and are such a go-getter! i really admire that.
but i'm not interested, and i would just love it if we could move forward without any more sales pitches.
thanks, lovie.'

boom.
khairete
S.

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B.C.

answers from Norfolk on

Get comfortable with confrontational.
Do not share any health information about yourself or anyone with her - she sees it as an opening to her sales pitch.
People with no backbone are prey to people who will joyfully go for your throat - or more to the point your wallet.
No one is entitled to your wallet.

You don't have to be rude unless she gets rude in being pushy to you (and she's on the edge of that already).
'No' is a complete sentence, and repeat "No thank you" often.
If you really are friends you should be able to tell her nicely
"I don't want a juicer. Please stop trying to sell things to me.".
You have to establish a boundary - there is no non-confrontational way to do that.

If she sends you info - hand it back "Thanks Suzy but I don't need this and it will just get thrown away. You'd better save it so you can hand it to someone who really needs it".
If you really don't want to say anything then just dump it into recycling right away - don't let it into your house to clutter things up.
If she sees you more as a potential sale and has no use for you if she can't sell you stuff you might lose her as a friend - but then if that's all she wants then she isn't really a friend in the first place.

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S.M.

answers from Boston on

What about asking her for samples? She may be so pushy bc she really really believes it could help. I get how that can feel. I’ve had diet things that really changed how I felt so it’s hard to not be pushy if you see a friend suffering and you honestly think they could benefit. Same with my mother and some diet things she’s done. Results have been amazing. Maybe if you can try a few free samples you can then say thanks and you tried but didn’t work. Or maybe it would and how awesome would that be? I have a friend selling a skin care line and I think she genuinely thinks it’s helped her skin a ton. I had just purchased expensive stuff when she started and now she doesn’t live close but if she was pushing me, I’d ask for samples and see. Sometimes it’s not all about the money for the salesperson. They see two benefits from selling. A friend did jewelry and she so hated the selling but really thought the jewelry was a good deal and it was pretty good. Some of my favorite things are from her. Sure she wanted discounts and some side money but if she didn’t believe in the product, she wouldn’t have done it. So maybe your friend really does want to help.

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C.N.

answers from Baton Rouge on

"No thanks" is polite and a complete sentence. Repeat as necessary.

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C.T.

answers from Santa Fe on

I had friends and neighbors where we used to live who all sold MLM products. I'm totally not interested. I first was "busy" but then I realized I need to tell the directly how I am not interested. I had a heart to heard talk with each of them saying, I wish them the best, but I'm just not at all interested in buying the products. One friend sold very expensive face lotions and I told her I just will never be interested bc I don't have that kind of budget. They backed off. I had to hide their nonstop FB posts though bc it was a constant advertisement. Luckily you can hide someone's posts and they don't know you hid them.

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M.P.

answers from Boston on

K., I can understand your frustration, I don't like MLM's. Been there, done that. However, I think your friend may truly be interested in your health. My oldest son suffered from eczema since he was a toddler. A friend asked me to be a customer at a company I had run from 15-years earlier because it sound MLM'ish. I knew she had had severe eczema and decided to try her product. My son loved it; his eczema was so much better within 3-days and a month later, you would never know he had eczema. He uses the product a couple times a week; nothing else had helped, not even prescriptions.

I became a customer of the company and about 2-years ago, I met a lady at a meeting who is also a customer and became one because a friend of hers thought the vitamins and supplements would help her with her fibromyalgia. Needless to say, every time this lady went to her doctor, he kept asking her what she had changed because her bloodwork was looking better. He reduced her meds. Every time she went in, the doctor asked again, what she was doing different. Her response was always, "I have no idea". Eventually she was off all her meds and told her husband she was going to stop taking the vitamins/supplements because she wanted to restart her weekend shopping at Marshall's and T.J. Max. Her husband asked her, "If the doctor says you are in the best health he has seen you in 15-years and you are off all your meds, why would you stop"? She said a lightbulb went off and she realized what had helped her.

Even though this lady is off her meds, I have told a niece who has fibromyalgia and she will not try the products. She is unable to take stairs, is on steroids and looks swollen in the face, is consistently in the hospital for one reason or another. I would love for her to feel better, but the choice is hers.

I have heard of 'Juice Plus', but I don't know anyone who uses it. I would say, try it. If it makes you feel better and your doctor sees improvement in your health, continue using it. If not, stop.

Everyone has as choice to want better health or stay where they are. Again she is your friend and she is not out to hurt you, but wants you to be in the best health you can be.

Question to everyone, what if your favorite TV doctor suggested you take a vitamin he endorses, which is MLM, would you find out how you could get it and take it, because he says, it will help with something that ails you?

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D.B.

answers from Houston on

Great responses here, and while her method with you isn't at all what the Juice Plus+ leader training condones-which has turned you completely off any exploration of it, you can say "Perhaps your upline can help you with your communication with potential customers. As your friend, I want you to be successful. And as your friend I'm telling you: you are NOT getting my repeated NO.

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A.D.

answers from Minneapolis on

Just tell her short and sweet that you really enjoy your friendship with her, but you aren't interested in the Juice products. Most people would stop bringing up the subject, having been told that. If she persists, just smile and say "no thank you" or "well, as I said last week, . . . "

I would also stop mentioning your health problems or vents or bringing up the subject of other people's ailments while she is with you because you have seen her use this as an opening to promote her products.

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K.C.

answers from Los Angeles on

Next time she brings it up, just tell her nicely: "I really wish you the best of luck with your business, but I'm just not into it. If I ever hear of someone looking for a Juice Plus rep, I'll definitely recommend you."

You need to be honest and not make excuses because it strings her along and gives her hope that someday you will buy from her. I used to sell for an MLM and it was disappointing/frustrating to me that few of my friends supported me, but I appreciated it more when they just said no than when they let me think they might buy something someday.

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V.C.

answers from Los Angeles on

You could tell her simply that you are not a supplement person and that you looked into Juice Plus, and it doesn’t look like something you are comfortable with. Tell her you would rather eat real fruits and vegetables. The problem with this stuff is that IF it makes you feel better than you are trapped into buying it forever......
I have friends who sell Thrive and I was getting it pushed on me constantly. I had a thyroid condition but it’s in remission, so when the Thrive group really started in on me I reminded them of my past issues, and that what if Thrive caused issues to come back........it got them to stop.

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S.L.

answers from Las Vegas on

My licensed counselor pulled this with MARY KAY makeup of all things. I stupidly bought some and it got worse. She wanted me to become a seller to get a discount. Don't go to any meetings/parties or buy anything ever. I finally told her it was unethical and I didn't appreciate her using our relationship to sell things I don't want. She stopped.
When my neighbors tried this, I calmly explained I do not buy any MLM products ever and please don't ask me again. They ask a second time, I tell them to respect my decision. I say it with a stern, teacher look.
I truly hate when people buy a truck of inventory then have to beg/badger/manipulate people to unload it. That free car is not free.

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R.D.

answers from Goldsboro on

tell her to leave you alone.

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E.M.

answers from Louisville on

Tell her it’s a financial issue and you are working with your doctor on your headaches.

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