Can You Resist BA111OD’s Multi-Level Marketing Madness?

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(courtesy ba111od.com)

[NB: BA111OD founder disagrees with this post. Click here for his comment.] BA111OD delivers Christmas gift with double tourbillon release usa.watchpro.com‘s headline proclaims. Two extremely handsome titanium-cased skeletonized tourbillon watches for $10k? Hopping over to ba111od.com, I discovered you can only buy from the website or an “Afluendor.” No, it’s not the Spanish nickname for a flying dinosaur. It’s multi-level marketing (MLM) jargon. Like this . . .

Buying through our community App is only possible through members of the BA111OD community who have a store and sales rights (they are called Afluendors: Ambassador – Influencer – Seller).

When you buy a product, you in turn become an Afluendor. You automatically have your own online store and sales rights, and you can sell to your friends and family. Of course, you are free to exercise this right or not.

By selling products and other actions on the platform, you earn “tokens” that allow you to choose rewards.

My first thought: shouldn’t it be Affluender? Next: uh-oh, here we go: the world’s first watch-based multi-level marketing scheme. In case you’re not familiar with the joys of MLM (for the parent company and early participants), wikipedia.org defines the basic structure thus:

Multi-level marketing (MLM), also called network marketing or pyramid selling, is a controversial marketing strategy for the sale of products or services in which the revenue of the MLM company is derived from a non-salaried workforce selling the company’s products or services, while the earnings of the participants are derived from a pyramid-shaped or binary compensation commission system.

BA111OD’s “Community page” lays out the deets. Well, not really. To get the full 411, you have to download their “Community App.” For you dear reader, anything!

Needless to say, there are some insidious terms and conditions. “When you buy a watch, you get the right to sell a certain number of products. For example, buying a Chapter 1 watch gives you the right to sell 4 products.”

So the more you spend, the more theoretical “inventory” you have in your store. If you sell those four products, you have to buy another watch to get more “inventory.”

The general MLM template: participants get a percentage of their sales in cash and perks, then a percentage of sales revenue from those they recruit. Very quickly, participants run out of people “downline.” The pyramid collapses, often spectacularly, leaving financial devastation in its wake.

In BA111OD’s case, there’s no “upline” compensation (from people “members” recruit) or cash payout. Just “tokens.” Their website declines to identify the “value” of these token. “You will find the list of rewards in the Community App, in the ‘My activity’ tab. There, you will be able to see the token equivalent of the rewards you can win.”

You have to join BA111OD’s “community” to find out – which automatically generates your “personal boutique” on the Popsell platform (of which the Better Business Bureau has numerous complaints). Both the brand and Popsell capture members’ personal data and the data of anyone they contact – unless you ask them to limit data collection.

BA111OD awards “community members” tokens for purchases, sales and marketing “challenges.” Tokens are good for watches, straps and a watch winder and . . . that’s it.

(courtesy ba111od.com)

In token terms, a Chapter 1.1 Silver or Chapter 1.2 Blue watch (above) is the least “expensive” watch reward. They “cost” a “community member” 1200 tokens.

The number of tokens awarded for completing a sale or “challenges” varies. For example, you can earn enough tokens for the Chapter 1.1 Silver or Chapter 1.2 Blue by selling three Chapter 5.1 Chronos (500 tokens each).

In Yankee dollars, a Chapter 5.1 Chrono Magma cost your “friends or family” $1,194.64 plus 7.7% Swiss VAT ($91.99) for a total of $1,286.63. So you need to sell $3,859.89 worth of Chrono 5.1 Chronos to get a “free” $387.48 Chapter 1.2 Blue watch.

That certainly works in BA111OD’s favor. They’re paying a 10% commission to their “community member” for the sale of three watches. That’s at least 30% less than what they’d have to hive-off for a bricks and mortar retailer. Actually, less; the Chapter 1.2 Blue watch retails for $387.48 and there are tax advantages to paying “members” in watches rather than cash.

(courtesy ba111od.com)

Remember: “community members” have to buy something to get the “right” to sell the Chapter 5.1 Chronos (above). Which is better than having to purchase a sh*t ton of physical inventory to start selling and earning rewards (the usual MLM scam). But it’s still win/lose if the “member” doesn’t sell lots of watches. BA111OD loves that!

Can I buy a product in my own shop?

Yes, and this offers you two advantages:
– You get new sales rights linked to the product you have purchased,
– You earn tokens on your account, as a reward for the sale you have just made!

I mean, really loves that!

I no longer have sales rights. How can I get more?

There are two solutions:
– Buy a product from another Afluendor.
– From time to time, challenges will be launched that will allow you to gain new sales rights.

MLM companies have a long ignoble history of stomping on any “member” who dares criticize the mothership. BA111OD and Popsell reserve the right delete any negative comments in their chat room. Never expect honesty within an MLM fraternity.

I started this post intending on praising the Chapter 4.1 Veblen Dilemma Tourbillon and Chapter 4.2 Lily Tourbillon (the Xmas pairing). BA111OD’s marketing killed that desire. The Swiss watchmaker’s deeply cynical marketing strategy will leave plenty of bitter “members.” Avoid their watches like the plague.

1 COMMENT

  1. As the founder of the BA111OD brand, I’m happy to comment on this bad review. It’s typically the kind of review written by someone who doesn’t understand our business model at all. It’s so sad! Since you have a voice on this website, the least you could do is to be properly informed before posting. Our brand and business model is praised by many key media here in Switzerland. Not to mention the positive reviews you can read in the NYT and Forbes.

    Multi Level Marketing is indeed illegal and my business model has nothing to do with it. It is indeed a One Level Marketing that only aims to reward the Afluendor (Ambassador, inFLUENcer, venDOR) who can promote our brand, only if he/she feels like it. There is no obligation whatsoever. Customers can place their orders directly on our website, just like any other e-commerce brand. But they can also enjoy the privilege if they feel like promoting our brand. The points (tokens) you receive are just a way of thanking our customers for talking about our brand. It’s not a job, there’s no money to be won and it’s limited (not Tupperware style either). All brands pay millions of dollars to influencers and ambassadors who are actually paid to speak well about a brand. We prefer to reward our own customers when they talk about and promote our brand. The main difference with MLM is that our customers receive nothing in return when one of their customers sells a watch to a new customer. So it is not a pyramid scheme at all.

    Why do we do it this way? In traditional distribution, about 65% of the price of the watches people buy is absorbed by distribution and marketing. We give that margin back to our end customers because they do the distribution and marketing for us. E-commerce brands also cut distribution, but most of the time they put the extra margin in their pocket. We don’t! We give it back to the consumer. That’s why the BA111OD is by far the best value for money watch on the market.

    So sad that you did not even take the time to properly research our brand or contact us to clear up your doubts. This speaks for the quality and seriousness of your work… tell the truth…

    Regards,
    Thomas Baillod

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