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Herbalife will restructure and pay $200 million to settle FTC charges

Staff Writer |
Herbalife International of America, Herbalife International, and Herbalife have agreed to fully restructure their U.S. business operations and pay $200 million to compensate consumers.

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That way, Herbalife will settle Federal Trade Commission (FTC) charges that the companies deceived consumers into believing they could earn substantial money selling diet, nutritional supplement, and personal care products.

In its complaint against Herbalife, the FTC also charged that the multi-level marketing company’s compensation structure was unfair because it rewards distributors for recruiting others to join and purchase products in order to advance in the marketing program, rather than in response to actual retail demand for the product, causing substantial economic injury to many of its distributors.

“This settlement will require Herbalife to fundamentally restructure its business so that participants are rewarded for what they sell, not how many people they recruit,” FTC Chairwoman Ramirez said.

“Herbalife is going to have to start operating legitimately, making only truthful claims about how much money its members are likely to make, and it will have to compensate consumers for the losses they have suffered as a result of what we charge are unfair and deceptive practices.”

According to the FTC’s complaint, Herbalife claims that people who participate can expect to quit their jobs, earn thousands of dollars a month, make a career-level income, or even get rich.

But the truth, as alleged in the FTC complaint, is that the overwhelming majority of distributors who pursue the business opportunity earn little or no money.

For example, as stated in the complaint, the average amount that more than half the distributors known as “sales leaders” received as reward payments from Herbalife was under $300 for 2014.

According to a survey Herbalife itself conducted, which is described in the complaint, Nutrition Club owners spent an average of about $8,500 to open a club, and 57 percent of club owners reported making no profit or losing money.

The small minority of distributors who do make a lot of money, according to the complaint, are compensated for recruiting new distributors, regardless of whether those recruits can sell the products they are encouraged to buy from Herbalife.

Finding themselves unable to make money, the FTC’s complaint alleges, Herbalife distributors abandon Herbalife in large numbers. The majority of them stop ordering products within their first year, and nearly half of the entire Herbalife distributor base quits in any given year.


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