Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Is It a "Scam"?

Would you consider multi-level marketing (MLM, like pyramid schemes) a scam? Well, technically, perhaps not, but it's certainly a case of a very few people making a heck of a lot of money out of a whole bunch of other people.

I just received an email from Wiserep.com:

I like your artwork. Are you selling them through a lot of stores already?

We work with galleries, specialty stores, furniture retailers, large chains and Internet shopping sites who search our website looking for artwork to purchase. We need a larger variety they can choose from, hence my email to you.

If you're able to sell to stores and can offer good prices visit us.

Having been bitten once by the internet scam monster, I've been very cautious ever since. So a Google search turned up a few forum posts from craft groups, and I also thought I'd check out the Etsy forums. While this might not be a scam, exactly, I really don't think it's worth the paper it's printed on.

All I can say is, ladies & gentlemen, if it sounds too good to be true, or it strikes you as a "what the heck" kind of moment, look at the bottom line and figure out who is making the money. 'Cause, chances are, my friends, it ain't us, the artists doing the work!


Annie B said...

Interesting. It looks like a listings site, like etsy, but they claim that their buyers are big retailers. According to the terms of service, sellers "must pay a set-up fee of $185 and a non-refundable monthly maintenance fee of $30" which isn't that high (in the illustration field, sites to sell stock art can cost $500 or $600/year, no monthly fee). Check out the "Products" tab on the web site and look under Art. There's one fine artist with a lot of stuff listed, a company that seems to be selling Chinese art, a handful of others. I would guess that the site is pretty new. It appears that sellers set their own prices, which is good. I wouldn't call it a scam, but I'm skeptical that Walmart and Target do their buying there.

Unknown said...

Thanks Annie - I too, didn't think it was that big a deal, but I did a little background research (looking at other forums & blogs) and found that some people were pretty skeptical about the benefits to the average artist of this site.

I appreciate your "illustrator's perspective"; thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

You are right! All these internet virtual galleries are getting money from both the artists as well as from purchasers! They just can't lose! They are raking in the money hand over foot as fast as they can at the expense of us artists, as usual! It seems us artists are suckers for every organization going! That's because thee are some of us stupid enough to take part in the activities and some seem very happy to part with their hard earned money!

Anonymous said...

They are fund-raising off the artists! Why else the heavy fee!??? think about it! With thousands of art sites on the internet do you honestly think a posting on an overcrowded website on an overcrowded internet will make any artist big bucks? The only big bucks here is the creators and owners of these marketplaces on the internet who are collecting the bucks from each any every small artist!

Unknown said...

Thanks for your passionate response, bestbrushstroke. I know that not everyone is a charlatan, but we artists really do tend to fall for stuff, no? Ah, well. Just keep your wits about you and approach everything with caution.

Eraethil said...

Looks like it *might* be a legitimate business... but if they really think that a site that is so poorly conceived will succeed, I suspect they won't last long.

Unless they add better functionality to search the products (by supplier, for instance), demonstrate supplier reliability, and demonstrate their vast network of buyers, I'd expect the site to remain "in beta test" until it becomes defunct. Doesn't look like a worthwhile investment for an artist.

Might, in fact, be a scam, because the things I mention above should be obvious to the most inexperienced buyer, wholesaler, or marketer.

Unknown said...

I'm not arguing necessarily that it's not a "legitimate" business; lots of multi-level marketing is "legitimate". I'm more commenting on the question of who is making the money in this transaction?

And to illustrate that point, I had a "deb p" post a really positive comment, dated June 27, 2008 at 12:36 am:

"Has anyone tried it? Good concept and professional enough that I may give it a twirl. Did a bit of research and found a writeup in ApparelNews"

with a reference to this online article, which was published June 27, 2008. Hmmmm. While it's conceivable that they'd read that article then happened to read my blog (because, you know, I get so much traffic here, being such a world-renowned artist and critical thinker, right?) within minutes of the article being published, I'll let you all decide for yourselves.

(btw - not to denigrate those wonderful readers who do actually look at my blog, of which there are quite a few (having just hit 4000 page visits since the start), I just meant that for that "coincidence" to be likely, I'd have to have blog traffic of the likes of the Daily Kos or Huffington Post; something like that!)