When is it a scam?

About 6 weeks ago, I bought an Internet marketing program for about $300. Small change compared to the now famous – and aped – guru sticker of $1997.

Anyway this was a site-building program with an interesting twist and I wanted to learn how to do it. His pitch: “I put these together in 2 hours, have about 75 of them, and the majority make me money every day.” (To the tune of about $15,000/mo now, pretty much on auto-pilot.)

I started the program about 12 days ago. Working an average of four-five hours per day, each day. So – about 40+ hours so far. I am not quite finished with the first ONE of these sites. (I have not yet done all the promoting activities, for which are are another 5 videos – like pinging directories, etc.) Right.

In this program, there were about 50 15-minute videos, each full of step by step instructions. Of all the steps in those videos, I have done NONE of the things before – e.g. set up accounts with Hostgator, get DNS, transfer MX files, create an entire site from scratch including selecting a theme…Because I ‘ve had a programmer do this kind of thing all these years. It’s has taken me all of my working time to write the best content I could.

I live online. On Internet matters, I am neither gifted nor maladroit. I just stepped through his videos and activities, hour after hour, day after day.

I’d guess my second site might take me 20-25 hours, and the third, 20. I’d predict no matter how fast I get, each site will likely take 10-12 hours. Because it takes me that long to write good content. And you need a few posts, too. I don’t farm that out, since I’m writing about stuff I care about.

So did I get scammed? Since it takes me 20 times longer than it does him? Was it “quick”?

Here’s what it was: The journey of 12,000 steps. About 11,000 more than I had expected.

Was it “easy”? Well, each step I could do, yes. With constant help from his video instruction. But I could do the steps only if I focused on nothing else. Some steps took several hours (none of them involved writing a single word of content yet.)

The bad: I am learning a process which had about 11,000 steps more than I had expected. The time is about 6-7 times more than I expected. All with zero compensation. And like everyone else, the bills at my house don’t stop coming.

The good: I want to learn to do this so I am going through with the process. (Tonight I got my first glimmer of light. The first site, though not completely done for the promo part, ranks first in Google for one of the keywords in the site. THAT was a big attitude booster. But it’s also after some 40 hours of excruciating type of nitty-gritty work, with no guarantee I’d even finish, much less rank in Google. No earnings yet, but at least it ranked for one of the keywords so people searching for that see it first (!).

The discovery: The fact that a seller of a “make money on the Internet” program can do something in 2 hours (or any amount of time we could ‘endure’ doing whatever, to make the money they’re making) is deceiving. HE can, yes, but not me. Einstein could do physics formulas in 2 hours that most physicists could not do in an entire lifetime of work.

Some people are way more adept at certain kinds of activities than others. OK, let’s grant that. But here’s the big question for you: Do you want to learn to do ‘it’ (whatever the activity is) so you can eventually get good at it? Maybe even master it? Does it fit who you are?

If not, find a partner who loves it. And let them master that while you do something you love and want to get really good at. If you love the thing enough so you can enjoy the learning process – even if it’s 12,000 steps, then for me, it was not a scam.

Your take?

About the author

Kim Klaver


  • Hi Kim,

    Interesting journal of the steps you took – I somewhat admire your dedication and sharing.

    We take what a vendor says and rather than not buy a seemingly good product, we go ahead and buy it – rather than mistrust the vendor upfront, we buy it and try to work on it before we judge him (or her). Is that not what nice people like you and me do? ๐Ÿ™‚

    It's just like when I challenged a so-called "guru" when he said he made $15,000 in one hour. He is a respected bestselling author and he has documented proof he did the amount of money (or more).

    But I learnt a bitter lesson. I now read between the lines of any sales page or sales letter to try to find out what the vendor is not telling. But I think he should not be using a hyped up headline. But how many honest "gurus" are there nowadays?

    The guru I talked about made that $15000+ because he took maybe a year to build a big email list so he can "send email make money" anytime (in one hour).

    But once-naived people like me got curious about the "$15000 in one hour" headline ….

    Is that guy a scammer? In a way yes. Or he just "withheld information" but did not lie – ha ha ๐Ÿ™‚

    Anyhow, why not ask your vendor to do what you were doing / have done in the 2 hours he mentioned? Ask him "show me" ๐Ÿ™‚ and perhaps he will come up with the "fineprint"

    Thanks for the eye-opener and I am sure you have been long enough on internet (and I am sure you have the character) to brush this off easily and I suspect you are even laughing about it with the sense of humor that I feel your write-up also radiates


  • Hi Kim,

    The good part of all this is that once you get one done correctly, you can see what happens. A keyword on page one of Google is a good thing, though it also depends on the keyword, i.e. is anyone searching for it? I imagine so, though, knowing you Kim, so congrats:-)

    Another good thing is if this site pans out as the guru promised, you will be able to do another more quickly, and another…at least until (maybe) Google pulls the rug out from under his system and it no longer "works."

    As for it being a scam, based on what you said here, I think it will get a lot of press as such because most will not do what you did, and will get no results. Some will not ask for a refund in time, and will then spend their time writing about it being a scam instead of digging into the materials and learning something!

    Thanks for sharing this. It does take time to learn the background stuff to setting up a site or blog. But once you know it, it's yours forevermore. THAT is a good thing.

    As for it being a scam based on your real-world results…lying by omission is my opinion, and pretty much ever guru does it to some degree because they have taken the time to learn what motivates humans to take action. They expect to have refunds, they know some will run with it and see success, and most will buy and do nothing. Is that their fault?



  • It's taken me a long time to learn to read between the lines and even longer to read the lines as written but I am getting better at it. Is it a scam? Probably not. Is it written in a way that it sounds quick and easy? Yes. But what fast food actually looks like the picture in the ad? Aren't we all lookin for the short-cut? I know I am.

    I don't know the system you are talking about but I do know I am now taking the long-term view when doing anything online.

    How about this scenario?

    "I put these together in 2 hours, have about 75 of them, and the majority make me money every day."

    Let's say it does take you 12 hours to build each site Kim. You build 75 and 38 (the majority) make $1 every day. Let's say they do this for a year. You've spent about 900 hours building them to gross $13,870 or about $15/hr for your time.

    Now what if the next year you did nothing and they still bought in the minimum money? And what if the majority was say 60 sites and they made an average of $5 every day?

    If he is honest about the majority making money everyday it seems to me that the only decision to make is do you want to spend a 1000 hours or so making $15/hr building sites to duplicate his success?

    I know I've spent way more than that amount of time on my network marketing adventures over the years for minus $15/hr! But it's been one of the most enriching things I've ever done in my life.

    Now I must get on with building my sites………


  • Kim,

    I am sure but I think you are talking about the company that I work with. Not sure why you would call Gerald an Ape unles I am missing somethin in your comment. I will tell you this, his program is the best money I ever spent learning how to market on the net -In less then one week I already have more traffic to my blog then ever before. Does it take work? A lot of it. I have learn more in a month then I have in the last 10 years online.

    Thanks for letting me share


  • Islander Pete – your suggestion "why not ask your vendor to do what you were doing / have done in the 2 hours he mentioned? Ask him "show me" ๐Ÿ™‚ and perhaps he will come up with the "fineprint" prompted me to write.
    Do you find that these folks are 'contactable'? Do they actually write a personal response or even pick up the phone to talk with you?
    Sometimes I wish we could find a list of all those who bit and took the course and ask them to rate their experiences. You know, get a reference – good and bad – from the users.
    I recently bought into a program, spending over 2 thousand $ and am working on what they are talking about. Two good things about this program are 1) I actually do get phone calls! and 2) money back after a year if I did everything and no satisfactory results. We'll see. Definitely a learning curve for me.
    ~ Peggy Bendell

  • Anon –

    There is no one named 'Gerald' who created the program I bought nor are any of the big Internet Marketing gurus I had in mind, named Gerald.

    The point was not about calling something a scam, but asking under what circumstances one might feel such a thing when the initial work is so so so much more than anyone would have guessed from the promos.

  • Kim –

    No scam, in my opinion. It's like in school where everyone learns differently and have strong subjects.

    I've been a full time internet marketer for over 3 years. The first 18 months were trial and error. I didn't understand hosting, servers, uploading files to servers or cpanels. I'm proud of what I've learned. My seasonal sites are making money because I took the time to learn.

    Not to make this about me. I just want to say that anything worth having takes time. I enjoy internet marketing more than any job I've had. It's a way to be me because I can find products that are important to my beliefs.

    Don't give up, Kim. If you want to learn all the behind the scenes stuff of internet marketing, just keep moving forward. People do not learn or work at the same pace. Don't compare the time you put into your new venture to the Gurus who have a team of folks helping.

    P.S. I lucked into a great trainer that doesn't charge an arm and a leg for his stuff. He's a lot like you Kim. He's a helper and just happens to have materials that are very good for eager newbies ๐Ÿ™‚
    Best to you Kim!

  • Nothing is as easy as it first has been promoted to be.I think it is a scam when someone sells you something but does not give you all the tools to duplicate what they do.In most cases a come on to buy more.If it is as many say a push button program where by you can put on a new site per day.Then this is what it has to be.Many automated programs don't work for us humble peasants working diligently at the rock face of life chipping away at the humongous Inter net rock to create income.I have several where I spent the money but have found at the end of the trail expensive hosting and traffic.Not what I bargained for Thank you it is how I see it through my rose colored glasses Bill Toebes

  • Building websites has a learning curve and it can be extremely steep. The first website I ever built was a joomla site and it took about 50 hours to get everything working properly on the server and learn the system. A couple of months ago I helped a friend and built him a wordpress site with a semi-custom template and all the plugins in about an hour. To get to this point I only had to build about 30 websites.

    People say SCAM way too often. Something not being as easy as they had hoped does not make something a scam it makes usually makes it valuable. The highest paid professions are the ones that are the most difficult to do.

  • Bob – You write:
    "People say SCAM way too often. Something not being as easy as they had hoped does not make something a scam it makes usually makes it valuable. The highest paid professions are the ones that are the most difficult to do."

    I can't agree more!

    I suspect calling something a scam helps the speaker deal with the fact that it was NOT easy to learn it. However, don't you think it would be better if SELLERS would say, UP FRONT, (and not wait until after you have bought the program), something like this:

    "I can do X in an hour, but only after I had done X 30 times over a few hundred hours."

    That would reduce greatly the cries of "scam scam!" I'd think.

    After you buy, each of these programs begins – in the first module – by telling you about your "attitude" and how to get that straight, and to be prepared for a long learning process, blah blah blah.

    But MLMers, Internet Gurus and sellers in general make light of the work involved when they're selling you. It's only AFTER you've given them your money and mental commitment that they acknowledge how much work it might take to learn to do it at all, much less "fast."

    In the case of MLM recruiters, they then have the gall to blame the newbie for not being committed enough, not having belief, not working, etc.

    But these same people sold that newbie on how easy, quick and simple it is to build a giant mlm business.

    One of the common things gurus say about why so many people don't make it with their programs is:

    "They don't take action. They don't do the work."

    Right. People have lives. And if the sellers had been even slightly honest about the learning curve of building ANY business of your own, people who buy might take action, because they would be ready for it.

    But that of course, would mean fewer sales. And that's I guess why no one reveals the true nature of the amount of work involved to get any business off the ground.


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