q-international-logoQ International launched in 2011 and are based in the US state of North Carolina.

Heading up the company are founders Evan Runde (CEO), Ken Walker (President and CFO) and John Walker (COO).

evan-runde-ceo-q-internationalIn his Q International executive bio, Runde (right) is credited with an accounting, finance and economics background along with 20 years of network marketing experience.

As a multi-million dollar earner, he’s built large organizations in the U.S. and overseas. Evan has also provided consulting services to existing and start-up Network Marketing companies.

His success in the industry has been well documented in publications including Upline, Cutting Edge Opportunities, and Network Marketing Lifestyles.

Richard Poe in his landmark book on the industry, Wave 4 – Network Marketing in the 21st Century, devoted two chapters to Evan.

Runde’s MLM career appears to have begun around the mid 1990s, after a (non-MLM) franchise operation went sour. According to an online bio I found, Runde’s first attempt at MLM wasn’t all that successful. He then went on to join Life Plus, who are still in business today.

After Life Plus there’s a bit of a gap, with a blog created in 2009 linking Runde to “Rain Nutrition”, who were bought out by Rain International in 2011 (seed-based nutritional supplements).

rain-training-blog-evan-runde-rain-nutrition

Ken Walker is credited with being ‘a leader and top performer in the Network Marketing industry for 10 years’, however I was unable to find anything specific there either. Ditto John ‘has years of experience in the network marketing industry’ Walker.

For the record I’m not doubting or attempting to undermine the experience quoted in the Walkers’ Q International bios, just that anything they’ve accomplished outside of MLM generalities appears to have been very low-key.

Read on for a full review of the Q International MLM business opportunity.

The Q International Product Line

product-range-q-international

Q International market products in the “air”, “water” and general nutrition niches.

Air Products

Q International’s air products are marketed on the question “is the air in your home making you sick?” The company offers a range of filters from $369 to $999, and claims they filter out particulates, volatile organic compounds and bio-burdens from the surrounding air.

Filters for the machines cost between $49.95 and $179.95.

Water Products

Q International offers tap, shower, under-counter and “whole house” water filters, ranging in price from $129 to $1399. Replacement filters are available for $39 to $79.95.

Q Nutracuticals

The incidence of cancer and heart disease is especially alarming. Diabetes, digestive disorders, auto-immune diseases and an array of other inflammatory conditions are escalating. The statistics are dismal.

However, it all comes down to the two things that promote disease — Inflammation and Oxidation. Reduce inflammation, reduce oxidation and you reduce the incidence of disease.

qi-nopal-juice-q-internationalQ International’s flagship product is something called “QiNopal”. Unfortunately the company fails to provide any specific information explaining what QiNopal is, but going by the above marketing copy, one can assume QiNopal targets inflammation reduction and oxidation.

Nopals themselves (also known as “prickly-pear cactus“), are

particularly common in their native Mexico where the plant is a common ingredient in numerous Mexican cuisine dishes in which it can be eaten raw or cooked. It can be used in marmalades, soups stews and salads, as well as being used for traditional medicine or as fodder for animals.

Per US cup serving, nopal fruit provides 13% of the Daily Value for vitamin C and the minerals magnesium (11%) and calcium (14%), and is an excellent source of manganese (20%).

Its calcium may not be biologically available because it is present as calcium oxalate, a non-absorbable complex in the intestine.

According to folk medicine, dietary nopales may affect the glycemic index and be useful in diabetes management.

QiNopal is sold in a single 32oz (946ml) bottle for $50, or can be purchased as a twin-pack ($99.95), four-pack ($199.90) or single-serve case of twenty-four 4oz (118ml) bottles for $163.90.

Q International also offer a “Q Complete” mens and womens nutritional supplement ($79.90) and daily cleanse ($65.90).

The Q International Compensation Plan

Touted as a “one of a kind and never been done before”, the Q International compensation plan combines retail commissions and a series of performance-based bonuses with a unilevel residual backend, generational and matching generational bonus.

Q International Affiliate Ranks

There are twelve affiliate ranks within the Q International compensation plan and, along with their respective qualification criteria, they are as follows:

  • Affiliate (Brand Partner) – pay $19.95 affiliate fee
  • Builder – accumulate at least 500 PV, recruit at least one affiliate and sign up and maintain one customer
  • Professional – accumulate at least 1000 PV, recruit at least one affiliate and sign up and maintain at least two customers
  • Director – accumulate at least 1500 PV, recruit at least one affiliate who is at the Professional rank and sign up and maintain at least three customers
  • Senior Marketing Director – accumulate at least 5000 PV, have a downline that has generated at least 12,500 GV and have recruited at least three affiliates (min Director rank) and sign up and maintain five customers
  • Regional Marketing Director – accumulate at least 7,500 PV, have a downline that has generated at least 25,000 GV and have recruited at least three affiliates (2 Directors and 1 Senior Director or higher) and sign up and maintain five customers
  • National Marketing Director – accumulate at least 10,000 PV, have a downline that has generated at least 50,000 GV and have recruited at least three affiliates (2 Directors and 1 Regional Director or higher) and sign up and maintain five customers
  • Presidential Marketing Director – accumulate at least 15,000 PV, have a downline that has generated at least 100,000 GV and have recruited at least three affiliates (2 Directors and 1 National Director or higher) and sign up and maintain five customers
  • Ambassador – accumulate at least 20,000 PV, have a downline that has generated at least 250,000 GV and have recruited at least three affiliates (2 Directors and 1 Presidential Marketing Director or higher) and sign up and maintain five customers
  • Premier Ambassador – accumulate at least 25,000 PV, have a downline that has generated at least 500,000 GV and have recruited at least three affiliates (2 Directors and 1 Ambassador or higher) and sign up and maintain five customers
  • Royal Ambassador – accumulate at least 30,000 PV, have a downline that has generated at least 750,000 GV and have recruited at least three affiliates (2 Directors and 1 Premier Ambassador or higher) and sign up and maintain five customers
  • Chairman – accumulate at least 35,000 PV, have a downline that has generated at least 1,000,000 GV and have recruited at least three affiliates (2 Directors and 1 Royal Ambassador or higher) and sign up and maintain five customers

Affiliates can alternatively buy there way into the earlier affiliate ranks with the purchase of a Product-Pak ($299 – $999).

Note that all customers must have either purchased $50 of Q International products within the last thirty days or redeemed a $25 “Q’pon” voucher to be counted towards minimum customer qualification.

Rank Achievement Bonus

Referred to as the AchiverPay and MentorPay bonuses, Q International offer affiliates an ongoing monthly bonus if they maintain rank qualification at the Director or higher rank. The affiliate who recruited the affiliate collecting the Rank Achievement Bonus also earns a commission.

  • Director – no direct commission (still earns upline commissions as below)
  • Senior Director – $200 commission ($100 upline)
  • Regional Director – $400 commission ($200 upline)
  • National Director – $600 commission ($300 upline)
  • Presidential Director – $800 commission ($400 upline)
  • Ambassador – $1000 commission ($500 upline)
  • Premier Ambassador – $2000 commission ($1000 upline)
  • Royal Ambassador – $3000 commission ($1500 upline)
  • Chairman – $4000 commission ($2000 upline)

Note that these commission are monthly, with an affiliate being required to maintain a rank for an initial two consecutive months in order to receive the bonus at their respective rank.

Retail Commissions

Q International offer retail commissions on the sale of all their products to retail (non-affiliate) customers. Q International classify retail commissions as ‘the difference between your wholesale and the retail price’ paid by customers.

Retail commissions are also payable on preferred customer orders, calculated at 40% of the regular commissionable volume rate.

Note that preferred customers are retail customers who place a monthly autoship order in exchange for a wholesale discount on the price of products ordered.

Preferred customers can also refer new customers to the business, with all sales volume generated on their orders attributed to the affiliate who introduced the original preferred customer.

Recruitment Commissions

When a new Q International affiliate purchases a Promo-Pak, the recruiting affiliate receives a cash commission. How much of a commission is earnt depends on which Promo-Pak is being purchased, as well as which Promo-Pak the affiliate qualifying for the commission themselves purchased, and how much monthly PV they generate:

  • Builder Pak ($299) – All Pak purchases or ranked affiliates earn $25
  • Professional Pak ($599) – Builder Pak purchase or ranked affiliates earn $25, Professional and Director Pak purchase or ranked affiliates earn $50
  • Director Pak ($999) – Builder Pak purchase or ranked affiliates earn $25, Professional Pak purchase or ranked affiliates earn $50 and Director Pak purchase or ranked affiliates earn $80

Note that if an affiliate does not purchase a Promo-Pak, they earn $13, irrespective of which Pak is being purchased.

Also note that the entire commission paid out at the Director level is paid out regardless of the initial commission payment. For example, if a Builder affiliate generates a Director-Pak purchase commission ($25), the remaining $55 is paid out along their upline.

If a Director ranked affiliate pops up first, they will be paid the full remaining $55. If a Professional ranked affiliate pop up, they will be paid $25 ($50 – $25) and the system will continue to search the upline for a Director ranked affiliate to pay the remaining $25 to.

Unilevel Commissions

Residual commissions in Q International are paid out using a unilevel compensation structure.

A unilevel compensation structure places an affiliate at the top of a unilevel team, with every personally recruited affiliate directly below them on level 1:

unilevel-commission-structure

If any of these level 1 affiliates go on to recruit new affiliates of their own, they are placed on level 2 of the original affiliate’s unilevel team. If any level 2 affiliates recruit new affiliates they are placed on level 3 and so on and so forth down a theoretical infinite number of levels.

Q International cap payable unilevel levels at 10, paying out a percentage of half of the sales volume generated by all affiliates within a unilevel team. How much of a commission is paid out is determined by an affiliate’s own membership rank:

  • Brand Partner – 1% on all ten levels
  • Builder – 2% on all ten levels
  • Professional – 3% on all ten levels
  • Director – 4% on all ten levels

Note that as with recruitment commissions the Director commission rate is paid out on all sales volume. If an affiliate is not at the Director rank, the system will search their upline for a qualified affiliate to pay out the remainder of the 4% commission to.

If this is not a Director ranked affiliate, the system will pay out the difference and continue searching for a Director ranked affiliate to pay out the remainder to.

Product-Pak Unilevel Commissions

Using the same ten-level deep unilevel compensation structure above, Q International pay affiliates on the purchase of Product-Paks made by affiliates in a unilevel team.

How much of a commission is paid out is determined by the Product-Pak an affiliate themselves bought when they signed up:

  • Brand Partner (no Pak purchase) – $2 on all Pak purchases made within the unilevel
  • Builder – $5 on all Pak purchases made within the unilevel
  • Professional – $5 on Builder Pak and $10 on Professional and Director Pak purchases made within the unilevel
  • Director – $5 on Builder Pak, $10 on Professional Pak and $20 on Director Pak purchases made within the unilevel

Note that as with the recruitment commissions paid out, the maximum Director level commission is always paid out. If an affiliate is not at the Director level, the system searches their upline for a higher ranked affiliate to pay out the remainder of the bonus to.

Generational Unilevel Bonus

The Generational unilevel commissions offered by Q International function as a regular “infinity bonus”. In effect, it extends the available payable levels of a standard unilevel team beyond the original ten.

This is done by defining generations within a unilevel team. A generation is created when a Director or higher ranked affiliate is found within an individual unilevel leg. When a Director or higher ranked affiliate is found, every affiliate above them is defined as the first generation. If another Director is found below this first Director, then a second generation is defined between them.

If no additional Directors are found, the second generation extends down to the end of the unilevel leg (“infinity” levels).

Commissions are paid out as a percentage of half the commissionable volume generated by unilevel generations, with how much of a percentage being paid out depending on an affiliate’s own membership rank:

  • Senior Marketing Director – 8% on generations one to infinity
  • Regional Marketing Director – 8% on generations two to infinity
  • National Marketing Director – 4% on generations three to infinity
  • Presidential Marketing Director – 4% on generations four to infinity
  • Ambassador – 2% on generations five to infinity
  • Premier Ambassador – 2% on generations six to infinity
  • Royal Ambassador – 1% on generations one to infinity
  • Chairman – 1% on generations eight to infinity

Referred to as QfinityPay, affiliates qualify for the bonus by hitting the Senior Director affiliate rank.

The Product-Paks also generate a generational bonus commission as follows:

  • Senior Marketing Director – $10 on the Builder Pak, $15 on the Professional Pak and $20 on the Director Pak from generations one to infinity
  • Regional Marketing Director – $10 on the Builder Pak, $15 on the Professional Pak and $20 on the Director Pak from generations two to infinity
  • National Marketing Director – $4 on the Builder Pak, $6 on the Professional Pak and $8 on the Director Pak from generations three to infinity
  • Presidential Marketing Director – $4 on the Builder Pak, $6 on the Professional Pak and $8 on the Director Pak from generations four to infinity
  • Ambassador – $2 on the Builder Pak, $3 on the Professional Pak and $4 on the Director Pak from generations five to infinity
  • Premier Ambassador – $2 on the Builder Pak, $3 on the Professional Pak and $4 on the Director Pak from generations six to infinity
  • Royal Ambassador – $1 on the Builder Pak, $2 on the Professional Pak and $3 on the Director Pak from generations seven to infinity
  • Chairman – $1 on the Builder Pak, $2 on the Professional Pak and $3 on the Director Pak from generations eight to infinity

Note that both generational bonus commissions diminish percentage and payout wise as an affiliate’s rank increases. It is expected that the raw volume being qualified on will result in an overall increase in the bonus being paid out at the upper ranks.

Further note that a minimum of two Director ranked legs are required to qualify for the generational bonus. An affiliate is not paid the generational bonus on these two qualifying unilevel legs (all other non-generational commissions and bonuses apply).

These Director legs are initially the first two Director ranked affiliates found when searching the unilevel from left to right (oldest to most recent personally recruited affiliates), however after three or more exist, Q International rotate the legs out from left to right in a repeatable cycle.

Generational Unilevel Bonus Match

Starting at the Director rank, the generational bonus commissions paid out to affiliates is matchable down a maximum four levels of recruitment.

How many levels an affiliate receives a generational bonus match on is determined by their own affiliate rank:

  • Director and Senior Marketing Directors – 10% on one level of recruitment
  • Regional and National Marketing Directors – 10% on the first and 5% on the second level of recruitment
  • Presidential Marketing Director – 10% on the first level and 5% on the second and third levels of recruitment
  • Ambassador – 10% on the first and second levels of recruitment and 5% on the third
  • Premier Ambassador – 10% on the first and second and 5% on the third and fourth levels of recruitment
  • Royal Ambassador – 10% on the first to third levels of recruitment and 5% on the fourth
  • Chairman – 10% on all four available levels of recruitment

1st Order Bonus

When a new affiliate makes their first product order (excluding Promo-Paks), the affiliate who recruited them earns a 40% volume bonus commission on 50% of the commissionable volume of that order (the remaining 60% is paid out via the standard unilevel commissions).

DirectorPay Bonus

If an affiliate buys a Director-Pak or organically qualifies as a Director, they receive 10% of half of the commissionable volume generated by any personally recruited affiliates who are at the Director or higher rank.

This 10% bonus is paid out down the line of recruitment up until another Director ranked affiliate is found in that particular recruitment leg.

StarPay Bonus

The StarPay Bonus rewards affiliates for buying a Director Pak and signing up for autoship. Then, as long as an affiliate maintains a monthly 100 PV in sales volume, they are StarPay Bonus qualified.

A StarPay Bonus qualified affiliate can earn shares, based on how many affiliates they recruit and convince to buy Director Pak.

StarPay shares are valid for 30, 60 or 90 days and are allocated as follows:

  • recruit a new Director Pak affiliate within your first 30 days – receive a 30 day share
  • if the newly recruited affiliate recruits a new Director Pak affiliate of their own – receive a 60 day share
  • if the newly recruited affiliate recruits a new affiliate who recruits a new Director Pak affiliate – receive a 90 day share

The share pool is made up of 5% of all Product-Pak sales, and is paid out according to how many StarPay shares each qualified affiliate has.

AfterYouPay Commissions

The concept behind the “AfterYouPay” commission, as described in the Q International compensation plan material, is to permit affiliates to

get Paid from up to the next
 500 people who join Q after you whether you refer anyone or not!!!

In order to qualify for the AfterYouPay commission, an affiliate must

  • purchase a “Promo-Pak” (or eventually qualify at the equivalent affiliate membership rank)
  • sign up for autoship
  • be generating at least 100 Personal Volume in sales each month (can be self-purchases)

How many people who join after them an affiliate is paid on depends on how much money they spend on a Promo-Pak:

  • Builder Promo-Pak ($299) – 100 people
  • Professional Promo-Pak ($599) – 250 people
  • Director Promo-Pak ($999) – 500 people

Commissions are paid out at a rate of 3% of the commissionable volume on product sales (including Promo-Paks), shared out amongst qualifying affiliates. Each qualifying affiliate receives a pro-rata share of the applicable commissionable volume (it will vary depending on how many people under them they qualify to earn a commission on), based on their “Dream-Maker Points”.

Dream-Maker Points appear to be a separate points sytstem within the compensation plan, tied into product orders. Q International’s own explanation of Dream-Maker Points is rather hopelessly vague:

Brand Partners and higher ranks meeting the Personal Qualifying Volume requirement can earn DREAM-MAKER POINTS for all types of activities which can be redeemed for cash and/or rewards, prizes, trips, and lots of exciting gifts.

The idea is for us to help make the most important or as many dreams or wishes as possible come true for you and/or the dreams or wishes of your loved ones.

As I understand it, if the total commissionable volume made by people you qualified to earn on was 1000 points, that would first be multiplied by 3% (30). This 30 figure would then be multiplied by a ratio determined by the percentage of Dream-Maker Points) generated by all affiliates qualifying for AfterYouPay commissions.

If you made 1000 points and the total was 100,000, the figure would be 0.01 (1000 / 100000).

So, 30 * 0.01 = 30 cents and that would be your AfterYouPay commission for that month. Note that I’ve just used random figures here to illustrate the commission, it’s in no way indicative of how much an affiliate will actually make (there’s too many variables to estimate that accurately).

Joining Q International

Basic affiliate (Brand Partner) membership to Q International is $19.95 a month.

Affiliates are also charged a $14.95 monthly fee under certain conditions:

Participation in afterYOUPAY™, Dream-Maker Points, Rewards, & PRIZES Program, the $50 Gift Q’Pon Program, and the Builder rank or higher requires a minimum subscription of $14.95/mth to the Qi SuccessSystem.

From the Builder and higher ranks the $14.95/mth subscription to the Qi SuccessSystem is required as well.

Realistically, given the weight and emphasis placed on the Product-Paks, an affiliate is likely to be paying $299 to $999 for one of the paks too.

Conclusion

There’s a lot to like in Q International but unfortunately there are several glaring red-flags with the compensation plan that cannot be ignored.

On the product front the assortment of air and water filters with a nutrition line might seem a bit odd, but it’s marketed under the banner of general health and wellness so I suppose it’s not too out there.

What is a bit eyebrow-raising however is the manner in which Q International themselves market the range. The company doesn’t explicitly state that their QiNopal juice cures cancer and all the other diseases mentioned, however that it’s effective as a preventative is strongly implied.

And this is what that translates into in regard to Q International affiliate marketing efforts:

cancer-prevention-claims-qinopal-product-q-international

If you ask me Q International are just begging for regulatory attention (there wasn’t even an FDA disclaimer on their products page).

Another thing I found problematic on the Q International page was the lack of product information given out. If you click “learn more” in their replicated storefront, unless you have an affiliate referral code you aren’t provided any additional information about the products.

Case in point I actually had to go off and Google “nopal” to find out what it was, and that lack of functionality is not really helpful to potential customers.

What I did like was the repeat-consumable nature of the product line, everything from the juice to the filters is a repeat-consumable and that in itself is half the battle of marketing products via MLM. Definitely a niche market with the filters (and even arguably the juice), but if you do sell a filter then your customer is going to be coming back to your for replacement filters. Ditto the juice, assuming they feel the purported benefits of it.

The Q International compensation plan material is a monster at thirty-three pages in length, but aside from the whole “Qube” stuff (which I still don’t entirely get but believe it’s not integral to explaining the compensation plan), and the AfterYouPay commission, I didn’t find it all that complicated.

Much of the last ten to fifteen pages is taken up explaining the affiliate ranks page by page and then plenty of compensation examples (which to be honest I thought were presented in a far too complicated manner with lines going everywhere).

As for the actual plan itself, it was refreshing to see actual customer requirements built into the affiliate ranks. Typically we only see affiliate recruitment requirements so this made for a nice change.

Where things completely fall apart though is the “pay to play” element of the plan. Entirely optional sure, allowing affiliates to buy their way into various affiliate ranks (all the way up to the Presidential Marketing Director rank with enough recruiting), is just asking for trouble.

Achieve “instant” rank status for up to 180 days purchasing the respective Promo-Pak.

What it ultimately translates into is a prospective affiliate having to choose between actually building their business, or paying a free and insta-ranking up. Otherwise known as “pay to play”.

Yes it’s only temporary for six months but when you combine it with the additional emphasis to buy Product Paks and required monthly autoship quotas, it translates into an affiliate culture that revolves around recruitment and then hoping for the best. Hoping for the best in that after six months the affiliate can maintain the rank they bought into (and/or recruit others to keep the commissions rolling).

It totally detracts from organic affiliate promotion and skewers focus away from selling products to retail customers to buying your way in and then getting those you bring in to do the same. Furthermore it throws into question the motivation behind all affiliate product purchases; are they buying products to qualify for commissions or because they are actually going to use the products based on perceived non-financial value?

I mean hell, here’s how Q International themselves market the opportunity:

Whether you are a novice, professional, part-time or full-time, young or mature, etc., the QiPAY PLAN is the perfect plan for you. And because of our afterYOUPAY you will want to join NOW… why??

Because you can be paid on the purchases and sales of up to the next 500 Brand Partners and Customers who join after you!!

And there’s so much emphasis on signing up with a Product Pak and autoship that I’d be surprised if scrapping the organic rank qualification altogether would have any affect on affiliate signup rates:

STARPAY is designed to PAY you to take action within your first 30 days, PAY you to help your Brand Partners take action in their first 30 days, and PAY you to help the Brand Partners that they enroll to take action in their first 30 days.

It is REALLY important that you become eligible in your first 30 days!!!

The same is true for those you enroll and that they enroll… if they are not eligible and someone they enroll later on earns a 30 or 60 Day STARPAY Share… you DO NOT earn the double or triple match shares… so it is REALLY important that you help your first and second level become eligible for STARPAY by becoming Instant Directors in their first 30 days… very very important!!!

I didn’t add all those exclamation marks, that’s the official marketing copy from the Q International compensation plan.

All these points are considerable red flags in and of themselves… combined they’re an utter disaster!

I’ll finish up by quoting an article written by Q International CEO Evan Runde, first published in 2000. In it, Runde talks about his first MLM opportunity experience (note the perspective switch from third to first and back to third-person again is how the original article was written by Runde):

Evan’s dream of self-employment became a nightmare when his partner left them holding the bag on $210 , 000 in debt.Evan and Tonette were forced to sell the business , losing everything they had spent the last two years building.

During this time , Evan was introduced to network marketing.He spent the next five years building a network marketing business with little success.Although, Evan worked full-time at the business, he could not seem to make enough money to support his family.

He was frustrated because he believed that he should be able to do it.

It was an old-time MLM with volume requirements , high retail sales quotas and breakaway groups.A few people upline were making money, but no one else I knew was.

In order to meet our quotas and continue to receive our commission check, Tonette and I slowly sank further into debt.I kept thinking I wasn’t working hard enough, shares Evan.

In order to stay self-employed, the Rundes took over a large newspaper distribution route. Evan worked nights on the newspaper route and the rest of his time on his network marketing business.

Tonette spent 40 hours a week handling the administrative/billing duties and taking care of their three children. There had to be a better way.

I don’t know what happened between the 90s and today, but it seems Runde has created a near identical opportunity to one he himself had no success in. Ultimately you can make all the purchases and fees optional, but if they’re easy mode and required to unlock certain conditions, they might as well be mandatory.

Given these requirements are built into the core of the compensation plan, I’m at a loss as to how Q International could address the issues without a total plan rewrite.

Not a cheap or easy fix but it will certainly leave the company with a much more robust (and compliant!) offering going forward.