Brilliant Carbon Review: Ausante without mistakes?
Brilliant Carbon attempt to merge the purchasing of carbon credits with MLM. The Brilliant Carbon website names Nigel Allan (below right) and Haakon Grunnan as the co-founders of the company, with Allan also serving as company President.
The formation of Brilliant Carbon, as provided on their website, is certainly an interesting read. It begins with the launch of a similar carbon credits based MLM opportunity, Ausante.
In early 2011 Nigel was approached by Tahir Ali and Mark Chadwick to set up a new MLM company called Ausante, along with Carl Mallinson, of Ceejay Commodities Ltd from Zambia, who was going to be planting trees to back up the environmental sales.
This seemed like a noble cause and Nigel agreed to become an equal shareholder and Director of the company.
Nigel, along with Haakon Grunnan, proceeded to build a large worldwide sales network of people offsetting their carbon footprint….or so he believed.
After Tahir Ali forced Carl Mallinson out of the company in October 2011, and did not pay him for the trees he had planted, Ausante no longer had a ‘product’ backing up the sales they were making.
It became clear that the only way to become legal and transparent about what people were buying was to purchase and retire real carbon credits in customers’ names.
Unfortunately Nigel was deceived by the other directors and no carbon credits were ever purchased and retired by Ausante in the name of Ausante customers (easily provable by searching the public registries), even after millions of dollars in sales of ‘nonexistent’ credits had already been made.
Not wishing to be part of a worldwide fraud, Nigel resigned from the company in June 2012.
Nigel and Haakon then spent the next twelve months putting together the business and systems known as BrilliantCarbon.
It’s worth noting that before Allan left Ausante in June, Ali had already begun launching Ausante spinoffs. CO2 Rewards was one such spinoff, reviewed here on BehindMLM in March of 2012.
CO2 Rewards offer their members the ability to acquire customers through the company itself (whether or not they charge for this service is unclear), effectively it’s entirely possible to use CO2 Rewards as an investment program.
You purchase units, give them away to customers the company supposedly provides you and then earn a return on the money you fed into the company.
Today the Ausante website is still online, with Ali’s partner Mark Chadwick listed as CEO. CO2 Rewards on the other hand no longer exists.
On the Brilliant Carbon website Allan claims Brilliant Carbon was created because he was ‘determined to learn from Ausante’s mistakes‘.
As for where Brilliant Carbon are based out of, a “Brilliant Carbon Support” address is provided in London along with a UK-based contact number for Nigel Allan, however whether the actual business is based out of the UK is not clear.
Read on for a full review of the Brilliant Carbon MLM business opportunity.
The Brilliant Carbon Product Line
Like Ausante, Brilliant Carbon use carbon offset credits as their product. Despite the company advertising a “retail customer” membership option on their website, Brilliant Carbon doesn’t appear to have a retail side to the business.
If one wishes to apply to join as a retail customer, the description of the membership is as follows:
Enrol as a Retail Customer on the website of your referring EcoPartner and receive: Access to the BrilliantCarbon member’s area to be able to participate in our lucrative rewards program.
Retail customers cannot earn commissions and should be separated from the income opportunity, which is not the case in Brilliant Carbon.
The reality is that these “retail customers” are infact affiliates. Once an affiliate has joined Brilliant Carbon, they are then able to put money into “EcoPartner Packages”.
When you enrol with an EcoPlan on the website of your Mentor (referrer) BrilliantCarbon retires a specific quantity of carbon offsets on your behalf according to the EcoPlan you purchased.
‘Retirement’ is the carbon credit industry jargon for ‘removing carbon credits from circulation’ so they cannot be resold or double counted in any way. In other words, they are considered ‘used’.
“Casino games” and “auctions” are also mentioned, however no further information is provided. Neither casino games or auctions are visible on the Brilliant Carbon website either so I’m not sure what’s going on there.
The Brilliant Carbon Compensation Plan
The Brilliant Carbon Compensation plan revolves around affiliates joining the company and then buying EcoPartner Packages.
There are three EcoPartner Packages a Brilliant Carbon affiliate can deposit money into:
- Silver EcoPlan – $200 (8 tonnes CO2 removed from the atmosphere)
- Gold EcoPlan – $1000 (40 tonnes CO2 removed from the atmosphere)
- Platinum EcoPlan – $3000 (120 tonnes CO2 removed from the atmosphere)
The Fast Start Bonus is paid out whenever a newly recruited affiliate joins Brilliant Carbon and deposits money into an EcoPartner Package:
- Silver EcoPlan – $15
- Gold EcoPlan – $75
- Platinum EcoPlan – $225
Note that an affiliate must personally buy-in at the plan level they wish to earn a commission on. For example, if a Brilliant Carbon affiliate who has bought in at the Silver level sells a Platinum EcoPlan, they will still only earn the Silver EcoPlan bonus of $15.
Residual Binary Commissions
Residual commissions in Brilliant Carbon are paid out using a binary compensation structure. A binary compensation structure places an affiliate at the top of the binary, with two positions directly under them.
These two positions form the start of two binary teams, with each position branching out into another two positions down a theoretically infinite depth.
Each week Brilliant Carbon calculates the sales volume generated between the two binary teams, paying out an affiliate 10% of the weaker team’s sales volume.
This sales volume is removed from the binary once paid out on (including matching volume from the stronger binary team), with excess volume carried over to the following week.
Sales volume is generated by the “purchase” of EcoPartner Packages by recruited affiliates.
Weekly binary commissions are capped, depending on how much a Brilliant Carbon affiliate have themselves deposited into the company:
- Silver EcoPlan – weekly binary commissions capped at $1000
- Gold EcoPlan – weekly binary commissions capped at $4000
- Platinum EcoPlan – weekly binary commissions capped at $25,000
Matching Binary Commissions Bonus
Brilliant Carbon offer a matching bonus on binary commissions earnt by a personally recruited downline. The company tracks this matching bonus using a unilevel style compensation structure.
A unilevel compensation structure places an affiliate at the top of a unilevel team, with every personally recruited affiliate placed directly under them (level 1).
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 affiliates 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 unlimited number of levels.
Brilliant Carbon pays out a matching bonus on the binary commissions of recruited affiliates, payable down a maximum of three levels of recruitment:
- Sapphire Bonus (recruit at least two new affiliates) – 10% matching bonus on level 1
- Emerald (recruit at least 4 new affiliates (2 on each binary team), with all 4 affiliates having bought in at either the Gold or Platinum EcoPlan level) – 10% matching bonus on 2 levels
- Ruby (recruit at least 6 new affiliates (3 on each binary team), with all six affiliates having bought in at the Platinum EcoPlan level) – 10% matching bonus on three levels
- Diamond (have at least 3 personally recruited Ruby qualified affiliates (one in three individual unilevel legs), and be generating a minimum 20,000 weekly volume in your weaker binary team) – 5% down all unilevel levels
- Blue Diamond (have at least 3 personally recruited Diamond qualified affiliates (one in three individual unilevel legs), and be generating a minimum 100,000 weekly volume in your weaker binary team) – 10% down all unilevel levels
- Black Diamond (have at least 3 personally recruited Blue Diamond qualified affiliates (one in three individual unilevel legs), and be generating a minimum 500,000 weekly volume in your weaker binary team) – 15% down all unilevel levels
- Crown Diamond (have at least 3 personally recruited Black Diamond qualified affiliates (one in three individual unilevel legs), and be generating a minimum 1,000,000 weekly volume in your weaker binary team) – 20% down all unilevel levels
Note that the Diamond and above matching bonus stacks on top of the Ruby bonus. Once an affiliate reaches Diamond qualification, they will continue to earn the 10% on three level Ruby bonus indefinitely.
Also note that in addition to the above qualification requirements, all affiliates must also purchase a “sweepstakes entry ticket” for each week they wish to be paid the bonus out on.
No further information is provided in the Brilliant Carbon compensation plan material explaining what a sweepstakes entry ticket is.
Binary Override Commissions
In addition to the matching bonus, an override commission is also available to Diamond Director and above ranked Brilliant Carbon affiliates.
Director ranks are an additional qualification available to Diamond and above ranked Brilliant Carbon affiliates:
- Diamond Director – have at least three personally recruited Ruby ranked binary matching bonus qualified affiliates in your downline, with each being in separate individual unilevel leg
- Blue Diamond Director – have at least three personally recruited Diamond ranked affiliates in your downline, with each being in a separate individual unilevel leg
- Black Diamond Director – have at least three personally recruited Blue Diamond ranked affiliates in your downline, with each being in a separate individual unilevel leg
- Crown Black Diamond Director – have at least three Black Diamond ranked affiliates anywhere in your downline, of which at least two must be personally recruited
The binary override is paid out using the same unilevel compensation structure as the matching bonus however it is a generational bonus, paying out a commission up until an affiliate of certain rank is found.
- Diamond – an additional 5% on matching binary commissions, payable until a Diamond or higher ranked affiliate is found.
- Blue Diamond – an additional 10% on matching binary commissions, payable until a Blue Diamond or higher ranked affiliate is found. If the top affiliate in any given unilevel leg is at the Diamond rank, the bonus paid out is 10% until the Diamond affiliate and 5% thereafter.
- Black Diamond – an additional 15% on matching binary commissions, payable until a Black Diamond or higher ranked affiliate is found. If the top affiliate in any given unilevel leg is at the Diamond rank, the bonus paid out is 15% until the Diamond affiliate and 10% thereafter. If the top affiliate in any given unilevel leg is at the Blue Diamond rank, the bonus paid out is 15% until the Blue Diamond affiliate and 5% thereafter.
- Crown Black Diamond – an additional 20% on matching binary commissions, payable until another Diamond or higher ranked affiliate is found. If the top affiliate in any given unilevel leg is at the Diamond rank, the bonus paid out is 20% until the Diamond affiliate and 15% thereafter. If the top affiliate in any given unilevel leg is at teh Blue Diamond rank, the bonus paid out is 20% until the Blue Diamond affiliate and 10% thereafter. If the top affiliate in any given unilevel is at the Black Diamond rank, the bonus paid out is 20% until the Black Diamond affiliate and 5% thereafter.
Brilliant Bonus Pool
The Brilliant Bonus Pool is made up of
5% of Global Revenues (excluding credit card sales) for the BrilliantBonus Pool to reward our top performers. In addition, 5% of the selling fee in the TurboBooster is added to the Pool, plus profitsharing from casino and auctions.
The pool is paid out monthly, with affiliates awarded a share in the pool for every “pro unit” they “hold”.
Brilliant Carbon do not explain what a pro unit is or how affiliates come to hold them in their compensation plan material.
Finally, in order to qualify for the Brilliant Bonus Pool an affiliate must ‘have purchased Sweepstakes entry tickets covering the Bonus Pool period in question ie the previous calendar month‘.
Although frequently mentioned in the Brilliant Carbon compensation plan, the company fails to explain what exactly its Diamond Credits are.
Diamond credits, not to be confused with “carbon credits” that affiliates purportedly pay Brilliant Carbon to “expire”, are virtual credits given to affiliates when they purchase one of the EcoPlans:
- Silver EcoPlan – 60 diamond credits
- Gold EcoPlan – 350 diamond credits
- Platinum EcoPlan – 1150 diamond credits
The credits are sorted into mandatory and free accounts, however Brilliant Carbon fail to explain what these are and how they relate to the compensation plan.
Affiliates can also win diamond credits if they use real money to buy a ticket in the company’s monthly sweepstakes draw (lottery).
Other diamond credits are paid out in a “casino account” and “auction account”, which I believe require affiliates to “spend” the credits in a virtual casino and auction.
Other than the mention of both a casino and auction on the Brilliant Carbon website, I was unable to find any further information on either. I presume, due to the fact that diamond credits are involved that these are affiliate-only ventures.
Finally, there’s also something called the TurboBooster which affiliates can buy into. No information as to what the TurboBooster is or does it provided by Brilliant Carbon in their compensation plan material.
Joining Brilliant Carbon
Affiliate membership to Brilliant Carbon is $29. Note that it is expected (and for some components of the compensation plan required) that affiliates buy into one of Brilliant Carbon’s EcoPlans.
This equates to an additional affiliate cost of ranging from $200 to $3000.
In an attempt to distance itself from the “mistakes” Ausante allegedly made, on the Brilliant Carbon website the company states
BrilliantCarbon believes in transparency. What you see is what you get.
How the company can claim this when so much information is withheld from the general public begs belief.
For starters, the Brilliant Carbon compensation plan is not provided to the general public (prospective affiliate) for review. The company demands people pay them $29 before they are provided any specific information about the attached MLM income opportunity.
This is the first red flag that pops up.
Compensation plan wise, if we ignore the whole carbon credits legitimacy thing for the time being, what we have is a pay-to-play scheme that in its most basic form, can be stripped down to affiliates paying to join the company, buying into one of three levels and then being paid a commission to recruit new affiliates to do the same.
That in itself is the definition of a pyramid scheme, with things only appearing more dubious when the rest of the compensation plan is analysed.
For starters, despite touting transparency in their marketing material, the reality is there is large chunks of vital information missing from the company’s hidden compensation plan material.
TurboBooster? PRO Units? What affiliates actually do with Diamond Credits? None of this information is provided yet the terms feature prominently in the compensation material Brilliant Carbon provide to affiliates.
TurboBooster sounds like a pay-to-play comp plan accelerator, with the money affiliates spend getting pumped back into the comp plan to pay out other affiliates.
Pro Units? No idea.
And Diamond Credits? A virtual currency that, from the sounds of the free and mandatory accounts, is a mechanism to trap as much affiliate money in the system once it’s deposited.
Throw in a casino, sweepstakes and auctions, and the viability of Brilliant Carbon’s carbon credits as an MLM product inevitably comes under question.
Simply put, why on Earth would you need sweepstakes, casino games and an auction to make the selling of carbon credits via MLM viable?
Nevermind the regulatory perils of marrying a casino to an MLM income opportunity.
Admittedly I know nothing much about carbon credits, but what I do know is this – the same holds true for CO2 Rewards and Ausante as it does for Brilliant Carbon.
In paying out commissions to affiliates, how do you remain competitive in the marketplace selling the same carbon credits non-MLM company’s are marketing?
There’s no product “edge” here as can be claimed with various other products – a carbon credit is a carbon credit is it not?
The money Brilliant Carbon pays out to its affiliates has to come from somewhere and in the process diminishes the viability of the price it charges affiliates to purchase carbon credits.
When looking at this from a “motivation of purchase” standpoint, it’s clear that those purchasing credits through Brilliant Carbon would only be doing so because of the attached income opportunity.
Throw in the recruitment commissions when recruited affiliates buy into the scheme and, although much more complexly masked than either Ausante or CO2 Rewards, Brilliant Carbon fails to address the core issue of long-term viability in the carbon credits MLM niche.
And if Ausante were indeed fudging the numbers on the carbon credits side of things as Brilliant Carbon President Nigel Allan alleges, that only confirms the lack of viability of the niche when attached to an MLM compensation plan.