In what is fast becoming what appears to be a business platform released without an actual finalised business model, Rippln released a FAQ yesterday that it hopes will address many of the current concerns surrounding the company.

Much of the FAQ (labelled “version 4.0”) is about the technical side of the business from an affiliate point of view but towards the end, does address widespread concerns that have been voiced by those in both the MLM and tech (app) industry.

Unfortunately rather than address these concerns in their FAQ, Rippln have adopted the “dismiss the messenger” strategy.

Published in response to videos that have surfaced criticising Rippln’s business model from a tech perspective (primarily TechCrunch and Chris Voss), Rippln writes

I’ve seen videos out there that are saying negative things about Rippln! Can’t we take them down?

The truth of the matter is that because we are growing so rapidly as a new company, opportunists are taking advantage of our success by attempting to put a negative spin on the good we are doing in hopes of boosting their own ratings.

It’s unfortunate but it is to be expected.

So who are these online rogues intent on making a name for themselves off of Rippln’s back?

TechCrunch is currently ranked the 541st most visited website in the world by Alexa and has been in operation since June, 2005.  Chris Voss meanwhile has been writing about social media since 2007 and has been profiled by several mainstream media companies.

But clearly both of these entities would be internet nobodies if Rippln hadn’t of come along.

In addition to dismissing any criticism of their business model as nothing more than the unfounded rumblings of the uninformed, Rippln also advise in their FAQ that they have a crack “SEO team” working on the situation.

Rippln urge their affiliates to report “anything like” the TechCrunch and Chris Voss videos back to them, although what exactly Rippln’s SEO team will do from there isn’t clarified.

Going on to address concerns over Rippln being a scam, the company writes

I’m hearing from people that Rippln is a lot of hype without much content. Is this a scam?

It has to be the number one question on the minds of a lot of people. No, it is not a scam.

Rippln is a new and innovative company that believes the end user is the most valuable part of any technology product.

Our users then have the ability to get rewarded for the value being created through their networks, if they choose to participate in our rewards program.

We are not a scam, we are the first ever incentivized sharing technology platform.

“Incentivized sharing technology platform”? Cringe.

Putting aside that Rippln don’t argue that they aren’t “a lot of hype without much content”, much of the current state of confusion surrounding Rippln’s business model, if not all of it, rests squarely on the shoulders of Rippln themselves.

Despite allegedly being in the works for some time now, it has become increasingly evident that those behind Rippln haven’t really though through the MLM side of things.

The original business model and compensation plan material Rippln released was quickly pulled down from the internet, and has now been replaced with the following dialogue or similar variations of it:

Rippln has not fully completed its planning for the Rippln Rewards Program as it continues to undergo scrutiny by Rippln’s legal advisors.

Please rest assured that the investors in Rippln are committed to providing a solid rewards program that is compliance with all rules and regulations.

Given that the “rules and regulations” haven’t changed for a while now, one can only assume there’s some massive backpedaling going on over at Rippln HQ.

As highlighted in the BehindMLM Rippln Review, the crux of legitimacy for Rippln is in the cost to be an affiliate and commissions paid out on the recruitment of affiliates.

In the now retracted compensation plan video Rippln initially released to the public, the company stated it would pay affiliates $80 and $240 on the recruitment of Domestic and Global affiliates respectively, and $20 on the recruitment of 5 free affiliates (users).

The problem was that nowhere in the documentation were the costs of becoming a Domestic of Global Rippln affiliate disclosed.

Figures of $300 (Domestic affiliate) and $900 (Global affiliate) with a monthly $50 fee were circulated, but where these figures were pulled from is unclear. Personally, I was waiting on official clarification from Rippln before publishing anything further myself.

While waiting on this clarification, Rippln then decided to pull down their published compensation plan material. Co-founder Jonathan Budd offered up the following explanation:

Right now the price points are not finalized. In addition, we may not have a global or domestic license at all.

Rippln is constantly evaluating what model to bring to market, that equates to the best value proposition for our users who decide to participate in the rewards plan.

We will be updating the market place as soon we have finalized it.

This seemed to indicate that there might not be any affiliate membership fee at all. However the Rippln FAQ reaffirms that, although the amount might not be finalised, there definitely will be some cost imposed on affiliates who wish to earn commissions:

We are in pre-game mode and are not accepting payment at this time. Getting in your ripple as a fan is free. Join, and watch the concept grow.

At this stage of the roll-out, we are building buzz before releasing our first products. If you’d like to get an experience for what our company is about, invite your friends or contacts.

Share the concept. Tell them that while there are no guarantees in life, a lot of people believe in this concept. Then watch. What do they have to lose?

When the next phase comes out, watch that, ask questions, and see if the company stands behind the concept and message. All this is available before they are asked to pay a single dollar.

Dollar amounts commission earning affiliates will be charged might not yet be finalised, but the Rippln FAQ strongly indicates they exist.

I might not know anything much about the app industry but I have picked up a thing or two about MLM over the years I’ve been writing for BehindMLM.

Primarily of significance here is that if you are charging affiliates to participate and paying commissions on the recruitment of new affiliates on multiple levels (MLM), you’re running a pyramid scheme.

This holds true is irrespective of what you attach this compensation plan to product wise or what buzz words you invent to describe what is anything but a revolutionary “never seen before” business model.

Still, in declaring their compensation plan unfinished Rippln do leave themselves an out. If they launch with no affiliate fees or eliminate the recruitment commissions paid on Global and Domestic affiliates, either will stem much, if not all, of the pyramid scheme concerns.

Meanwhile what amazes me is that allegedly Rippln have thus far attracted over 200,000 affiliates, despite nobody but management having any clarity on what the business model will be on the MLM side of things.

200,000 people have signed up for tickets to the Rippln MLM train, the drivers don’t appear to be certain on how to operate it and nobody really seems to know where they’re all headed.

At this time it is not costing you anything to sign up and play, so we just encourage you to gather as many people as you can to join your ripple and have fun watching it grow!

Buckle up kids, this is going to be a bumpy ride.