traveling-vineyard-logoLast week I published a review on Yoli.

The review saw me criticize Yoli for ambiguity in their affiliate sign-up form, with respect to affiliate fees and monthly autoship.

I also criticized the withholding of crucial information in Yoli’s compensation plan, as affiliate costs detailed in the sign-up form were absent.

All in all it’s a shame Yoli is let down by information not presented in its compensation plan.

You go through it and there’s no mention of autoship when signing up or a correlation between rank PV and autoship CV – with it not being evident unless you research joining costs.

Yesterday Len Clements commented on the review, suggesting with full sarcasm that I should have contacted Yoli.

Oz, next time I encourage you to use an investigative technique that I’ve developed, and have had great success with over the years. I call it, “ASK!” (patent pending).

A few days ago I sat down to begin researching The Traveling Vineyard, with an intention to publish a reader request review.

On Saturday I realized The Traveling Vineyard failed to provide the public with a copy of their compensation plan.

Now as I explained to Clements, I see the withholding of crucial business information as a massive failure on behalf of an MLM company.

Whereas I normally might obtain compensation plan information elsewhere, in the case of The Traveling Vineyard such information is non-existent.

Purely a co-incidence, in this particular instance I took the initiative to email The Traveling Vineyard and request a copy of their compensation plan.

Hi there, I couldn’t see a copy of your compensation plan on your website. I’ve seen the YouTube summary but was after more detailed information.

Do you have a complete compensation document I can review? Thanks.

This was, bear in mind, before Clements left his comment suggesting I contact MLM companies yesterday.

Today I received a reply from The Traveling Vineyard. They claim they can’t provide me a with a copy of their compensation plan… because apparently it’s “proprietary information”.

For those unfamiliar with the company, The Traveling Vineyard are an MLM opportunity that operate in the wine niche.

The company is based  out of Massachusetts in the US, and is headed up by “Chief Grape Stomper” Rick Libby.

Libby claims to have coined the concept of a wine-based MLM opportunity. He acquired The Traveling Vineyard following its bankruptcy in 2011.

The concept behind free home wine tasting and Traveling Vineyard had been my idea in 2001 when I worked for Geerlings & Wade, a leader in the direct marketing of quality wine.

If the home party concept could work for plastic storage containers and cooking utensils, why not wine?

I tested the idea with a dozen people and it took off. By 2005, Traveling Vineyard had thousands of independent consultants, who work from home hosting more than 100,000 home tasting events a year in 26 states.

After decades in various sales, marketing and management positions, I had finally fallen in love with a business.

Just when the Traveling Vineyard model had built momentum, a leadership change in the parent company triggered some strategic decisions with which I disagreed, particularly a decision to make changes to the programs we created that supported the self-employed independent wine consultants, our Wine Guides.

The Guides form the heart and soul of the business model. How could I be expected to tell these wine enthusiasts about program impacts to them that I completely disagreed with?

That’s when I left Traveling Vineyard and spent five years doing other things – until I heard about the bankruptcy filing.

I persuaded my wife, presented my case to dozens of friends and investors, emptied my savings accounts (yes, all of them), and made a run at it.

I knew that if our Wine Guides received the support they needed to be successful, the company would get back on its feet.

By November 2010, Traveling Vineyard was back in business. Today, we’re proud to have more than 2,500 happy and satisfied independent Wine Guides in nearly 40 states who love their home based businesses.

I’d completed my company research, gone over The Traveling Vineyard’s wine range and had a vague idea of what the compensation plan was from the aforementioned YouTube summary video.

But I needed the full details of the MLM opportunity to publish a review and accurate conclusion. This saw me email The Traveling Vineyard to request a copy of their compensation plan.

I figured given the otherwise legitimate nature of The Traveling Vineyard opportunity, that the failure to provide their compensation plan on their website was an oversight.

I was wrong.

Hi there!

Thank you so much for you interest!

Our complete compensation plan is actually proprietary information that is only available to our current Wine Guides.

Are you in touch at all with one of them who may be able to provide a first hand look for you? If not, I’d be happy to put you in touch with someone.

Sorry, what? Your business model is proprietary information? Like hell it is.

And what, I’m going to get in contact with some poor affiliate who thinks he or she might have a lead, just to deflate their excitement by informing them I’m just trying to conduct basic due diligence into their opportunity?

To put it bluntly, that’s some pretty piss-poor executive management right there.

Look, I get the whole “talk to one of our affiliates for the real story” marketing crap. We get it a lot here at BehindMLM, where affiliates request readers “contact them for the real story”.

I routinely mark these comments as spam, because the silly marketing tactic is spotable a mile off.

For an MLM company itself to try to pull it though?

Cmon guys, your compensation plan isn’t proprietary information. It’s basic math that spells out how affiliates in your business opportunity are paid.

This is information crucial to anyone conducting due diligence into The Traveling Vineyard, and your intentional withholding of it hampers an individual’s effort to make an informed decision about your opportunity.

Pending disclosure of The Traveling Vineyard’s compensation plan, I’m suggesting avoidance of the opportunity altogether.

The MLM industry by and large is populated by companies who readily disclose in full the affiliate compensation aspects of their business. Companies that don’t are not worth wasting your time on, irrespective of the niche they operate in, how old they are or whatever else about the company you might be able to ascertain.

Over to you Len.


Update 3rd November 2019 – BehindMLM revisited Traveling Vineyard in 2019 and published a complete review.