Late last week the Bank of Namibia warned Namibians against participating in TVI Express. The bank claimed that TVI Express was nothing more then a pyramid scheme and stated that

in the whole, selling of purported products or services is a small component of the business models in the scheme and therefore designed to defraud members of the public.

The business operations of the scheme places substantial emphasis on recruitment of participants. In this respect, the scheme offers lucrative incentives to the participants, calculated primarily on the basis of the number of participants or members they recruited into the scheme.

Obviously not happy about the public warning, TVI Express today unleashed it’s lawyers upon the Bank of Namibia in the form of a strongly worded letter.

The gist of it?

‘Meet up with us, retract your ridiculous accusations or we’re coming after you with a class action law suit’.

Metcalfe Attorneys, acting on behalf of TVI Express in Namibia wrote to reserve bank Governor Ipumbu Shiimi demanding that the bank give TVI Express ‘an audience in order to attempt to settle this matter amicably without resort to a mass class legal action‘.

The class legal action would be on behalf of the current 2863 Namibian members of TVI Express, which Metcalfe claims will ‘lose their jobs’ as a result of the bank’s ‘patently erroneous and ill-considered‘ actions.

So, rather then take the Bank Of Namibia’s decision lying down, TVI Express have come out swinging. Fair enough then, so what’s their defense?

Well, rather then address the concerns raised by the bank that at the heart of the TVI Express business opportunity is nothing more then a recruitment driven pyramid scheme, Metcalfe Attorneys instead claim that the Bank of Namibia has

misunderstood the business model of Travel Venture International Express Limited.

The business involves the marketing and bartering of travel facilities, services, vacations and air travel.

This is the essence of this company, which is limited to 95 000 hotels in 11 000 destinations across 190 countries.It concentrates specifically on the marketing of tourist destinations.

Now the fallacy of this argument can be swiftly answered with just one question:

Can you directly purchase any travel facilities, services, vacations or air travel directly from a TVI Express member?

The answer? No, of course you can’t.

Instead, the fact is that nobody makes any money in TVI Express unless they go out and recruit new members. The ‘travel facilities, services, vacations and air travel’ have absolutely nothing to do with TVI Express’ business model and compensation plan that it uses to financially reward its members.

There’s just no way around it.

Furthermore, Metcalfe Attorneys claim that ‘TVI Express does not take funds from the public‘. I’m not quite sure what Metcalfe Attorney’s definition of ‘funds’ is, but there’s a N$2,500 joining fee to join TVI Express and I’m pretty sure that dollar amount can be defined as ‘taking funds from the public‘.

I mean what else is it, a gift?

In a final attempt to garner sympathy to their cause Metcalfe also attempt to paint Namibia’s TVI Express contingent as hard working individuals just trying to hold down a job.

The firm claims that the Bank of Namibia’s comments risk the loss of ‘2,863 jobs in our country’. Not only that but Metcalfe also state that the very fact that TVI Express have recruited 2,863 members in Namibia is nothing short of a ‘magnificent feat‘.

Worst case scenario and the TVI decision sticks? What, those near three thousand people will have to stop scamming people and go out and get real jobs.

Wait, what am I supposed to be feeling sorry about again?

The fact that the only way you can make any money in TVI Express is to go out and recruit others who then have to do the same should be the be all and end all of any argument that TVI is not a pyramid scheme. Remarkably though it isn’t and it’s going to be quite interesting to see how this plays out.

Being Africa I wouldn’t be half surprised if ‘settling amicably’ meant rocking up to a meeting with suitcases full of cash, but I digress.

A final interesting point is TVI Express’ choice of representation in Namibia. Metcalfe Attorneys themselves seem to have a bit of a colorful past.

Three years ago the firm launched an ad campaign featuring a raised middle finger and an accompanying slogan, ‘When FCUK you just doesn’t cut it’.

More recently the firm again sparked controversy with an ad featuring a woman’s bottom with a shoeprint on one of the cheeks and words ‘still kicking it’ below. This mind you in a country where violence against women is rife.

There’s also the recent court case involving Richard Metcalfe and his wife.

Apparently after divorcing him, he cracked the shits with her, tore up their wedding photos and threw away some of their clothes.

Stay classy guys, and best of luck defending the indefensible.