Zeek Rewards dodge Ponzi concerns on Aces Radio
When Troy Dooly from MLM Helpdesk mentioned that Zeek Rewards COO Dawn Wright-Olivares was going to appear on yesterday’s edition of radio show Aces Radio Live, I took note because to date any public appearance Olivares (or anyone from Zeek Rewards corporate) has amounted to little more than a thinly veiled PR excercise with little actual substance.
Such was the case the last time Dooly sat down with Wright-Olivares at the first Zeek Rewards red carpet event. Despite the interview running in at just under thirty-two minutes, nothing much was really covered other than a bunch of softball positive publicity talking points.
In what initially looked to be another PR exercise, yesterday’s Aces Radio Live broadcast started to delve into some interesting territory with co-host Jim Gillhouse fielding questions from listeners.
Twenty three minutes into the broadcast I then heard possibly the most important question to date that has been put forth to a Zeek Rewards corporate staff member has been asked publicly…
…but no sooner had the question been asked, Troy Dooly immediately moved to shut it down.
The Aces Radio Live call (linked to in full at the end of this article) opens with a ten minute monologue from Zeek Rewards COO Dawn Wright-Olivares (she actually has to stop and check the two hosts haven’t fallen asleep at 8:46), followed by Dooly gently leading Dawn (“explain to the affiliates who don’t understand”) into explaining why Zeek Rewards’ affiliate support has been plagued by delays and problems.
In answer to this Dawn is given more airtime to go on about Zeek Rewards’ progress before finally bluntly stating that due to the complexities of Zeek Rewards’ compensation plan and affiliates calling in for the wrong support reasons, that ultimately ‘it is impossible’ to provide Zeek Rewards affiliates with adequate support.
Dawn then goes on to accuse Zeek Rewards affiliates of asking questions of their support services which are readily available on the company website, essentially blaming them for the customer support bottlenecks the company has been experiencing for months. Dooly supports this by chiming in and blaming Zeek Rewards affiliates for Zeek’s support problems because they expect to “just pick up the phone… and get an answer without working for it” (21:35).
At this point the call takes a different turn with Jim Gillhouse cutting away from the excuses and fielding questions from listeners of the show (22:00).
The first question from listeners is framed as an overwhelming concern regarding Troy Dooly’s relationship with Zeek Rewards.
Gillhouse: One question that keeps coming up over and over again is are you personally involved in this company and being compensated by this company for some reason?
Dooly: …as a rep?
Gillhouse: you personally as a representative representing Zeek Rewards yes.
Dooly: No, absolutely not. Nor is any of my family.
Dooly has been running around the past few months as somewhat of a spokesperson for Zeek Rewards with the exact nature of the relationship between Dooly and Zeek being somewhat clouded. He claims not to be a paid representative for the company, nor involved in Zeek Rewards as an affiliate.
I’ve personally queried whether or not there’s a financial arrangement between the Association of Network Marketing Professionals (of which Troy is a committee member) and Zeek Rewards, to which I received the following response:
None of the companies Rex Venture Capital, Zeekler or Zeek Rewards, or any other company or entity controlled by Paul Burks or anyone else for that matter who might have some form of vested interest in any of the above companies are members or sponsors of the ANMP outside of Dawn & Alex.
Dawn and Alex are paying members. She paid the $50 annual individual membership fee.
Dooly has also in so many words flatly denied having any financial interest in Zeek Rewards operations whatsoever (“I have no skin in the game” as he frequently puts it).
Nonetheless, seemingly on nothing more than covering the cost of Dooly’s flight down and accommodation expenses to attend Zeek Rewards’ monthly Red Carpet event, Dooly increasingly appears to be taking on an official spokesperson role over at the company.
I’m not sure why Dooly had to first clarify if Gillhouse was talking about being a paid representative before answering (is there another financial context to the relationship between Dooly and Zeek Rewards?), but I’ll leave it at that.
The show then continues and pertains to the opening of this article with Gillhouse putting to Dawn what I believe is the most important question of the entire 86 minute broadcast (23:10):
Gillhouse: This isn’t for you (Dooly) this is a question for Dawn…
(Gillhouse then goes on for a bit about gambling and entertainment and how there’s no expectation of a loss in entertainment)
Gillhouse: The profit pool is a 50/50 split, is that correct?
Wright-Olivares: Yeah the retail point pool, the revenue share that we… actually Paul, actually Paul (Burks) manages all that. It gives us up to 50 percent that is paid back in the form of cash rewards to the people who qualify…to the affiliates who qualify.
Gillhouse: Ok now, of that how much of that is taken from the acquisition of new distributors and new reps?
Immediately, before Dawn even has a chance to begin to answer the question, Troy Dooly jumps in:
Dooly: Hang on, hang on, hang on, hang on. Hang-on. I’mgunna, I’mgunna, I’mgunna interject here.
Jim, those are questions that you’re asking that are proprietary to that individual company. And the way you just worded that question, if a regulator was listening then we’ve got our butts in trouble too because you worded that in a way so that the answer when it comes back, would actually be out of compliance with any network marketing company. Because no network marketing company pays out from the acquisition of affiliates, period.
An awkward silence follows Dooly’s answer for a few seconds before Gillhouse corrects Dooly,
Gillhouse: No network marketing company is supposed to pay out from the acquisition of affiliates
Dooly: Well that is correct, but that’s what I’m saying.
Noticeably, Dawn Wright-Olivares remains silent through the awkward exchange.
If we look at the question Gillhouse posed, it’s simple enough. What percentage of the daily profit share paid out comes from the recruiting of new Zeek Rewards affiliates?
Troy Dooly immediately jumps in and claims that ‘no network marketing company pays out from the acquisition of affiliates, period’. He also claims that there is a compliance issue in Wright-Olivares answering the posed question.
But is there?
The question itself only has two answers, a percentage number or ‘none’. By Dooly’s own admission the answer should universally be ‘none’, yet at the same time he claims that Zeek Rewards merely answering this question would place them out of compliance.
Is it just me or is Dooly suggesting that by refusing to answer the question on the grounds it proves Zeek Rewards is out of compliance, that the act of not answering the question makes it compliant?!
If I steal a car and then refuse to answer someone publicly asking me if I stole the car, that doesn’t mean I didn’t steal the car.
Looking at Zeek Rewards’ business model, as far as new affiliates go they are wholly able to sign up, pay membership and buy VIP bids – the revenue of both which then make their way into the daily profit pool and is redistributed amongst existing members, dependant on how much money they themselves have invested into the scheme with the purchase of VIP bids (turned into VIP points) themselves.
Use whatever terminology you want, effectively that’s what happens.
By Dooly’s own admission then, either Zeek Rewards isn’t a network marketing company… or they’re simply not compliant (I refuse to submit to the logic that refusing to answer the question equates to compliance). Even 0.1% of new member’s financial contributions to the company (via membership fees or VIP bid purchases) would make them non-compliant.
Of course keep in mind that you can sign up as a free member… but at the end of 60 days you then need to make ongoing membership payments if you wish to continue to participate in the daily profit share (you can’t cash out in the profit share until you pay for membership).
Rather than answer the question (or let Dawn Wright-Olivares answer it), Dooly closes by accusing Gillhouse of asking a ‘set-up question’. This then sets the tone for the remaining 60 minutes of broadcast time with Gillhouse noticeably restrained and awkward when putting further questions to Dawn
Olivares does eventually find her voice, but suggests that questions like ‘how much money that new members pay to the company is then paid out to existing members’ should be answered by Zeek Reward’s lawyers (26:30).
With the shutdown of what is easily the most important question put forth to Zeek Rewards in an official capacity to date and Gillhouse seemingly restrained from pursuing any similar questions, the bulk of the rest of the broadcast deteriorates into a familiar PR exercise with both Olivares and Dooly singing Zeek Rewards’ praises. Any criticism raised by Gillhouse is dismissed due to company growth (in one exchange Wright-Olivares even fires off a sarcastic quip to Gillhouse asking if Zeek Rewards should have launched with a support field as large as American Airlines’ (52:30)).
Before Dooly and Dawn completely drown him out with PR though, Gillhouse does make mention of an affiliate rewards member who personally called him and told him she was very happy making earning a $2000 daily return on her initial investment.
Rather than address the fact that functionally this is the case with many of Zeek Rewards’ top affiliates, Wright-Olivares buries her head in the sand and complains about the affiliate’s lack of compliance, threatening to terminate the affiliate should her Zeek Rewards username be handed over to her.
It’s all very well to terminate people for speaking about their investment in Zeek Rewards and the daily returns they earn via the profit share… but let’s be honest here, at the end of the day it’s not in the slightest changing the mechanics of the opportunity now is it.
If I joined Zeek Rewards before March 2012, I could have invested an initial principal for VIP bids, paid Zeek Rewards for customers, set the distribution of VIP bids to paid-for customers on auto-pilot via my company backoffice, paid a third-party to publish a daily advertisement on a free classified site nobody reads and again through my backoffice automated my re-investments and daily cash out.
If I joined after March 2012, the only difference with the above methodology is that I’d be paying a third-party for Zeek Rewards customers to dump my purchased bids on, rather than Zeek Rewards directly.
Or I could of course just create fake customers myself, with Zeek Rewards requiring nothing more than an email address for each customer created.
With that level of automation, how on Earth is Zeek Rewards not a passive investment scheme?
Of course take into consideration there’s no outside money and describe the above for what it is, a Ponzi scheme, and Zeek Rewards will readily terminate your account and accuse you of non-compliance.
…well, not really.
So long as they keep quiet about it, Zeek Rewards’ affiliates are easily able to set their daily investment returns on autopilot as above.
Gillhouse also tries to get an answer on the penny auctions asking multiple times how much money the company makes on an auction vs. what they pay out, but in the end gets a rather vague answer from Olivares that doesn’t really answer the question (she talks about how much money the winner spent, rather than those that lost as a cumulative sum).
She does start to answer the question (by mentioning the 20% referral commissions and matching VIP points Zeek pay out on for each retail bid purchased (49:00)) but then conveniently cuts out of the broadcast before she can finish her answer.
In Wright- Olivares absence, Dooly then attempts deflects the question by portraying Gillhouse’s question as an (anti) “capitalist question”, berating people who “worry or care about how much money a company is making” (49:30).
Finally, towards the end of the broadcast some pertinent information regarding Zeek Rewards’ recent bank problems is elaborated on, with Wright-Olivares confirming that Zeek’s previous US-based local banks (New Bridge Bank and BB & T) severed their ties with the company.
Whilst checks have not been issued these past few weeks and Zeek Rewards have been requesting their members wholly switch over to e-wallet solutions, the company has just now in the last few hours put out a press release claiming their banking issues have been solved:
We have resolved our banking issues, deposits are in the process of being made and the backlog should be cleared up and your certified funds credited within the next 7 to 10 days.
Meanwhile Zeek Rewards make no mention of who their new bank(s) is/are, or whether they are based in the US or are located offshore. Nor is there any mention of whether or not the company will be resuming the currently suspended issuing of payment checks through their new banking channels.
All in all any public discourse and discussion on Zeek Rewards is welcome and despite the issues raised in this article, I’d like to personally thank Gillhouse, Dooly and Wright-Olivares for setting aside the time to record the 86 minute broadcast.
The Dawn Olivares interview on Aces Radio Live aired Friday the 8th June 2012 and can be heard in its entirety below: