Viridian Review: Potentially overpriced utilities & travel savings
Viridian operate in the travel and utility MLM niches.
The company is based out of Connecticut in the US and was founded by Michael Fallquist.
Fallquist is the former COO of Commerce Energy and founded Viridian in 2009.
Today Fallquist is CEO of Crius Energy, cited as a “strategic partner” of Viridian. Viridian itself is headed up by CEO Paul Booth (right).
According to Booth’s Viridian corporate bio, he has
over 30 years of network marketing experience as both a successful distributor and key executive in multiple network marketing startups.
In addition to his Viridian position, Booth is also founder and CEO of Data Paradigm Inc.
(DPI is) a nationally renowned network marketing advisor and compensation plan designer.
DPI’s systems currently support multiple companies with hundreds of thousands of distributors and gross sales well over $1 billion annually.
Amid some positive experiences from DPI staff, I noted some GlassDoor reviews of DPI explicitly suggested problems with Booth’s style of management.
- “Had potential… just CEO is a type A monster”
- “As long as you don’t ever disagree with the CEO, you’ll do great!”
- “Great talent, very poor leadership”
In 2012 the state of Maryland fined Viridian $60,000 for “false and deceptive marketing practices.”
In 2015 Connecticut’s Public Utilities Regulatory authority announced it was reviewing Viridian’s contracts, contract renewal, customer notification and enrollment procedures.
Also in Maryland, a class-action lawsuit was filed against Viridian and it’s parent company, Crius Energy.
The suit claims Viridian uses a “fraudulent and deceptive bait-and-switch sales model” and that Viridian associates “form a retail pyramid” that yielded the company a 30 percent profit margin in 2014, to the tune of $33.7 million.
As of December 2017, that lawsuit is ongoing. A Status Conference report filed October 18th, 2017, reveals settlement negotiations between the parties are ongoing.
Truth In Advertising reference a February 2017 Consolidated Class Action Complaint, which accuses Viridian Energy of
deceptively advertis(ing) low initial rates for energy followed by variable rate plans that are tied to the market rate when, according to plaintiffs, customers end up paying four, five, or six times more for their energy.
This is a combination of three separate class-action lawsuits, which were combined into the Maryland class-action referenced above.
Read on for a full review of the Viridian MLM opportunity.
Viridian offer residential and business utility services (electricity, natural gas and solar), as well as access to a travel-booking engine.
Details on utilities are based on where a potential customer resides, with pricing not provided unless a customer signs up and provides Viridian with personal information.
Access to Viridian’s Travel Light booking engine costs $99 and then $39.99 a month.
TravelLight can be used to book “hotels, cars, cruises, activities & more”.
The Viridian website does mention a “Travel Light 4 Free” option but fails to go into further detail.
The Viridian Compensation Plan
The Viridian compensation plan combines direct commissions with residuals paid out via a binary team.
A generation based matching bonus is also available, as well as additional performance-based bonuses.
Viridian Affiliate Ranks
There are fifteen affiliate ranks within the Viridian compensation plan.
Along with their respective qualification criteria, they are as follows:
- Associate – sign up as a Viridian affiliate
- Active Associate – be MLM commission qualified (see below)
- Senior Associate – generate 40 PV a month and recruit and maintain at least one MLM commission qualified affiliate on both sides of your binary team
- Consultant – generate 70 PV a month and maintain at least one MLM commission qualified affiliate on both sides of your binary team
- Senior Consultant – generate 100 PV a month, recruit and maintain at least two MLM commission qualified affiliates on both sides of your binary team and generate and maintain at least 140 GV in weaker binary side volume over a rolling 4 week period
- Executive Consultant – generate 130 PV a month, maintain at least two MLM commission qualified affiliates on both sides of your binary team and generate and maintain at least 250 GV in weaker binary side volume over a rolling 4 week period
- Director – generate 160 PV a month, recruit and maintain at least three MLM commission qualified affiliates on both sides of your binary team (three must be Consultant or higher ranked) and generate and maintain at least 500 GV in weaker binary side volume over a rolling 4 week period
- Senior Director – generate 190 PV a month, maintain at least three MLM commission qualified affiliates on both sides of your binary team (four must be Consultant or higher ranked) and generate and maintain at least 1000 GV in weaker binary side volume over a rolling 4 week period
- Executive Director – generate 220 PV a month, recruit and maintain at least four MLM commission qualified affiliates on both sides of your binary team (five must be Consultant or higher ranked) and generate and maintain at least 2000 GV in weaker binary side volume over a rolling 4 week period
- Partner – generate 265 PV a month, maintain at least four MLM commission qualified affiliates on both sides of your binary team (three must be Director or higher ranked) and generate and maintain at least 5000 GV in weaker binary side volume over a rolling 4 week period
- Platinum Partner – generate 310 PV a month, recruit and maintain at least five MLM commission qualified affiliates on both sides of your binary team (four must be Director or higher ranked) and generate and maintain at least 10,000 GV in weaker binary side volume over a rolling 4 week period
- Diamond Partner – generate 355 PV a month, maintain at least five MLM commission qualified affiliates on both sides of your binary team (five must be Director or higher ranked) and generate and maintain at least 20,000 GV in weaker binary side volume over a rolling 4 week period
- Ambassador – generate 400 PV a month, recruit and maintain at least six MLM commission qualified affiliates on both sides of your binary team (three must be Partner or higher ranked) and generate and maintain at least 50,000 GV in weaker binary side volume over a rolling 4 week period
- Platinum Ambassador – generate 450 PV a month, maintain at least six MLM commission qualified affiliates on both sides of your binary team (four must be Partner or higher ranked) and generate and maintain at least 100,000 GV in weaker binary side volume over a rolling 4 week period
- Diamond Ambassador – generate 500 PV a month, recruit and maintain at least seven MLM commission qualified affiliates on both sides of your binary team (five must be Partner or higher ranked) and generate and maintain at least 200,000 GV in weaker binary side volume over a rolling 4 week period
MLM Commission Qualification
To qualify for MLM commissions a Viridian affiliate must be “active”.
Active qualification requires a Viridian affiliate to generate 15 PV a month.
PV is generated via the purchase and sale of Viridian’s services:
- Travel Light memberships (includes an affiliate’s own membership) = 15 PV
- new energy account = 5 PV
- solar installation (US) = 5 PV
- new green energy account = 1 PV
- Travel Light savings = 15% of generated savings (counted every 4 weeks)
- affiliate website = 25 PV
- each personally recruited MLM commission affiliate = 15 PV
Direct Service Commissions
Viridian appear to bundle retail and recruited affiliate direct service commissions.
That is to say the same commission is paid out on a service subscription regardless of whether the subscriber is a retail customer or recruited affiliate.
Quoted commission rates in the Viridian compensation plan for available services are as follows:
- residential or small commercial energy account – $30 plus $10 to the first qualified upline
- large commercial energy account 75% GV generated via usage
- Travel Light Membership – $50
- savings generated through Travel Light engine – 10% to 80% match
- residential solar installation (US) – $1000 plus $50 to the first qualified upline
Commercial solar installations pay a one-time commission based on 75% of $50 per kw of the final installation system.
Note that upline commissions require MLM commission qualification.
If a new Viridian affiliate qualifies for MLM commissions within their first 28 days and recruits two affiliates who do the same, they are paid a $100 “Trio Bonus”.
A $50 commission is paid to the first MLM commission qualified upline affiliate.
Residual Commission Volume
Viridian pay residual commissions based on generated sales volume.
Corresponding sales volume based on the sale of Viridian services is as follows:
- Trio Bonus = 25 GV (one-time)
- new energy account = 5 GV (one-time)
- residential monthly energy bill payments = 0.5% of usage in GV
- commercial monthly energy bill payments = 25% of usage in GV
- Travel Light initial membership = 15 GV (one-time)
- Travel Light monthly membership fees = 15 GV
- Travel Light savings = 15% to 30% of savings in GV
- residential solar installation (US) = 100 GV (one-time)
- residential solar monthly payments = “based on system size, 20 years”
- commercial solar installation (US) = “25% of deal value”, total is paid weekly across 52 weeks
- green energy bill payments = 1 GV per bill paid
Viridian pay residual commissions via a binary compensation structure.
A binary compensation structure places an affiliate at the top of a binary team, split into two sides (left and right):
The first level of the binary team houses two positions. The second level of the binary team is generated by splitting these first two positions into another two positions each (4 positions).
Subsequent levels of the binary team are generated as required, with each new level housing twice as many positions as the previous level.
Positions in the binary team are filled via direct and indirect recruitment of affiliates. Note there is no limit to how deep a binary team can grow.
Residual commissions are based on generated binary team sales volume.
At the end of each week Viridian tally up sales volume on both sides of the binary.
An affiliate is paid 15% of matched volume generated on the weaker binary side (the side with less volume), up to a maximum weekly amount determined by rank:
- MLM commission qualified affiliate = $500
- Consultant ranks = $1000
- Director ranks = $5000
- Partner = $10,000
- Platinum Partner = $15,000
- Diamond Partner = $20,000
- Ambassador = $35,000
- Platinum Ambassador = $50,000
- Diamond Ambassador = $100,000
Leftover volume on the stronger binary side is carried over the following week.
How much volume can be carried over is again determined by rank:
- MLM commission qualified affiliate and Consultant ranks = up to 5000 GV
- Director ranks = up to 10,000 GV
- Partner, Platinum and Diamond ranks = 20,000 GV
- Ambassador and higher ranks = no limit
Check Match Bonus
Viridian pay a Check Match Bonus on residual commissions paid to downline affiliates.
Senior Associate and higher ranked affiliates receive a 10% match on residual commissions paid to personally recruited affiliates.
Consultant and higher ranked affiliates earn a residual Check Match Bonus.
Viridian pay the residual Check Match Bonus out via a unilevel 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 level 1 affiliates recruit new affiliates, they are placed on level 2 of the original affiliate’s 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 infinite number of levels.
The residual Check Match Bonus is paid out based on generations.
Viridian define a generation in a unilevel leg based on the amount of Consultant or higher ranked affiliates in it.
When a Consultant or higher ranked affiliate is found in a unilevel leg, they cap off the first generation for that leg.
The second generation begins immediately after them, and is capped off when another Consultant or higher ranked affiliate is found in the leg.
If no such affiliate exists, the second generation extends down the full depth of the leg.
Note that generations in a unilevel leg are defined independently of the rest of the unilevel team legs.
Based on this generational structure within a unilevel team, Viridian pay the Consultant and higher ranked affiliates a residual Check Match Bonus on up to five generations per leg:
- Consultants earn 2% on the first generation
- Senior Consultants earn 4% on the first generation
- Executive Consultants earn 6% on the first generation
- Directors earn 9% on the first generation
- Senior Directors earn 12% on the first generation
- Executive Directors earn 15% on the first generation
- Partners earn 17% on the first generation and 2% on the second
- Platinum Partners earn 19% on the first generation and 4% on the second
- Diamond Partners earn 21% on the first generation and 6% on the second
- Ambassadors earn 22% on the first generation, 7% on the second generation and 1% on the third
- Platinum Ambassadors earn 23% on the first generation, 8% on the second, 2% on the third and 1% on the fourth
- Diamond Ambassadors earn 24% on the first generation, 9% on the second, 3% on the third, 2% on the fourth and 1% on the fifth
Rank Achievement Bonus
When an affiliate qualifies at the Director and higher ranks, Viridian pays them a one-time Rank Achievement Bonus:
- Director – $500
- Senior Director – $1000
- Executive Director – $2000
- Partner – $5000
- Platinum Partner – $10,000
- Diamond Partner – $20,000
- Ambassador – $50,000
- Platinum Ambassador – $100,000
- Diamond Ambassador – $200,000
The Director Bonus is paid at $250 over two months.
Senior Director and higher affiliates are paid 10% of the corresponding Rank Achievement Bonus each month for ten months (rank must be maintained).
Provided details on Viridian’s Promotional Pay are pretty non-specific:
From industry leading global mission trips, to fun and relaxing incentive trips, to short-term cash promos, to recognition contests, Viridian offers you many ways to increase your earnings, expand your opportunity and experience the joys of owning your own business—all while seeing the world, and changing the world.
A Viridian trip is truly a life-changing experience.
You’ll find yourself rolling up your sleeves and helping a community on a high-impact service project, experiencing a rush of adrenaline on an exhilarating adventure, or just enjoying a life of luxury and relaxation at a world-renowned resort.
Often, you’ll do all of these things on the very same trip!
Captioned photos in the Viridian compensation plan suggest the Promotional Pay is an annual event differs from year to year.
Viridian affiliate membership is $299.
An affiliate can also opt to sign up with Travel Light membership for $249, which MLM commission qualifies an affiliate (as long as they continue to pay $39.99 a month for Travel Light membership).
The Viridian website claims the $249 membership is a “limited time offer”. How long Viridian have offered the $249 membership however is unclear.
Additionally, Viridian affiliates are able to purchase up to three compensation plan positions (binary team).
Every newly enrolling Viridian Associate will have an opportunity during their initial enrollment to create their Associate account with 1 business unit or 3 business units.
Three business units is a great way to leverage your Viridian income since you can significantly increase your income potential on your future efforts within your Binary
This presumably adds to the initial cost of Viridian affiliate membership, however no pricing is provided.
Note that the Viridian compensation plan also mentions a Personal Website Subscription.
This appears to be an ongoing cost tied to certain commissions.
Despite searching I was unable to ascertain how much Viridian charge for a Personal Website Subscription.
Viridian marketing material suggests the website fee is essentially mandatory, as it includes a replicated Viridian, Travel Light, and solar power marketing website.
A Personal Website Subscription is also required for access to the Viridian’s Catalyst mobile app;
Easily share tools, training, videos, social media shareables and more with prospects and customers directly from your phone. Send a custom link in seconds that connects back to your marketing page.
Utilities based MLM companies typically have extremely complex compensation plans due to the varying providers and rates tied to the locale of subscribed services.
Viridian avoids this pitfall with a pretty straight-forward compensation offering.
A good deal of volume generated is non-specific based on utility usage, but percentages of used volume are universal (often percentages differ based on provider and this can get confusing fast).
As to the utilities themselves, it’s hard to ignore three class-action lawsuits and regulatory action pertaining to Viridian’s pricing.
That the class-action lawsuits appear to have been filed by affiliates suggests there might be an issue with the retail viability of Viridian’s utilities offering. More on that in a bit.
With respect to the Travel Light booking engine, I didn’t see anything out of the ordinary here. This appears to be a regular travel MLM offering.
At $99 and then $39.99 a month you’re looking at having to recover just shy of $540 in the first year and $479 every year thereafter.
The trap here is travel might be booked just to recover the ongoing membership spend, leading to sunk cost fallacy versus actual savings.
Travel Light also appears to be Viridian’s defacto monthly autoship option. Although entirely optional, it’s probably not a coincidence that 15 PV is both the minimum for MLM commission qualification and how much an affiliate’s Travel Light monthly fee generates.
While you are not required to be a Viridian customer, we strongly recommend you begin using the products yourself and create your own testimonials!
The Trio Bonus puts a deadline on generating 15 PV a month and recruiting two others who do the same, and I believe this will be the reason most, if not all Viridian affiliates will have Travel Light membership.
That in itself isn’t a problem, but there might be an issue if there’s a distinct lack of retail Travel Light memberships being sold and maintained.
Unless you sell thousands of Travel Light memberships though, the big money is in Viridian’s utilities offering – in particular commercial accounts.
Realistically companies with energy accounts large enough to matter likely already have a relationship with their provider, so this definitely going to be a tough market to break into. Energy is already competitive, commercial energy even more so (as evidenced by the difference Viridian pays between residual and commercial energy accounts).
While initially a Viridian affiliate might be able to solely self-qualify for MLM commissions, PV doesn’t let up as they increase in rank.
With relatively low PV values generated per individual spend, the idea is obviously that sales beyond an affiliate’s own purchases are required.
It’s just a shame this isn’t instilled from the beginning, so as to guarantee new Viridian affiliates are retail customer focused from the get go.
Two points I particularly took issue with in Viridian’s compensation plan were the Personal Website Subscription fee and ability to purchase additional business centers.
The Personal Website Subscription fee appears to be a monthly affiliate fee packaged as some sort of exclusive web service.
An MLM company should be providing basic marketing tools to affiliates as part of their membership. If Viridian wish to charge for than fine, but don’t pretend not having basic business tools is a choice for anyone serious about building an MLM business.
Call it what it is, a monthly affiliate fee, and be done with it.
The ability for a Viridian affiliate to purchase additional business centers is perhaps the biggest compensatory red-flag.
To recap, a new Viridian affiliate is able to purchase up to two additional business centers when they sign up.
This option is only available upon initially signing up, requiring a new affiliate to pay more to earn more without potentially understanding what they are paying for.
The sole qualifying factor here is money paid by the affiliate, which as far as regulation goes is an unmistakable example of “pay to play”.
I’m not a fan of additional compensatory positions but I understand why they exist. If a top affiliate has maxed out the compensation plan, rather than continue to increase the ceiling of the plan, additional business centers can keep leaders working on directly building their business.
The key word there is “top leader”, as I believe these are the only affiliates who require additional centers. Certainly additional centers should not be pitched to new affiliates as a means of increasing income potential, for doing nothing more than paying more money.
I get the feeling Viridian are hedging their bets here, knowing full well that most affiliates aren’t going to be taking advantage of the additional centers.
According to Viridian’s latest Earnings Disclosure Statement (May 2016 – April 2017), 88% of affiliates were making $124 or less a month.
Interestingly of the total Viridian affiliate-base, 61% don’t qualify for MLM commissions at all.
I’m not too sure what the story is there, considering 15 PV is all that’s required to be a “Qualified Associate”.
As a prospective Viridian affiliate, I’d be wanting to ascertain whether my potential upline actually has retail customers (preferably utilities customers, as commissions are more stable with a regular monthly bill).
The first thing you can ask is if the affiliate qualified for the Trio Bonus. And if they did, was it through their own Travel Light membership purchase and the same of those they recruited, or did they actually sell utilities?
Beyond that you can ask them what rank they are, match that with the corresponding PV and ask how they’re generating that each month.
If it’s downline affiliate volume and their on service subscriptions, that’s an indication that Viridian’s offering might not be competitive enough in a retail environment.
This is important because without significant retail sales, an MLM company is operating as a pyramid scheme.
I’m trying not to read too much into the Viridian class-action lawsuit until it’s resolved (or more likely settled it seems), but it’s certainly hard to ignore.
Approach with caution.
Update 6th December 2017 – Unknown to me at the time this review was published, Viridian today announced it will be abandoning its MLM operations as of March, 2018.