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Rippln Investigation: Is It A MLM Pyramid Scheme Scam?

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LATEST UPDATE: Its been 7 months and I called this out right. This website BehindMLM.com has put up a list of Rippln issues that you should really read. Quoted below it includes:

“Rippln’s progress as an MLM company thus far is follows:
- announce an obvious recruitment-driven pyramid scheme business model
- retract model and tell people they can earn by sharing apps, make big promises about the Rippln Communicator app
- do nothing but miss deadline after deadline for months
- obtain a consignment of bluetooth watches and offer a commission on the sale of said watches
- launch one or two apps on the iOS platform only, promise Android but never deliver
- rehash a personal development course one of your executive staff authored and charge $500 or so for it
- partner up with a third-party company and offer commissions on the download of a handful of apps, charge affiliates hundreds of dollars to participate
- drown in a sea of complaints when most of your affiliate base realise said third-party company offers no apps in their region

And that brings us to today. There’s still no Rippln Communicator app, despite CEO Brian Underwood announcing it was ‘slated for submission to Apple on October 15th‘, and most of Rippln affiliates are stuck paying monthly fees with nothing to show for it.”

UPDATE: Emails have been forwarded to me that show its very hard to get away from Rippln which is one concern we had once you give your information to their list. Things are not free if your email gets filled with spam and your name sold to marketers all over. In the below graphic instead of deleting peoples accounts they said they would have to re-ask to verify which is BS. Unsubscribe requests should be honored and are a violation of spam rules. The emails show that 3 requests to be deleted from Rippln werent honored as they repeatedly sent the same request and got the same email. The 4th email comes as spam from: Mike Ruffles drizzlemarketing.com asking the user to join Rippln. Clearly email lists are being passed around. Does that sound ethical to you? If you’d like to file a complaint against Rippln you can do so clicking at: FTCcomplaintassistant.gov
rippln delete

Latest UPDATE: 4/25 Rippln now says you can delete their account at anytime by sending a quick email to support@rippln.com

UPDATE: Social Media FAIL. Rippln not answered my latest questions and instead people are personally attacking me on their Channels. For a company that claims to be the next social and open network, its not very open or social as we expect out of companies nowadays. Whats to hide? All we’ve asked is questions? In social media we expect companies to be transparent or they fail “social.” If they claim to be the next great social media thing why arent they being socially transparent as we expect? Will this make the 2013 top social media fail lists?

Questions: With their website you dont find out its an MLM until AFTER you have invited your friends. Was this setup as a “bait and switch” app luring users to add themselves and 5 friends thinking its a harmless fun social app only to find out after its an MLM Scheme. Was the motive here to build a huge List of emails to try to push into MLM? Why is there no MLM disclosure?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lp2KkmpAWf4
The other big question is will Apple even let the app into the App Store as a bait and switch MLM app. Right now you have to download it off the web. How will they be the next Facebook App if they cant/wont/will get kicked out of the App Store?

Strangly after my post Techcrunch posted almost the same thing I did in video – but they are asking the same questions:
http://techcrunch.com/2013/04/22/what-not-to-do-in-your-startup-promo-video/

UPDATE: Heres their next mode of silliness. Its reported that people talking negatively about Rippln are being banned off their Facebook Fan Page. Social Media Fail. Also in the latest silly newsletter they compare their income potential to Clash of Clans a top App.

Their newsletter says: “The math breaks down to something like this:
“Clash of Clans” Company = $1,000,000 per day “Apple” = $300,000 per day (at 30%) “Players who SHARE the game” = $0

Does anyone else see an odd relationship with the way things currently are? Imagine if the Ripple introduces a game like “Clash of Clans” (which would bring the ripple about $1,000,000 per day, or 365 Million in a year…from…a…game).”

My response: “To Jonathon Budd your Clash of Clans hypothesis its the silliest thing I’ve ever heard. The reason its successful is its in IN THE APP STORE and has the potential to have like I dont know 100 million people potentially to download it. Any MLM app Rippln makes will likely NEVER get into the Apple App store with its Apples rules. If it gets in, MLM complaints will get it kicked out. At best you might get what 1/2 a million MLMers jerking each others chain on the Private Download App, hell lets say a million. Thats a far cry from the 10′s of millions who make apps successful in the App Store. Which mean you’ll in NO WAY EVER achieve that income volume, not even close. The odds of you getting a successful app are millions to one also. This is horribly blue sky misleading.”

So we finally got an answer from Rippln. We sent them new questions which we’ll post when they answer. Again we’re not calling them a scam but asking some questions.
Me: Why can one not delete their account once they are signed up?
Rippln: They can delete their account at anytime by sending a quick email to support@rippln.com
Me: Why isnt that stated some where or more obvious?

Me: Why are there no terms of service and privacy?
Rippln: We are in pre-game mode and are not accepting payment so the Policies and Procedures have not yet been posted or released. Once we officially go live, all of this information will be available on our corporate website.
Me: I’m still giving you my email, contract and information – how do I know that it is not being sold or used for other purposes – without a Privacy policy I dont know what your doing with my information or how its protected.

Me: Why is there no contact help inside of Rippln?
Rippln: Rippln has a large customer service team that are working around the clock, 7 days a week. Please send all inquires to support@rippln.com for assistance.
Me: How come that isnt displayed prominently somewhere, we had to dig around to find it.

Me: Why is your address a police station?
Rippln: Can you please tell me where you are seeing this address?
Me: Its the address on the NDA contract – google it.

Me: Where is Rippln legally registered as a business?
Rippln: Dallas, Texas

Me: We’ve seen all the videos – how is it not an illegal pyramid scheme?
Rippln: 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 is certainly pushing the limits on creativity. Such creativity will always be met with skepticism. Until fully developed, new ideas are not easily conveyed so that everyone can understand the full picture. We admit the Rippln is no different. However, Rippln has a corporate team that have worked with independent contractors and distributors for years. It is back my a team with great credentials who have all also put their reputations on the line for this concept. That includes an accounting, legal, marketing, and programming team with years of experience.
Me: Why is it misleading and presented as an app when its really an MLM. “Pushing the limits on creativity” on an MLM that sounds like a legal quagmire?

Rippln: At this stage of the rollout, invite your friends and family. 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? Getting in your ripple as a fan is free. Join, and watch the concept grow. 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 invest a single dollar. Bottom line, no it’s not a scam. It is an idea that is being brought to reality. One in which many people believe in.

Me: Why is the presentation deceptive and misleading?
Rippln: I am not sure how you can feel that our videos are deceptive and misleading.
Me: In the videos you portray that you will go viral, be on the news – be the next facebook or twitter, that I can be like a stockholder in Facebook and get rich like they did. This is an app, I dont own stock in – thats deceptive. Also again you portray it as an app while clearly only after someone invites 5 friends do you start telling them you are really an MLM. Thats deceptive.

We’ll update you with their answers when they come forth (Its been more than a week they havent replied again.)