TVIExpress.com Scam: "Warren Buffett owns TVI Express" and 6 other Lies it and its Members are Telling
Founded on Lies and Vagueness
TVI Express claims to be an international conglomerate "touching lives globally". However, with some simple investigation, you will find that TVI Express is an international scam that is founded on lies and vagueness. Furthermore, it has continued to lie, and allow members to lie for them. Their business practice is a pyramid scheme cloaked in buzzwords, disguised by a product you are NOT required to sell, and gives so-called benefits that are available free elsewhere. It is being investigated by authorities across multiple continents. It is a scam of international proportions.
In this article, you will lean how TVI Express have lied about what it does, its location, its connections within the industry, and more. TVI Express has so far allowed members to lie for them, and did nothing to combat the false information perpetuated by members. Furthermore, TVI Express thus far has refused to answer any questions regarding their compliance with laws in European Union, the US, and other countries regarding pyramid schemes (and banning of such), These are NOT the ways a reputable and legitimate company would operate.
I am not a lawyer, nor do I study law. Thus, I cannot vouch for the interpretation of the laws mentioned. This article is my opinion, based on the interpretation of the evidence I have found, and because they all have evidence supporting them, they cannot be construed as slander or defamation.
So what exactly is a scam? A scam is an act of depriving someone (usually of money or possession) by deceit/deception. You will find that TVI Express has deceived the public for over a year, by creating the illusion that they are far more legitimate than they actually are.
Any way, let us first examine the seven lies that TVI Express themselves have told. Then we will explore what lies have TVI Express allow their distributors to tell, and finally, how the world is reacting to this scam. And the world is reacting. United States, following Australia and China, have issued legal orders and prosecution against TVI Express, while other countries are investigating.
A Sherlock Holmes Story
Does any one read Sherlock Holmes? The classic tales by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, not the movies. You may have came across "The Red-Headed League". It is a story that has particular significance to this topic.
in the story, a man was employed by supposedly "The Red-Headed League", to do nothing. Sherlock Holmes looked through the evidence, and determined that the whole thing was simply a ploy to get the man out of his house, so a team of burglars can dig through the man's house and steal from the Bank of London's underground vault. It is a distraction.
And that is what you have here: what TVI Express supporters call a "product" is a gimmick to disguise the fact that there really is no product. Also, keep in mind that they use the term 'travel' rather broadly. They can refer to either of two things: the "certificate" you get with the distributorship, OR the backoffice, which is just a custom-branded version of Travelocity (which is actually FREE to use). If you try to ask them which one is the product, they will not give you a straight answer.
TVI Express Lie #1: it is a direct selling company
VI Express claims to be "next big giant in the direct selling industry" (ref 1).Yet its own FAQ says "You don’t need to sell any products." (ref 2) That simply makes no sense at all.
UPDATE: TVI Express have in late May 2011 removed "You don't need to sell any products" from their own FAQ. However, TVI Express has yet to explain what product does it expect its "distributors" to distribute. Furthermore, this FAQ item can still be found on various TVI Express "member" websites.
So what does TVI Express sell? TVI Express itself is remarkably VAGUE about what it does sell. It just mumbles something about combining travel and Internet and network marketing. Even its members are not exactly sure what is the product. Some will claim the "7-day 6-night accommodations (which you get with the $250 membership, but you need to pay another $150 to redeem)" is the product. Others say the "back office", where you access a travel portal powered by Travelocity, is the product. However, both alleged products offer little benefit of substance. The former is not a retail product, because it is from TVI Express to member, and was NOT retailed. The latter is available for FREE on Travelocity.com, and again, is from TVI Express to member, not a product sold to outside. So what is the product of TVI Express?
That becomes clear when you read the FAQ a bit further: it requires you to recruit two more people, and teach each how to recruit two more people. (ref 3). The only thing TVI Express requires you to sell is itself. There may be something else that you can sell, but it is irrelevant, because you are NOT required to sell ANY of it. And with no sales, it cannot be a "direct selling" company.
UPDATE: TVI Express have also removed this item from its own FAQ. However, its compensation plan states clearly that you can only "cycle out" by filling the two "boards" with recruits. Again, the item can still be found on various "member" websites.
Many TVI Express distributors (yes, that's what TVI Express calls its members) (ref 4) will claim that TVI Express *does* have a product, and it is travel. However, when a distributor are NOT required to sell any of the product, having a product is irrelevant. Why would you hire a salesperson, and tell him that he does not have to sell anything? It is obvious that he is not really a salesperson at all! (See the "Sherlock Holmes story" sidebar) Even now, with the revised FAQ, more than two years later, TVI Express still refused to tell us what is its "product". In fact, it has NO PRODUCT PAGE OR SECTION on its own website.
TVI Express has no 'consumable product or service' that you must sell to consumers to make money, but promises you to earn big money by recruiting, it is a pyramid scheme.
Some TVI Express distributors claim that the product is the membership itself. They are deliberately ignoring the fact that no "club" would REQUIRE you to recruit more people, and pay you BIG MONEY for it, but have no sales to outside customers. Only pyramid schemes do that. Real clubs provide real benefits to members. TVI Express provide benefits that cost additional money to redeem, all the hotels are near India, and a travel portal that is available for FREE. It has no real benefits to members, other than to qualify for $10000, if you refer about 200+ people.
TVI Express has engaged in deliberate deception and obfuscation of its own business. However, once you pierce the cloak, you will find that the only product you are required to sell it itself, and that basically means TVI Express requires you to assimilate others, like the Borg (in Star Trek: The Next Generation), so they can go assimilate yet other people. That is the very definition of a pyramid scheme.
Remember, a scam is an act of depriving you of your money by deception. When a company cannot even tell you what exact it sells, but states outright you have to join by paying, then you don't need to sell any product, but you do have to recruit, you are being scammed.
Ref 1 -- cited from http://www.tviexpress.com/index.php
Ref 2 -- cited from http://www.tviexpress.com/faq.php#2 (link no longer available)
Ref 3 -- cited from http://www.tviexpress.com/faq.php#4 (link no longer available)
Ref 4 -- cited from http://www.tviexpress.com/index.php, look in lower right corner
TVI Express Lie #2: it is headquartered in London, UK
TVI Express claims to be a "leading multi-national conglomerate headquartered in London, UK". (ref 5). However, its own "contact us" page shows only one office in UK (ref 6), which is at
1 Furzeground Way, Stockley Park
Heathrow UB11 1BD
UPDATE: Sometime in 2011, TVI Express removed "in London, UK". It now only admits to being an international conglomerate". However, why does TVI Express use "London UK" phone number (country code 44, London prefix) if it no longer admits to being in London? And why does its own webpage says "current time in London"?
If you put in that address into Google Maps, it will correct it for you. The real address is 1 Furzeground Way, Stockley Park, Uxbridge, Middlesex, UK
If you click on the "Directions" link, then enter London as origin, you'll find that the address is NOT in London, but over 15 miles from center of London (link to Google Map). At best, it's in a suburb of London, but NOT within London city limits.Thus, TVI Express is NOT headquartered in London, UK, and they lied. (This lie was finally fixed up in 2011, without explaining why did they lied for TWO YEARS.)
Furthermore, switch to satellite view (not the Streetview, as Streetview does NOT have views of Furzeground Way), and you'll find a label called "Regus" at that address. A screenshot of the location is provided. That building is too big to house TVI Express only. Yet there is no room number, no floor number, and such, in the address. That listing is often claimed by some TVI Express distributors as "proof" that the listing was "verified by Google". However, if you read that page, you will find that the page is "owner-verified". In other words, TVI Express can write whatever they want in there. Even the photo of the building was "provided by owner".
If you perform an advanced search, on the same screen (click on advanced search, next to the search button) and search for businesses, you'll find 35 businesses near that address. Some are across the street, but AT LEAST A DOZEN MORE businesses share that exact same address with TVI Express at the Uxbridge location, no room number, no floor number. Some examples are:
Excelium Umbrella Services
and many more.
Regus, a virtual office provider (click on the link to learn about the services they provide), is in the building, according to Google Maps. Thus, it is almost certain that this location is a virtual office, with no personnel. In fact, as the screenshot shows, Regus ONLY OFFERS VIRTUAL OFFICE TO RENT at the Uxbridge location.
TVI Express has lied about its headquarter before. A similar analysis was done with their previous address within London city limits, the Marble Arch Tower address. That address had the same problem: no room number, no floor number. It is certainly another virtual office.
Furthermore, if you apply the same analysis technique to their Cyprus address, you will find at least three other businesses sharing the exact same location, which makes that location certainly ANOTHER virtual office. Furthermore, a phone number for the Cyprus office was never published.
That only leaves the office(s) in India at a real office. Indeed, TVI Express website now shows a number for India in addition to the main number.
Recently TVI Express allegedly opened an office in Indonesia. However, some locals have expressed concerns that the office is in an office building where offices can be rented month to month. This cannot be independently confirmed.
So why would a company in India lie and make you think it is based in UK? The most logical explanation is to make it sound more legitimate than it actually is. A company "headquartered in London UK", or even a "international conglomerate" is a lot more impressive sounding than a tiny company based in Bangalore, India, after all. And if proper paperwork was done, it would make legal inquiries more difficult, and lawsuits prohibitively expensive.
This is yet another sign of a scam: another piece of the deception to deprive you of your money.
Ref 5 -- cited from http://www.tviexpress.com/aboutus.php
Ref 6 -- http://www.tviexpress.com/contact.php
Watch this comparison between Travelocity and TVI Express booking website
What is an "affiliate"?
In an affiliate program on the web, you have your own website, but you feed customers to another merchant, to whom you are "affiliated with". Amazon Associates have you listing Amazon.com merchandise on your website, and if the customer clicks through and buys the item, you get commission based on the sale.You can read the affiliate program details on wctravel.com yourself. It's actually very easy to do so.
In this case, TVI Express is merely an affiliate of Travelocity. Any travel you book are actually with Travelocity, not TVI Express. If you look at wctravel.com, World Choice Travel website, you will find that there are virtually no requirements to get such a portal.
TVI Express Lie #3: It has strategic partners in travel industry
TVI Express claims to backing "Involving strategic alliances with some of the biggest names in the Travel world..." (ref 7)
Some TVI Express distributors went as far as claiming alliances or partnership or even "third-party relations" with any hotel chain, cruise lines, rental car companies, airlines, and any other travel business they can name. And they use that as evidence of TVI Express's legitimacy. Here is a recent comment posted here on hubpages:
"... do u think companies like disney world, hertz, marriot, klm, sheraton, and many many more would have partnered with this company if it wasn't a legitimate company? c'mon dude!" (ref 8)
This comment is a common-theme used by many TVI Express supporters, basically claiming legitimacy by association.
Furthermore, some TVI Express distributors have claimed as far as Sir Richard Branson (Virgin Atlantic, among others) is an investor in TVI Express, Warren Buffet owns a piece of TVI Express, and so on and so forth. However, we will discuss celebrity endorsements in a different segment.
So what is the truth? The truth is far less grandiose than TVI Express would like you to think. Instead of a multitude of business partners, TVI Express only have one: Travelocity. And it is merely that of an affiliate relationship. In fact, here's the admission on an Indonesia TVI Express website:
"Apart from this, we [TVI Express] have a tie up with Travelocity to provide discounts on travel deals accessible through backoffice."
-- cited from http://kliktviexpress.com/pengumuman
So what is the nature of this "tie-up"? Travelocity operates a "Travelocity Partner Network", through another website, called World Choice Travel (wctravel.com). Here's what they do, in their own words:
"World Choice Travel, a division of the Travelocity Partner Network , is the industry leader in offering scalable, private-label travel solutions that allow our partners to build their own comprehensive online travel portal." (ref 9)
And that's exactly what TVI Express got... a private-label travel portal with the full power of Travelocity. That is what some TVI Express distributors claim to be their "product". See the video for an exact comparison: there is no doubt that TVI Express has no ties with any "major" travel company except Travelocity, and only as an AFFILIATE.
UPDATE: In 2011 TVI Express started claiming 94000 hotels. This is tracked to a travel provider called HotelPros.com based in Turkey, hardly a "major" travel company.
Furthermore, the companies named as "partners" do NOT like their logos used without their permission, which is what TVI Express have been doing in those Powerpoint presentations they have prepared for download. According to newspaper Mallorca Zeitung in Spain, TVI Express is being sued by Marriott, Avis, and Lufthansa, for falsely representing them as partners in TVI Express promotional material. The article is in German, so you will probably need to read this Google Translator Link to the article instead.
In a more recently rebuttal, some TVI Express distributors are claiming "corporate tie-up" with RCI, and some hotel chains in India and Indonesia. However, query to RCI shows that RCI does NOT sell timeshare directly and any representation by "other entity" [TVI Express] is "unauthorized". Working relationship with a few hotel chains (about 100 hotels) in Southeast Asia is NOT "strategic alliances with the biggest names in the travel world".
Why would TVI Express lie about having "strategic partners"? The most logical reason is to sound more legitimate than it is.
Remember, the definition? Scam is act of depriving someone through deception. The company has lied about having alliances or partnerships, and that is another piece in the scam.
Ref 7 -- cited from http://www.tviexpress.com/opportunity.php
Ref 8 -- cited from comment made by "ucantstoptvi" at http://hubpages.com/hub/The-Real-Truth-About-TVI-Express
Ref 9 -- cited from http://www.wctravel.com/
TVI Express Lie #4: It has celebrity endorsements
TVI Express features prominently on its front page a section called "Expert Watch", with picture of Warren Buffet! So what do you get when you click on it? A bunch of quotes by Warren Buffet, Donald Trump, Bill Clinton, Robert "Rich Dad" Kiyosaki, and more. The quote from Warren Buffet was "...the best investment I ever made".
First of all, TVI Express claimed Mr. Buffet was the world's richest man. THAT IS WRONG. As of 2010, according to Forbes, it's not even Bill Gates. It's actually Carlos Slim Helu of Mexico. Even in 2009, the year that TVI Express claim to have launched, Warren Buffet was #2 (BIll Gates was #1). You have to go back to 2008 to see Warren Buffet as world's richest person. So it's clear that TVI Express do not value accuracy of their own statement.
Second, the source of the alleged quote was a book by Randy Gage, published in 2005! The quote is actually:
"Dollar for dollar, it [network marketing / Pampered Chef] is the best investment I've ever made." (ref 10)
Thus, the quote was re-worded in such a way that hundreds (perhaps thousands) of people actually believed that Warren Buffet had invested in TVI Express, and it's "best investment I've ever made"! TVI Express did not tell you that the only MLM company that Berkshire Hathaway still owns is Pampered Chef. Even "3 companies" that TVI Express claimed is out of date.
By NOT telling you that TVI Express is NOT among Berkshire Hathaway's holdings, TVI Express is confusing the issue, leading to many people getting the impression that TVI Express *is* part of Berkshire Hathaway's holdings! Is the misquote deliberate? That is hard to judge. But the fact is people have raised questions about the quote since the company started, and TVI Express have NEVER addressed this potential misunderstanding.
And people definitely have misunderstood. For example:
"Leadership: TVI Express has some of the greatest investors in the world backing this company. For example, Warren Buffet, Mike Branson, and many others are involved." (ref 11)
Who the **** is "Mike Branson"? The only "Mike Branson" is that fake card that TVI Express puts on its frontpage! Perhaps he meant Sir Richard Branson of the Virgin Group?
Further search of Google did NOT turn up any links between Sir Richard Branson and TVI Express, other than alleged statements by TVI Express distributors, but with NO EVIDENCE to back them up, just generic statements like:
"Backed by Richard Branson and some other multi billion dollar companies, TVI express offers a unique travel and lesure package..." (ref 12)
" Besides the massive amount of large multi-national companies providing the travel benefits and clearly being labeled as sponsors on their [TVI Express] site (Warren Buffet and Sir Richard Branson also appear there)..." (ref 13)
Apparently, TVI Express *had* a "testimonial" about the power of network marketing by Sir Richard Branson on their website as well, and this quote had since been removed!
A search of the Internet turned up VIE at Home, which used to be Virgin VIE at Home, a home-party and cosmetics direct-sales company. It was indeed founded by Sir Branson as "Virgin Cosmetic Company". However, Sir Branson and the Virgin group had divested ALL INTEREST in this company in January 2009, according to Wikipedia. Thus, any quote that claim that Sir Branson owns a MLM company, by the time TVI Express launched, would not be true.
One can then surmise the reason for the removal of such a quote from TVI Express website, and how other people may have gotten the wrong impression, esp. if TVI Express had performed a similar "misquote" they had did with Warren Buffet.
All of the other quotes on the same page are endorsing the entire network marketing concept, NOT TVI Express itself.
Did TVI Express intentionally misquote celebrities to make them appear as if they are endorsing TVI Express, instead of the entire industry? Did TVI Express manipulate the the quotes to imply that TVI Express is owned by or invested in by famous investors? They certainly have a reason to misquote, to appear more legitimate. They *did* say they are owned by a "prestigious investor group", did they not? Deliberate deception is much harder to prove, but given all the OTHER LIES (not based in UK...) they have perpetrated, it is certainly possible within part of their scam.
Since May 2010, there has been a lot of articles by TVI Express distributors that attempt to explain the wording mentioned above as "not confusing", and any misinterpretation is not the responsibility of TVI Express. Yet there has been no official clarification from TVI Express. A legitimate and reputable company would have added some explanation LONG time ago, not leave it to their minions to explain things.
There also has been some TVI Express distributors that tries to claim the opposite: because people like Donald Trump and Robert Kiyosaki have NOT publicly denied any association with TVI Express, TVI Express is not a scam. If you think that is logical, I have some oceanfront property in Arizona I want to sell you. (That's a joke. Arizona has no coastal region at all)
It bears repeating, that scam is accomplished through deception, and TVI Express has deceived all its members about how (il-)legitimate it actually is. One of the best way to lie is to tell only a half-lie, by telling the truth, but in a misleading way.
Ref 10 -- cited from http://www.richardbrooke.com/articles2/ezine_july05.asp who cited from someone else
Ref 11 -- cited from http://ezinearticles.com/?TVI-Express-is-an-Exploding-Home-Based-Business-Opportunity&id=2803121
Ref 12 -- http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=76427963057
Ref 13 -- http://ezinearticles.com/?How-TVI-Express-Can-Pay-So-Well&id=3272164
TVI Express Lie #5: the 7-day 6-night trip
One of the benefits you were supposed to get when you pay the membership fee was a 7-day 6-night accommodation at a 5-star hotel, and free companion ticket. The truth is anything but simple, as again, with TVI Express.
Product... that is not sold to any consumer
One of the biggest problem is the nature of TVI Express itself, and its alleged product. Some members have claimed that this 7-day 6-night trip is their "main product", which proves that TVI Express has a real product and thus is not a pyramid scheme. The biggest problem with this argument is that this "product" is NOT being sold by distributors to outside consumers, but instead, sold from TVI Express to its own distributors. THERE IS NO SALES TO OUTSIDE. No sales means no marketing, no marketing means TVI Express is NOT network marketing or multi-level marketing. That leaves only pyramid scheme.
Second, you pay $250 (+ fees) to join, and you get a 7-day 6-night trip certificate in exchange. Sounds like a good deal, until you read the TVI Express announcement dated June 9, 2010. You need to pay extra $150 in order to redeem the certificate (never had to before, but then, you could not have redeemed the certificate before any way). Can you say: bait and switch?
TVI Express offered a million members these certificates for $250 each, but made them nearly impossible to redeem except for maybe a few thousand in Southeast Asia. Then they announced that everybody can now redeem the stuff, but they need to pay extra $150. That is outright fraud! Yet you still find defenders of TVI Express stating that "TVI Express have always maintained they can charge 'processing fee and taxes'," even though there was no such verbiage on the certificate itself. You only see the additional verbiage when you try to redeem certificate. That is called a "shrink-wrapped contract", and it is ILLEGAL.
Product... that is impossible to use/redeem
Did you know the original offer was for 5-star accommodations? It was on TVI Express website itself. However, what you actually get is a certificate e-mailed to you that somehow TVI Express downgraded the offer to 3-5 stars, not 5-stars only. And there has been NO explanation of this downgrade anywhere.
Furthermore, it is nearly impossible to redeem this offer. Problems have been reported back in 2009, and is ongoing. In an announcement released by TVI Express on February 22, 2010, it stated that a new booking engine will be up by March 1st, 2010. The announcement also stated that only "thousands" have enjoyed such vacations, and 11 properties (all in India) are now open for booking. As there never was a list of the properties available for booking published before, the only logical conclusion is that these 11 properties in India are the ONLY ONES available for booking for your "free" trip!
Third, TVI Express had previously made an announcement that the booking engine was STILL not ready by the announcement date: March 5th, 2010. It pleads for a "few more days". However, this specific announcement had since disappeared from the TVI Express website under announcements.However, these announcements were cloned on various TVI Express distributor websites as sort of a public service. You can find the entry here:
Friday, March 05, 2010
This is to inform you that our product fulfillment booking engine due to be launched on 1st March 2010 will take a few more days to go live as the integration of inventory for some of our Channel Partners has taken longer than expected...
Cited from http://www.tviexpressreviewblog.com/tvi-express-booking-engine-update/
By removing the announcement that pleads for more time, TVI Express had created the impression that the booking engine had been up since March 1st, 2010, when that was clearly not the case! The earliest it *could* have gone online was March 7th, 2010 (March 5th, plus "a few more days")
As of June 9th, 2010, TVI Express proclaimed that their booking portal is FINALLY live, as of June 9th, 2010. However, they also tacked on a new "feature"... TVI Express is now charging you $150 per booking of this "free" trip, for "taxes and processing". You have to buy extra eVouchers then redeem them to book the trip via their website. In exchange, you get an extra day, and can bring up to 5 people with you. Then they announced that this is only at participating hotels, but never gave a list of which hotels are participating!
As only "thousands" have enjoyed such trips, and the membership count being in the 1 million, it is clear that this argument is, at best, LESS THAN 1% effective! HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of people have NOT enjoyed their vacation yet. Thus, this is another deception by the company. TVI Express is simply NOT CAPABLE of handling the trips they promised, but they erased their own announcements to further manipulate people. Then they started charging $150 for a "free trip".
Furthermore, in a recent announcement, TVI Express went back on every word they said. Bring extra people? Nope. Two only. Extra day? Nope. Back to 7-day 6-night again. Buy eVoucher to redeem for that extra $150? Nope. Direct deposit into their Indian bank account. Order online through redemption portal? Nope. Call our Indian operation center.
A reputable company would have simply issued another announcement, not deleting the old announcement. TVI Express is NOT behaving like a reputable company, or even a well-run company.
Furthermore, TVI Express, even now, claims by proxy that they "are a valued travel company having corporate tie ups with RCI, Cambay Resorts, Sarovar Hotels, Fave Hotel and a few other hotels and resorts. " (statement allegedly from Tarun Trikha, cited from http://www.kliktviexpress.com/pengumuman ) But who are these companies?
RCI -- Resorts Condominium International, 4000 resorts available in 100 countries. Sounds impressive, but there's no information on how many resorts TVI Express has access to, nor what is this "corporate tie up".A query to rci.com shows that RCI has no such "corporate tie-up" with TVI Express. Another TVI Express lie? Very likely.
Cambay Resorts -- only has hotels in India (5 star resorts)
Sarovar Hotels -- only has hotels in India (4-5 star hotels)
Fave Hotel -- Indonesia only (3-star hotel, rooms starting at $39.95 per night)
Based on TVI Express previous claims with Lufthansa, AVIS, and so on, as "partners", which resulted in a LAWSUIT by the supposedly partners against TVI Express, these "strategic tie ups" are, well, suspicious, and since they are mostly in India or Indonesia, it really means very little. TVI Express promised hotels "across the globe", and they are NOT delivering.
Furthermore, TVI Express had just sent out another notice in July 2010. They have opened up dozens of hotels available for booking... in India and some surrounding countries. Then they went back on their word about extra people and extra night. Only 2 people can go, and no extra night. You also cannot go through the online redemption, but must call their India Business Center to book the trips to these "new" hotels. Furthermore, they will only take direct deposit into TVI Express bank account. Is that "around the globe" like they promised? No!
And finally, if some TVI Express recruiters tries to convince you that this "free trip" is not important, and you are really in the thing for the "long term income", they are trying to divert your attention from the TVI Express failures to even keep their word. If TVI Express cannot even keep their word on this simple free trip, how are you supposed to trust them as a "legitimate business" given all the other lies they have told? And what of the members who claimed this is their "core product"?
And one last item for thought... If it costs another $150 to redeem the certificate, what was the original $250 for? The logical answer is... it is to qualify you for the big payment when you get out of the pyramid. That proves TVI Express is a pyramid scheme.
TVI Express later claimed that if you pick a resort, you get 7-day 6-nights. If you pick a hotel, you get 4 day 3 nights. Does this actually make any sense to you? Since when does resorts cost HALF as much as hotels? And where is the list of hotels and resorts one can choose? Why is this list not public, and had NEVER been public for as long as the company has been in existence, except that list of 11 hotels in India?
Frankly, no reputable company would flip flop on their offer like that. First the trip is free with $250 joining fee, then it cost $150 more to redeem. You get a night, then you don't. You get to bring more people, then you don't. The booking portal was supposed to go live in October 2009, then December 2009, then March 2010, and FINALLY, in June 2010. What sort of idiots are running this place?
TVI Express: the picture pirates
TVI Express Lie #6: TVI Express is a reputable company
TVI Express has NOT behaved like a reputable company. Here are some of their symptoms:
* TVI Express does NOT explain what is their product / service. Members are making crazy explanations, like "7-day 6-night trip is their core product", "travel portal (via Travelocity) is their core product", "some other travel deals (?) is their core product", "membership is their core product". Why would a network marketing company not even tell you what is it marketing?
In fact, TVI Express Indonesia president Goernani Goernawan told government panel that TVI Express is NOT MLM, directly contradicting TVI Express website! According to TVI Express rules of conduct, misrepresenting the company is subject to termination. Yet Goernawan is the head of TVI Express in Indonesia, and was highlighted on TVI Express website itself! Who is the joke? TVI Express, Goernami the liar, or both?
* TVI Express does NOT protect its name or domain name. It allows its members to register bazillion different variations of TVI Express domain names. A reputable company would NEVER allow its name to be misused. A reputable company attacks any attempts by its members or other parties to use their name. Amway requires all distributors to state VERY clearly that they are an INDEPENDENT DISTRIBUTOR of Amway products, and does NOT work for Amway. Any attempt to misrepresent will be investigated and membership may be revoked. Yet you can find bazillion people claiming to work for TVI Express. Just look on LinkedIn for yourself.
* TVI Express does NOT protect its intellectual property (the website content and download-able promotional materaisl) even though they state you should NOT copy them in the disclaimer. In its own disclaimer on their website, TVI Express wrote that you shall not copy, publish, distribute... the content on the website and downloadable stuff. Yet you will find TVI Express marketing material copied ALL OVER the Internet, even though there was no provision to allow such spread. In fact, some foreign TVI Express websites are exact clones (made via a "spider / crawler" ) of the main TVI Express site, and maintained the same verbiage. A reputable company would have either wrote in provisions to allow its members to use the marketing material subject to approval, or prohibit the use altogether. TVI Express had done NEITHER.
* TVI Express does NOT check its members for false claims. Claims that directly contradicts company statements are easily found all over the Internet. In fact, one of their Indonesia distributor, Ms. Gornawan, was quoted by reporter saying "It [TVI Express] is not multi-level marketing" In fact, Ms. Gornawan is the owner of PT TVI Express Indonesia! A reputable company would have sent out cease-and-desist letters to members making false claims, or even ejecting them. TVI Express has done NOTHING in public. Instead, TVI Express is allowing them to be head of the class.
* TVI Express stole art from other people without attribution
This is called copyright violation. Their certificate border was stolen off another website. See the visual comparison.
Their August 2010 "convention" used another stolen art, by stealing nothing less than an artful rendering of American president Barack Obama! (see illustration and comparison)
In fact, checking pictures on TVI Express website through TinEye the image search engine shows that almost EVERY picture shown is stolen off stock photo websites, other websites, or even other MLM websites, such as Xango.
* TVI Express does NOT answer any questions about law compliance, nor do they list a compliance officer, yet this is one of the most often asked questions about TVI Express. A reputable MLM company explains very carefully how they comply with various laws regarding pyramid scheme, how they are NOT one, and lists a compliance officer to answer legal questions. Search for Amway, ACN, and other MLM company websites, and you'll see they answer those questions in the FAQs.
In fact, TVI Express does not even acknowledge the fact that they have members arrested or charged with fraud in a dozen countries around the world since 2009, the year they started!
* TVI Express has no code of conduct / code of ethics for its members Every legitimate MLM have one. Some TVI Express members have claimed that TVI Express have one, but it is NOT available to the public. Only in late 2010 did it publish a PDF document (but no text is actually on the website). It still has no "panel" or any record of enforcement against any member that is shown to the public. In fact, many top members are documented to be violating the very rules TVI Express had published.
* TVI Express does NOT list any of its officers or owners, despite being a company with NO reputation at all. A reputable company with little corporate reputation, would list the owners and board members, and their CV/resume/reputation, to impress the people who may want to bet their future with the company. TVI Express lists NOTHING. There are a few names, but no photos, no company positions, nothing. Just "advisory board", but that's just a bunch of senior distributors.
In 2010 Tarun Trikha, who had always represented himself as an "advisory board member", which would make him one of the earliest members according to TVI Express website, admitted to being the CEO and President of TVI Express. This is a clear ethical violation yet today he still appears at company events as leader of TVI Express.
* TVI Express's compensation package fits legal definition of pyramid scheme, endless chain, or Ponzi scheme, as used by European Union, US Federal Trade Commission, US Federal Bureau of Investigation, and US state of California. And those are just the ones I checked. Repeated questions to TVI Express were returned unanswered. A reputable company would have put up a FAQ long time ago.
All this suspicious behavior makes NO SENSE if TVI Express is a legitimate company. Yet all these suspicious behavior makes PERFECT SENSE if TVI Express is a scam.
* Why would TVI Express have an undefined product? Because the only "product" TVI Express wants to promote is itself: the membership. The product is a disguise. By spreading some ill-defined information it simply sets up the scene for its distributors to lie and deny for them.
* Why do they not protect their own reputation or name? Because they don't need one for the long run. They don't expect to survive beyond the 24-36 month mark.There is nothing important or worth protecting there any way. All the pictures are stolen. There is no marketing system.
* Why do TVI Express not check their members for false claims, and discipline them? They need the members to continue to lie for them and defend them. Anything the members say can be denied. Members claiming Warren Buffett invested in TVI Express? They were called "liars" by other members, who also claimed that TVI Express cannot be held responsible for bad conduct of its members. Yet some of the top members had been clearly documented to be liars.
* Why do TVI Express not answer questions about law compliance? TVI Express is letting the members, who only have limited information, to defend its reputation in public. Anything a member say can be denied as "misunderstandings", so technically TVI Express did not lie. The "members" did. Just as the part about "Buffett invested in TVI Express" before.
* Why would TVI Express have no "code of ethics"? Simple... it doesn't need one. It never had been a legitimate business, and making one up would limit its members in what they can say in order to recruit. In a pyramid scheme, ethics are not important, finding more recruits is. Even today, the code was never enforced on any one that can be documented.
* Why would TVI Express hide identities of its officers and employees and owners? NONE of the alleged corporate heads have ever been seen or heard from. There was no photo. No ID. Not even age, or ANY personal information, or even how many years in business. Very likely, the corporate heads do not even exist, and the whole thing is controlled by one puppet master in the background.
Speculation? Yes. Makes sense? You will have to decide for yourself.
TVI Express Lie #7: TVI Express is a legal opportunity
TVI Express itself claims "with TVI Express, you have a life-changing opportunity to build a hassle-free, legitimate business all across the globe." (cited from http://www.tviexpress.com/ opportunity.php) But is it really? Not at all.
TVI Express is not even legal in India, its home country
Back in 2009, Sikkim (India) police filed an FIR (preliminary investigative report) after hundreds reported being defrauded by TVI Express. TVI Express called in a lawyer, refunded about 6000 participants without admission of wrongdoing, then abandoned that province. That bought them two years.
In July 2011, India police raided TVI Express office in Bangalore, India after many victims complained that they were defrauded by TVI Express's promise of cheap vacations. Two were arrested as the instigators.
TVI Express is NOT legal in the US or Canada
According to a top MLM attorney, who had been head of Amway's legal division for 9 years, and had consulted for many more years, TVI Express cannot be legal in US and Canada. He specified the 3 criteria for a MLM to be legal in US and Canada, and TVI Express are not compliant with them. So what are the three criteria?
A: Real product, and right to bring in more participants (i.e. recruit)
B: Real retailing, from members to outside consumers
C: Emphasize retailing over recruiting, and only pay bonus on SALES of people you recruit, not merely by recruiting
TVI Express does NOT comply with B and C. It is only partially compliant with A, since TVI Express never was quite clear just WHAT is their product or service.
While no US or Canadian resident have been prosecuted for being a TVI Express member, that is because the dollar amounts in the US are not that significant. most US and Canadian members are smart enough to jump ship when they realized the whole thing smells like a scam.
And before you say FTC won't come after TVI Express, look up YTBI. While the FTC did not go after YTBI, two state Attorneys General did. The result is about the same.
UPDATE: A TVI Express member revealed that on September 8, 2010 TVI Express members in Atlanta Georgia have been served with a "cease and desist" order from the State Attorney of Georgia to stop operation immediately in State of Georgia, USA. There are rumors that a similar order had been issued in Hawaii but has not been confirmed. Furthermore TVI Express also violated Federal level laws (FTC laws) and thus is subject to Federal prosecution as well. This is from TVI Express member, not a critic.
UPDATE2: Scan of the order is available to the right. See for yourself.
TVI Express is ILLEGAL IN CHINA
At least three have been convicted in sentenced in China to jail terms, and three more have their ill-gotten gains forfeited, $200000 Yuan's worth. These are the automatic translations, so they are not the best, but they will do.
Shanxi ordered confiscation of property of THREE TVI Express members, fined $200000 RMB
Two convicted in Chan-An for TVI Express fraud aimed at retirees, sentenced to 6 months and 18 months in jail
Dongtou public security arrested TVI Express recruiter for defrauding public, sentenced to jail
Yet there are still unscrupulous TVI Express supporters out there denying these people were arrested and convicted. Or they dismiss the arrests as actions of "oppressive communist regime". They ignore the fact that China, being a communist nation, is actually harder and harsher on economic crimes than capitalistic societies. They treat it as a "crime against society" and "disturbance of social and economic order".
TVI Express is ordered to cease and desist in Australia as a pyramid scheme
The Australian consumer agency ACCC obtained a court injunction against three TVI Express members from recruiting for TVI Express. The group were planning to hold conventions across Australia and New Zealand promoting TVI Express and sign up new members. The Australian agency received help from its counterpart in UK, the Office of Fair Trading, with its investigations.
Furthermore, It has been recently revealed that Team TVI Oz, the three Australian TVI Express members accused of running pyramid scheme, had emptied their bank account on May 28th, AFTER the court injunction froze their accounts (on May 15th). ACCC is seeking contempt of court charges in addition to the fraud charges, and the court has set the hearing for August 30th, 2010. Some TVI Express supporters have spread rumors that the charges have been dropped. This is NOT TRUE. CHARGES HAVE NOT BEEN DROPPED, and ADDITIONAL CHARGES HAVE BEEN FILED again TVI Express distributors in Australia.
TVI Express is declared illegal in multiple African countries
TVI Express was declared illegal pyramid scheme AND violated banking regulations in Namibia. It was also declared a pyramid scheme in South Africa, and is under investigation in Swaziland.
TVI Express is under media scrutiny in other countries
Hungary has started investigation of of TVI Express as a pyramid scheme.
TVI Express was denounced as a pyramid scheme in Spain and Germany by local news.
Newspaper have reported TVI Express as a suspected pyramid scheme in Georgia (the country, with thousands of victims.
India, province of Sikkim, had gone after TVI Express and forced refund to over 6000 members. Its tourist board called TVI Express "fake tourism organization".
Vietnamese and Indonesian news websites have reported on the explosion of TVI Express in their respective countries, and how they are NOT compliant with local law by registering with government as either 'seller of travel' or 'direct selling organization'.
Editorial newspaper in Botswana denounced TVI Express as a pyramid scheme.
Newspaper in Tajikstan reported that a local TVI Express member recruited over 2000 people into the pyramid scheme, and local prosecutors are investigating.
Members in South Africa were arrested for running TVI Express and defrauding thousands.
For news coverage about TVI Express see my other hub: "Newspaper Articles Your TVI Express Upline will not dare show you"
Lies told by TVI Express members
TVI Express members have propagated various un-truths, misunderstandings, and outright wrong information, often by copying them from each other, as well as copying information provided by the company, such as the five lies we have debunked above.By perpetuating the deception, and adding their own, the TVI Express members are guilty of contribution to the scam.
Furthermore, TVI Express members have used logical fallacies to make bad arguments for the legitimacy of TVI Express.
Here is one that compares TVI Express to AAA, the auto club:
"My investigation showed that there is definitely a product (that TVI Express sells)- a travel service. In this regard, TVI Express is very similar to AAA. In AAA, you have to be a member in order to take advantage of their services." (ref 14)
So what is wrong with comparing TVI Express to AAA? It's a logical fallacy, known as "weak analogy".
a) AAA members are NOT paid for recruiting, or required to recruit. TVI Express members are REQUIRED to recruit, as per their FAQ, and recruiting qualifies them for payment.
b) The services offered by TVI Express is a rebadged version of Travelocity. Travelocity is free to use for everyone. Thus, the service they offer is worth exactly ZERO. AAA offers service with real benefits.
By comparing TVI Express to a known legitimate organization, such as AAA, the author hopes to imply that TVI Express is also legitimate, as they share SOME characteristics, such as "membership", while ignoring glaring differences.
The same article, in fact, committed three other logical fallacies, thus trying to deceive you into believing TVI Express is legitimate. But that is for another article.
Here's an excerpt from a fellow hub-er:
"TVI Express would be a scam if they didn't have a real product, but if you've done your research you would know that TVI Express has a product and it's travel.
TVI Express would be a scam if they used cold hard cash to sign you up. However they only accept cash in exchange for an e voucher which is like a TVI Express money.
TVI Express would be a scam if they didn't actually pay out 10K and promised that to everyone who joined but as you are reading this people are cashing out 10K over and over again." (ref 15)
So what's wrong? Let us take a closer look at each sentence.
Hypothesis 1: TVI Express would be a scam if they didn't have a real product, but if you've done your research you would know that TVI Express has a product and it's travel.
Okay, why would the company have a real product, namely travel, but in its own FAQ it states flatout that you do not need to sell, yet still be able to enjoy the "board payout" of $10000, merely by recruiting people? The product is irrelevant. This is one of the 5 lies we debunked earlier. By presenting travel as a red herring, the author tries to convince you TVI Express is legitimate. It is a logical fallacy.
Hypothesis 2: TVI Express would be a scam if they used cold hard cash to sign you up. However they only accept cash in exchange for an e voucher which is like a TVI Express money.
The problem with this hypothesis is it directly contradicts what TVI Express says on their own website, under their own FAQ
"We currently accept payments via Credit Cards, Liberty Reserve, Solid Trust Pay and eWallet."
TVI Express does NOT accept cash at all. Furthermore, the hypothesis itself, has no reasoning behind it. Using cash is NOT necessarily a sign of a scam. This hypothesis is completely false and thus worthless.
Hypothesis 3: TVI Express would be a scam if they didn't actually pay out 10K and promised that to everyone who joined but as you are reading this people are cashing out 10K over and over again.
This is known as the "If it pays it must be legit" excuse. Except pyramid and Ponzi schemes, can pay for a while, and Bernie Madoff have paid for a long time. The evidence does not support the hypothesis at all.
Do not think
When a TVI Express distributor asks you to ignore all criticism, and only believe him, something is very wrong with the system. Even in most religions, you are not asked to "check your brain at the door". Your shoes, maybe, but your brain? Yet this is exactly what some TVI Express distributors are asking prospective members to do. Here is one from Indonesia (http://tviexpressjakarta.wordpress.com/faqs/) , responding to people who cited webpages that raised questions about TVI Express:
You spend time and energy with worry, anxiety that really hurt. While the Member TVI Express with extraordinary spirit who is building their business empire. Immediately stop analyzing, stop worrying, stop suspicious. Immediately take part in this business "while" very good momentum.
In other words, "Shut up and stop thinking", the wrong way to approach ANY business. In fact, it is a sign of a cult... unquestioned obedience to the leader / cause.
These advice, published by TVI Express members, filled with logical fallacies, bad research (or no research at all), perpetuating falsehoods, rumors, and innuendos, are trying to convince you that he should be your sponsor into TVI Express. And you will find most articles not published just once, but several times. Perhaps a few times here on Hubpages (each rewritten), a few times on his/her own website or blog, a few times as an article on one of those free article archives like ezinearticles.com, articlealley.com, and so on...They have spammed the Internet with their falsehoods.
Furthermore, unscrupulous TVI Express members have then pirated each other, as well as TIV Express material, to make even MORE blog posts and whatnot, with outdated information, just to prop up the Alexa rankings.
Yet other TVI Express members charge me and other TVI Express critics, who presented all evidence for you to see, as a part of conspiracy, either as rival MLM out to "get" TVI Express, or as some sort of global "conspiracy of the rich" to keep the poor... poor, and to encourage prospective members to disengage their brain for a business opportunity.
Whether they are doing this knowing the truth or not does not matter. They are helping TVI Express perpetuating the lies, and that makes them part of the scam.
See some VISUAL evidence of what TVI Express members have MANUFACTURED to "prove" legitimacy of TVI Express.
Ref 14 -- cited from http://www.betternetworker.com/articles/view/mlm-news/companies/is-tvi-express-a-valid-business
Ref 15 -- cited from http://hubpages.com/hub/TVI-Express-Scam-Is-TVI-Express-a-HUGE-Scam-To-Steal-Peoples-Money
CONCLUSION: TVI EXPRESS = SCAM
TVI Express has conducted a masterful campaign of deception and obfuscation. TENS OF THOUSANDS of TVI Express members have had uneasy feelings about all the lies and disreputable behavior previously mentioned, and have sought answers, but were ignored or ridiculed, and left in disgust. One of the acknowledged leaders of TVI Express in the US, Kelly Williams, stated few months ago:
"... The sad tale behind it all is the fact they [TVI Express] did it all in the name of goodwill. I believe TVI has put so many wonderful people simply trying to survive and help their families in today’s tight and turbulent economy and help others along the way in jeopardy of damaging or even destroying their hard earned credibility.
It is simply an evil thing they [TVI Express] have done!" (ref 16)
When such a leader quits TVI Express in disgust, it is a sign of problem within TVI Express.
Now, even more senior members in TVI Express are quiting... because they found out that TVI Express is indeed a scam. On September 7, 2010, Pat Dejour, one of the highest TVI Express ranking members in North America, sent an e-mail to all his downlines: he had been served with a "cease and desist" letter from State Attorney of Georgia: Stop operating or we'll sue you big time.
International governments have started noticing the scam known as TVI Express. China had swept for pyramid schemes last year, and had convicted and sentenced at least THREE TVI Express members for running a pyramid scheme (ref 17) (ref 18). Hungary has started investigation of of TVI Express as a pyramid scheme. Australia got a court injunction to stop "Team TVI Oz" from promoting TVI Express in Australia, WITH the help of UK government. Tajikstan have initiated investigation into a local TVI Express recruiter with over 2000 downlines after people complained they are not getting their trips for $250. And now news have surfaced in State of Georgia (USA) that TVI Express had also been served with a cease and desist order, and other states and soon Federal level investigation will follow. (ref 19). Bank of Namibia declared TVI Express and a similar operation "illegal" in a press release, urge all citizens to stop participating at once.
When all these factors are combined with the lies told by TVI Express itself, and how TVI Express allowed members to lie, and the disreputable behaviors, lead to one inescapable conclusion: TVI Express is a scam of international proportions.
Ref 16 -- http://www.mlmhelpdesk.com/2009/10/05/tvi-express-leader-kelly-williams-reaches-out-to-mlm-help-desk/#ecwid:category=0&entryPage=Y&mode=category&offset=0&sort=normal
Ref 17 -- http://kschang.blogspot.com/2010/03/tvi-express-distributors-convicted-of.html
Ref 18 -- http://kschang.blogspot.com/2010/05/another-tvi-express-china-member.html
Ref 19-- http://www.tviexpressreviewblog.com/tvi-has-been-shut-down-in-georgia/
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