- Internet & the Web
TVI Express Exposed: South Africa, other countries declared tviexpress a pyramid scheme, complaints,who is Tarun Trikha?
If you are looking for complaints about an outfit called "TVI Express", also known as "Travel Ventures International", that claim to be headquartered in London, UK, you are at the right place. This article categorizes all the various complaints about TVI Express. They may also be known by their local distributors, such as "TVI Express India", "TVI Express Indonesia", "TVI Express Vietnam", and so on. However, keep in mind that they claim to be legally incorporated in India and Cyprus, but is headquartered in London, UK, according to their own website.
Complaints about TVI Express are numerous. For organization, they are categorized as follows:
* corporate identity problems
* business or scam
* outrageous claims
* suspicious practices
Only the complaints are documented, and official responses, if any, are included. It is up to you to decide whether the responses are valid for you or not.
UPDATED 07-APR-2013 Reliable but unconfirmed report indicated that Tarun Trikha, leader of TVI Express scam, has been arrested by India Police at train station, apparently after being trailed by his victims. See comments at the very end.
Corporate Identity Problems
TVI Express has a lot of problems with corporate identity, because they have moved so many times, and they seem to do business under several different names. This has raised many questions about the legitimacy of their business.
* Were they really at Marble Arch Tower, London, UK?
For several months after their initial launch in 2009, TVI Express did list an address at Marble Arch Tower, 55 Bryanston St., London, UK, and it is an actual building.
TVI Express is currently not at the building.Their current legal corporate address is in Cyprus, and their listed UK address is in Heathrow or Uxbridge, depending on which source you check. According to TVI Express announcement, they moved out in September 2009.
Because the Marble Arch Tower address just points to the front door, and not to a specific section of the building (room? floor?), this had lead to speculation the location is merely a virtual office, with the real office being elsewhere. Many claimed to have called the building office to inquire about TVI Express, and was told there was no tenant by that name there. The building directory (accessible online) also did not show such a tenant.
A blog entry by a British Chinese newspaper stated that they have investigated TVI Express, and have written to the landlord, who had stated they will take appropriate actions if the tenant is a pyramid scheme. This was in August 2009. In September 2009, TVI Express disappeared from the 55 Bryanston st. address in London. Is there a link? Maybe, but there's no way to know for sure.
TVI Express have NEVER addressed this complaint. Some TVI Express distributors are said to have made excuses such as "they are moving due to rapid expansion", but those are unsupported speculations.
It is also worth noting that search through British corporate records shows no company called TVI Express or Travel Ventures International or any sort of name close to it.
There is a company called "TVI Services", based in Surrey, UK. However, TVI Express never claimed to be related to that company. (see later section) Also, that company was dissolved in 08-MAR-2011.
Tviexpress.com domain records show that their main address is in Bangalore India, and the contact is Tarun Trikha.
Some time in 2011 (probably May 2011) TVI Express removed verbiage that they are headquartered in the UK. It now only refers to itself as an "international conglomerate".
* Are they in London or not?
As explained above, the 55 Bryanston St. address, while located in London, is suspected of being a virtual office or rent-a-office. TVI Express, until May 2011, claims to be headquartered in London, UK. (the "headquartered in London UK" was quietly removed one day) Even today, it continues to use a London phone number as its "international contact" and continues to list an UK office.
TVI Express had recently listed a new office in UK, which they claim is in Heathrow. However, Google Maps show it to be in Uxbridge, 15 miles out of London, clearly NOT within city limits of London. TVI Express has no explanation why they still claim to be "headquartered in London". It is also pointed out that Heathrow is in a separate postal code.
One Hubpages commenter claimed to have visited the new "Heathrow" address, but cannot locate TVI Express. The receptionist claims no knowledge of the company. This cannot be independently verified. However, a recent (May 2010) listing by Regus shows that only virtual offices were available for rent at the Uxbridge location.
A search through Google shows no less than 15 businesses with exact same address as TVI Express's "Heathrow" location.
Furthermore, in TVI Express announcement (December 2009) it was stated that face-to-face meetings at the "Heathrow" location is "by appointment only". A search through Regus (office rental) offers at that location shows that meeting rooms can indeed be rented by the hour.
In their own disclaimer, TVI Express claims to be only subject to Cyprus and Indian laws.
Tviexpress.com domain records show that their main address is in Bangalore India, and the contact is Tarun Trikha.
* Is TVI Express actually in UK, if not in London?
The new UK address listed, which claims to be in Heathrow, but Google Maps claim to be Uxbridge, has no less than 15 (or more!) businesses listed at the exact same location, same pattern as the Marble Arch Tower address, no room number, no floor number. This lead to charges that it is also a virtual office as well.
One Hubpages comment claimed to have visited the new "Heathrow" address, but cannot locate TVI Express. The receptionist claims no knowledge of the company. This cannot be independently verified. Furthermore, a check of Regus listings of the Uxbridge building shows only virtual offices for rent, no real office available, in May 2010.
In their own disclaimer, TVI Express claims to be only subject to Cyprus and Indian laws.
In newspaper Mallorca Zeitung of Spain, there is a report that when Lufthansa had repeatedly sent TVI Express letters to request them stop using Lufthansa's logo in TVI Express promotional material without permission. All letters were returned as "undeliverable". This would suggest that the address given were not real offices. However, without knowing what address Lufthansa used, it is not possible to know which address were not valid.
TVI Express never explained under what corporate name are they operating in the UK. Now that "TVI Services" has been dissolved (as of 08-MAR-2011) they should have NO legal presence in the UK at all. So where are the phone calls going to, as the phone number is London UK prefix? TVI Express thus far have no answer this this inquiry.
Tviexpress.com domain records show that their main address is in Bangalore India, and the contact is Tarun Trikha.
* Why did TVI Express move to Cyprus?
TVI Express website claims that Cyprus has a simple tax structure and is a credible place. Further research shows that Cyprus has a 10% universal business tax rate, plus 2% tax on wages.
However, TVI Express neglect to mention a lot of things about Cyprus. Cyprus is actually like the Korean peninsula: in two halves, one Turkish, the other Greek. It is the Greek portion that joined the European Union. Cyprus is reputed to have had some of the laxest business laws in Europe, and only recent passage of some EU "common" laws have corrected the situation somewhat. Furthermore, southern Cyprus is mostly Greek, and recent Greek economic troubles have rocked the island as well.
Cyprus is a known haven for illegal money laundering operations. Search of newspaper archive shows that Cyprus was used by no less than Al Qaeda and Russian Mafia for money laundering and false front companies. Several ships of the "Al Qaeda Navy" were registered through front companies in Cyprus.
A check through Cypriot business records shows two entries: TVI EXPRESS, and TVI SERVICES. Both are current, though TVI SERVICES has been incorporated in 1999, so it is unlikely to be related to TVI EXPRESS which launched in 2009.
A consumer protection expert's website claimed that TVI Express only moved to Cyprus to dodge British taxes and legal attention, that "Office of Fair Trading" of UK was looking into TVI Express. This cannot be independently confirmed.
* Is the Cyprus address a real location?
A Google search showed that at least three businesses share the exact same address with TVI Express in Cyprus. It shows the same pattern as their former London address and their current Uxbridge address: just lists the building, but not a room inside. Thus, it is also suspected of being a virtual office.
There is a third-hand report that a group of American TVI Express distributors paid a visit to Cyprus location, and found nothing at the location related to TVI Express. However, this cannot be confirmed.
TVI Express thus far have no comment on this matter.
In newspaper Mallorca Zeitung of Spain, there is a report that when Lufthansa had repeatedly sent TVI Express letters to request them stop using Lufthansa's logo in TVI Express promotional material without permission. All letters were returned as "undeliverable". This would suggest that the address given were not real offices. However, as Lufthansa did not mention which office the letters were sent to, there is no way to know which office is not real.
* Is TVI Express in India?
TVI Express website lists itself as having an Indian Branch called TVI Express Holidays Private Limited. It is a registered Indian company, verified by Indian corporate records.
However, further searches also turned up "TVI Travel Services Private Limited" also registered in the same city as TVI Express. It may just be a coincidence though. (See below about TVI Services)
A Thai website showed a photo of company sign that says TVI Express Holidays Limited, which is the company name used in India. However, the authenticity of the picture cannot be confirmed. Furthermore, the website showed at least two other Photoshop (tm) manipulated pictures, leading one to suspect the authenticity.
* What is "TVI Services"?
For most of 2009, TVI Express accepted wire transfers. However, wire transfers go to a bank in Cyprus into account of "TVI Services", not TVI Express or Travel Ventures International.
A search of company records in India, UK, and Cyprus all turned up TVI Services. Their exact relation to TVI Express is unknown. However, payments paid to TVI Services in Cyprus were counted as membership fee to TVI Express, so presumably they have a close business relationship.
A Thai TVI Express website showed a certificate that is allegedly the UK company registration certificate for TVI SERVICES. However, the certificate JPEG EXIF header shows that it had been manipulated with Photoshop, thus the authenticity of the certificate is in question. Certificate samples are easily found on the Internet, and with publicly available information, it would not be hard to "manufacture" such a certificate.
After TVI Express moved to Cyprus, all mention of "TVI Services" disappeared from TVIExpress.com website, but remained on several clone website (see later). TVI Express has thus far no comment about TVI Services, or its relation with TVI Express.
A search through India company records shows a "TVI Express Holidays Private Limited" and a "TVI Travel Services Private Limited", both registered in the same city. There is no information to indicate any relation between the two except their similar names. It is also unknown which one would you be dealing with if you join TVI Express.
TVI Express has never explained its relation to TVI Services.
TVI Services (UK) was dissolved on 08-MAR-2011 according to UK Government agency companieshouse.gov.uk |
* Who owns/runs TVI Express?
TVI Express does NOT list any member of its management team, nor any background. We do not even know how many are in the management team at all. There is an "advisory board", but TVI Express claims those are selected from the most senior distributors. The advisory board has some "office bearer members", but their position within the company is never explained, and other than some names there is no information given.
There have been false information spread by TVI Express members claiming these "office bearers" like "Bill Hemmings" and "Dan Cooper" are the company founders and president / vice president. Indeed, these names have been excised from the website in May 2011.
TVI Express's website domain name had domain privacy turned on, so the real physical address contact is not shown until 2011.
One TVI Express member website claims that Rahul Khurana owns TVI Services in India, and Anita Khurana is shareholder. Several members in India claim that the person actually running the show is Tarun Trikha. This cannot be independently confirmed, as corporate records online in UK, Cyprus, or India do not show owner or shareholder info. However, both Tarun Trikha and Rahul Khurana were listed as once having served on the TVI Express advisory board. Rahul Khurana left sometime in 2009, and Tarun Trikha left in 2010.
Further research turned up a Chinese blog entry by TVI Express member that claimed back in June 2009, after mere months of TVI Express launch, Mr. Tarun Trikha is already a presidential associate of TVI Express, one of only six at that time, with over 36000 downlines. This lead to speculation that Tarun Trikha is "member zero", the first person to join TVI Express. However, this cannot be independently confirmed either.
TVI Express does not release member information, or management information. All attempts to solicit comment from TVI Express have been ignored. This had to lead to speculation that none of the so-called "office bearers" listed on TVI Express website actually exists. In 2011, the "office bearers" list have disappeared from the website altogether.
UPDATE: in August 2010 and September 2010, several North American TVI Express member websites claimed that Tarun Trikha is "owner and CEO" of TVI Express. However, they offered no proof. Why would they call Tarun Trikha CEO and owner if nobody told them to?
UPDATE: In February 2011, Tarun Trikha's name appeared as contact for domain name tviexpress.com, with the India address listed.
* Who is Tarun Trikha?
Tarun Trikha, who name can also be spelled "Parun Trika" or "Tarun Trika", is an Indian who usually lives in Bangalore India. His own profile claims he is the CEO of "V2 Group", and is referred by many as CEO / President of TVI Express. He is also the listed contact of TVI Express Inc as listed in the tviexpress.com domain registration.
Tarun Trikha's profile on MoneyMakerGroup indicated that he was an IT student learning about multi-level marketing opportunities.
There is no information on V2 Group. The website, as of June 19th, 2011 goes to a "coming soon" page.
Blog entries by Chinese TVI Express members dated June 2009 indicated that Tarun Trikha appeared at an event at Shenzhen, China as "Indian Leader", one of only six presidential associates at the time, and the only one from India. This lead to speculation that he is "member zero", or the first person to join TVI Express.
For over a year, Tarun Trikha's name appeared on "advisory board" list. According to TVI Express website, Advisory board is composed of a special select group of existing distributors, received extra training in motivation and will be sent to various TVI Express events. This would indicate that Tarun Trikha was a distributor, not a corporate member of TVI Express.
Tarun Trikha's name was mentioned in South African reports of TVI Express fraud. Apparently when South African members asked Tarun Trikha for clarification on legal status of the company, they were left with no answers, something about "verifying their account".
Many have pointed out that if Tarun Trikha is indeed CEO of TVI Express all along, is it considered fraud for him to present himself as merely a distributor (albeit a senior one, i.e. advisory panel member) for years? If he was NOT CEO of TVI Express until 'recently', who was? And how does a mere member get to be CEO? TVI Express and Tarun Trikha thus far have no responded to these questions.
Recruiting vs. Cycler Recruiting
Express distributors claim they are recruiting for a club. However, this
makes no sense. In a normal 'club', a member just pay a fee, and enjoy
the privileges of the membership. They are not required to recruit
additional members, nor do they get paid for recruiting. TVI Express do
both: ask members to recruit at least two people, and pay members money
when the "matrix" is filled. Furthermore, there are doubts as to if the so-called benefits that are provided to members are actually worth anything.
It is legal for a recruiter to recruit an employee and get paid for it, but it is NOT legal for a recruiter to recruit another to be a recruiter and get paid for it, and that just recruited recruiter is also expected to recruit even MORE recruiters. The former is simple job transaction, and is "pure recruiting". The latter is cycler recruiting, and is a sign of pyramid scheme.
Business or scam?
TVI Express has organized its compensation package around a pair of 2x3 matrices. However, those have lead to charges that it is actually a pyramid scheme.
* What does TVI Express actually sell?
According to old TVI Express FAQ, "you don't need to sell any products". However, the FAQ also states that to get paid, you do need to recruit two people, and teach each to recruit two more people. This had lead to charges of TVI Express being a pyramid scheme. TVI Express have no comment on these charges at all, except to excise this passage from their FAQ sometime in May 2011. Its FAQ now claims that you do need to sell products. However, it never explained what those products are. There is also no section on TVI Express website called "products". This has lead to critics speculating that this revision is clearly a smokescreen.
TVI Express has already been outlawed in China and its members arrested for operating pyramid schemes. It is also declared a pyramid scheme in Hungary, Czech Republic, Australia, State of Georgia (USA), South Africa, Namibia, and more. Repeated request to TVI Express for comments has not been answered.
Furthermore, "do not have to sell any products" is in direct conflict of their claimed goal of being "next giant in the direct selling industry". If there is no selling, there is no direct selling. TVI Express thus far have yet to issue an explanation on why do the two statements conflict. Its answer thus far was to remove the part about not sell any products from its FAQ, but it had yet to explain what are the distributors supposed to be distributing.
* Do they sell products or membership?
Some TVI Express distributors have claimed that they are actually selling membership in a travel club, despite there is NOTHING on TVI Express website that claims it is any sort of a club. The closest mention of a "club" is a review by CitizenCorps, but that review has since been retracted.
Furthermore, in a club, you enjoy real benefits, such as discounts and free trips. The discounts allegedly offered by TVI Express are actually provided by Travelocity, and Travelocity.com, which is free to use, shows the same price as TVI Express "back office".
There is also the matter of TVI Express claiming to be using network marketing or multi-level marketing as its business model. Here's definition of network marketing:
Multi-level marketing (MLM) is a marketing strategy in which the sales force is compensated not only for sales they personally generate, but also for the sales of others they recruit, creating a downline of distributors and a hierarchy of multiple levels of compensation. Other terms for MLM include network marketing, pyramid selling, and referral marketing. -- Wikipedia
The definition is very clear... Network marketing is a MARKETING strategy to sell things, be it service or product. The idea is sell from company to outside consumers. If TVI Express is a travel club, then it is NOT a network marketing business. Thus, the "travel club" explanation makes no sense.
Also TVI Express just announced that they are charging $150 to redeem the 7-day 6-night accommodation certificate you get with your membership. This have lead to charges that the membership fee of $250 is nothing but a buy-in to a pyramid scheme, since it surely does not buy the 7-day 6-night accommodations.
TVI Express has no comment on these charges.
* Refusal to acknowledge resemblance to pyramid scheme definitions
Pyramid scheme, or its relative, the Ponzi scheme (also known as endless chain), are outlawed almost everywhere, including India, and European Union.
TVI Express thus far has refused to acknowledge that their compensation model fits definitions of pyramid scheme as issued by the American Federal Bureau of Investigations, the European Union Consumer Fairness Directive, and most other lawful definitions of pyramid scheme. Any solicitation thus far for comments have been ignored.
Some TVI Express distributors are known to have invented some alternate definition of pyramid scheme in order to explain why TVI Express is not a pyramid scheme. Some examples of their bogus explanations include:
- just because it looks like a pyramid doesn't mean it is a pyramid scheme
Note: Does not actually explain why TVI Express is NOT a pyramid scheme, but instead uses "poison the well" technique to get you to doubt the conclusion without rebuttal
- a cycling forced matrix is not a pyramid scheme
Note: Again, if you recruit people and get paid for it (and those people will do the same), it is a pyramid. Specifically, the 8-ball scheme variant of pyramid scheme (look it up)
- it pays people so it's not a pyramid scheme
Note: this is bogus because pyramid scheme pays the guy on top. The rest get cheated. Just look at Bernie Madoff's Ponzi scheme
If you see explanations issued by TVI Express supporters, you should read actual local legal definitions of pyramid scheme instead of recruiting speech. Unless they are lawyers, they are not qualified to give legal advice, and telling you whether something is legal is "legal advice".
Finally, TVI Express has been declared a pyramid scheme in China, Australia, US, Hungary, South Africa and several other countries. It is under investigation in even more.
NOTE: No advice is given here. You should reach your own conclusions based on all facts given. Consult a lawyer or law enforcement agency if you need advice regarding law.
* Payment problems
TVI Express for many months only accept bank wire transfers, or payment through payment processor such as Liberty Reserve (and later, Solid Trust pay). As none of these methods allows rescinding payments, this had lead to charges that TVI Express specifically chose those methods to prevent people canceling their memberships.
Later, TVI Express did start accepting credit cards, but canceled or suspended it many times. Tarun Trikha, in a conference call, claimed it was due to fraudulent chargebacks that they had to suspend accepting credit cards. However, that cannot be confirmed, and logically does not make sense. Chargebacks costs the company nothing. Fraudulently obtained memberships can be easily canceled and payout from eWallet rescinded.
Fraud was so rampant that Solid Trust Pay cancelled their relationship with TVI Express in April 2010 very quietly without any announcement. The fact was never announced by TVI Express as well. In fact, Solid Trust Pay is still listed on TVI Express webpage.
TVI Express has no comment on these charges.
* eWallet problems
TVI Express payment, either for cycling out of the two boards, or for 'residual income', actually goes into an eWallet, which basically is TVI Express member's "account balance". In order to convert that into real money, fees must be paid to 1) convert eWallet into eVoucher for no fee, than sell eVoucher to new recruits 2) request conversion of eWallet amount to a payment processor, such as SolidTrustPay (no longer available) or Liberty Reserve, pay various fees, then transfer the amount after fees to one's own bank account, 3) request wire transfer direct to one's bank account, and accept up to 20% "bank fees".
There are many reports from members that everything EXCEPT conversion to eVouchers are held up for days, or even weeks. This is difficult to confirm, but TVI Express have not denied such reports. This has lead to further charges by critics that TVI Express are encouraging conversion of eWallet payout into eVouchers. TVI Express have no comment on this matter.
There are even reports that uplines are stealing funds from their downline's eWallets. However, these cannot be confirmed.
Also see Voucher system problems below.
* Voucher System problems
TVI Express issues eVouchers to its distributors as part of the reward when they "cycle out", and also allows conversion of their eWallet pay into more eVouchers. However, because these eVouchers have no use except as cash equivalents, to be invested in either more memberships in TVI Express (either by the member him- or herself, or sold to new members), this has lead to charges of TVI Express being a Ponzi scheme.
In a Ponzi scheme, also known as an endless chain (and a pyramid scheme is a form of Ponzi scheme), the people who join late pay those who joined early, either directly, or through the intermediary (such as the scheme leader). As long as more people join than people leave, those who leave can enjoy a "profit", taking more out than they put in. Critics claim that the eVouchers are TVI Express sanctioned direct money transfer from latecomers to early joiners, which is evidence of a scam.
TVI Express has not commented on these charges.
* More Voucher Problems
For a long time, TVI Express listed $15000 reward for cycling out of the "express matrix" (or express board). However, members complained that they are only paid $10000 into their eWallet.
In a conference call in October 2009 (hosted by PlanetTVI) Tarun Trikha, TVI Express advisory board member, explained that the payout to eWallet is only $10000. The other $5000 is a "group travel voucher" for certain "group events" yet to be held. In other words, the $5000 group voucher is worthless unless an event is held near your area. And even then there were no details on how you would redeem it.
In 2010, the $5000 disappeared from the TVI Express website altogether. Now the "board payout" only mentioned $10000.
* Under Investigation, and some members arrested in many countries
According to news reports around the world, police have investigated or arrested TVI Express members in a dozen different countries, including South Africa, China, Hungary, United States of America, Namibia, Swaziland, Tajikstan, Georgia (the country), Czech Republic, Indonesia, South Africa, India, and many other countries, all for "running a pyramid scheme" or similar financial fraud.
TVI Express has made many outrageous claims on its website that raised suspicions.
* Strategic alliances or mere affiliate?
TVI Express claims to have backings from "strategic partners" in the travel industry. Indeed, in their Powerpoint presentation, they used logos from many of the largest airlines, hotels, cruiselines, and more. Hundreds of members have posted on their blogs, articles, and websites claiming that TVI Express have alliances or partnerships with all the biggest names in travel.
However, a study of their "backoffice", from which you can order trips, revealed that the reservations were handled by res99.com, which is actually a part of Travelocity. A further search turned up World Choice Travel, which offers private-label booking portals, through Travelocity Partner Program. The buttons shown on WCTravel.com is identical to those on TVI Express's back office. At best, TVI Express has backing of Travelocity, and no one else, and it is merely that of an "affiliate" relationship.
TVI Express thus far have not released any names of their strategic alliance partners, despite repeated requests.This had lead to speculation that they do not actually have any. However, this cannot be confirmed.
In a conference call hosted by PlanetTVI, Tarun Trikha (TVI Express advisory board member) confirmed that TVI Express used World Choice Travel as its backend. A later message posted at an Indonesia TVI Express website, allegedly from Tarun Trikha, stated they have "corporate tie-up" with Travelocity.
Furthermore, newspaper Mallorca Zeitung of Spain reported that Marriott, Lufthansa, and Avis have initiated legal action against TVI Express for falsely representing them as partners.
TVI Express thus far have not commented on these observations.
Some TVI Express supporters have pointed to them being able to purchase hotel vouchers and enjoy vacations as some sort of proof of TVI Express legitimacy. However, analysis of published "receipts" and such points to TVI Express having booked trips through Gulliver's Travel Agency and/or HotelPros.com. Neither "corporate tie-up" was ever acknowledged or announced by TVI Express. However, the "95000 hotels" factoid from HotelPros was used in many TVI Express literature.
HotelPros.com is a travel company headquartered in Turkey with one office in New York. Size of the company is unknown, but it is not likely to match Travelocity.
* Celebrity Investment, or intentional misquote?
On TVI Express's Expert Watch section, the quote from Warren Buffet was "best investment I've ever made", which at first glance, appear to be for TVI Express. However, further check of the entire page shows that all quotes on the page actually refer to the concept of network marketing in general, NOT TVI Express specifically. Mr. Buffet's quote actually refers to Pampered Chef, which is a MLM owned by Berkshire Hathaway, and was missing several words. The quote had been chopped, perhaps to manipulate the readers.
TVI Express also made the mistake of naming Warren Buffet as the richest man in the world. That may have been true in 2008, but it is now 2010.
This quote had lead to many TVI Express distributors claiming that Warren Buffet had invested in TVI Express, a rumor that TVI Express has thus far not commented upon, but did not refute either. This had to lead to charges that TVI Express had intentionally mangled to quote to mislead readers.
TVI Express has no comment on this subject. Some TVI Express distributors have claimed that TVI Express cannot be held responsible for mistaken impressions of its distributors. However, TVI Express had not issued any statements to correct the mistaken impressions.
Further check shows that TVI Express may have deleted a quote from Sir Richard Branson (of Virgin Group) praising power of MLM. This quote had been misinterpreted by many TVI Express members to mean Sir Richard Branson is an investor in TVI Express, a rumor that was neither confirmed nor denied by TVI Express.
Furthermore, Google Books search revealed that TVI Express actually stole the quotes from a Book by Randy Gage published in 2006 for most of the content on that Expert Watch page. That explains why the content was severely outdated when it wasprinted.
TVI Express had never acknowledge the source of the quote, which has lead to charges of plagiarism.
* Giving away luxury cars, yachts, villas, and more?
TVI Express claims to give away luxury cars (Benz, Audi, BMW are specifically mentioned, with their logos used), yachts, villas, and more. However, for many months, it was never explained HOW those rewards can be earned, nor any announcement that any one been awarded those special bonus prizes.
In a conference call in October 2009, TVI Express advisory board member Tarun Triikha stated that he will request TVI Express executives to clarify the "incentive" system. Some time in April or May 2010, some slides appeared on TVI Express website and some Thai TVI Express sites that explained that to earn those special incentives, you need to cycle through the Express board multiple times, like 10-20 times, depending on the specific incentive.
Repeated calls to TVI Express for number of people who had qualified for these incentives has gone unanswered. TVI Express had made no announcement on whether ANYONE had qualified for these incentives.
TVI Express Suspicions Photos and Pictures
TVI Express behavior is very strange when compared to other "direct marketing companies". This had lead to charges of impropriety, or at least not condemning inappropriate behavior by its members.
* TVI Express member websites posted fake photos
TVISmart.com, a Thai TVI Express website, posted a picture of TVI Express advisory board members Tarun Trikha (in black shirt), and Anny Kim, with Callahan Koon, "leaders" of TVI Express. However, a closer look at the picture shows one person was edited out of the picture (and very badly edited too), and the JPEG EXIF header indicated the picture was indeed retouched with Photoshop 7.0.
Furthermore, detailed examination shows the meeting was held in a McDonalds
* TVI Express apparently stole certificate border from another website
Based on analysis of design, TVI Express' certificate border was apparently stolen from another website, also for generating such certificates, then degraded and manipulated so they do not look the same upon casual inspection. See pictorial analysis to right. The designs are identical when examined close-up.
* TVI Express August 1, 2010 convention banner stole Alex Ross "Obamaman" picture
Instead of explaining, it is much easier to show you... just look to the right.
Not only they pirated the picture, they mutilated it.
* TVI Express stole pictures from clipart sites, stock photos, even other MLMs
Using TinEye image search engine, it was revealed that most (all?) of TVI Express photos were stolen off other websites without any sort of attribution. Their "Elevation Retreat" photo under events was stolen off Xango website (along with the name "Elevation Retreat"), and their "Black Tie Event" was stock photo stolen from GettyImages.
* Clones of TVI Express website are everywhere
If you do a search on any Internet search engine, you will find hundreds, if not THOUSANDS of websites about TVI Express. Many are direct clones of the existing tviexpress.com albeit with a bit of personal touch. Some are directly translated (by machine) to another language. For example, TVIExpress.vn (Vietnam) is a direct clone of TVIExpress.com, albeit ran through a translator and updated with some local contact information. Even the copyrights and disclaimers are copied verbatim.
This is a major no-no for direct selling companies. If you search Amway, you will not find any sort of clone websites online, because Amway's bylaws, which all independent distributors must agree to, prohibits such behavior. Amway has a name to protect. By contrast, TVI Express appear to not to care about its name being used by its members or others.
Only in 2010 did TVI Express put up a "copyscape" banner that says "do not copy this website". However, a search using the Copyscape clone site scanner shows thousands of clones already out there, and thus far there is no announcement from TVI Express that they are going after any of its members representing themselves as TVI Express.
* TVI Express distributor, or TVI Express themselves?
Due to lack of distinction between TVI Express itself and its members, some of the information spreading around the Internet is very hard to attribute. Some of the complaints previously mentioned have been addressed by some members, but since a distributor is NOT the company, their explanation are at best, UNofficial, or at worst, outright contradictory.
In most direct selling or network marketing companies, there is a set of bylaws that all distributors agree to upon joining, including not to misrepresent the company, not to misrepresent themselves as an employee of the company, and so on and so forth. Amway's bylaws are easily found on their website. By contrast, TVI Express has no such bylaws. As a result, many members have made impossible and outrageous claims (including "Warren Buffet owns a part of TVI Express!") and thus far there has not been any disciplinary action against any member who have made such misrepresentations.
* The 7-day 6-night vacation controversy
One thing you supposedly get upon joining TVI Express is 7-day 6-night accommodation at a 5-star hotel for two and buy-one-get-one-free domestic flight offer. However, there are major problems with this offer.
- the 5-star hotel offer was later downgraded to 3-5 star, and there was no mention of this downgrade anywhere on the website
- no list of participating hotels was ever published. A limited list of 11 properties in India was mentioned in one of the announcements, but no other hotels outside of India were ever mentioned in official correspondence.
- TVI Express announcements claimed "thousands" have enjoyed the vacations, when members also claimed 600000 members all over the world. That is a trip redemption rate of 1.5%, even if one accepts "thousands" to be 9000.
- TVI Express had so much problem with redemption that it gave everybody 6 extra months to redeem the trip (it was supposed to expire in 12 months), and was supposed to roll out a new "booking engine" to handle the requests automatically on March 1, 2010, more than a year after it launched.
- TVI Express had deleted an announcement on March 5, 2010, pleading for more time for the booking engine to go online. The announcement was archived on its clone sites.
- TVI Express thus far has still NOT implemented the new "booking engine" or "portal", as of May 10, 2010, according to member reports. However, there is no such announcement on TVI Express website. If you only go by the announcement, the portal had been up since March 1, 2010, but that is false.
- TVI Express apparently opened up the booking portal on June 9, 2010. However, it also announced that it is charging USD $150.00 for "processing fees and taxes" for this "free trip", despite there was no such language that allows for such fees or taxes on the certificate itself.
- TVI Express announced that as compensation they will give you 1 extra day and up to 6 extra people can join you. Then a week later, released another announcement that took back all of these bonuses such as extra day and extra people. In fact, in order to redeem you have to direct deposit money into their Indian bank account.
- TVI Express put announced a list of about 100 available hotels, but they are all in India or nearby. No mention of any hotels in the rest of the world.
- TVI Express announced that the global "taxes and fees" to redeem the trip is $150 USD. However, Indians got a 25% discount, while Indonesians got a 9% surcharge, based on the amounts given in the announcement and the exchange rates.
- TVI Express later announced that you can redeem your trip half-sized (4-day 3-nights) if you wish, and you apparently get a few more choices. However, taxes and fees were not revealed though unconfirmed reports puts it at about $100-110 USD.
- Reports from South Africa revealed that many members were told they had NO booking at all upon arrival, or the booking was valid, but unpaid.
- The companion ticket offer was also quietly withdrawn in 2011. Now, it's hotel only, no plane tickets at all.
TVI Express thus far have no comment on the problems of the booking engine, and refuse to acknowledge the now "unofficial" announcement, or any explanation why they keep going back and forth on the trip redemption details, the "taxes and processing fees", and so on.
* The member list scroller on TVIExpress.com is apparently fake
TVI Express website has a "scroller" on the right that says "Today's members". However, examination of the code in the scroller shows that the data source it is attached to is actually static, and never changes, leading many to charge that the member list is a fake. Repeated visits to TVI Express at random times indeed shows that the list never seems to vary.
Later the scroller is changed somewhat, but retrieving the data shows that it was simply the same 500 entries randomized.
TVI Express have no comment on this allegation.
* TVI Express claimed to have donated to UNICEF, then denied having ever claimed so
For many months in 2009, TVI Express had a webpage named "commitment" under "community". It claims they have donated funds to UNICEF, the UN children's fund.
However, if you look at the website now, there is no such link.
Yet if you search on Google for "TVI EXPRESS UNICEF", you will find that the webpage itself is still on TVI Express website. It is just NOT LINKED ANY MORE.This was first noticed in January 2010, though it may have been removed earlier.
Some claimed to have queried UNICEF and found no record of TVI Express having EVER donated a penny to UNICEF. This cannot be confirmed.
This removal has lead many to doubt whether TVI Express had ever donated to UNICEF. TVI Express has no comment on why they have removed all links to that page.
* TVI Express critic website attacked two days after releasing a scathing review
Ted Nuyten's website http://www.businessforhome.org/ was hit by distributed denial of service cyberattack two days after it had released a scathing review of TVI Express, taking down the server and the ISP was forced to disable the website as they apparently were not able to block the attack. The website was calling Tarun Trikha, alleged leader of TVI Express scam, "Bernard Madoff of India". While there is no conclusive proof that TVI Express is behind the attack, the timing of the attack is too close to be a coincidence.
* No answers for all these questions
As the preceding complaints and concerns show, TVI Express have left a LOT of unanswered questions. Thus far, they have shown no intention of answering any of them officially. While it is not illegal to not answer questions, it leads to complaints and suspicions that it may be operating illegally, or have something to hide. However, that is mere speculation.
If you have more TVI Express complaints, unanswered questions, and suspicions not listed here, please feel free to add them in comments.
If you are going to a TVI Express meeting soon, you may be interested in "16 Questions you should ask TVI Express"
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