It’s a well known fact…

That if you fold a piece of paper in half fifty times, your paper would reach the sun! Or at least, that’s what the good folks over at Vox Telecoms tell us.

I heard this on my radio tonight as I was driving home. The advert also claims that if you sign up to be a Vox telepreneur you will be able to achieve the same exponential growth in your financial investment as you would if you were to build a paper bridge to the sun.

Personally I have never been able to fold a single sheet of paper in half more than seven times, but maybe I was just never trying hard enough. In January of 2002, high school pupil Britney Gallivan derived the following formula for folding paper;

scientic formula
This formula relates the number of folds possible in one direction (n) to the minimum possible length of material (l) and the material’s thickness (t). Britney then deduced that in order to fold a piece of paper 12 times she would need a piece of paper 1,2 km long. Britney found the piece of paper which would suit her needs, an $85 roll of toilet paper. She carefully measured and folded, measured and folded, for a marathon seven hours. After this superhuman act of patience Britney had this masterpiece;
The twelfth fold earned Britney her extra math credit and propelled her into stardom for proving that paper can, in fact, be folded twelve times. Even more important though is the fact that her equation can be used to show that a piece of 80gm/ square inch paper could , theoretically be folded in half fifty times and that that piece of paper would fall about 16 million kilometers short of the sun.
Vox’s second claim, that you can become fabulously wealthy by selling their product, is also inaccurate. When I clicked through to their website, the first red flag was the fact that they refer to this telepreneurship as a “Business Opportunity”. Reading through their website I am repeatedly reminded of one word “Pyramid”.
A pyramid scheme is a fraudulent business model in which people who sign up early in the life of the scam will make the most money, and the people who they sign up later on make practically no money. what makes a pyramid scheme illegal is that it has no product to offer, only the incentive to earn money from the “registration fees” of people who sign up after you do.
Multi-Level Marketing schemes are the bastard offspring of the pyramid scheme. The MLM has a product to offer, although these products tend to be overpriced and not of higher quality then the supermarket bought alternatives. What sets the MLM products above readily available commercial products is the fervor with which “independent” dealers try to sell them.
My own experience with AMWAY (the filthy rich, misogynistic granddaddy of MLM schemes) is that the products are painfully expensive and no better then Pick ‘n Pay’s Choice brand. My close friend who was trying to sell the AMWAY “Business Opportunity” was forced to use as many of their products as possible to try and recoup some of his losses through their rebate system and he worked his knuckles to the bone, irritating and alienating friends and family to try and build his “network” and all he got for it was sadder and lonelier.
AMWAY not only sells these overpriced products, but a huge chunk of their revenue comes from selling self-help books, cassettes and videos. As long as they are convincing you that “YOU CAN DO IT!” they will be making money out of YOU!
In this way Vox is no different. When you sign up for their “Business Opportunity” you have to pay R500 (that’s about $62) to receive your Dealer Pack. What, exactly, this lovely dealer pack consists of I cannot say as there is no  forthcoming information on their website. You also receive the wonderful opportunity to sell their cutting-edge products (voice over Internet (VoIP) telephony, broadband options such as ADSL, 3G and
iBurst, direct international dialing, and online faxing). Not that cutting edge really. And as they state in their FAQ page, their cutting-edge options are more expensive then Telkom’s (our South African national telecoms provider). So why should you sign up to pay more for a product which is readily available through various agencies in SA?
Their reasons for why you should become a Vox telepreneur today are;
  1. To subsidize your communications costs
  2. To supplement your income
  3. To become self-employed
  4. To start a significant full or part-time business

In addition you would have to pay R300 for the initiation of your Vox phone line and R49 per month for the subscription to that line.

The subsidies offered as rebates are so small, so tiny, that they will never even cover your own outgoing calls, never mind let you earn any kind of income from them. As a dealer you also receive R25 when you sign another sucker onto the con and a further R4 to R7 per month from each of those suckers, based on their call volumes.

You would have to build a tower of people in your “downline” from here to the sun before you could call this pissy income any kind of “significant” business.

Vox probably makes more money from their “independent” dealers on sign up then they do throughout the term of that dealer trying to sell their products.

If you want to be a salesman, get a job, earn a fixed salary, enjoy benefits like company cars, cellphones and fully equipped offices. Do not be misguided by the false hope offered by MLM schemes like Vox.

If you want to be an entrepreneur, you already KNOW that.


4 responses to “It’s a well known fact…

  1. Pingback: 2010 in review « The Skeptic Detective·

  2. MLM scams seem to be fading in the United States. In the 1990s, they were all over the landscape. There were even books published on how to choose an MLM. There was even a very-thinly-disguised pyramid scheme that involved selling “reports”, which were just instructions for runing the scam. That one must have been a bonanza for photocopy shops and the Postal Service, because most people didn’t yet have Internet access.

    On Usenet newsgroups, the generic name for this sort of crap was “MAKE MONEY FAST!!!!!!”

  3. Paper folded 50 times: 2^50 = 1125899906842624 pieces of paper stacked on top of each other.
    Mean distance to the sun from earth: 1.496e+11 m = 149600000000 m
    1.496e+11 m / 2^50 = 0.000132871491587 m = ~0.133 mm
    So paper 0.133 mm think folded 50 times would reach to the sun. That sounds about right to me. 😉

    Regarding their pyramid scheme, it certainly sounds fishy… Also see this thread:

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