Is the SE Pendant 0352 dangerous for your health?

I spend quite a bit of time reading forums on topics like business and living overseas. One thing that really bugs me, is from time to time you get people trying to promote MLM (multi-level marketing) or network marketing schemes.

Most of them are clones in some way of Amway, one of the most well known network marketing companies. From time to time a new company comes along offering fantastic new products and lots of new promises for people to make money.

Cosway or eCosway is one of these new companies. It was brought to my attention from a forum post that offered people to get set up in their own retail business for free! One thing I have learnt in life is that nothing is ever for free.

The way the company was being sold on the forum, was that anyone could apply to get their own Cosway store. When I checked the website, it talked mainly about people operating a virtual or e-commerce website. There were some pictures of physical stores, but I have never seen any actual stores. The compeCosway scamany has its head quarters in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and when I was there recently, I didn't come across any stores in any of the major shopping centers there.

Most companies have lists of their stores on their websites and information on their products. MLM companies though, usually only have a brief description on their company on the front page and then you need to become a member to view the rest of the website. This makes it difficult to get real information about the company and the company's activities.

Ecosway promotes itself as a way for people to save money on their shopping, but their products are mostly non-essential items with dubious health benefits such as slimming and beauty products. Just take at one of their products, the "Bioglo BodyLite Thermo-Active Body Shaping Gel". The product promises to "melt away" your body fat. Is there anyone who actually believes that you can apply a gel to your skin and you will lose weight? They even give a list of some of the product's ingredients: chilli pepper, essential oils, fruits and herbs.

Like many MLM companies, eCosway promises people to create a second income, "The combination of eCosway's unprecedented global business opportunity and unique, no breakaway Profit Plan allows you to build a fast, lucrative and everlasting income from the continuous and unlimited growth of your global network of consumers and Business Owners."

The problem is to start making any money, you need to purchase a certain amount of products every month. There is also an annual fee to become a member of eCosway.

While most MLM companies promise wealth and riches, the reality is that only the few people at the top actually make any real money. To stay as an active "business owner" with eCosway, you need to purchase a certain amount of product every month, so if you can't introduce anyone else to the company, you might even lose money with the scheme.

Update: Some of the comments on this article have accused me of not doing enough research. So, I decided to see what further information I could find on Ecosway and information about opening your own store.

About the company and its tactics on the share market I did find this quote by the edge Malaysia: "BHK (Berjaya Holdings Hong Kong), which is listed on the Hong Kong stock exchange, had been queried on a number of occasions about unusual market activity involving its shares." Source: http://www.theedgemalaysia.com/business-news/151284-bcorp-sells-cosway-to-hk-unit.html

About opening your own store, firstly that is restriced to women only in Malaysia. Due to anti-discrimination laws this would not be possible in many countries. eCosway likes to promote that anyone can open a store, the fact is it is not easy at all.

Firstly it would be impossible for every BO or business owner (eCosway member) to have their own store. Only a small percentage will end up being able to open a store. To open a store you need to pass an interview and exam. Test scores are not given to people who take the test and overall the process is criticized by people for not being transparent.

If you are able to go on to open your own store, you will need to work at least 12 hours a day, 7 days a week. Once you close your shop, you will need to spend some time calculating sales etc. You can employ staff but this will come out of your own sales commission. You have to meet sales targets or your contract could be terminated. The required sales are around 20 times the rent of the shop. Your profit is 5-10 per cent of sales.

You do have to pay a deposit of RM 10,000 to open the shop. Most of the expenses of running the shop are paid by eCosway, including rent, electricity etc. The operator of the "free" shop will need to pay for water, telephone installation and insurance.

To join as a business owner you only need to pay 100 RM. When you join you are given the opportunity to purchase set packages at discount at 40-50 per cent discount during the first 30 days. The 500eV package for example costs upwards of RM2,300. These packages are not compulsory but if you are interested in opening your own store, people will suggest you purchase the higher priced package to show that you are serious.

SE Pendant 0352

There has been some controversy over the SE Pendent 0352, which eCosway is selling.  From its website, the pendant "is an energy accessory that has been proven by reputable bodies to emit Far Infrared Rays (FIR) and scalar energy. It facilitates the conductivity & flow of Bio-Energy with the presence of germanium and invigorates the mind & body with its abundant negative ions."

Just who the "reputable bodies" are, the site does not say specifically.  The company makes various claims on the affect of wearing the pendent, including: improving your gold swing, making students more alert, increasing your metabolism and keeping your body trim and helping people with aches and pains. 

Sounds great, but the Hong Kong customs and excise department has urged people not wear pendents with enhanced radioactivity.  The report does not mention eCosway specifically, but the picture of the pendant the name, are exactly the same as the ones being sold by eCosway (not in HK however!) (http://www.info.gov.hk/gia/general/200909/09/P200909090271.htm).

Acting on information from the Department of Health that a pendant for sale was potentially harmful to health, officers of the C&ED seized 2,835 pieces of "SE Pendant 0352" from a chain store.

Samples of the seized pendants were sent to the Department of Health and the Government Laboratory for analysis and testing. Analysis results revealed that the radioactivity concentrations of radioactive thorium-232 and uranium-238 in the pendant were both above the limit recommended by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)for commodity products.   

According to the Department of Health, short term contact with the pendant would not result in immediate effect to health. As the radiation dose from a single pendant may reach 50% - 60% of the annual skin dose limit recommended by the International Commission on Radiological Protection, year-long contact with the pendant may result in erythema of the skin in some individuals. The risk of skin cancer also increases with the duration of contact.