Thanks for the welcome, Cheddar. Don't be concerned, I don't consider this discussion reason enough to let it affect my continued visits to the forum :)
Granted, the standard procedure for many MLM companies is to approach family and friends, but only because it's less daunting to speak to someone you know than cold calling. For me personally, I don't give a sales pitch to family and friends. Yes, I've told them about results that I've had on a product, and sometimes I give a free product to them to use for a specific need/challenge/situation that they may have mentioned before that they had. If they buy again after that product is finished, great! If not, then I don't push it. They may not want to buy it, but somewhere along the way they may meet someone who might be interested and they could refer that person to me. I do know, however, that not everyone is like that, and so I do understand the misgivings and "hostility" towards other distributors who do follow the "hard sell" way. (hard sell... not an accurate way to say it, but many would consider it to be that)
I'd be interested to know which vacumn cleaner it was that your parents were trying to sell. I ask only because I know of only 1 cleaner that was as expensive as that which an ex-boyfriend of mine had purchased. I thoroughly enjoyed using it. Would I ever buy it myself? *shrugs* It was a dream to work with when it was readily available to me and had a lifetime gaurantee on it, so I might consider it, but I'd definitely wouldn't buy one without a heck of a lot of consideration, and then after all that consideration, I probably still wouldn't buy it, even though I still think fondly of it now 15 years later, haha.
As for why these products aren't being put into a store instead of being sold this way? I can't speak for the other companies, but I know that with Herbalife it's all about the customer service. I want my customers to use the products correctly. I want them to know that when they're feeling like trash after the first couple of days that it's not a reason for them to stop using the product, but rather to push through just a few more days so that after that yucky detox period they will start to really feel the benefits of the product. I want to celebrate their successes with them, or help them to tweek the way that they using it so that they can find what works best for them.
Also, when Herbalife was started back in '81, all money that was made from this product (which wasn't earned by the distributors themselves) was used in research and quality improvements of the products. The founder didn't want to "waste" money on marketing and advertising which would have been necessary if they had placed the product in a store. I believe that these two reasons were the main reasons for Mark Hughes to choose this business model. At least, this is my understanding of it. It's only been recently, with our new CEO, that head office has started to do marketing, sponsoring of sports teams/events, and such like.
I apologise on behalf of MLM's to those of you who haven't had good past experiences with this business model before. Just please know that not every distributor out there is looking to force these products onto every single person they know/meet, even if we are passionate about the products we sell :) For some of us, it's not about the $$, but more about personal results, and I hope that if you do know someone who's interested in MLM, that you'll explain to them that they don't have to go "all in" just because their sponsor says that they should. Encourage them to take it slow and let the business grow naturally instead of trying to kick it off with a big bang.