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In the world of car deals, shoppers may be used to the typical runaround by used-car dealers. You may have heard of car owners swindled by sellers. But, have you heard about the free cars offered to top salespeople of direct-to-consumer sales companies. Other names for these companies include multilevel marketing (MLM), referral marketing, network marketing, or some other catchy combination of words. Others may call them pyramid schemes. But free MLM cars may cost more than you think.

The classic pink Mary Kay Cadillac may not be a free car

Possibly the most popular example of free MLM cars is the iconic fleet of pink Cadillac cars offered by Mary Kay cosmetics to its most valuable sellers. CarBibles reported on the question of whether these free cars are actually free–-and suggested that there’s a deeper secret here. 

According to the Mary Kay website, the Career Car program (the one that gives the pink ladies their pink cars) is “one of the best car incentive programs in the direct-selling industry.” What makes this incentive the best-in-class? Well, we’re not really sure. The website doesn’t offer many specific details, and CarBibles reporters weren’t able to coax anything out of the company.

That blush pink shade isn’t one of the craziest car colors, but it is memorable. And, according to CarBibles, it may not be all that free.

Free MLM cars may actually be leases

A pink Cadillac Escalade parked in a neighborhood. Free MLM cars like these can come with a lot of strings attached
A Mary Kay Cadillac Escalade | George Rose/Getty Images

While there are both pros and cons to leasing, a typical lease usually includes a cut-and-dried contract that’s spelled out before you show up to shop. Free MLM cars like the Mary Kay Cadillac are allegedly a lease that’s full of surprises. 

According to CarBibles, qualifying for a company car requires a number of “downline consultants” and over $20,000 of sales. And qualifying likely isn’t the end-all-be-all. Once a team member meets the standards (for just the baseline car), they need to continue selling large amounts of product per month in order to keep driving the fancy pink car. 

Allegedly, sellers who don’t meet the minimum sales numbers need to pay the company—reimbursing them for the “free” car payment. If a seller falls too far below their expected sales numbers, the company can take the car back.

These rules, if true, would keep top salespeople hitting the pavement hard to push product and make their sales numbers in order. In comparison, the actual cost to lease a non-pink-painted Cadillac (or Chevy, if you’re on the lowest tier) is significantly cheaper than the amount of product needed to maintain that status symbol. 

However, how many cars are just status symbols? For the people who drive them, it may be completely worth it.

Other companies that offer free cars

Free cars can be spooky. And free MLM cars that may require huge financial investments can be even spookier. But Mary Kay isn’t the only company to offer car incentive programs like this. 

Without diving too deep down into the rabbit hole of referral marketing/networking marketing/multilevel marketing companies and their bonuses, I was able to dig up a handful of other direct-sales car incentives. Another iconic MLM car is the Arbonne Mercedes-Benz. Direct Selling News lists ViSalus and Nerium with the Bummer Club and Roadmap to Lexus, respectively.

The Shaklee Dream Program has unique secrets for getting a free car, and Thrive/Le-Vel also has a program for getting its sellers into cars that seem like they cost nothing. For extremely successful salespeople, these free MLM cars may actually be that—free. But, with little rock-solid information to go off of, it seems like a bit of a pipe dream.

If you’re considering diving into direct marketing sales specifically as a way to drive a free luxury car—you may be better served by just putting pennies into your piggy bank.


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