If you're been approached by someone about joining Viridian Energy as an associate then you've probably heard them say something like this:
“Here's an incredible business opportunity you can get in on the ground level!”
Maybe they invite you to their house or a coffee shop to talk about the details but you can't help feel in your gut you're being taken for a ride. Should you trust your instincts? Is Veridian Energy a scam? Is there anything wrong with MLMs?
In this full and in-depth Viridian Energy review we will focus on what the products are, how the business opportunity works and ultimately, whether you should join or not.
I've looked into many MLMs like PureTrim, World Wide Group and Nutricellix and while I’m not the biggest of MLMs generally (for reasons we’ll go into) some are better than others. Let’s see how Viridian does.
Viridian Energy Review (At A Glance)
Founder: Michael Fallquist
Enrollment fee: $299
Overall Rank: Not recommended
Greener energy, cheaper electric bills, limitless earning potential. At first glance, this might sound like the perfect opportunity but dig a little deeper and you'll find not all is as it seems…
Customer complaints about high prices, half a dozen lawsuits, the pyramid scheme style commission structure and the fact 90% of associates make less than $28/month are just a few of things you need to know before deciding whether or not to join.
What Is Viridian Energy?
Viridian Energy was founded in 2009 by Michael Fallquist who was awarded the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year in 2012. Their offices are in Norwalk, Connecticut and Viridian Energy is currently operating in the United States and Australia.
As a multi-level marketing (MLM) company, they give independent associates the opportunity and structure to make money by promoting cheaper energy rates for electricity from greener, more eco-friendly energy sources like wind and solar power.
Their mission is simple: “To make green energy affordable and readily available.”
The latest income disclosure figures show Viridian Energy made $263 million in total revenue for 2016 and was recently ranked #59 in Direct Selling News' Global 100 list.
They're also a member of the Direct Selling Association.
According to Viridian, thanks to energy deregulation in many states, they are able to offer cheaper and cleaner energy than any other company out there. These are bold claims but if this is true, I'm all for going greener.
Veridian Energy Products
When you're looking at a potential business opportunity one of the most important things to consider is if these products are something you'll feel confident in selling and putting your name and reputation too.
As a representative your main job is going to be to try and convince people to switch energy suppliers, so let's take a look at what Veridian offers in terms of affordable and flexible rates and plans for their environmentally conscious customers:
This is the natural gas plan which claims to help neutralise your carbon emissions through buying carbon offsets.
The Everyday Green plan is for electricity customers who want to help protect the planet by using 20% local and renewable sources.
Clean & Simple Solar
Homeowners can pay to get solar panels installed and save money using clean energy. This is definitely a growing trend and a great way to help save the environment.
For full product details you can visit Viridian.com.
Is Veridian Energy Really Cheaper?
ElectricityWatch.org recently ran a Viridian energy rate comparison and found that their energy rates are “not attractive” and lower energy rates can be found elsewhere.
Viridian's rates are also variable which means they can change at any time. That's hardly reassuring as a customer, and not a good sign for someone thinking about promoting this company.
Is Viridian Energy Really Greener?
Viridian energy may be more expensive than their competitors but some people might still switch if they know the energy sources are greener. But are Viridian as green as they make out?
I think buying carbon offsets is definitely a good way to reduce our carbon footprints and installing solar panels to get 100% clean energy is a no-brainer.
But what about their gas and electricity sources?
This is where I feel Viridian are a little deceptive in how they market themselves. In the table below you'll see energy sources for Viridian's Connecticut customer's for 2013. (Interestingly this document has since been taken down and is no longer available.)
For a company claim to offer affordable green energy there's still a long way to go…
Viridian Complaints And Lawsuits
Every company gets complaints, but Veridian gets a lot more than usual. Let's take a look at the 2 most common.
1. False Energy Savings Claims And Higher Prices
According to the National Law Journal, in September 2014 a class action was bought against Viridian from customers claiming:
“The company uses a “bait-and-switch” sales model to lure them to sign up for the company’s purportedly cheaper electricity service that over time actually costs the households more.“
Legal News Line also reports of a New Jersey man filing a class action suit against them for “deceptive practices“.
2. Auto Renewal Of Energy Contracts Without Permission
According to Fox61, the State of Connecticut Public Utilities Regulatory Authority is investigating claims from consumers saying:
“Consumers allege that Viridian automatically renewed customers to a fixed rate contract at the end of a previous contract without customer consent or authorization.
If the customers then left Viridian by switching to another supplier or returning to Standard Service during the term of the renewed contract, Viridian assessed an early termination fee on the grounds that the early termination fee provision was contained in the renewed contract.”
Is this really something you want to promote to your friends and family?
What About Making Money With Viridian?
The reason it's good to know about the company history and common complaints is that these are likely the kind of issues you're going to be dealing with if you sign up as a Viridian associate.
I don't know about you but I never want to be involved in representing products and services I can't be 100% proud of.
Because you're putting your name to the company you're promoting and if it all goes belly up, it's you in the firing line.
Okay, so now let's look at the Viridian business opportunity and find out if you can really make money with this thing.
Viridian Energy claim to give a structure and commission plan to help every day people become successful business owners and take advantage of the deregulation of energy (17 states have deregulated energy so far).
The idea is you help people pay less for their gas and electric bills, save the planet create an income for yourself at the same time. Who wouldn't want that?
To sign up and become a Veridian associate you'll need to pay a $299 enrollment fee and an annual renewal fee of $59. This will give you access to a member's area and the ability to promote their products.
As with all direct selling companies, there is a leadership ladder with 6 levels and qualifying criteria for each level:
- Senior Associate
- Lead Consultant
- Senior Consultant
Your rank depends on your ability to find new energy customers and recuit other Viridian reps under you. This takes a lot of sales skill, time and effort but it's not impossible if you're good at this type of thing.
As with nearly every multi-level marketing company I review (with the exception of Wikaniko) their compensation plan is way too complicated and complex and you probably need to book a session with a lawyer to try and decipher it.
Signed up a new energy customer? You'll get a customer acquisition bonus plus a percentage of their energy bill each month.
But if you really want to make money with Viridian, you'll going to need to recruit others into your downline and help them find customers too.
The whole compensation plan is built around the idea of finding and recuiting others into Veridian. They have what's called “The power of 5” incentive which is where you sign up 5 customers in your 1st month, 5 in your 2nd month and in the 3rd month help each of them to sign up 5 of their own.
This means (5 + 5) x 5 = in total you'll need to find 50 people who want to switch their energy suppliers and start promoting Viridian in the first 3 months.
For 98% of people, signing up 5 new customers every month is going to be extremely difficult, especially when you factor in the fact the prices are higher and the energy sources aren't as green as they claim.
Here's a video explanation of how the business opportunity works and a more detailed view of how you go about earning commissions:
So How Much Money Can You Really Make?
In my recent Zija Opportunity review I talked about why 98% of people going into network marketing fail. It's a very sad but true statistic and unfortunately, Viridian follows this trend…
The most up-to-date income disclosure was published by Viridian in 2015 shows that over 40% of people who enrol with Veridian never make any money.
Those who make it to Associate rank earn only $5 per month on average. Those who make it to Senior Associate earn just $28 per month on average:
Do the math and over 90% of all Veridian associates made less than $28 per month.
It's clear we're not talking about life-changing amounts of money here. And this is keeping in mind that we don't know how much time, energy and money these people put into this to real very little reward.
Is Viridian Energy A Pyramid Scheme?
I've just shown you a chart that shows a vast majority of people losing money and a tiny fraction (less than 0.1%) of people at the top of the chain are making a lot of money.
But is Veridian a pyramid scheme? Well, it kind of depends on what your definition of pyramid scheme is.
Viridian is a multi-level marketing company otherwise known as a direct sales or network marketing company and their commission structure rewards those who recruit others under them.
According to Wikipedia a pyramid scheme is:
“… a business model that recruits members via a promise of payments or services for enrolling others into the scheme, rather than supplying investments or sale of products or services.
As recruiting multiplies, recruiting becomes quickly impossible, and most members are unable to profit; as such, pyramid schemes are unsustainable and often illegal.”
Do I think they're an illegal pyramid scheme?
No, because they have products you can promote to earn money.
But it's important to know that to qualify for the higher levels of the company and increase your commission percentage you WILL have to meet recruitment targets.
Here's an interesting quote from Veridian's income disclosure which I think says a lot:
“Your Rank depends on your own ability to acquire customers, recruit other Independent Associates who choose to work within your team, and then teach them how to duplicate within a successful system.”
Just because they're a product-based pyramid scheme doesn't mean they're a scam. I think they are legit, even if only a fraction of associates are making any money.
Should You Become A Viridian Associate?
Personally, I would never get involved with Viridian. I feel like they're using misleading marketing to get people to think their energy is cheaper and greener when it isn't.
I think their compensation plan is unnecessarily complex and the long line of customer complaints and law-suits against them will make this a hard sell.
Do you really want to nag your relatives, friends and fellow church members to switch energy suppliers? Do you really want to be “that guy?”
In my opinion, the reason 98% of people fail in the network marketing industry is that it's a lot harder than people think. It does require a certain skill set. I hate face to face selling but to succeed with Viridian you're going to need to do a lot of that.
And what do you do once you've burned through your list of contacts? We all have a limited number of family and friends we can harass before there's no one else left.
Thinking realistically, do you really think you can sign up 5 business owners under you in the next 30 days who can then sign up 5 others under them? Maybe you can, I don't know.
Ultimately it's up to you whether or not you want to join as an associate but my advice would be to give this one a miss. I just think it's a lot of hassle and stress for little to no reward.
A Better Money Making Alternative
You might find this hard to believe but I actually don't spend all of my waking hours sitting here complaining about network marketing companies…!
I've created several very successful web-based businesses I created that generate money for me all year round WITHOUT the need for face to face selling or recruiting.
Basically, I learned from Wealthy Affiliate how to build profitable websites based on any topic you're interested in and make money from them.
Since then I went from living in my mum's house in the UK to earning more than $7,000 a month and living the life of my dreams in Thailand.
It does take time and work to get everything set up, but put in the effort upfront and you can end up earning money around the clock.
Simon Crowe is the founder of The Make Money Online Blog and is on a mission to help as many people as possible kiss their bosses goodbye.
Get his free Affiliate Marketing Guide For Newbies to learn exactly how to build a real income online and make your dream business a reality.