Review SDL Income Program
SDL stands for: Success, Determination, and Long-term wealth and was established in 2001 with the Head Office in Cape Town and branches in Pretoria, Johannesburg, Durban, Port Elizabeth and the company operates on a multi level marketing (MLM) model to market a funeral cover policy as their main product through their independent agents.
SDL Administrative Services (PTY) LTD is an Authorized Juristic Representative under FSP No. 41507. Administrated by Pioneer Funeral Administrators. An Authorized Financial Services Provider FSP No. 41507 and it's worth to note that SDL are not registered at the FSP themselves and merely "piggyback" on the FSP No. of the relevant underwriter. (It seems they had several different underwriters over many years and it would be interesting to investigate the reasons for that)
As it happens I have a personal experience with SDL dating many years back but nevertheless wanted to join under my daughter to help her after her up-line said that Kobus Geldenhuys (one of the people involved in our original history) is no longer at the company but when SDL declined my application based on such history I started to dig up enough to raise serious questions about how legal SDL's business model is, let alone the moral and integrity of the company and management.
Company name changed a few times
SDL Administrative Services Pty Ltd
SDL Benefit Services Pty Ltd
SDL Financial Services (Pty) LTD
Why Are Management Hiding?
As a MLM type company it is important to be open about the company's leadership but in the case of SDL they hide their management and it may as well be for the reasons as further below as it appears that Kobus Geldenhuys are at least still involved as well as Bernard Smit, Luke Geldenhuys and Marinda.
I am not sure but think it's a legal requirement that financial service related companies must disclose their ownership and management.
Contacting SDL Johannesburg (Gauteng) branch I learned that Frikkie Boshoff that is listed on their website as responsible for the Gauteng region, are just a SDL member and without any addresses or landline numbers and because everybody always have to contact Head Office, it's reasonable to suspect that there are in fact no official and real provincial offices.
Legal MLM Scheme or Illegal Pyramid Scheme?
As per the Consumer Protection Act No 68 of 2008. Clause 43. Pyramid and related schemes
(4) An arrangement, agreement, practice or scheme is a pyramid scheme if
(a) participants in the scheme receive compensation derived primarily from their respective recruitment of other persons as participants, rather than from the sale of any goods or services; or
(b) the emphasis in the promotion of the scheme indicates an arrangement or practice contemplated in paragraph (a).
It's worth to note that there is a fine line between an illegal pyramid scheme and a legal mlm scheme that operates on a pyramid based structure and the most important difference between the two is that an illegal pyramid scheme offer nothing or almost nothing of trade value while a legal mlm scheme offer real products or services with good trade value. Or in other words, an illegal pyramid scheme focus on recruitment of new down-line members while a legal mlm scheme focus on both their products and recruiting of down-line members and the question is which one get the most focus.
- Based on that SDL do offer some products of some value but their whole focus is entirely on the recruitment of down-line members as a means to generated income and not on such products and it's economic trade value itself as is evident of their own home page at https://sdl.co.za as well as their very own name where SDL stands for: Success, Determination, and Long-term wealth.
- The most important aspect is however that SDL Administrative Services (PTY) LTD themselves DON'T have any product or service to offer and their whole business and model is based on a pyramid scheme as the relevant products are those of other companies and not their own.
As per the Consumer Protection Act No 68 of 2008. Clause 38. Referral selling.
1) A person must not promote, offer, supply, agree to supply, or induce a consumer to accept any goods or services on the representation that the consumer will receive a rebate, commission or other benefit if
a) the consumer subsequently
i) gives the supplier the names of consumers; or
(ii) otherwise assists the supplier to supply goods or services to other consumers; and
(b) that rebate, commission or other benefit is contingent upon an event occurring after the consumer agrees to the transaction.
The implications of above is also that it's illegal to promote of sell products or services based on the potential referral commission income rather than the product or service itself so the question on what is legal or not again depends on how much attention and focus the products or services with commercial value receive compared to the potential income thereof.
To understand what the law try to prevent, one must think about the COMMERCIAL VALUE of what is being offered and with for example a normal MLM scheme such as Herbal Life their primary income is from the sales of products and the company can most likely survive even if all their agents resign but in the case of SDL almost everything is based on the income they generate from the lower end of the pyramid and without any agents the company will fold overnight.
As per the Consumer Protection Act No 68 of 2008. Clause 41. False, misleading or deceptive representations.
1) In relation to the marketing of any goods or services, the supplier must not, by words or conduct
(a) directly or indirectly express or imply a false, misleading or deceptive representation concerning a material fact to a consumer;
(b) use exaggeration, innuendo or ambiguity as to a material fact, or fail to disclose a material fact if that failure amounts to a deception; or
(c) fail to correct an apparent misapprehension on the part of a consumer, amounting to a false, misleading or deceptive representation, or permit or require any other person to do so on behalf of the supplier.
In this regard SDL clearly make false, misleading or deceptive representations as even their name that stands for "Long Term Wealth" represent because they let prospect as well as existing members believe that it's long term wealth and you'll receive your income for as long as the downline members keep paying, but in reality the moment you resign or they booted you out, you immediately loose everything.
Even worse is that with such model it's actually to the benefit of such company to deliberately cause problems and hardship in order to drive members away or to give them reason to boot members out that dare to stand against such practice as they will, as company, immediately save the commission payable to such member and this time indeed long term and for as long as the downline members keeps paying.
Incomplete and Missing Down-line Members
Just like the accounts at a bank are CRITICAL and the most important relationship tool between a bank and their customers, the DOWN-LINE is the most critical and important part of any MLM or MLN scheme because the down-line represent everything that MLM stands for.
Unfortunately with SDL they don't seems to care and many members complained that their down-line is a complete mess with missing members that they signed up while complaints are met with contempt from Head Office and even mere members like a Landa somebody that think she owns the whole SDL said she WON’T TOLERATE any critic against SDL.
Fact of the matter is that out of for example 40 submitted applications, only 6 appear on the actual down-line after weeks even while several was indeed registered and already started to build their own down-line so under who else than the original referral are they?
2 Months and still without policy documents
I am aware of one case where someone already sign up and paid but still waiting for a policy document from SDL after 2 months so the question arise whether the delay is on the part of the policy issuing company or did SDL received the premium but delaying the registration of the policy as there is NO PROOF whatsoever that an policy exist in turn for the premiums paid?
Members being debited even after cancellation
This is actually just like almost everything else not new and even so far back as 10 years ago it was still a huge problem with SDL so after 10 years nothing changed. Here and also See Attached Explosive Letter
Fact is SDL Management treat at least some lower pyramid downline members with contempt and they are required to work through some "senior members" like Landa that in turn treat downline members without any respect even while SDL themselves advertise and claim that each new member is an INDEPENDENT agent so it's at very least false advertising that is also llegal as per CPA Act No 68. Clause 41. False, misleading or deceptive representations.
Problematic signup procedures
Even with todays technology that make online signup and management so much easier SDL still use a very problematic sign-up procedure where application forms are send to upline members that handle it further so it's strange that after so many years SDL still use the same signup procedure unless it's perhaps on purpose to prevent members from spotting problems?
Actually I learned that SDL HAD an online registration system for new agents during at least so far back as 2009 so why on earth did they dropped it to go back to a system out of Noah's Ark and what cause so much problems and lost members? Proof Here
It's like, instead than deposit your money into a cash accepting ATM right beside you, being forced to hand your cash to some stanger, that in turn hand the cash to some other stranger that perhaps again do the same before your money are deposit in your account, but neither of them nor the bank provide you with any proof that your money was deposit and the bank accounts itself is in such shambles that nobody can get an accurate balance or transaction trial from the bank so you work your arse off but for what? Not the type of bank and system anyone in his right mind will trust is it?
The history of SDL under Kobus Geldenhuys
I joined SDL around the end of 2007 / start of 2008 together with some other people to establish the very first online sdl group and call center but after some time problems started to arise due to incomplete and missing down-line members that we could easily detect on our own systems. Back and forth with HQ don't solve the problems until an article appeared that a Mr Wandi Goliath received a vehicle from SDL after builded a down-line of some thousands.
This immediately rised red flags because Mr Goliath was recruited and assigned under OUR down-line and was on my second level while none of us saw such big down-line under us or received anything from our initial hard work and referral of Mr Goliath.
In short Kobus Geldenhuys as CEO of SDL acknowledged in writing that Mr Wandi Goliath was placed under TEN different DOWNLINES and there is nothing wrong with that even while the whole world would agree it's unheard of that you can even be in just two different MLN downlines, let alone TEN.
Goal of any MLM scheme like SDL defeated
The whole goal of any MLM scheme is based on agents that join in order to build their OWN DOWNLINE and received commission purely based on the agents that they recruited in and under their own down-line so if any agents and those under them moved to under other down-line it is perhaps not legal fraud but definitively moral and integrity wise bankrupt.
We all was booted out of SDL after questioning this and SDL refused to pay any monies due and it's ironic that Mr Wandi Goliath himself later get the boot from SDL too. Read His interesting Story Here
I will send this information to the FSB and Ombudsman but until then I can't say whether SDL is legimate or not until such investigations was done but I for one won't trust a bank manager that move money between client accounts at will and then claim it's his right to do so. I really hoped that SDL (that I not heard of for a long time) was indeed under new and more honest management but unfortunately it's still the same guys even while SDL seems to kept it secret and one can only wonder why.
SDL stands for: Success, Determination, and Long-term wealth perhaps for SDL management and upper members yes but for anyone else with such bad service, unfair and unetical behaviour I don't think so.