By Keith Raniere
In 1990, I started a business called Consumers’ Buyline, which sold groceries and consumer goods at discount prices to members of the organization.
A person could gain the purchasing power of hundreds or thousands of people through membership in the company and get better prices on household items.
Headquarters for Consumers’ Buyline in Clifton Park, New York.
The company also served as an agent for the consumer, putting the consumer on par with the large corporation. Consumers entering Walmart or Target are at the mercy of a large corporation’s pricing structure. This pricing structure is coupled with other protocols designed to benefit the corporation at the expense of the consumer.
Consumers’ Buyline was created to level the playing field, increasing consumer leverage. Therefore, consumers could buy goods that met their needs at lower prices.
As an entrepreneur, I transformed a five-person organization into a corporation of nearly 400,000 in a mere two years. I became a millionaire at the age of 30.
My company’s second full year of business, Consumers’ Buyline, Inc., generated approximately one billion dollars in sales. There was a feature on American Spotlight about it.
After two years, I had a net worth of $50 million.
But by standing up to some of the largest corporations in the United States, Consumers’ Buyline ruffled feathers and disrupted the hold these corporations had on American consumers. In response, several government agencies conducted investigations.
“With 200,000 sales people, sometimes things are said that are improper,” said Raniere at the time of the state investigations. “If that was the case, we terminate them as affiliates.”
Due to defending this, the company was financially strained. However, no court has ever found that the company engaged in fraudulent conduct. Due to the investigations, the company was forced out of business. The result was that large corporations continue to have unfettered control over consumers.
On September 3, 1996, Karen Unterreiner, Pamela Cafritz, and I entered into a Consent Order and Judgment with the New York State Attorney General. It stated that the representatives of Consumers’ Buyline deny any improper conduct, and no findings of wrongdoing have been made.
Consumers’ Buyline agreed to pay the Attorney General the modest fine of $40,000.
Other states reached similar settlements. There was no finding of fraud, however.
Where a court was asked to pass on the merits, there was never a factual finding adverse to the company.
Consumers’ Buyline was not shut down because of fraud. Furthermore, no court found fraud or wrongdoing.
Instead, the company ceased business in many states to end expensive civil litigation. Ultimately, the company sold its book of business, paid its creditors, and was administratively dissolved.
Keith Raniere hired actor Eddie Albert to be a spokesperson for Consumers’ Buyline.