“I wrote to you a long time ago and argued with you about something you wrote about MadeBig. I don’t know if it was in the paper or on line. I was upset because you didn’t think much of MadeBig. I had bought in after a very nice, religious person invited me. I thought it was mean to tell people not to do it. I thought they would have a chance to make a lot of money.

“I apologize for arguing with you about that. I wanted you to write something else and say MadeBig was worth at least trying. You said you would not take back what you said unless you heard of someone making some money from MadeBig. I told you I would let you know as soon as I made money.

“You were right. I did not make money. I told a friend about MadeBig, and thought she would make money too. She didn’t make anything. She really tried. I think she told a lot of people to join. I lost all the money I put into it and she did too.

“Next time I will believe you. I am sure you checked it out and that was why you said to stay away from it.

“If you want to say anything about this, please don’t use my name because I am embarrassed that I fell for this even though I was warned. The reason I did is that the person who told me about it is so nice. She probably thought she was doing me a favor. She probably didn’t make anything either. She told me she had joined quite early. It cost more than $200.”

Well, it would be superfluous to say, “I told you so,” so I won’t. It doesn’t give me any pleasure to learn of people having lost money through pyramid or MLM (multi-level marketing) schemes. There are still individuals out there peddling them, though.

I remember being urged by someone to become involved in MadeBig. It seems to me I could join for half price for a limited time, something like that. I had been at some event on the Square, and this person was there. She was handing out little slingers with the information. I was supposed to call a certain number at 9 p.m. one of several nights and punch in a certain set of numbers. I would state my identity and listen to a talk.

Instead of doing that, I did some research on the company and on Transcend Marketing International, Inc., and the guy who headed the company.

Direct marketing is one thing; MLMs are not quite the same, are they? Selling a product for a fair price is one thing; developing a long “down line” to make money from other people’s efforts, in a profit-chain system, and recruiting others to do the same, turns direct marketing into direct and increasingly remote exploitation 

At the time my correspondent was invited to become involved in MakeBig, its thrust seemed to be selling stuff. People who signed up would be given customers, and it would be almost effortless to sell to them. Sign up at the right time and you would be given 300 customers. You would not have to go out and get those customers, because the customers would be assigned to you. (What, when and how much they would buy would be a different matter, I suppose.)

But the Salt Lake City-based outfit repeatedly changed its emphases and marketing plan. It has existed in one form or another since 1999, but always has had a small user base and a low volume of Web traffic.

After one wave of “agents” had invested up to $297 to come aboard and recruit others and promote site use, and some paid an additional $70 a month to attain special rank and qualify for a percentage of the take, the enterprise was remarketed and that business model was abandoned. Those agents got little or nothing for their investments.

Social networking was another feature offered at some points in MakeBig’s history, with members trading goods in the MarketExchange, connecting with local businesses and participating in games.

Games and social entrepreneuring and an unregistered foundation owned by MadeBig head honcho RichiRoane and called “Grant Wishes” are among the latest MadeBig activities I have seen.

My correspondent has done a service by reminding me of our earlier discussions about MadeBig, and telling about her experience. If you accepted a MadeBig invitation at some point, I hope you fared better and sympathize if you did not.