My wife got into Pampered Chef & Stampin Up to get discounted products
When we lived in SoCal my wife got into these companies because she loved the products.
We still have a ton of Pampered Chef kitchen pots, pans, knives, etc., and she would do cooking classes a few times a month and do some parties. We'd make some money, not alot, but were mainly in it to get all the kitchen products she wanted. She would've made more if she was actually getting demonstrators to sign up...but she hated that part of it and just didn't do it.
She did the same with Stampin Up because at the time scrapbooking was a thing and wanted to build memories and she was very creative. At one point we had about 4 groups of 12 at our house doing scrapbooking parties. It was actually a great opportunity for her to actually make friends in our neighborhood and combine LDS members and non. Lots of really good missionary opportunities, that there's no way we would've had otherwise really, and she's still connected with many of these ladies.
She would make some money, and we could write off expenses so there were added benefits.
I've personally worked at a few MLMs in fact that's the reason I relocated to Utah because I was laid off. They paid me a good salary and I was able to support my family. I'm grateful for the opportunity to this day and have some of my best friends from that opportunity (even one that is on CB).
The most recent one I worked for I got laid off because I wanted to put pricing on our website and drive traffic from all the organic traffic I was helping drive...and the CEO actually asked in a company meeting while I was presenting - "What if I don't want all that traffic?" -which is really his way of saying what if I don't want to market direct to consumers for fear we'll scare away our distributors.
I will say there are typically far more customers than distributors that just like the product. The conflict comes is that distributors are the sales force and big time distributors typically run the company. They don't like corporate creating leads and business because that eats into their take. Almost all MLMs actually do put pricing on their website and you can buy direct.
I get the angst, I do. There's just more to it for me with the experiences I've had...and I've likened being the PR person for an MLM must be quite similar to Trump's communications director.