My latest investigation is on a popular craft assembly program, Disciple’s Cross™. I had seen their ads all over the Internet and since I get so many questions about craft assembly companies, I thought it a perfect fit for an investigation.
For me, craft assembly is one of those things that I lump in with “data entry” and “envelope stuffing”. When I get an email from someone wanting to know if there are any legitimate ones, I usually discourage them from pursuing it. Typically, you pay for a kit, assemble the products and then send them back for approval and payment. What happens most of the time is that your work is rejected because they do not meet their impossibly high standards. BUT, I’d seen a lot of posts on bulletin boards about Disciple’s Cross™ and that people were actually making money with this.
So, I responded to one of the ads that I saw and ordered a kit. Here’s what’s happened so far..
Make Disciple’s Crosses™
Work from home. Make up to $2000
a month. No Selling Required!
I could sure use an extra $2000 a month. I wonder how many crosses I have to make to earn that much. Let’s see what the website says….
At the top of the page it says, “Who else wants to make $2000 a month?” yet further down on the main page it says:
“By becoming a Disciple’s Cross™ Producer, you could earn up to $500 or more each week when you follow my simple instructions.”
“Our Guaranteed Buy Back Program ensures that you never have to leave the comfort of your home to earn a healthy income. When you send in your finished crosses, I will pay you $1.25 for each cross that meets our quality standards, plus an additional $1.00 each for material reimbursement. I will also send you up to $5.00 per unit of 50 as reimbursement for your mailing expenses. In order to control my inventory and avoid unethical sweat-shop operations, I limit the number of units to eight units of 50 per week, per producer (400 crosses). This gives you the ability to earn up to $500 in pure profit.”
Full 30-Day Money Back Guarantee – We’ve taken out all the risk. If for any reason you decide Disciples Cross™ isn’t for you, just send your starter kit back within 30 days and I’ll buy it back from you at the full purchase price.
This does not include the shipping fees.There is a telephone number given at the website, which is a good sign. What I didn’t find was a legal terms page. This could also be a good thing if they don’t feel the need to cover themselves with lots of legal mumbo-jumbo.
So I read their FAQ’s. Here are some of the highlights:
Q. Is there a money-back guarantee? A. Yes, we have a generous 30 day money-back guarantee. If you decide within 30 days of receiving your Starter Kit that this ministry & business isn’t for you, you are welcome to return it for any reason prior to the submission of your test unit and I will buy it back from you for the purchase price.
Q. Will you reimburse the cost of the starter kit to me in full?
A. Yes! Once you have had eight units of crosses accepted (400 total crosses that pass inspection – about one week’s worth of work, if you do this full-time), you will be reimbursed the full cost of your starter kit.
Q. What if I want to keep them and sell them myself?
A. Go for it. You are not required to send any of your Disciple’s Cross™ necklaces to us. You are welcome to sell some or all of them yourself for a higher profit. You are still required to purchase your materials from Disciple’s Cross™ and take advantage of our volume purchases and our multitude of colors.
Q. Are your specifications unrealistically high or do you accept most of the crosses that are sent in?
A. Great question. There are scams out there where it is almost impossible to meet the given quality standards, and therefore it is difficult to get paid. That is not the case with Disciple’s Cross™. Your starter kit includes a professionally produced instructional video tape that shows you, step by step, exactly what you need to do to pass our inspection. Just follow our instructions and you will be paid for your work.
If, for some reason, we must return some of your crosses, we will also send you a quality control checklist with a detailed explanation so that you can easily adjust your technique to avoid the same mistakes in the future. We accept and pay for the majority of the crosses that are sent in to us.
Q. Is this a shady business or a scam?
A. I don’t mind addressing this question directly because it is only natural to be cautious. Actually, this is the most honest and up front home-based business that you will probably find out there. We pay you well to make a quality product that people want. Unfortunately, no one is able to prove their honesty before you get involved with them. But what I can do is tell you exactly who I am, why I am offering this opportunity, and then give you my phone number so you can do your due diligence. I am the senior pastor of New Horizon Christian Fellowship in Slidell, Louisiana and certainly cannot afford to jeopardize my reputation by running a scam. This is much more than a business to us, it is first and foremost a ministry. Take a look at some of the testimonies that come in on a regular basis.
Q. What’s the down side if I decide this opportunity isn’t for me?
A. It is important to me that you have absolutely no down side. That’s why we’ve made it completely risk free. Think about it this way: I’m giving you a 30-day money back guarantee plus I will reimburse you the cost of the starter kit after you turn in your eighth unit for payment. So what it boils down to is that you get your money back if you like it or you get your money back if you don’t like it. Either way you are getting a refund of the price of your starter kit. I would love to send you the starter kit free to begin with but people would take unfair advantage of me.
There are some testimonials at the site…
Every one of these are from people who sell the crosses that they make rather than sending them in. Hmmm….It makes my wonder why there are no testimonials from people who send in their crosses for payment.
Ok, so on May 26th, I placed my order. The cost was $69.95. I received my kit on June 5th- just over a week, not too bad.
In my kit is the following:
- An instructional DVD.
- 3 sets of colored wire (3 different lengths).
- A bundle of what is called simulated leather neck cord.
- A box of nails.
- A box of little ziplock bags, paperclips, tags and the little plastic loops to tie them on with.
- A square of wood.
- A finished necklace, tagged and bagged (as an example).
- An autographed picture of John Raymond? Um….ok.
Not included is the clear-coat polyurethane that I’ll need (this was made pretty clear at the site). So, I head into town to pick that up.
I pop in the DVD, spread out my materials and get ready to make some crosses!
First is an intro by John Raymond. He goes into the history of the crosses and the significance of the various parts. He tells me that he can make 12 crosses in an hour.
He explains that I can send my crosses in through the buy back program, but he really makes it sound better to sell them on my own.
He tells me the tools I’m going to need, so I stop the video and head into the garage to raid my husband’s toolbox. I’m going to need a pair of 10″ vicegrip pliers and a pair of 5″ needle nose pliers. Not a problem. He also suggests 3 other tools, but I don’t have those but I do have the first 2 so I’ll work with those. These are the 2 types you must have, the others are recommended, but not required.
Now we’re getting to the good stuff. John’s going to make one of the crosses himself so we can time how long it takes him. He talks while he’s making it and it looks fairly easy. It ends up taking him 4 minutes and 17 seconds. That means that he can make about 14 of them per hour. He explains that next he will make another one while explaining each step. Then, he’ll do it again with the camera zoomed in.
After John’s demo, he makes another one while explaining each step. Since I’m pretty impatient, I make one along with him. Right away, I see that I’m going to need a measuring tape, so I stop the DVD and go get that.
You have to use the pliers to bend the nails. You use the wooden board to press down on. The first 2 are bent at a 90 degree angle and it’s not that hard. The next set was bent at 90 degrees first and then you have to bend the tops to make little loops. It was a bit of a challenge to get the nails into the pliers so that they are perfectly lined up and so that you have a good grip. Still, it wasn’t that hard. It was hard to see what he was doing and I had to keep getting up to look closely at the screen. Remember, he said that he was going to make another one with close-up shots, so this bit was my own fault. I should have waited to make mine with the next one.
Now comes the wire wrapping. This was the hardest part. You have to wrap the wire really, really tight and there can’t be any spaces in between the rows of wire. This was the hardest part for me. I had to unwrap it and start over. You also have to cut the wire and use the pliers to rub out the rough end without scarring the wire on the front. This is hard! I wondered if I couldn’t use a dab of nail polish to disguise my scratches….
Now I had a finished cross and just needed to attach the cord and the tag and bag my necklace. While I thought this would be the easiest part, it wasn’t. I couldn’t see how to make the knot at all, no matter how close I got so I just fast forwarded to the closeup part for this. Also, I think that John is left handed, so everything he was doing looked backwards to me.
Ok, I’ve got my neckace completely done, tagged and bagged. I had started the DVD at 9am. With watching the intro and everything, it was now 10:40. I decided to make another cross with the closeups and see how long it took.
It was definitely easier following along with this part of the DVD. I could see a lot better. My second cross came out quite a bit better than the first one, but I know it wouldn’t have met the requirements if I had sent it in for payment. It took me about 12 minutes.
There is another step to making the crosses that we didn’t do in the first 2 examples. You have to dip the crosses in the clear coat and allow them to dry for 15-20 minutes before putting the cord on. Actually, you have to put 2 coats on and after the second coat you let them dry for a couple of hours. You dip them and then use the paper clips to hang them up to dry. You have to wipe away any drips that accumulate at the bottom.
After I made my first 2 crosses, my hands were pretty sore. I think that I would get used to it after a while, but I can’t imagine someone with arthritis being able to do this.
I’ll be working on more crosses and sending them in to see if they get accepted. I’m also going to try selling them locally to see if it’s as easy as the testimonials say… In my next issue I’ll have an update on how this worked out. In the meantime, I found a fascinating thread at a discussion board that I want you to read. Make sure you read the whole thread, it’s very informative. Click Here To Read It.
Ok, I gave up on making the crosses myself. I gave them to a friend who said that she and some friends from her church would finish them for me. Well, they never did because they were just too hard to make with good enough quality. I’d love to get my money back for the kit but here’s the problem with that…the return policy states that they will be happy to refund my money when I’ve made “400 total crosses that pass inspection – about one week’s worth of work, if you do this full-time”. I think we both know that it would be impossible for me to do this within 30 days– and I’m sure they know it too.
In the meantime, I’ve spent a lot of time researching others’ experiences with them. They all say pretty much one of two things:
- Either they sent them in and few to none were accepted by the company due to “failure to meet quality standards”. The company then suggests that they try to sell them locally. They gave up because they didn’t want to have to find places to sell them.
- Or, they learned that it was better to focus on making and selling the crosses themselves at local craft fairs or on consignment. This seems to be the only way that you can really make any money with them. I did meet a few people who were making decent money by taking this route.
I fee that while this is not an outright scam, the company’s advertising is very misleading. They lure you in with the idea that you can make the crosses, send them in and get paid.
Let’s take another look at the ad:
Make Disciple’s Crosses™
Work from home. Make up to $2000
a month. No Selling Required!
It becomes clear later (after your crosses have been rejected) that the company really only wants to sell the kits. They actually encourage you to sell the crosses on your own. So, in reality it’s all about selling.
If you’re interested in starting a business where you’re making the crosses and then you sell them at craft fairs, etc. then it may be a way to make some extra money. I think that until you got really good at making the crosses though, it would hardly be worth the time and effort it would take.
Personally, I find it reprehensible that someone who is supposed to be a “man of God” is operating in this underhanded way to make money. Did I mention that he was on Survivor? I guess that explains the autographed picture that is included with the starter kit…
Remember in the FAQ’s at the website he says, “This is much more than a business to us, it is first and foremost a ministry.” I don’t see it that way. He’s out to make money, period.