My Continuing Story

In time, I will be using this page to tell "my story"- how and why I joined the business, my experiences in the business, how I discovered the negative information and my reactions, how and why I decided to quit the business, and the reasons behind this website. My story continues even after I quit the business as I prospected by a distributor!


How and Why I Joined the Business (March 1996)
My Experiences While Building the Business (March 1996 - January 1998)
How I Discovered the "Negative" Information and My Reactions (December 1997)
How and Why I Quit the Business (January 1998)
--(All of these sections are currently under construction.)--

My Continuing, Continuing Story (July 1998 - November 1998)

(Note: from this point forward, all the names and information are for REAL. No fictitious personal information is used.)

Rather than go into a long, detailed story, here is a timeline of what has happened.

July 21, 1998: I receive a package in the mail from a distributor in Michigan, by the name of Michael Stencel. The package contained: 1 audio tape (Business Trends 2001 by InterNet Services), a "Home Shopping Delivered" brochure, a "Business Trends 2001" pamphlet, and a "form" letter. The letter reads as follows:

Stencel Associates
18143 Winsome
Fraser, MI 48026-3173
Phone: (810) 294-3368 Voice Mail: (810) 978-4805

July 21, 1998

John Hoagland
(my street address)
(my city, state, and ZIP code)

Dear John

I enjoyed speaking with you this afternoon. The following is a recap of our conversation:

As Amway distributors, we own our own company where we drop ship all non-perishable goods to the homes of the American public. We have an interactive distribution system that links the manufacturer to the consumer. 400 of the Fortune 500 companies are already involved, providing more than 7000 products and services. Our distribution network exists in over 70 countries and continues to grow. With interactive TV, satellites, the Internet and your phone we're taking advantage of technology to save money and make money.

As promised, I am sending you some preliminary information for you to review on the Amway Business Opportunity. As there is a proven system for success, I have sent you a traditional 'ad pack'. This tape and brochure review some of the reasons Michael and I got involved with the business. It really doesn't give a whole lot of details, but basically is a contacting tool to determine if people are looking for additional sources of income.

If the information perks your interest, please contact either Michael or me to discuss next steps, including more details. Our home number is 810-294-3368. You may also contact us via e-mail. Our address is michael-stencel@home.com.

I look forward to more conversations.

Sincerely

Sharon A. Stencel

Enclosures

Obviously, my first question for this guy was: why was he sending me this information? And, what "conversation" was he "recapping?" Fortunately, he listed an e-mail address, so I e-mailed him. Of course, I never did mention that fact that there are NOT "400 of the Fortune 500 companies" to be found in the Amway catalogs. In turn, this set off an e-mail conversation that resulted in him inviting me to the Open Meetings (click here to go those pages). Instead of summarizing our conversation, the e-mails are listed below. My e-mails are in green, his are in dark blue. 'Quoted' lines within the e-mails are preceded by a ">" symbol and are in the corresponding color.

Date: Mon, 3 Aug 1998
To: michael-stencel@home.com
From: John Hoagland
Subject: I received your ad pack

I received your package of information this weekend.

A few questions before I respond to the "ad pack":
Where did you get my name and address?
Why would you think I would be interested in this information?
What is the "P4708-18132 Walden Circle" code in my address? That is unrelated to anything: my name, street, or city.

You say "I enjoyed speaking with you this afternoon." Using the word "speaking", I am assuming that you do not mean e-mail. Could you refresh my memory as to where we may have met? I don't recall talking to anyone over the phone about the Amway business. Did we meet at one of the parks or the Downtown area?

And you "recap" our conversation by products, services, and Fortune 500 companies. Again, I don't recall talking to anyone about these topics, especially how they relate to Amway.

Anyway, if I come across as suspicious, forgive me: I am just being my usual, skeptical self. Before I get involved with anything, I like to know as much about it as possible. And forgive me again, but I have to ask: "Why are you sending me this? What's in it for you?"

If you could send some more information, that may be helpful. An e-mail message is fine- you don't need to be spending money on postage.

I look forward to your reply.


Date: Tue, 04 Aug 1998
From: Michael Stencel (michael-stencel@home.com)
To: John Hoagland
Subject: Re: I received your ad pack

Dear John:
Your name came from a telephone solicitation by Damark catalog. My wife had been contacted about some offer from Damark and your name and address was given by the telemarketer from Damark as his own. My wife looked up the address on the Internet to verify the accuracy. If you are not the person my wife spoke with, I apologize for the confusion.
Since you received the information, did you take a chance to review it? If not, I hope you do. There are ways to get more information if you would like.
In case you didn't know, Amway does over $7 billion in retail volume through our unique distribution system that allows the participant to create a passive income with no limits. My wife is out of town but I'll be checking messages Thursday. MS.

Aug 5, 1998: Almost from the beginning, I thought his explanation of receiving my name from Damark, a bit "fishy." I also thought they would want to know that their telemarketers are listening to Amway distributors' sales pitches while on Damark's time. I sent an e-mail to the Customer Service department at Damark to get their "official" comment. To this date (Oct 25, 1998), the only reply was an e-mail from the "postmaster" address instructing me to call a 1-800 number and direct my complaints there.

Date: Wed, 5 Aug 1998
To: webmaster@damark.com
From: John Hoagland
Subject: I have a concern/ issue for you.
Cc: customerservice@damark.com

I wanted to let you know about the following concern:

Recently I received an unsolicited package in the mail (an "ad pack") from an Amway distributor. I do not know him and never asked him to send me the package. When I e-mailed the sender and asked why he sent it to me, I got this reply:

>Your name came from a telephone solicitation by Damark
>catalog. My wife had been contacted about some offer from
>Damark and your name and address was given by the telemarketer
>from Damark as his own.

The question I have is this: Did one of your telemarketers give my name and address to this Amway distributor? Is it common practice to give or sell this kind of information to Amway distributors? I don't even know how you would have that information- I don't subscribe to your catalogs.

If one of your people did not give out my name and address, then the Amway distributor is flat-out lying when approaching people with the Amway business opportunity.

I thought you would want to be aware of this matter and possibly take it up with the Amway Corporation, if necessary.

P.S. I asked some of my e-mail friends about your company and received "glowing" reviews- your company has excellent customer service. My friends believe the distributor is lying as they believe you would not give out names and address over the telephone to anyone. I would hate for this matter to spoil your reputation, as I have no idea how many other distributors are using your name like this.

P.P.S. The package I received contained the following postal codes:

I am hoping none of these codes look familiar?
[4 lines of information, including my address, city, state, and ZIP code]

Thank you for your time.

The e-mails between myself and Michael continue:

Date: Thu, 13 Aug 1998
From: Michael Stencel (michael-stencel@home.com)
To: John Hoagland
Subject: The Next Step

Hi John:
Sorry we haven't responded faster. We have a new baby boy born July 14. We've been at our place on Lake Huron. I've been traveling back for golf, basketball, the mail etc.
We have an extensive support system to teach the business to new people. There are many audio tapes and books, as well as scheduled meetings to introduce and teach the business.
We do spend postage to send materials to people who are interested. Like any business, promotion is an expense.
For you to learn more about the business you need to attend an introductory seminar in the Orlando area as our guest. There should be no admission charge at the door (tell them you are a guest). Members usually defray the room rental charges with a $4 or $5 fee.
The Wilson organization has a meeting at the Orlando Marriott, 8001 International Drive on August 18 at 8:00 pm. Two other organizations that follow our system have meetings at the Holiday Inn Select, 12125 High Tech Ave/University Blvd. (D'Amico & Hayes) on the 17th of August (8:00 pm). People at the meeting will be dressed in business attire.
If you can't make those meetings email me back and I'll give you the next dates. If you do make it and are still interested I'll help you get started.
Thanks! M.Stencel


Date: Tue, 18 Aug 1998
To: Michael Stencel (michael-stencel@home.com)
From: John Hoagland
Subject: Questions from tonight's seminar

I just back from tonight's seminar. I hope you don't think I'm being pushy at all! Also, I would like some more information, but I don't want you to spend your money on postage. What can you send me via e-mail that would give me a better picture of the business?

Here are my questions:

1) The speaker said you had to do $200 worth of shopping. While this doesn't seem like a lot, is that retail pricing or distributor pricing? It wasn't very clear.

2) There was talk of "points": you do 100 points and you get $6.00. What did they mean by points?

3) One speaker said you had to help 6 people who help 4 people who help 2 people. The other speaker said 9-4-2. Which do you do?

4) The speaker tonight said that if you helped 3 friends help 9-4-2 people, you would get $100,000. I am assuming this is per year, but how exactly?

5) Do these speakers get paid to come out to these seminars? If so, would anybody have the same opportunity to speak and make extra money this way. That would be something- extra-extra income.

6) He showed a book that showed the lifestyles of the "diamonds". Are all those things really from "Amway money"- money made from the sales of products?

7) This "educational system" they keep talking about- does Amway run it? Where did it come from? They said it was "voluntary"- what happens if you "try it and don't like it"?

Again, I apologize for the nit-picky questions, but I like to investigate anything I'm about to invest my time and energy into.

Sept 15, 1998: After I attended the first Open Meeting, I though it was very strange that the speaker was talking about Amway's Dun & Bradstreet rating. For people who are not familiar with D&B, they are a financial company that rates the credit risk of corporations. This rating is used to determine whether or not a corporation should be lent money. According to Amway's own business manual, use of this rating is strictly forbidden, especially during Open Meetings. I decided to send an e-mail to both D&B and Amway to get their "official" comment. To this date (Oct 25, 1998), I have NOT received a reply from either company.

Date: Wed, 19 Aug 1998
To: webmaster@dnb.com
From: John Hoagland
Subject: I heard an Amway distributor talk abut Amway's D&B rating
Cc: webmaster@amway.com

I was wondering if you could help me out with something:

The other night I attended an "Amway open opportunity meeting" in Orlando, FL. In case you weren't aware, the meeting was designed to introduce people to the Amway business opportunity. The speaker, Ken Stickler, explained that Amway has a "D&B rating that's the very best". I asked him what "D&B" is and he replied it stands for "Dun & Bradstreet". I was wondering why a "very best" D&B rating would be significant. I was under the impression that D&B rates how "lendable" a company is- whether one company can collect on the loans made to another. But, then again, I could be mistaken.

Since I am currently investigating the Amway business opportunity, should I become an Amway distributor because of this rating? What is your opinion on this matter? If this rating is a good thing, should I be telling other people about it, also?

Thank you for your time.

--John Hoagland

The e-mails between myself and Michael continue:

Date: Sat, 22 Aug 1998
From: Michael Stencel (michael-stencel@home.com)
To: John Hoagland
Subject: Answers

Dear John:
OK, we are catching up at home just in time to head up to Lake Huron again (tomorrow). The weather has been great most of the summer, with 80 and 90 degree days.
I do not know Ken Stickler. If he did the hotel meeting, he is at least a Direct Distributor. We are not Directs yet, but we work closely with an Emerald Direct (3 personally sponsored Directs) in our line of sponsorship (upline), Dr. Jim Wright. The numbers become more familiar each time you see the plan.
We benefit when we sponsor you into the business and help you become successful. Your group volume is added to our group volume. When you "go direct" we lose your volume and receive a 4% bonus on your total business volume. In the US that averages about $800/month (at the Diamond level, 6 directs x $800 = $4800/month). There are dozens of different bonuses that distributors qualify for as volume increases. You'll learn more.
The system for training is awesome! We follow the Internet Services system of tapes, books and functions. Not all Amway distributors have access to our support system. Dexter Yager started this system in the 60's and has refined it to where it is today. He is an Amway distributor and more than half of Amway's volume flows through his business. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of Diamonds (6 Directs) in his organization.
The introductory meetings you went to are part of the support system. These meetings are generally on a monthly schedule throughout the world. Distributors use these meetings for prospects usually for a second look at the business, after having seen it in person in a one-on-one meeting.
Once a month there is a Saturday meeting from 2:00 - 5:00 and 7:30 - 11:00 pm. The first session is a seminar and the second a "rally." This is probably the meeting tomorrow. If you choose to attend, that meeting fee is not waived. However, you can attend the introductory meetings for free until you become a distributor.
Four times a year there are weekend seminars that start Friday night and go through Sunday. There are all kinds of informative sessions and speakers. Past keynote speakers include George Bush, George Foreman, Pat Riley, Newt Gingrich, Zig Ziglar and others. Internet Services also brings in entertainment for a portion of the time to provide some breaks.
Sharon will be taking care of Andrew (newborn) and Matt (2 year old) while I attend Free Enterprise Day (the quarterly function) in St. Louis next weekend (8/28-8/30). The ticket for the weekend functions are around $100. The early bird price a few weeks ago was $85. That price for a business seminar that teaches you how to build a multi-million dollar business is a TREMENDOUS value. The ticket, transportation and hotel are all business expenses. The business kit to register your business and get started is less than $200.
If you want to get jump started in the business meet me in St. Louis next Friday and attend the function. You need not be a distributor to attend.
If you want to take it slower I understand. I'm preparing a package of literature called an overnight pack. This pack is generally left with people after they have seen the plan the first time. Included is a document (SA-4400) which is published by Amway Corporation (a kind of prospectus). Several years ago Amway was involved in a landmark legal case establishing the characteristics of multi-level marketing organizations.
[I forgot to ask him if he meant the 1979 case where FTC the investigated the Amway business (a case that was heard 20 years earlier) or the "Canadian Tax Fraud" case (where Amway was fined millions of dollars.] In short, Amway is the model for all others. There is no company more solid. There also will be several audio tapes from successful people in the business describing how they were able to build their businesses.
Your questions are great! The numbers in the plan are symmetrical and are for illustration only. No one could build a perfectly symmetrical business if they tried. People are the crux of the business and everyone is different. No, the speakers are not paid. They do meetings for people in their downline, for people in their upline's downline and for other people's organizations that they know by association. Most speakers enjoy sharing their success in the business through meetings. YES, MOST ALL OF THE LIFESTYLES OF THE DIAMONDS ARE DUE TO AMWAY MONEY.
If we have your phone number, I'll give you a call to get better acquainted. If you're serious, we have an organization that's ready to support you.

Thanks for your interest! MS.


Date: Sat, 22 Aug 1998
To: Michael Stencel (michael-stencel@home.com)
From: John Hoagland
Subject: Re: Answers

>I do not know Ken Stickler. If he did the hotel meeting, he is at least a Direct Distributor. We are not
>Directs yet, but we work closely with an Emerald Direct (3 personally sponsored Directs) in our line of
>sponsorship (upline), Dr. Jim Wright.

OK, I understand what a Direct is. If you're not a Direct, what level are you? How long did it take you to reach that level? Should I base my "success potential" on what you have done? And should I be asking your Direct or Emerald these questions? No offense, but how are you "qualified" to give "honest" answers? Should I make another list of questions you can ask him or that I can e-mail directly? Again, I'm just being skeptical because I know that if I join the business, people will bring up the same issues I am.

>We benefit when we sponsor you into the business and help you become successful. Your group volume is
>added to our group volume. When you "go direct" we lose your volume and receive a 4% bonus on
>your total business volume. In the US that averages about $800/month (at the Diamond level, 6 directs
>x $800 = $4800/month). There are dozens of different bonuses that distributors qualify for as volume
>increases. You'll learn more.

If you lose volume when someone "goes direct", that sounds like a bad thing. Don't Directs make 25% bonus off their downline's volume? How is 4% better than 25%? When does the residual income kick in?

>The system for training is awesome! We follow the Internet Services system of tapes, books and functions.
>Not all Amway distributors have access to our support system. Dexter Yager started this system in the 60's
>and has refined it to where it is today. He is an Amway distributor and more than half of Amway's volume
>flows through his business. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of Diamonds (6 Directs) in his
>organization. The introductory meetings you went to are part of the support system. These meetings are
>generally on a monthly schedule throughout the world. Distributors use these meetings for prospects usually
>for a second look at the business, after having seen it in person in a one-on-one meeting.

Then the training system is not produced by the Amway Corporation? If this is true, does anyone make money from this system? I would assume that Dexter Yager makes money if he is the one who actually started the system. What about other distributors?

>If you want to get jump started in the business meet me in St. Louis next Friday and attend the function.
>You need not be a distributor to attend.

Can you tell me more about "Free Enterprise"? How many people usually attend? What are the hours like? Does the meeting leave you any time-off to see the city? What are the claims about your "success ability" after attending?

Thanks for the invitation, but it's a little too short notice- I would have to arrange time off work, get a plane ticket, make hotel reservations, etc. I would prefer to go to the next weekly meeting to get more information there.

>If you want to take it slower I understand. I'm preparing a package of literature called an overnight pack.
>This pack is generally left with people after they have seen the plan the first time. Included is a document
>(SA-4400) which is published by Amway Corporation (a kind of prospectus). Several years ago Amway was
>involved in a landmark legal case establishing the characteristics of multi-level marketing organizations. In
>short, Amway is the model for all others. There is no company more solid. There also will be several audio
>tapes from successful people in the business describing how they were able to build their businesses.

Again, I don't want you spending postage sending stuff to someone in Orlando. Can you e-mail me a copy of the prospectus, the SA-4400? That would probably help me out, as I tend to be a "numbers" person. Of course, you probably can't e-mail audio tapes, so that kind of presents a challenge. How important is it to listen to the tapes? Is there someplace local I can get them, to save you postage?

>Your questions are great! The numbers in the plan are symmetrical and are for illustration only. No one could
>build a perfectly symmetrical business if they tried. People are the crux of the business and everyone is
>different.

So, are you saying that my business WILL not be a 6-4-2 or 9-4-2 configuration? How many people actually build their business like the "symmetrical example"?

>No, the speakers are not paid. They do meetings for people in their downline, for people in their upline's
>downline and for other people's organizations that they know by association. Most speakers enjoy sharing
>their success in the business through meetings. YES, MOST ALL OF THE LIFESTYLES OF THE
>DIAMONDS ARE DUE TO AMWAY MONEY.

Do the speakers even get "speaker's fees" for a big meeting like "Free Enterprise"? And just so we're clear, the Diamond's lifestyles are paid by the bonuses they receive from the Amway Corporation? That's amazing!

Also, I forgot to ask these questions:
1) Since bonuses come from moving products, should I try to get customers or focus my energies on sponsoring people into the business?
2) The speaker (Ken Stickler, again) mentioned that Amway has a Dun & Bradstreet rating of "very best"? Why is this important? I understand that Amway is a private, debt-free company, but how does a D&B rating help?

Thanks for all the great information!

Aug 23, 1998: About this time, I sent him an e-mail (which I forgot to save) mentioning that I had read the An In-Depth Look At The Amway Business website [Note: this website is no longer active]. I asked him for his opinion of the site and if the information was true or accurate. Usually, I would receive an e-mail reply within a few days, but this time, I received no reply.

Sept 15, 1998: I received another package in the mail- one which contained an overnight pack and assorted items. The assorted items were:

  • 4 audio tapes

  • The Blueprint For Success Is Your List of Names by Rob Terrell
  • Economic Paradigms by InterNet Services' staff economist Paul Zane Pilzer
  • Forks in the Road by Louie Carrillo
  • Your Next Move (Getting the Facts from the people who have them) by InterNet Services
  • a video tape (Hidden Treasures by InterNet Services)
  • a book (The Magic of Thinking Big by David J. Schwartz, published by Simon & Shuster)
  • The overnight pack included:

  • a book (Who Stole the American Dream? by Burke Hegdes, published by InterNet Services)
  • Personal Business Ownership published by InterNet Services (a flyer that could be a mini Sales & Marketing Plan)
  • 2 audio tapes

  • How We Got Started by Tim & Connie Foley
  • Analyze it...Personally by Frank Mazzeo & Al LeBlanc
  • a 1997 SA-4400
  • a "Network Marketing Lifestyle Showcase" (a mini Profiles of Success)
  • The Amway Concentration Story (a flyer comparing Amway's "concentrated" products with other brand-name products)
  • Take Charge of Your Future (a flyer similar to the Sales & Marketing Plan, but with a strong emphasis on Amway products)
  • a Who Do You Know? carbon-form worksheet
  • I finally sent him another e-mail on Sept. 21, wondering why he had not responded to my e-mail:

    Date: Mon, 21 Sep 1998
    To: Michael Stencel (michael-stencel@home.com)
    From: John Hoagland
    Subject: Hello, anyone there?

    I was wondering where you have gone. It's been ages since I last heard from you. How are you doing? Have you had the chance to look over the website I told you about? What did you think? Are you still in the business??

    I also wanted to let you know that I attended both last week's Open Meeting, held by Emerald-Direct Joe Thayer, and this week's Open, held by Diamond-Direct Angelo D'Amico. I recorded both meetings, took a lot of notes, and have gotten a lot of great information from what they said.

    Have I mentioned that I looked over the Overnight Pack you sent me? I watched the "Hidden Treasures" video and thought that they over-emphasized InterNET Corp. just a tad too much. But, that's just my opinion. Also, I noticed that the SA-4400 (the Amway "prospectus") was the 1997 version. Why didn't you include the 1998 version?

    I also talked with some of the people at the meeting and they said that getting people's names from lists (such as Damark) was not "normal" and "not how [they] do it." So, I suppose, I must ask you again, where did you get my name? I will admit that I have received no e-mail response from Damark, Inc. as to whether or not they actually do this kind of thing. So, "the jury is still out" so to speak. Even though it is kind of strange how you sent me stuff without knowing anything about me, I do want to thank you for the invitation to attend the meetings. I got a lot of information I would not have gotten otherwise.


    Date: Fri, 02 Oct 1998
    From: Michael Stencel (michael-stencel@home.com)
    To: John Hoagland
    Subject: Re: Hello, anyone there?

    John Hoagland wrote:
    >I was wondering where you have gone. It's been ages since I last heard from you. How are you doing?
    >Have you had the chance to look over the website I told you about? What did you think? Are you still in the
    >business??

    Hello John:
    We are doing great. I did look over the web site and found it very interesting. I've not gotten back to you because I've been trying to discuss it with our Emerald, Dr. Wright. I sent him text copies and invited him over to view the web site. Yes, by all means we are still in the business. We got involved in the business on the basis of the fundamentals of the Amway business. The "System" is effective and does work. There appears to be a disclosure issue with the Internet side of the business. I still believe it is a great business and will continue to utilize the tools and system provided by Internet.

    >I also wanted to let you know that I attended both last week's Open Meeting, held by Emerald-Direct Joe
    >Thayer, and this week's Open, held by Diamond-Direct Angelo D'Amico. I recorded both meetings, took a
    >lot of notes, and have gotten a lot of great information from what they said.

    We'll have to ask you not to record meetings in the future. This is not allowed.

    >Have I mentioned that I looked over the Overnight Pack you sent me? I watched the "Hidden Treasures" video
    >and thought that they over-emphasized InterNET Corp. just a tad too much. But, that's just my opinion.
    >Also, I noticed that the SA-4400 (the Amway "prospectus") was the 1997 version. Why didn't you include
    >the 1998 version?

    Sent you the 1997 version because that's what I had in stock and I expect that the '98 and '99 versions are not substantially different. There are more payments in the newer versions that have been covered in the monthly Amagram that comes with your distributorship.

    >I also talked with some of the people at the meeting and they said that getting people's names from lists (such
    >as Damark) was not "normal" and "not how [they] do it." So, I suppose, I must ask you again, where did you
    >get my name? I will admit that I have received no e-mail response from Damark, Inc. as to whether or not they
    >actually do this kind of thing. So, "the jury is still out" so to speak. Even though it is kind of strange how you
    >sent me stuff without knowing anything about me, I do want to thank you for the invitation to attend the
    >meetings. I got a lot of information I would not have gotten otherwise.

    I'll try to explain again. There are no territories or limitations as to who can become involved in your business. Anyone you talk to or communicate with can become a part of your business. Damark called my wife to sell her a buyer's club membership to Damark. Sharon talked with their telemarketer on the phone. One thing led to another and she prospected that person on the phone. That person said that their name was John Hoagland and gave your address. We did not ask Damark for a list of names. The telemarketer represented himself as you. I hope that clears up how we contacted you. Our "list" has hundreds of names on it that we have yet to contact. These are people that we knew before we got in the business and people we have met since but have not yet approached.

    We had found a telephone number for you of [my old phone number] from the Internet/web. Dr. Wright tried to call you earlier this week and said that the number had been disconnected. Jim asked me to Email you and ask for your phone number so he can call you. We are both impressed with your thoroughness and initiative in going to meetings. In the past, I've gotten voice mails from Angelo D'Amico that were passed through Dexter. I'm sure he does an impressive plan.

    Sharon and I would love to have a business partner in Orlando. Winters in Michigan leave a lot to be desired. We'll be at Marco Island the week of Thanksgiving and at Jensen Beach over by Stuart, Florida the week after Thanksgiving. We'll be driving down with three other carloads of my family. Sharon has a Lotus Notes Convention at Disney World Jan 17 - Jan 21, 1999. I'm coming back from skiing in Utah the 17th of January and will probably drive a car down with our two year old the 18th and 19th of January. Before I drive down we'll schedule another week at Vistana in Orlando around Jan 23 to Jan 30. Sharon and I would like to meet you some time, register you business and get you started.

    We have a unique opportunity coming the weekend of Halloween. Our Diamond direct distributors are Dom and Pat Coniguliaro, who are personally sponsored by Dexter and Birdie Yager. Dom and Pat's business has "hundreds" of Diamonds in it. They do over one billion dollars of volume annually. Dexter and Birdie's organization does over one-half of Amway's $7 billion plus annual business. Dexter and Birdie will be doing a weekend function for the Coniguliaro group in Toledo, Ohio, October 31 - November 1, 1998. The function will be at the Seagate Center in downtown Toledo. The Hotel attached to the convention center is the Radisson, (419)241-3000. We have reservations there already. You appear to be serious about the business. This is your opportunity to get the story right from the horse's mouth, as is said! We have tickets for you if your interested. I'll send you more info by mail.

    Sharon went back to work after maternity leave a couple weeks ago and things have been a little hectic. I'll try to respond faster next time around. We're headed up to Lake Huron for this weekend. Hope all is well with you. Let us know your thoughts and plans.

    Thanks, Mike.
    (810)294-3368


    Date: Sun, 4 Oct 1998
    To: Michael Stencel (michael-stencel@home.com)
    From: John Hoagland
    Subject: Re: Hello, anyone there?

    >I did look over the web site and found it very interesting. I've not gotten back to you because I've been trying
    >to discuss it with our Emerald, Dr. Wright. I sent him text copies and invited him over to view the web site.
    >"The System" is effective and does work. There appears to be a disclosure issue with the Internet side of the
    >business. I still believe it is a great business and will continue to utilize the tools and system provided by
    >Internet.

    Please let me know what your Emerald (or your Diamond) thinks about the information. I am very curious to hear their opinions, especially if the information is correct.
    You say there is a problem with "disclosure"- will ALL the information be disclosed any time soon? I would like to know as much as information as I can, about anything I invest in. I would prefer to have answers for the following:
    1) Is there a lot of money to made from the sales of tools? Exactly how much?
    2) Do I really not to have sell products to build this business? It sounds like all I have to do is sponsor people, who in turn, sponsor other people.
    3) I've started to see some information that involvement in AMO's is comparable to being in a cult. What do you (and your Emerald and your Diamond) think about this?

    >We'll have to ask you not to record meetings in the future. This is not allowed.

    Can I ask why? No one at the meetings said anything to me, even though the recorder was on the seat next to me, in the front row. I'm sure the speaker could easily see the recorder, but no one ever said anything. Is someone worried that I might do "something" with the recording (besides listen to it again)? Can I let other people listen to it and maybe get their opinion?

    >The telemarketer represented himself as you. I hope that clears up how we contacted you. Our "list" has
    >hundreds of names on it that we have yet to contact. These are people that we knew before we got in the
    >business and people we have met since but have not yet approached.

    OK, that does clear up a few things. I do have another question, though: if you have a list with "hundreds of names", why bother to spend money on a prospect in Orlando? Don't you know your neighbor?

    >We had found a telephone number for you of [my old phone number] from the Internet/web. Dr. Wright
    >tried to call you earlier this week and said that the number had been disconnected.

    Yes, that was my current phone number, but I recently moved to a new apartment. This caused a major phone screw-up: it seems the phone company never created a "forwarding" message to my new number! I haven't received a number of messages. Even now, I'm still in the process of telling everyone my new phone number.

    >Jim asked me to Email you and ask for your phone number so he can call you. We are both impressed with
    >your thoroughness and initiative in going to meetings. In the past, I've gotten voice mails from Angelo
    >D'Amico that were passed through Dexter. I'm sure he does an impressive plan.

    Yes, the Open was very "impressive". In fact, Angelo did a little "teaching" while showing the plan. There was a lot of information in his plan, which I'm glad I recorded.

    >Sharon and I would love to have a business partner in Orlando. Winters in Michigan leave a lot to be desired.

    "Business partner"? If I got it the business, wouldn't I be your downline. How does this translate into "business partner"? Just curious.

    >We'll be at Marco Island the week of Thanksgiving and at Jensen Beach over by Stuart, Florida the week
    >after Thanksgiving. We'll be driving down with three other carloads of my family. Sharon has a Lotus
    >Notes Convention at Disney World Jan 17 - Jan 21, 1999. I'm coming back from skiing in Utah the 17th of
    >January and will probably drive a car down with our two year old the 18th and 19th of January. Before I drive
    >down we'll schedule another week at Vistana in Orlando around Jan 23 to Jan 30. Sharon and I would like to
    >meet you some time, register you business and get you started.

    This reminds me- a few people at the meetings have asked me when I want to get started. They don't seem to want to "steal me", but I'm curious as why they are so interested in my getting started. I told them I'm still "looking" at the business, but then I got a "hard sell" from one of the guys- he started to go into "If you're still looking, you're not building. You need to stop thinking and get started as soon as you can. It's just a couple of hundred of dollars. You need to think about the rest of your life. Isn't your future worth a couple hundred dollars?" (etc.) Is it really any of his business when I get started (if at all)? How do you suggest I handle this guy?

    >We have a unique opportunity coming the weekend of Halloween. Our Diamond direct distributors are Dom
    >and Pat Coniguliaro, who are personally sponsored by Dexter and Birdie Yager. Dexter and Birdie will be
    >doing a weekend function for the Coniguliaro group in Toledo, Ohio October 31 - November 1, 1998. This is
    >your opportunity to get the story right from the horse's mouth, as is said! We have tickets for you if your
    >interested. I'll send you more info by mail.

    I don't know if I'll be able to get the time off to go to a meeting at Halloween. After all, since I just started a new job, I would feel "funny" about asking for time off. But, please, you don't need to spend money sending me information via "regular" mail, if e-mail will work just as well.

    In the meantime, I will probably come up with a number of new questions.

    Oct 15, 1998: About this time, I started receiving e-mails from Michael's upline Emerald, James Wright. His e-mails are in light blue. Notice that the 'subject' line of his e-mail is "Interactive Distribution." Even though Michael had already mentioned that this was the Amway business, James still feel he can't use the "A" word in the 'subject' line of an e-mail.

    Date: Wed, 14 Oct 1998
    From: jimjanw@juno.com (JAMES R WRIGHT)
    To: John Hoagland
    Subject: Interactive Distribution

    Dear John,

    Mike Stencil forwarded your messages over to me as I am and Emerald in the Amway business and Mike is in my line of sponsorship. My background is that of a veterinary orthopedic and neuro surgeon. I was very impressed with your degree of thoroughness in looking into this as a business venture, as well as, your initiative to travel to meetings to get additional information.

    I wish to assist you in anyway I can. I tried to call you personally, but I apparently have an incorrect number for your home. I take the business seriously, as it has and continues to, make me a very large income.

    I would like to suggest we talk further on this matter,as I am willing to travel to Florida to assist you,all you need do is to ask. My home phone number is 248-643-6454 and my voice mail is 248-253-3857.

    Sincerely,

    Jim Wright


    Date: Wed, 14 Oct 1998
    To: jimjanw@juno.com (JAMES R WRIGHT)
    From: John Hoagland
    Subject: Re: Interactive Distribution

    I am assuming you are higher pin than Michael, so I'll play more of a "devil's advocate".

    >I wish to assist you in anyway I can. I tried to call you personally, but I apparently have an incorrect
    >number for your home. I take the business seriously, as it has and continues to, make me a very large income.

    OK, if you would like to help: what are your opinions on the Probandt web site?
    http://209.196.24.186/ [Note: this website is no longer active]
    Is he telling the truth? Apparently Amway (and his upline) never denied anything he said on his site. Can I, then, look forward to making LOADS of money from selling tools to my downline? Will my lifestyle (as shown in the "Profiles of Success") be 90% from the tools income and 10% from Amway money?

    >I would like to suggest we talk further on this matter,as I am willing to travel to Florida to assist you,
    >all you need do is to ask. My home phone number is 248-643-6454 and my voice mail is 248-253-3857.

    As I told Mike, I don't want anyone to be spending money on me, down here in Florida. It seems like Mike has spent too much on stuff already. Or does it come down to saying, "If you can convince a skeptic, they'll never quit."


    Date: Thu, 15 Oct 1998
    From: jimjanw@juno.com (JAMES R WRIGHT)
    To: John Hoagland
    Subject: Re: Interactive Distribution

    John,

    Got your return e-mail message as I was heading to the airport to fly to California to assist my distributors in the LA area. Please send me your home phone number and I will call you personally when I return. My business is one of helping people and it is important to me that I get to answer all your questions and get to know you better so I can encourage you in the business or suggest that it may not be what you are looking for and e-mail messages, as helpful as they are, just does not get the job done.

    Thanks for returning my message.

    Sincerely,

    Jim


    Date: Thu, 15 Oct 1998
    To: jimjanw@juno.com (JAMES R WRIGHT)
    From: John Hoagland
    Subject: Re: Interactive Distribution

    >Got your return e-mail message as I was heading to the airport to fly to California to assist my distributors
    >in the LA area. Please send me your home phone number and I will call you personally when I return. My
    >business is one of helping people and it is important to me that I get to answer all your questions and get to
    >know you better so I can encourage you in the business or suggest that it may not be what you are looking for
    >and e-mail messages, as helpful as they are, just does not get the job done.

    Well, I still don't feel "comfortable" giving out my phone number to "strangers" just yet. Maybe if you could give me a little more background about yourself, how many years you've been in the business, what pin/ PV level you are, etc.

    In the meantime, could you answer some more questions:
    1) How much selling is required? Do I have to get a certain number of customers to remain a distributor.
    2) Is it legal (or proper) to mention Amway's Dun & Bradstreet rating when I show a plan?

    Thanks.


    Date: Fri, 16 Oct 1998
    From: Michael Stencel (michael-stencel@home.com)
    To: John Hoagland
    Subject: More Info

    Dear John:

    Our Emerald and I have not discussed the information from the web site. It would not surprise me if the information were correct. That is what I meant by disclosure. Much of the information was new to me. As far as the organization's plans for disclosure I don't know.

    Money from the sale of tools would just be icing on the cake. I understand the way business works and Internet Services needs to make a return on investment and their distribution network needs to be supported.

    The way we build the Amway business is to introduce the business to people and the choice of what products to buy, when, is their own. There are so many products available within the business we don't focus on "selling" any particular product, I am sold on the business concept/system.

    As far as being a cult, I guess that depends on how you define a cult. Webster's definition includes "great devotion to a person, idea, or thing; esp: such devotion regarded as a literary or intellectual fad." That might not be too far off. There are also references to religion and beliefs. You would have to further define what your asking. What is an AMO?

    As far as recording meetings, it is related to copyrights. If you've ever watched Monday Night Football, "This broadcast is the sole property of ABC and the National Football League. Any further broadcast or use without written permission from ABC and the NFL is strictly forbidden." Being a guest at the meeting, you should ask permission to record the meeting. Additionally, any use of the recording needs to be properly represented by someone with knowledge of the business. No, you shouldn't play the recording for others. However, others are welcome at the meeting.

    We bother to spend time and money on anyone who would like to become involved in the business. The amount of time and money is worth the reward when you do come across someone who decides to make it happen. It seems so ridiculously simple, why doesn't everyone do it? I haven't been able to answer that one. The reason we would work with you in Orlando is because we like the Orlando area and enjoy travel. Trips to Orlando (to help you) become business expenses. I'm sure we could take a few extra days to enjoy the entertainment in the area. What types of things do you do for fun? Do you play golf? Scuba Dive? Fish? Jet Ski? Are you married? Any kids? You said you have a new job, What do you do? What is your business background?

    Apparently you don't want Dr. Wright or I to call you, you didn't give us your phone number. I don't mind trading Email, but for you you to get started we should talk on the phone some time and Dr. Wright is more comfortable on the phone versus a computer.

    You become a business partner because we have shared interests and goals. Your success in the business is directly related to my success in the business. The more money you make, the more money we make. No one makes money in this business until they help others become successful. We will be spending more of our time and money to help you learn the business and to introduce it to others. Doesn't that make us partners?

    Call it what you like (hard sell), but those people believe with strong conviction that the Amway business is the best business opportunity on the planet, period. Did you approach the people at the meeting or did they start talking to you? You'll find that people involved in this business are very open to meeting new people and making friends. That is part of what the business is about, meeting new and different people. As far as them not trying to "steal you", it is part of the code of ethics we ascribe to. My suggestion as to how to handle him, if you don't like him, walk away. Again, not really sure what your asking.

    I didn't get any response regarding our visit to Florida in November. If your through reviewing the material I sent you, it would be a good time for us to stop by and pick it up. Have you listened to the tapes? Read the books? That's how most people get their questions answered. Its a more time efficient and effective way to learn the business. Your questions get answered by Diamonds in the business, who know a whole lot more about it than I do. Our Diamond Direct Distributor(Dominic Coniguliaro) is going to Disney World with a group of his distributors from Europe and will be doing a meeting in Orlando on the 20th. The meeting is for sure but the location is TBA (to be announced). Get your list of questions ready and you should be able to meet your Diamond! I'll Email you when I get the location! Have a Great Weekend! MS.


    Date: Mon, 19 Oct 1998
    To: Michael Stencel (michael-stencel@home.com)
    From: John Hoagland
    Subject: re: More Info

    Thanks for the letter.

    >The way we build the Amway business is to introduce the business to people and the choice of what
    >products to buy, when, is their own. There are so many products available within the business we don't
    >focus on "selling" any particular product, I am sold on the business concept/system.

    So, are you saying that there is no selling required? No requirements that distributors have to have X number of customers?

    >As far as being a cult, I guess that depends on how you define a cult. Webster's definition includes "great
    >devotion to a person, idea, or thing; esp: such devotion regarded as a literary or intellectual fad." That might
    >not be too far off. There are also references to religion and beliefs. You would have to further define what
    >your asking. What is an AMO?

    I define a cult as "Any group that engages in outright deception to pursue its ends, whether religious or secular in its apparent orientation." It could also include "a system of influences that disrupts an individual's identity (beliefs, behavior, thinking, and emotions) and replaces it with a new identity...Not all mind control techniques are inherently bad or unethical; for some, the manner in which they are used is what is important. [If this system] is used to change a person's belief system without informed consent and make him dependent on outside authority figures, the effects can indeed be devastating." (sorry, is that too wordy? I've probably read too many psychology books!)

    What I am asking is this: In your opinion, do the uplines create an atmosphere similar to the definition I used? Does the "system" replace or alter a person's belief system or thought processes (without the person's consent)? Do the uplines create a dependence on authority figures (for example, asking your upline how you can spend your money or your free time).

    And "AMO" stands for "Amway Motivational Organizations". You've never heard this before? I don't remember where I picked it up.

    >Being a guest at the meeting, you should ask permission to record the meeting. Additionally, any use of the
    >recording needs to be properly represented by someone with knowledge of the business. No, you shouldn't
    >play the recording for others. However, others are welcome at the meeting.

    I thought that since no one said "Don't record this," I thought it would be okay. Oh, well. And what do you mean it should be "properly presented"? Is there a right way or wrong way to present the information?

    I have another question for you: If I join the business, in your opinion, what kind of reaction should I expect from my family? Do you believe their reaction will be "A new way of shopping? Great!" or "You really don't want to get involved in that Amway thing."? What was your family's reaction? Was it positive or negative?

    >No one makes money in this business until they help others become successful.

    And not to nit-pick, but the Probandt's site said upline distributors are making lots of money off their downline from the sales of tools. If the downlines aren't reselling the tools, doesn't the upline make money from the downline, regardless of how many products are sold/ self-consumed? In other words, yes, the uplines make money off "others" (from day one when the "others" buy a toolbox)- no matter how successful the "others" may be. Or are you talking about the product-side of the business?

    >Call it what you like (hard sell), but those people believe with strong conviction that the Amway business is
    >the best business opportunity on the planet, period. Did you approach the people at the meeting or did they start
    >talking to you? My suggestion as to how to handle him, if you don't like him, walk away. Again, not really
    >sure what your asking.

    He started the conversation by mentioning that he had seen me at the previous meeting. He then asked when I was getting I started. I told him that I was still thinking about it. He then launched into the "The more you think about, the more time you lose by not building this thing. Have you though about your future..." Unless this guy happens to be in your upline, what business is it of his when I get started? And I couldn't just "walk away" since we were both seated and the speaker was about to start- I didn't think I could get up and move just because he was talking to me.

    >I didn't get any response regarding our visit to Florida in November. If your through reviewing the material
    >I sent you, it would be a good time for us to stop by and pick it up. Have you listened to the tapes? Read
    >the books?

    When specifically in November? I will be traveling to Maryland to visit family over Thanksgiving weekend. If it's another weekend, I have no problem with giving you back your stuff. And yes, I have read the book, watched the video tape, and listened to the audio tapes. Maybe I should start "thinking big"!


    Date: Tue, 20 Oct 1998
    From: jimjanw@juno.com (JAMES R WRIGHT)
    To: John Hoagland
    Subject: Re: Interactive Distribution

    John,

    I am an Emerald in the Amway, soon to be a Diamond. I did in excess of two million dollars of business last year. I willing to help you and answer your questions, however, I do not have time to go back and forth on e-mail. It is just not time efficient for me. I use the phone to create wealth. You can phone me at 248-643-6454 or provide me with your phone number. Your choice if you wish to pursue the topic any further.
    [In other words, it is not "efficient" for him to put his answers in writing, where they may be quoted later. It's much more "efficient" to give answers over the phone and later claim, "But I never said it like that. He's taking it the wrong way."]

    Best of success in all your endeavors.

    Jim Wright

    As you can probably tell by the above e-mails, I was getting a little tired of dealing with these two distributors. When I started e-mailing Michael, my original intent was to ask him questions and get his honest answers (and maybe open his eyes a little). Instead, all I got was the regular, "canned" responses. I decided to give up on the whole thing because:

  • I never did "buy" his "I got your name from Damark" story, so I always felt he was lying from the very start.
  • He never gave me a straight answer about whether distributors must sell products or not. He claims that he was "sold on the business concept/system," and I suppose I should take that as his answer.
  • He claims that it is against the rules to record Open Meetings, yet when I was in the business, distributors were encouraged to record Opens, House Meetings, and their uplines' plans. When was that rule changed?
  • His repeated support of the statement "no one makes money in this business until they help others become successful," which has been more-than-proven false.
  • He gives an excellent definition of a cult, yet fails to realize he is in one.
  • He doesn't know what "AMO" stands for, yet he is in one.
  • His (and his Emerald's) repeated insistence that I give them my home phone number. When dealing with cult groups, this is the WORST thing to do.
  • Finally, he was never a high enough pin level to truly answer my questions. And his Emerald (James Wright) practically refused to answer any questions via e-mail.
  • Because of this, I think he finally realized I had no intention of joining the business. But, remember, he did: send me material without knowing who I was, never asked if I was in the business before, never asked if I knew anything about Amway, and spent his own money on postage to send me material after I asked him NOT to. Additionally, I spent MY own time and energy to attend the Open Meetings. Therefore, I don't think he has any right to complain that I was able to get as much information as I could... as you'll see in his next e-mail.

    Date: Tue, 20 Oct 1998
    From: Michael Stencel (michael-stencel@home.com)
    To: John Hoagland
    Subject: Re: More Info

    John Hoagland wrote:
    >Thanks for the letter.
    >
    >>The way we build the Amway business is to introduce the business to people and the choice of what
    >>products to buy, when, is their own. There are so many products available within the business we don't
    >>focus on "selling" any particular product, I am sold on the business concept/system.
    >
    >So, are you saying that there is no selling required? No requirements that distributors have to have X
    > number of customers?

    Please re-read what I said above!

    >What I am asking is this: In your opinion, do the uplines create an atmosphere similar to the definition I
    >used? Does the "system" replace or alter a person's belief system or thought processes (without the person's
    >consent)? Do the uplines create a dependence on authority figures (for example, asking your upline how you
    >can spend your money or your free time).

    In my opinion, our upline creates an atmosphere that promotes success in the business. There is no "outright deception". It is through informed consent. If you were to attend a seminar, people are told that we are trying to change the way you think, because a lot of people do not think based on success oriented principles. People in the business choose to be influenced.
    [So, not telling people (until the very end of the meeting) that this is the Amway business is NOT considered "deception"? Then why do so many distributors answer with a "Well, they'd walk out if they knew it was Amway."?]

    >I have another question for you: If I join the business, in your opinion, what kind of reaction should I
    >expect from my family? Do you believe their reaction will be "A new way of shopping? Great!" or "You really
    >don't want to get involved in that Amway thing."? What was your family's reaction? Was it positive or
    >negative?

    I have no idea what your family's reaction would be. I know very little about you or your family. You certainly know much more about me, than I about you. However, I am learning.
    [Does he really think a family's reaction will be positive? I guess not. If I were involved in a new business that I knew was a good idea, then I would believe my family would support me.]

    >When specifically in November? I will be traveling to Maryland to visit family over Thanksgiving weekend.
    >If it's another weekend, I have no problem with giving you back your stuff. And yes, I have read the book,
    >watched the video tape, and listened to the audio tapes. Maybe I should start "thinking big"!

    If you kept my prior messages all the details are there! We'll be in Florida the week before and the week after Thanksgiving. And we'll be in Orlando for two weeks in January. You seemed to have developed a very cynical viewpoint of the business. No doubt you also "set me up" with questions you already knew the answers to and I didn't. What do they say about that in your pysch books?


    Date: Sun, 25 Oct 1998
    To: Michael Stencel (michael-stencel@home.com)
    From: John Hoagland
    Subject: Re: More Info

    First, I want to thank you for all the information you have given me. I also want to thank you very much for the invitation to the Open Meetings. I was able to tape-record both a Direct and an Emerald, but the Diamond's speech was inaudible due to a recording problem. But, since I still have the schedule, maybe I can go back and record some others.

    >No doubt you also "set me up" with questions you already knew the answers to and I didn't.

    Yes, I have LONG known the answers to the questions... since December of 1997. I never meant to "set you up" since you are a "little fish" in the business- you're not a high enough pin level to know any "dirty secrets", and, for the most part, you're only doing as you are told. My original intent was to get opinions and ideas from an "average" distributor to see if the uplines were teaching distributors to "play by the rules." I have no specific quarrel with you personally, as you don't really know or understand what is happening in the Amway business. I was hoping to get some real answers from your Emerald, but it seems he doesn't want to "talk" via e-mail, and I have no intention of giving my new phone number to ANY distributors.

    To answer some of your (or my?) questions:
    1) Yes, ALL speakers who lecture at the functions get paid. The "speaker's fees" range anywhere from $5,000 and up. This is part of the reason so many Emeralds want to "go Diamond"- so they can get on the lucrative "speaking circuit" to make LOTS of money. Plus, "outside" speakers have an unwritten guarantee that the audience will buy the "merchandise" (books, tapes, whatever) produced by the speaker.
    2) As you've probably discovered by now, Diamonds (and higher) receive much, much more money from the sales of the "motivational" tools than they do from Amway. So much in fact, that the average Diamond's income is 85 to 95% tools income, 15 to 5% Amway income. And, yes, I have seen a Diamond's 1099 Form (that was filed with the IRS) to prove this statement. Why do you think the uplines emphasize "tapes, books, and functions"? They make money off them. As long as you continue to purchase the tools (who cares about selling the products), their income stream continues.

    But, before you start to blame me for anything, just remember that you: sent me the information, continued an e-mail conversation, and sent me MORE information WITHOUT knowing anything about me. And remember, I repeatedly asked you NOT to spend any money on postage mailing me packages. I only wanted you to send information via e-mail so there would be no cost. Also, I spent MY time and energy going to those Open Meetings.

    P.S. The next time you approach someone "out of blue", and that person e-mails you, at least check to see if they have a website! Just type in their domain name, a slash, their user name, and then "index.html". You will find mine at:
    http://www.cocs.com/jhoagland/index.html
    I am happy to report that it has been online since January, 1998. And with the addition of an on-screen counter in March, 1998, I have had over 7,000 visitors. Feel free to check it out, click on the links, and "get all the facts" about the Amway business, especially the "facts" that you may be aware of (well, you would be aware of them if you were an Emerald!).


    Distributors are always taught that next person they prospect "could be the one" that will "build it big and go Diamond!" I have an alternate belief- the next person you contact could be an Amway-critical person just looking for an invitation to a meeting or to gain more information. So, if any distributors (or people considering joining the business) are reading this, be careful of who you prospect. You never know what may happen! Your information may appear on a website, for the entire world to read.



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