I have received many e-mails from readers asking for more information or just wanting to share their own stories. I have decided to post some of the most interesing e-mails. Please keep in mind that all of these e-mails are readers' opinions (and/or personal experiences) and do not necessarily reflect my views, the views of this server, or the views of their server. Also keep in mind that I have posted these e-mails "as-is" without asking for "hard evidence" to support the person's claims or correcting any grammar or spelling mistakes.
The following e-mails are in chronological oder, the oldest listed first.
January 20, 2000
I have learned that there will be a radio call-in show that will discuss both Scientology and Amway. If you would like to share your experiences or just tell your side of the issue, you are encouraged to call in to the show. Here are the details:
|What:||The Ron Engelman Show on the Talk Radio Network|
|When:||Friday, January 28th, 10pm PST (Saturday, January 29th, 1am EST)|
|How:||"The number for call-ins at the station is 1-800-449-8255."|
|Where:||I don't have a specific listing of radio stations, but the show can be found at an Internet radio broadcast at: http://18.104.22.168/TRN/|
February 9, 2000
Forget easy money, I want to work for a living
IT WAS an odd encounter, and faintly humiliating for both of us. My friend Richard had become an eager activist on behalf of something called Amway , a freelance selling outfit the details of which I have never quite grasped.
He had spread the word with nagging, born-again enthusiasm, ringing old friends who have not heard from him for years. Once, while playing weekend cricket, he tried to convert a fellow fielder in the deep, between overs. "What do you want from your life?" he asked.
Now it was my turn. In a suit and tie, Richard visited at me at home. He set up a blackboard in my sitting-room and made a diagram of my life, of what I aspired to and what I had achieved. Presented like that, it seemed oddly unimpressive.
So what did I want from my life? I replied that I wanted to write a brilliant, profound, yet compulsively readable novel. Briefly fazed, Richard told me that I would be able to work on my novel during the mornings and sell during the afternoons. I would recruit other people to my team. They, in turn, would widen my network. Within five years or so, I would be able to give up work altogether.
When I asked why I should want to do that, Richard looked bewildered. Surely, he said, anyone in his right mind would take the opportunity to make money without effort. Besides, even if I were foolish enough not to be interested in unearned income, there were my children to think of. Once they had left university, I could set them up in business.
I said that I could imagine few more stupid and thoughtless parental acts than throwing money at children in their twenties. Richard accused me of "poverty thinking", and my patience snapped. I told him that to see a get-rich-quick scheme, whether it worked or not, as a way to happiness was reductive and absurd. Work was important. It was an essential part of the quality of life. Maybe he should try it some time.
Only after he had left - huffily, with the blackboard under his arm, leaving me an inspirational Amway tape to help me see the error of my ways - did I realise that, weirdly Victorian as it may have sounded, I actually believed what I had said.
"Work is the grand cure of all the maladies and miseries that ever beset mankind," the much-derided Carlyle once wrote and, 130 years on, his words seem wiser than ever.
The lottery, our current national drug of choice, causes new levels of dissatisfaction and suppressed anger among the millions of poor saps who every week believe they can change their lives at the toss of a few balls. Yet, as the week's gruesome twosome, Richard Branson and Bill Gates, pitch for a new franchise, they shamelessly promise to create a millionaire every day - as if encouraging an even greater dependency on gambling is somehow morally commendable.
Everywhere one looks, it becomes clearer that gaining money quickly and undeservedly harms not only individuals, but also society at large, providing the spiritually withering illusion that cash, comfort and leisure solve all ills.
In America, they now refer to the effect of excessive wealth in terms of a disease - "affluenza" is a complaint that infects the rich, and causes such symptoms as snobbery, emotional dysfunction and general obnoxiousness. Larger firms, such as Merrill-Lynch, employ psychiatric counselors to "sensitise" their more bloated and overpaid employees to their social responsibilities and to a world beyond that of their own pleasure.
My friend Richard will probably not have to be sensitised because, despite his tapes and blackboard, he seems unlikely to become a victim of affluenza. As he spreads the gospel of the Amway, the truth and the life, and rages against "poverty thinking", he has the good fortune not to have made his fortune.
February 28, 2000
Like any middle-class couple in these giddy times, my wife and I are suckers for an offer hinting at dot-com riches. So when a Dallas lawyer we'd met two years earlier asked whether she and her lawyer husband could talk to us about a promising Internet "startup," we bit. During a well-canned 45-minute pitch, the couple spoke about enlisting friends and family to buy consumer products from an online outfit called Quixtar. We'd get a piece of anything they bought. And as their friends shopped, we'd get a commission too. My wife and I felt a growing sense of discomfort. Why, this all sounded like Amway .
Yet it is on Quixtar, just five months old, that the DeVos and Van Andel families are betting the future of their $5 billion, privately held direct-sales empire. After 40 years of growth, it seems Amway has hit a wall. Worldwide sales are down almost 30% over the past two years. So the company is moving to the Web. And in an attempt to distance itself from its dowdy and controversial image, it has launched Quixtar as a separate business.
While Quixtar show-cases Amway products on its site, it also sells an array of general consumer goods. Quixtar embraces Amway's trademark "multilevel" marketing channel, where self-employed distributors profit by recruiting both new customers and new reps. But in both categories it is chasing a younger, more affluent audience. While Quixtar is exploiting Amway's strengths--including an enormous manufacturing and distribution structure--it is also trying to create something new, says Amway chief operating officer Doug DeVos, youngest son of the company's co-founder. DeVos says he expects Quixtar, already claiming revenues of more than $2 million a week, to be "half of our business" in one to three years.
That won't happen easily. It's a "difficult inevitability," says Jupiter Communications analyst Michael May, motivated by a desire to retain its sales force, eager for its own Web riches. ( Amway is letting its reps sell through Amway , Quixtar, or both.) Amway has always relied on its reps to use personal relationships to pitch its proprietary merchandise, whose stiff sticker prices can require a hard sell. But "that pushing doesn't work as well online," says May. "It's a lot easier to delete an e-mail than to slam the door in someone's face."
This reality, says May, will require aggressive promotion of Amway's brands--perhaps through media advertising, which Amway has generally avoided--and reconsideration of its entire pricing structure. While Quixtar's shopping-club structure offers incentives, its regular prices for both Amway products (a tube of Glister toothpaste goes for $4.20) and other goods (a VHS copy of A Bug's Life, $15.96 at Kbkids.com, is $26.99 at Quixtar) remain daunting. DeVos readily acknowledges that Amway will have to confront such issues head-on. Only then will it become clear whether the company can do as well selling in cyberspace as it does around the water cooler.
March 1, 2000
This message was forwarded to me from someone (who wishes to remain anonymous) who posed this in newsgroups.
Some of you may remember the name Bruce Craig, who is the former State Attorney General for the state of Wisconsin. Mr. Craig is responsible for the 1982 study of Amway DD's (un-)profitability. Mr. Craig has also been involved in shutting down a few other illegal pyramid MLM's.
Although retired, Mr. Craig has formally petioned the Federal Trade Commission to revisit the 1979 ruling in light of the fact that the "rules" upon which the Commission based its decision are given, at best, token recognition and are not broadly implemented or enforced. These rules include the 70% rule, the retail sales rule, and the buy-back rule.
In the 1979 ruling, the FTC stated that Amway was enforcing these rules. However, in Phil Kearn's Fake It Until You Make It, you can read how these rules were ignored. In Stephen Butterfield's The Cult of Free Enterprise, you can read how these rules were ignored. In Amway Motivational Organizations, Behind the Smoke and Mirrors, you can read how these rules were ignored. In Rich Devos's Directly Speaking tapes (early 1980's), Devos admitted to Amway's Direct Distributors that these rules were being ignored. Amway officials admitted to an investigative reporter for the Baton Rogue Advocate (http://www.theadvocate.com) that these rules were neither monitored or enforced. Current and former IBO's now have an opportunity to help the Federal Trade Commission. The author of the MLM Survivors site -- http://www.mlmsurvivor.com -- has just posted the letter that Mr. Craig has sent to the FTC. The author also has a form set up where current and former IBO's can detail their experiences in the Amway/Quixtar business in regards to these rules. The information provided on this form will be held in the strictest confidence and will be sent directly to the FTC.
The FTC needs YOUR input to determine if the Amway/Quixtar business is operating as a legal pyramid, or a wholesale buying club, where the main focus is building a business of self-consuming IBO's (and of course buying books, tapes and functions).
I strongly encourage everyone to fill out this form and detail YOUR experiences in the Amway/Quixtar business. The FTC cannot do THEIR job without hearing the actual experiences of people who are/were involved with the business.
Once again, the url is http://www.mlmsurvivor.com.
September 14, 2000
From: "Michael R Coshun"
To: John Hoagland
CC: "firstname.lastname@example.org", "email@example.com"
I find it strange that while looking for information on AMVOX I come across your site at such a critical time in my life. My husband and I are Quixtar Distributors that are considering the idea of no longer building our business so I feel my comments are a little more objective than some distributors. Your statements have some truth to them but not completely.
We have stopped receiving tapes, attending functions, etc. but the one thing I will never stop doing is buying the products; I can buy two boxes of the Amway SA8 detergent and it will last me a year . When I was buying a box of Tide, Gain or whatever, I was at the store weekly; point, figure the cost of those two boxes a year to weekly purchases and you can not say that SA8 is expensive. I want to state that saving money is not the issue with me for buying the SA8 (it just happens to be a bonus) but the fact that it works so much better than the other products on the market. The other product I'll never stop using is the Artistry Skin Care and Make up; I am 52 years old and my husband loves the improvement in my skin since I began using these products and I am frequently being told how young I look (since I began using the products). The makeup is the only makeup I've ever worn that doesn't have that odor that you will find in most makeups. I tried using the brand I had used before I started using Artistry and couldn't stand the smell. There is also the feeling of having no makeup on when your wearing Artistry which I love; it's not heavy feeling (the women will know what I'm talking about).
You can nick pick away at the fallacies of Amway/Quixtar and you will certainly find many that are true. You have to be a determined person with a lot of belief in yourself and the business to make a success of it; we lack the belief in ourselves, not the business. The business does work but as you stated, it takes a LOT of work and a lot of your personal time that we are not willing to sacrifice at our age in life. If I were in the earlier years of life, I'd give it all I had because it would be worth it.
You are correct about the upline making money off the tapes and functions. I'm mentioning this fact because it was not hidden from me as a distributor and not nor do I hide this fact from my downline. It's just a business and people are in it to make money. Bottom line -- Quixtar is a business and should be treated as such and there's money to be made in different aspects of the business, i.e the tapes and functions. What's the Big Deal! Do you begrudge these successful people for making money for sharing their knowledge on how they made it? It seems to me to be what most successful people do in any business; I know when I go to the book store to get books on succeeding they aren't giving them away and when I go to get tapes and videos on how to succeed that are also charging me for these. So tell me, why do our Diamonds who worked so hard to get where they are be excluded from making money from sharing their knowledge?
There is no business that's perfect and for some reason you have chosen this one as the one to find all the bad. There are people like you all over the world and if not Amway/Quixtar, you would probably find some other business, person, or whatever to try to discourage people from trying. I can only say to your readers that this business isn't for everyone and before you put a lot of time and/or money in to the learning system set up to help you have knowledge on multilevel marketing and motivate you to accomplish your goals, know that it takes true grit and determination to become a Diamond. Those of you that are looking to meet some genuinely nice people that are optimistic and believers in the Dream this is the place for you; you will never find a nicer bunch of people than this group. The people I associated with in Amway/Quixtar will be what I miss the most about not attending the functions; you always leave them feeling so much better about the world and yourself. This note to those who look at the catalogs or Internet site and say the products are too expensive should check further and realize that the cleaning products are so concentrated that will last much longer and work much better than your usual store brands; I've made my comments on the Artistry products above. The Nutralite Vitamins when I've gone and checked for friends or friends that have done price comparison before buying find them comparable to other vitamins. The grocery items come in bulk quantities and larger sizes which most shoppers don't realize. Well, enough of that, I could talk all day but bottom line is Mr. Hoagland you do not like this business and have made it a point to look only for the bad and nothing anyone writes to you will change the direction your heading. It must be very frustrating to see a business you dislike so much continue to grow despite your best efforts. Forty years is a long time for a company to survive the bashing it has received and still continue to move upward. I can only admire the Amway Corporation for their own true grit in overcoming people like you that want to continually bash them for a system that obviously works.
I am not a writer and I apologize for any errors in grammar or spelling to your readers. I'm just a middle class American that took a shot at reaching for the stars and found I wasn't made of the right stuff. ( Note here: I didn't reach the stars but I sill get a check each month for doing nothing more than shopping for products I would be buying anyway because I go through Quixtar to buy the products--- Now that's what I call a deal. ) The business is there and will work for those that are willing to treat it like a business and put in the time needed to get it on its feet. Most businesses fail within the first 4 years (all types) and your Quixtar business is your business and it's failure or success depends on you just like any other business venture. The system set up by the Diamonds (not Quixtar or Amway) is optional and not mandatory; it is only a tool to help you learn about the business and how much or how little of it you want to use is up to you. There is good and bad in every business; you can concentrate on the bad and never be happy or give the good a shot before you rule it out. It's up to you! I would recommend to anyone looking at this business and finding it interesting, give it a shot; what have you got to lose. We didn't make it financially big but we gained a closeness and better understanding of each other than we ever had before as a couple so in some ways we were big winners. Find out what you're made of and meet some of the nicest people in the world, give Quixtar an honest look and you'll be glad you did.
October 20, 2000
From AP Online
Amway Reveals New Company Structure
ADA, Mich. (AP) -- Direct-sales giant Amway Corp. unveiled a new corporate structure Tuesday under a new parent company, Alticor. The changes are intended to build a stronger and more diverse worldwide company, Alticor chairman Steve Van Andel and president Dick DeVos said at a news conference.
Amway is one of four businesses under the Alticor umbrella. The others are Quixtar, a Web-based sales business; Access Business Group, a business-services provider; and Pyxis Innovations, the group's corporate development arm.
The restructuring was first announced in April and included 1,300 layoffs worldwide since May. The privately held Amway, one of the world's largest direct-sales companies, employs over 3,000 employees in west Michigan and 11,000 worldwide.
It uses a free-lance salesforce to sell products ranging from soaps to cosmetics and vitamins. Quixtar, which sells Amway and other products online, debuted last year.
The company recorded just over $5 billion in estimated retail sales during its 2000 fiscal year, which ended Aug. 31.
The "$5 billion retail sales" figure is actually the exact same number as last year's figures (which itself is a little odd). Then again, there has not been an "official" press release from Amway regarding their sales figures.
October 16, 2001
Your writings on these pages have articulated many thoughts of my own that I have not been able to put substance to for lack of my own ability to put them into words.
I read through your site this afternoon and this evening. (Well, most of it, anyway.) Man! This is some good stuff! (Pardon the use of an already worn out 'amwayism'.)
I, like you, was an active Amway distributor. Coincidentally, in fact, the time of my activity coincides with yours. My upline lead... to Bill Britt, however. Another difference between you and me is that because I get good results from Double-X, I am still a distributor. That is, I am until it's time to renew. I won't be renewing next time around. Come to think of it, [renewal] time should have come already. Haven't seen the proverbial annual mailing, though. So, who knows, maybe I'm not a distributor any more.
Be that as it may, I just wanted to let you know how fascinating I found your site and the information it presents. You have helped me put closure on my disgruntlement with the organization (that is, my upline Diamond's organization) and have allowed me to release the blame I have put on myself for not succeeding at making it work for me.
I remember -- back when I was active and interacting with my upline -- times when I would try talking things out with them. I would discuss my misgivings, reveal my questions and expose my trepidations for following all the instructions I was being given. I remember they wouldn't hear of anything that didn't align with their pre-set rules of engagement. They wouldn't give attention to my questions. I questioned things like the accuracy of information used to illustrate points, the value of the grueling functions and the truth in my upline's insistence that their downline's success was their true motivation. I had some pretty good ideas (I thought) about how to build the business and I was pretty vocal about them. Of course, because I didn't have an organization under me to add credence to my presentations, there was no hearing what I had to say. I was always slammed with the normal "Why do you question a proven method?" or some other such pat response to dissention.
But my outspokenness and instinct to be free-thinking would not subside. Eventually, at a group meeting with my upline Diamond following an open meeting, I was reprimanded in front of the rest of the group for being "unteachable" and was admonished to either "shut-up or leave" by the Diamond himself. I was humiliated. And, though I'm sure that represented "mission accomplished" for the Diamond, all respect for him leapt from me just as the frustrated reaction had leapt from his lips. Amway and all the dreams it represented for me stayed in that restaurant that night as I followed his suggestion and calmly walked out. I have since lost contact with all those folks.
Ultimately, I quit trying to build an organization and participating in the lifestyle. I opted, instead, to become a 'wholesale customer' to allow my continued purchase of the outrageously expensive Double-X and other products that I prefer over other commercially available equivalents at the reduced distributor prices.
But, now, having read your site, Double-X will become a thing of the past.
I just wanted you to know that and thank you. I would thank you for opening my eyes, but they have been open since that night in the restaurant. So, the 'thank you' is for putting something to see in front of those open eyes.
November 1, 2001
Hello, It has been several years since my first experience with Amway.
Out of respect for the amount of effort you have put into your website I am sending you my personal opinions on, and experiences with Amway. By the way, you have done a stellar job at providing accurate information and logical presentation within your site.
In 1998 I was introduced to a division of Amway (Worldwide I believe it was called). A friend had his sponsor come introduce the "opportunity" to me. In retrospect, this presentation was just a regurgitation of the "dream" that all IBOs are taught to give to new prospects. However, at that time in my life it gave me a lot of hope and inspiration. I became enthralled with this enthusiastic fervor that my sponsor exuded. I met with this sponsor a few more times and even went to a seminar and met his upline. After these few meetings it eventually came time to buy the kit and enter the business as an IBO. Being the somewhat intelligent person that I am I scrutinized the business model and product line before buying in. It became clear to me that this would be a difficult business to succeed in. I will not waste time preaching to the choir about the economic aspects of this business as you have clearly laid them out in detail already. But I will share my unbiased opinions about what I learned from my brief personal experience in the Amway world.
To me Amway is a legal means for a group of people to use each other to achieve financial success (at least in theory). They do this by selling products that every person needs or uses. Now obviously the profit percentage one receives from selling these products retail is less than desirable. But because most of these are parishable products, they can be oredered over and over and therefore create future business at a constant unchanging rate. However, logistical problems arise in respect to the quantity of products a household needs to order periodically. Especially when one is expected to consume (or have others consume)these products before they reorder more. How many bulk quantities of batteries, toiletries and other commonly ordered items can a modest household go through each month? Probably not enough to meet the 200, 300, or 500pv levels that are needed to achieve success according to the business plan. This I found to be the most limiting factor in making the Amway model work. After all, if you don't sell products, you don't make money. And how can you buy/sell products if you already have them? This aspect is rarely made clear to new prospects and I'm sure is a big contributing factor to failure. But there are ways to make this work.
The first way an IBO can overcome the hurdle of generating a high monthly pv is to sell retail to non-distributors. This still becomes difficult because most retail customers already buy these products from somewhere else (usually cheaper!) And if you have already taken the time to convince someone to buy your Amway products, then you would usually want to go the extra step and make them a downline distributor too. And if that happens, then, they and you now need to find retail customers yet again.
But while looking for more retail customers, you still need to look for new distributors thus increasing your need to find more and more people and upping your workload in terms of manhours. However, it is still reasonable to assume that an IBO could establish a few retail customers to maintain his own monthly pv needs.
The second aspect in overcoming the seemingly high monthly pv requirements is the size of the IBOs household itself. Many of the successful Amway distributors have large households and therefore consume more of their own products thus proliferating their own business. And large family units typically come from other large family units. This means that not only can the IBOs own family maintain the monthly pv requirements, but they also potentially have a pre-existing distribution network waiting in the wings. It is especially easy to recruit and sponsor a family member as compared to an acquaintance or complete stranger. This "warm" relationship between IBOs and prospects is key in establishing reliable and deep networks.
The most important aspect to the becoming a successful Amway IBO is networking. Networking is what makes your business grow and allows you to climb the multi-level "pyramid"(for lack of a better word). An IBO establishes networks by recruiting new people as distributors. Therefore many successful IBOs have connections to large groups of people. Police, military and religious organizations are common places to establish these networks. The inherent close knit affiliation between members of these groups allows for "warm" recruiting into the network. Simply put, the more people you know to begin with, the more successful you are likely to be in networking. It would be interesting to see statistics on household size, occupation/religious affiliation and how it relates to profitability as an Amway IBO. Amway can be very lucrative to those who fit into these demographics. But many times IBOs are so desperate to recruit that they will give the illusion that everyone under the sun has an equal chance to succeed if they have the determination. But in reality they are failing to set expectations at best, if not intentionally misleading others for hopes of personal gain.
These are just my personal opinions about Amway. I believe it could work for some people despite the undesirable profitability characteristics.
But for most it is an unsuitable entrepreneurial endeavor, unless you fall into specific demographics or are just a shrewd go-getter. I hope this will provide insight to someone out there, whether it be to inspire them or disuade them. Ultimately people need to do what is right for them and do their due dilligence. After all it is your time and your money at stake.