A Collection of Strange Beliefs, Amusing Deceptions, and Dangerous Delusions

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reader comments: Amway

May 24, 1996
About 5 years ago I was approached by a former friend, regarding an "excellent business opportunity". He said that he was involved in the distribution of new hi-tech goods. At that time I was frequently working abroad as a geologist on oil rigs and was beginning to look for opportunities nearer to home. I remember well what he said at the time: " There's only a slim chance you'll be accepted... I can't promise anything!". Anyway he fixed up a meeting between myself and another friend, with his distributor.

First off, I have to say that I am very skeptical of get-rich quick schemes and so I was determined not to get sucked into anything dubious. The presentation involved the introduction of Amway and the hierarchy of distributors etc., which I found tedious. I was also beginning to realize that, after about an hour, there had been no mention of the so-called high tech product. Alas! Half an hour later we were introduced to the merchandise... was it a new life-saving drug? or a new alarm system, or maybe a new form of telecommunication! No, it was in fact high tech....detergent, and high tech... metal cleaning fluid, furniture polish etc.

Wellllll... I'd like to say that I left the matter there, BUT what I actually did was hand over 60 [quid] and joined up! You see, although I was a skeptic, I was looking for a way out of my job and who knows maybe I would get rich. About a week and half later I received my goodies - window cleaning goodies and the like and also some tapes! I had been actually wondering whether I was going to receive any information concerning the products I was about to sell. Well the tape did not mention the products at all! Instead all there was a load of pap and drivel about how good it is to be in Amway. Basically a couple were going on and on and on and on about "how at first, I had my reservations etc." All the tape was geared to was the convincing the listener into how good it was to actually join Amway. But I already had!!

Side 2 was even better. Here it was assumed that I had now "joined up" and so set about instructing me how to convince others to join! They advocated the use of F.O.R.M. - I can't quite recall what all the abbreviations stand for ( something in the realm of Family, Recreation etc.). By now I realized I was saddled with some expensive goods and a tape which basically told me to entrap others by trading on their dreams... exactly what happened to myself. Anyway, I went away working for a month or so. By the time I got back, I realized there was definitely no future with Amway, since:
1: You have to be at home every night to take care of the business
2: You have to know a lot of people for it to work!

I went to a couple of meetings as my friend was still involved at that time. During the meeting, the main discussion point was still basically how to recruit others. The discussion stemmed from how to approach people in a bar, to actually saying to someone "I run my own business" - to which they ask "what in" etc. As the evening came to a close we were all told by the distributor that, after initially obtaining a victims interest, we were then actually to say "There's only a slim chance you'll be accepted; I can't promise anything!" What a load of crap.

I went to a final meeting - slightly larger, about half were newcomers, the rest were lowly distributors, and of course a few successful individuals who spouted on about ..yes...how to recruit others or how they themselves were initially skeptical etc.

Lastly, the products: I didn't manage to sell any. Instead I gave the lot to my mom, who said she really liked the window spray and "could I have some more?" I remember then telling her the price.....

Amway, to me, basically trades on dreams. I don't know if this is intentional on their part - but with zero information given about the products, the high price of induction, the high price of the products themselves and the emphasis to recruit others, what else am I to think?

I think it's a pile of shit.

Kind regards.

Oh yes... about my friend, although I eventually lost touch with him, he left the cause soon after myself. I wonder if there are any stories out there where complete distributor networks have collapsed?
Andrew Oliver

23 May 1996
I can already say that my involvement with Amway has had an extremely positive effect on my life: it has led me to your wonderful (skepticism) web page! I want to tell you my Amway story, which is open-ended at present.

I'm 21 years old, a pretty bright college student (at least I'd like to think so) pursuing a degree in computer science. I was picked up by one of these Amway people in a computer store a few months ago, but I only started listening to him in the past couple of weeks. I hadn't really heard much of anything about Amway before, so I wasn't bothered by the reference. I liked his message. I liked the idea of getting rich. I wanted very much to believe what he was telling me. So I let him talk me into the business, play me tapes, bring me to meetings, the works.

Even while I tried hard to believe in the message, I still had this nagging feeling that there was something terribly, terribly wrong about the whole situation. All the informational material was vague and nebulous, wrapped up in grandiose talk about values and ideals, while they hardly ever mentioned what the business is and why it would work. My "sponsor" was not rich, but talked incessantly about the immediacy of his wealth and all the things he would do when he would retire. And no matter how many times I heard what a wonderful group of people I was getting involved with, the people of Amway still seemed like a shallow bunch of suit-wearing fast-talking hype-dealing cyborgs who didn't care for anything but wealth.

Yes, I had all these doubts but managed to push them aside, because my sponsor answered all my questions very skillfully (just as he is trained to do), and because I desperately wanted to believe that it was all true. So in spite of everything, I was all set to sign up with Amway, pay my $150, and try to get rich. As a matter of fact, I was scheduled to sign up THIS FRIDAY. This afternoon, while searching for background information on the Alta Vista search engine, I found your web page and it changed everything.

It felt like a breath of fresh air. Finally I was able to read all my own intended arguments expressed in a clear and eloquent manner that I wasn't able to provide for myself. I've shaken myself free of the delusions that have been gripping me for the last two weeks, and finally I'm free to pursue my REAL dreams once again: to become a successful programmer with products that I think are genuinely worth selling.

Bob, I think you're a hero. I want you to know that, in spite of all the negative letters you're receiving over Amway, you're touching many lives in a helpful way. I've spent half the night following links to other Amway pages, and I'm feeling stronger the more I read. I just didn't understand before how Amway would have tried to control my life, to change my focus and direction into something that I didn't really want it to be. I feel like I dodged a bullet today.

I now find myself at a crossroad, in a unique position to do some damage or change some lives. You see, John doesn't know yet that I am out of the business... so I'm still allowed to enter meetings and seminars while he pays for it. I could easily walk away and never look back. But now that I know about Amway, I feel like it's my moral obligation to spread the word about the business and pull some other people like me back from the brink. But I'm unclear about the best way to do this.

For instance, I met several new recruits this week who had the same doubts that I did. I could track them down, show them all the material I've uncovered, and tell them to tell all their friends. Even if I only reached two or three such people, that would be worthwhile to me.

I could also continue to sabotage Amway for a long time, pretending to be indecisive and all the while handing out information to the new recruits. If I'm careful, I might avoid being discovered.

Or, I could go straight for the mother lode right now and tackle the sponsor himself. I know for a fact that John is not rich from Amway and may never be. He is very gung-ho about the Amway cult and expects to profit heavily; however, he seems to be a somewhat rational and coherent person (I wouldn't have listened to him otherwise) and I think I have some ideas on how to convince him. If I could do that, he might rescue some of his own recruits. On the downside, it's not likely that he would listen, and I would probably be banished from Amway before I had a chance to run amuck.

I have a very unique opportunity and I feel that as a responsible human being, I should milk my position for all it's worth. What would you do if you were in my shoes?

reply: I have read over your very interesting letter regarding your experiences with Amway. You sound like an intelligent and humane person. So I urge you not to try to "infiltrate" or "sabotage" the Amway group you have entered. I believe you will be doing enough if you steer people to information such as mine and others; then let them make up their own minds. I urge you to put all your energy into your studies and other positive things. One thing I have learned from all the letters I get on Amway is that some people have found it very fulfilling and many of them sound like decent people trying to earn an honest living. Not all groups are alike; that is one of the problems with Amway: there is no central control and so no one is really responsible for anyone else's behavior. Some of the recruiters are aggressive and deceptive--perhaps most are---but some apparently are not. In any case, my advice is to get out and be honest with the people in the group. Tell them why you are getting out. If they try to humiliate or shame you, let them know that you consider such behavior shameful and would not want to be associated with people who must try such lowdown tactics to get followers.

29 May 1996

Thanks for the Scamway alert. I was almost inducted. I already have an excellent job, and my fiancé will more than likely also get an excellent job when she graduates next year.

The lure is "getting rich". I have concluded that wealth is built over time by sacrifice and smart investing. More importantly, I find it ironic that an organization like Scamway that professes Christ exalts money. (I feel comfortable saying this since I'm a Christian.) I think you should tell the "Christians" in Scamway to follow their true leader. Not the Brit guy, the Guy whom they claim to worship. Would Christ be part of Amway? Would He tell you to seek money and vainglory? When did He ever talk about getting rich? Wasn't He a poor Nazarene from a humble family? When did He hold rallies exalting the rich? Thought I read He did the opposite. "Lay not up treasures on earth ....."

Much success in educating the Amwayers. I am going to pass much of the information I read to the friend that's trying to pull me in.
-- DP.

28 May 1996
Mr. Carroll,

I would like to make a couple of comments on the Amway Business. People need to understand that Amway is a business. There are good businesses in the world and bad, good Lawyers, bad Lawyers, good Dr's, bad Dr's and the list goes on and on. So people should not be surprised when a bad person comes along and joins the Amway business and misrepresents what the company stands for. Amway is a solid company and that's fact. Amway is not for everybody just like certain occupations are not for everybody, and yes it is hard is work just like anything worth while in life. There are no guarantees. Just the same there are no guarantees that you will be employed tomorrow or you will get that promotion (just read the paper or listen to the news). If we could get rid of all the concussion people would see that the Amway opportunity is just people HELPING people reach their dreams and goals. Your not a looser if you get in and your not a looser if you don't get in. There will always be good and bad in anything we look at in life. We as people need to take responsibility and get the facts so we can determine what is right or wrong for our own personal lives and stop making decisions based on the opinions of others on how we should live our lives.

Thanks for letting me take some time
Lonnie Ellis

04 Jun 1996
To whom it may concern,

It seems to me that there are a lot of ungrateful people out there. Despite what people are told, Amway is not a scam and does not cheat anybody. Yes, you have to work in the business to make money, but you have to work in any other business to make money also. The advantages of Amway are not to make a lot of money. It just happens. One of the biggest advantages of Amway is the friendships you create and the feeling of importance of being a part of a foundation that still believes in our country and the beliefs it was founded on.

My parents have recently joined Amway. They had previously been in it ten years ago too. They decided to get back in in order to be free. They told me themselves that the corporation has changed so much in the past years. It has changed for the good.

At this moment, my parents are not "rich" with money, but with friendships. They have only been in the business for eight months and have already made a lot of friends. They have not been diligent in sharing the business with other people so their business has not grown. This will change.

The only reason they had for joining the business was to get out of debt. This country was founded on FREEDOM. The people of this nation are not free. They are free in their actions, but not financially. Because of this, many people declare bankruptcy and are thrown into the streets to become "another" victim.

I am not trying to spread guilt among anyone. There are things that people need to know. People need to know the truth. If you speak it and have faith in anything, it will come true, but you have to work for it too.

In concluding, Amway is the best way to achieve deserved success. Some people are lazy enough to think that the benefits "fall in your lap," but it is not that way. Dreaming your dreams doesn't help any unless you work your dreams. I, myself, plan to join as an Amway distributor as soon as I turn 18. Until then, I will help my parents and other people to learn about this wonderful opportunity that I have been shared with.

For those of you who are in Amway, strive to do your best every day and never let a single person try to destroy your dreams. Never let them "wake you up" so to speak. Remember, dreams can come true. Maybe some day you'll be singing Mickey Hamlet's song and my favorite four words... "Ain't Got No Job"!!! GO DIAMOND!!!
Daniel Campbell

09 Jun 1996

I enjoyed reading all of the entries about AMWAY pro and con and would like to share my recent experience with others. I was approached by a distributor about two weeks ago at a business trade show. He works for a large cellular phone provider. We Talked about phones and other products and I told him I might be interested in buying a phone soon. A couple of days later he called me not mentioning the phone but asking me if I was interested in meeting with him and his partner who is a banker to discuss a "new" business idea. I agreed and became suckered into an AMWAY meeting. I could not believe that these people intentionally did not tell me who they worked for, instead they told me the name of the company was Britt International (one of AMWAY's distributors). I feel like I was lied to because they were afraid that I would tell them NO. I asked several times to see their products and the issue was always pushed off for the next meeting. These people have wasted a lot of my time and made me very angry in the process. I would like to tell anyone who is approached by these people that Reputable business' do not conceal the identity of their company or their products they are proud of them and do not need to sell a system as a gimmick. I have copied approximately 65 pages of information from the internet about Amway and delivered it to the distributor who contacted me. I hope he reads it and understands that what he is doing is underhanded.

Thanks for the voice,

13 Jun 1996
Dear Sir: I once had a friend as liberal and open-minded and sweet and funny as any person you could ever imagine. we enjoyed a 13-year friendship and a bond that I think both of us believed that nothing could break. I was delighted for him when he married a woman who seemed wonderful...she came as a package deal. She was involved in Amway. In the course of the next year, my friend became unrecognizable. I now never hear from him. we were so close, I feel as though a part of my soul was amputated. I know there is nothing I can do about my friend, but please keep encouraging others to intervene with the facts with their own friends and family who may be flirting with the idea of joining Amway.

When my friend got around to trying to sell me the Amway scheme, he asked me, "What are your dreams?" Ultimately, my answer was, "My dreams are not a commodity to trade on." I miss my friend. Thank you for whatever you can do to unmask this cruel company.

B. Keena

15 Jun 1996
My brother has been sucked into the Amway cult. When he first joined last year, we tried to tell him not to believe the rhetoric. He just kept repeating the stock answers he was brainwashed into believing. He was told he would be earning enough money to cover his mortgage payment in only a few months. He is nowhere close. In fact, when the lease on his new car expired a few months ago, he had to turn in the car and start using his wife's old Buick.

He and his wife attend meetings nearly every night. They live only 5 minutes from my parents, yet they only time they call or stop by is when they need a free babysitter. They once asked my mother to baby-sit for their 2 year old and infant when she (my mom) had pneumonia--so they could go to an Amway convention.

They have become different people. Their lives revolve around Amway and their Amway "family." When their younger daughter was recently Christened, my mother could not get a seat in the Church, because their Amway "family" was filling the reserved seats. She stood in the back of the Church for her own grandchild's Christening. When my brother made his Confirmation at the Easter Vigil Mass this year, my mother and I were again forced to stand at the rear of the crowded Church, because their uplines were sitting in the area reserved for family.

Amway does something terrible to people's minds. This is no longer my loving little brother, but someone who is obsessed with the almighty dollar, and the idea of retiring in 3 years at the age of 30. Even worse, their two beautiful little girls are missing out on spending time with their parents, because the parents are out EVERY night. They subscribe to Amway's belief that they are doing this for this children's future, but at what price?

Christine McGuigan

22 Jun 1996
As an Amway distributor I have to thank you for the insight you and so many others have given me regarding the Amway opportunity. The articles have made me really take a hard look at the books, tapes, and functions promoted throughout the organization that I belong.

The books are the same that I could buy at any bookstore, and would have since sales is my profession and motivation and PMA is a huge part of my success. The revelation on the tapes and the functions and who prospers from those really woke me up. I am canceling my tape(s) of the week tomorrow and will probably never attended another major function. The Amway corporation is completely legit and still does offer an excellent opportunity for those willing to work it honestly and ethically. I find it a shame that so many greedy people have made it bad for those that are honest.

Being a devout Christian I do find the constant religious jargon and references to be offensive. Those that are true believers should let there actions speak not their words. I sometimes feel that these people make references to Christ not because they believe but because they feel it will benefit their business.

MLMs are great and do offer some potential for the future. Anyone that sacrifices a friend or family member for the sake of their MLM has deeper problems than I could ever explain.

Keep up the good work and keep the others informed so they can make qualified choices and decisions.MLMs are not cash cows and do not develop over night. They can be fun and as far as I am concerned it beats the heck out of playing softball or meeting the guys for a drink.

Take care and keep up your excellent work!
John Dailey

24 Jun 1996

How fascinating! I found your page while following a thread from my associate & personal hero, James Randi, only to discover your interesting article on a subject that has been much on my mind lately. I read the other responses to the article, & felt that my perspective on the subject is unique, so cut here as I ramble...

With only my background as a magician to offer as credentials, I still feel I know enough about how people fool each other & themselves to point out the real faults with the concept of Amway:

1. The actual product for sale here is the idea of "purchase redirection." What is supposed to happen is you stop spending money on things that you normally purchase at stores, & instead buy it from your distributor. Hopefully, you save some money in the process, & everybody above you gets a cut. In addition, you can bring in more consumers, & now you get a cut of what they "redirect." This, in itself, is not a bad idea - if it works. I have yet to see that it does. The prices I have seen for the products are not competitive with the free market once you add in shipping. This is only hinted at in your article. All the other stuff is smoke (misleading pitches such as Coca-Cola's involvement; truth is, Coke doesn't give a drinker's damn who sells their product), mirrors (indirect pitches based on the inductee's greed, etc.), & extra icing on the cake (the promotional materials for sale, etc.) Magicians make a living at proving big lies with little ones, & apparently, so do Amway distributors.

2. Even if everything does work, & all the bottom feeders are content to merely redirect their purchases (let us even assume the unlikely event that they save money doing it), where does that leave us? Does everyone finish the game happy? NO! Why? Because, aside from little things that are important to us all, like being able to look directly at a product as we hold it in our hand, or have somebody more knowledgeable than us explain the difference between VCR's 1 & 2, monopolizing ANY market is detrimental to that market & the economy as a whole. The manufacturer takes ultimate control of both product & price. If mail-order worked, it would have done so already. It simply doesn't, for these reasons & others.

Thank you for your time, attention, & reference material.
Richard Herren

24 June 1996

According to Social Security Administration statistics, 75 % of all adults over the age of 65 are dependent on relatives or charity, 23% are still working. And 85 out of one hundred people do not even have $250 to their name. That's after 50 years of work. These people bought into the go to college, and/or get a good job. If you want to do an expose do it on colleges that sucker people into this life time of slavery.

Now you may not like this, but a check into the success rate of Amway shows that every month 300 to 400 people go to the levels of Silver to Direct Distributor on up to Diamond. This means that they will receive for the rest of their lives a minimum, adjusted for inflation dollars of over $2100 on up to 10's of thousands of dollars per month. That's a hell of a success rate. That's retirement- at any age you want, unlike the non-existent retirement of today.

Finally, okay, you don't like Amway. Alright. What else then? WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO OFFER THE WORLD THAT'S ANY BETTER?


Just complain and whine, and waste countless hours developing this website. Instead of trying to build yourself up while tearing other people and a company down with outdated reference books, why not encourage these people to at least try and get out of a life of slavery? You're actually part of the problem, not the solution.

I'll ask it again.


When you have something, maybe you'll have some valid reason to get on the net. Right now, this is a total waste of energy. Make friends with these dedicated Amway people. They're very nice, and some day, this may be one of your best chances to get out of the treadmill you're on.

30 Jun 1996
You have written an interesting and perhaps the fairest "devil's advocate" point of view regarding the Amway business. Unfortunately you are linked to many less honest than you. As an Amway distributor, I can only testify to the positive changes my association with this business has brought. I have not encountered any other business that focuses so much on personal growth, ethics, morals, and strong family values.

As in any business, we have many idiots who exaggerate, lie, etc., and a large number of distributors who quit. The latter could be considered the "failed" Amway businesses. However, fewer people "fail" at this business percentage-wise than in traditional small businesses -- and who lost more? Most of the initial cost of becoming an Amway distributor is in product - all of which could be returned. The annual renewal fee is around $35, much like Sam's Club or Coco. Where's the risk. Some complain about the encouragement to dream big and set goals -- nothing has ever been accomplished in any business without these two things.

The most difficult thing about this business is learning to do the things outside your comfort zone -- i.e. talking to people you don't know (a good skill to learn if you want to succeed in any business), changing your personal habits to become more relatable, developing leadership skills, etc. Even if I didn't make money in this business, I would stay involved for the personal growth and general business skills learned. In whatever you endeavor, I hope that you have a positive and profound impact on those you leave in your wake -- I know I will.

Kurt Skinner

[end of Amway comments]

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