Thursday, June 03, 2010

I get Amway mail

Some of you may remember I have a web page about Amway. Yeah, it's easy to forget since it's a topic that is now 14 years old for me, and I don't talk about it that much. I converted my mail posts to a guest book a few years back, and while I read the guest book semi-regularly, I don't spend so much time converting mails over and scrubbing the names, nor do I spend much time answering them except for an occasional brief note.

But I got a private email recently, and although I shouldn't really encourage it, I decided to answer it. I've gotten the writer's permission to post the replies on the blog, so away we go!

[Email begins]

Hello Russell,

My name is Chris [last name withheld]. I am a IBO with Amway, I have been signed up for 2 years and I have been actively pursuing this business for about 8 months outside of my current job at Olan Mills in Chattanooga, TN. I am not writing you this to "get you in" or to involve you in anyway or to offend you either. I know that this is probably a waste of time, but it's important. I wanted to write you to tell you that I do disagree with the meaning behind your story and your figures you wrote. I don't know what Team you were apart of and don't really care because I know the truth about this Business Opportunity. I think you just didn't grasp the meaning behind it all and you didn't fully understand why things were done the way they were."

Lets Evaluate it from a Traditional Business stand point and College:

I would ask you to compare the Amway Business to any other business and the start up cost involved to get a traditional business up and running. Those cost would be translated down to what makes this business opportunity work. Example the weekly classes which is exactly what they are CLASSES to train you on how to do this, and those rooms aren't Free so pitching in would be considered your overhead as it would be in a traditional business. You are currently successful in life because of the training and the many hours of School you took to learn how to become a Programmer. Tally what it cost you to do that and I would bet it wouldn't come close to the expense that it takes to get educated and to be linked up and working with the Team involved with Amway for the total amount of 10 years ( this would include the Classes, Functions/Conferences, Monthly Membership, and Educational Tools). If you worked this business for 10 years and attended every Class, showed this program to 5 people a week, Sponsored 3 IBO's a month, was on Membership for continual education for you, and went to every major function for 10 years your Total would be around 39k. Your income would be over 50k a year for sure, but most likely around a strong 6 figures. Now, this also would be with working hours of max 20hrs a week. With the opportunity to walk away from it forever if you wanted to. There isn't anything out there like it with what Amway has to offer and with the support that the Team gives you, trust me I have checked.

This analogy won't fly -- all the comparisons in the world to college don't get around the fact that Amway is at heart still a pyramid scam. There are actual statistics that you can track down directly correlating education level to earning potential. No such thing is offered by Amway, for the simple reason that once you start dumping money down the hole that is Amway's motivational system and overpriced catalog items, the vast majority will never see that money again.

It's financial performance that I'm interested in when analyzing Amway as a business -- not as a business for the owners of Amway, i.e., the DeVos's, etc., but for you, the guy who got in two years ago and is looking to make a buck. And the financial performance on that investment is abysmal, much worse than college.

The Reason why Amway is around today:

You see Amway as it is now, but not what it used to be, if you were to start one exactly like it you would see how difficult it would be to start one up and run such a large and impressive company. If you have done your research which you might have, this business was created by two friends in a basement. It was created to give every American an opportunity for success. Amway stands for the American Way, you probably didn't know that because your to smart to catch the true heart beat of this business and I don't mean that in a bad way. Most people that are really smart lack common since and read into things way to much which in turn makes things more difficult to comprehend.

Yes, I know what Amway stands for. Calling it something like "American Way" is a slick move, because faux patriotism helps to turn off the critical thinking facilities of people who might otherwise be skeptical of a business that isn't so "all-American."

While I will admit a certain morbid admiration for those two guys who, working in their basement thirty years ago, came up with such a sweet scheme to separate guys like you from your money, I don't see how that translates into any value for you getting involved.

Why you Failed as a Distributor:

The problem is that you tried it, and that your a programmer. Why I say the Programming part is b/c as a Programmer your always looking for the problem. The true problem (and this is something I tell everyone I teach on how to do this) is what you see when your looking in the mirror. You are the X factor in the simple equation of the Amway compensation plan, and not only that but in the Game called Life as well. What you do with it is up to you not other people.

Dude. I thought you said you read the story. I'm not a disgruntled Amway worker who gave up after pouring years of sweat into this so-called "business." I didn't get involved. I considered it, did some reading, and realized it would be a tremendous mistake. You, on the other hand, are sitting here after two years of working the business, trying to justify what you do because you were bothered by something that a stranger wrote on the internet.

As a side note about Amway saturating that is only Myth and definitely not true. Let me explain why, Jesus Christ is a great example. He sponsored 12 Disciples and 1 quit and today the world is still not saturated with Christianity. With that equation we are talking about a FREE gift. One with logic would think that would be easier to offer and more excepted then a business with costs involved and risk right? Of course because if you read the good book called the Bible it will tell you in there about the riches stored in heaven to the one who lived by the principles of what is written in the Bible that are much Greater then any treasure on Earth. I am a believer of God Word and I would say that even if I wasn't that I would still except a Gift that is Free no matter if the reward was real or not because then I would have HOPE for a better life in the end.

You're not winning me over with this analogy. I'm an atheist. Of course, religious appeals serve the same purpose as patriotic pitches. They lower your defenses. If somebody comes at you with a pitch and they present themselves as belonging to the same tribe, it makes you more willing to trust them, and not feeling like you need to waste energy trying to detect red flags. It's the oldest trick in the book for confidence men.

Why I truly wrote you:

Well I rambled on long enough, but I do want to say that what you say, the negative you speak about this company will be read by several of thousands of people and unfortunately the world is driven by negative influences and this could turn people away that could truly have what Amway promises if you work hard and stay consistent.

Good! I certainly hope they get driven away. There are lots of useful things those people could be doing to contribute to the world and their own financial well being if they weren't dumping their money into Amway. If those thousands of people wind up ditching Amway for something that works, then the time I spent writing this article all those years ago was well spent.

You might not care and yes you have a freedom of speech which you can express freely, but the thing is that what you speak is False and not 100% True. It may have not worked with you but it doesn't mean that you lie about it to others just because it wasn't right for you.

Now, friend, that's just getting personal. When you accuse me of lying, you are not only saying that I'm wrong, you're saying that I secretly know that Amway is a good business, but I'm trying to turn people away from it even though I know it's not true. That is clearly not the case. You may think I've made a big mistake, but I am being honest when I tell you that I think that the Amway business has very little to recommend it.

Now, if the numbers you wrote were correct then things have truly changed over the years because it doesn't cost $500 to go to a major conference with our team. I just believe do unto others as you would want them to do unto you, so if I offend you please forgive me for doing so but I had to speak truth to you and the truth hurts sometimes.

I'm checking for a source for those figures, and I have at least found this article. It suggests that a big shindig would cost around $100 for a ticket, up to $500 for travel, and money for hotel rooms. While this potentially brings the whole package up above $500, it doesn't cost that much just for the entrance fee. I will check the wording in that article and correct it if I've given a wrong impression. So, thanks for that.

I hope you read this if not at least I tried,

Thanks for reading,



[Email ends]

I've gotten a follow-up email, which I will reply to in a separate post. After that, I expect to keep the replies on blog comments.

Update: Follow-up message is here. Also, I'd like to mention that the wording in part 2 of my story was misleading and incorrect, so I've changed it to read the following:

"A small event costs you $10, a large event costs you maybe $50, and one of the nation-wide conferences can cost $100 a ticket; factor in travel and lodging, and you could be looking at around $500 or more. Obviously travel is a necessity since not all the meetings will be local, and there's also the kind of errands for each prospect that Ted was running for me: driving a half hour to my house, giving free goodies, and so on."


  1. I have come across a new Amway recruitment tactic (or may it is just a rehashing of an old one).

    The individuals I know who are in Amway have set up their 'business' to appear like personal training/health/fitness related service. At first, they just get you and give you some free sample products/a free personal training session, then they say they are looking for 'new employees' and offer the people a 'job' at their 'company'.

    It comes across as a legitmate company and the name Amway isn't even brought up until you get the application forms (I've had several aquaintances get that far, then realise it was Amway and bail).

    But yes, good post Russell.

    - Jason.

  2. Lord Bishington, implying a job offer is explicitly against Amway's rules (and clearly unethical). If you ever encounter this behaviour I strongly encourage you to report them to Amway.

  3. Russell, a few comments on your replies to your correspondent on Amway -

    This analogy won't fly -- all the comparisons in the world to college don't get around the fact that Amway is at heart still a pyramid scam.

    "Pyramid scams" by definition involve getting paid for recruiting people. This doesn't happen at all in Amway, indeed in many cases it costs you money to recruit people in to Amway - so on what basis are claiming "at heart" it's a pyramid scam?

    There are actual statistics that you can track down directly correlating education level to earning potential. No such thing is offered by Amway

    I'm not quite sure what it is you're expecting Amway to supply? Amway income is performance based, and they supply the formula's to calculate your income to 100% accuracy until you get into higher levels. They also supply actual percentages of people who reach those performance levels. There's more than one path to them however and different groups have different approaches, but in my experience and research many of them provide quite accurate statistics on what you actually need to then do to achieve those performance levels.

    You explicitly state -

    It's financial performance that I'm interested in when analyzing Amway as a business

    This can be calculated exactly. So what is it you want?

    With regard expenses, many of Amway's "big shindigs" are free, and you (and your correspondent) are apparently referring to events put on by third party companies who offer products and services to Amway IBOs. There are many such companies and prices (and standard offerings) vary quite a bit. Pretty universally however, those offerings are cheaper than similar types of events outside the Amway world.

    It's impossible to give a standard price for an "Amway seminar" and this basic lack of understanding speaks volumes about the extent of your original "research".

    Tell me, when researching the company and mode 14 years ago (1996), how exactly did you "research"? Did you read any of the many published books about the company, for example The Direct Selling Revolution: Understanding the Growth of the Amway Corporation by Professor Dominique Xardel. Xardel has been head of ESSEC, one of Europe's top graduate business schools, and editor of the European Harvard Business Review. He spent 2 years and traveled to 13 countries researching the company. Was his work a part of your research?

    I don't believe you are lying on your website, I do however believe you're wrong on some points, primarily due to false assumptions, and overgeneralizing on many others, primarily due to a lack of knowledge.

    Neither are terminal faults!

    One further question though, you state -

    the DeVos's, etc., but for you, the guy who got in two years ago and is looking to make a buck. And the financial performance on that investment is abysmal, much worse than college.

    I'm not aware of too many college degrees (any?) that have people making significant bucks two years after merely submitting an interest in pursuing the course.

    Amway is a business, and like any other field of endeavors there's things to learn and a lot of hard work involved in achieving success. That doesn't make it a scam.

  4. This Chris has a very strange way of spelling things... using capital letters for some words. Then there are all the typos. Sounds like Chris is living a dream of delusion.

  5. That was a good dissection of a terrible e-mail