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Miscellaneous Arguments and Answers about Amway

Over the past years I've received a lot of attention and mail from distributors who were very eager to argue with me. During that time I've gradually come to recognize that a lot of these arguments get repeated over and over again because they're really just continuous paraphrases of things that are said on the tapes. I've grown very accustomed to the standard ammunition that distributors have at their disposal, and so I finally decided to make something like a FAQ in which I answer some of these arguments.

THE FORMAT: I usually have a specific point in mind when I begin writing. I will do my best to search my letters for one or several typical instances of the argument I want to answer; then I will summarize an Amway distributor's expected position and respond to it. If I can't find any reasonable specific quotes from distributors, I'll attempt to recite a reasonable paraphrase. I have tried to be fair and objective in stating all arguments exactly the way a real Amway proponent would say them. If you think I've stated anything in an incorrect or unfair way, please do write to me and correct it. I don't want to be setting up any "straw men" or phony positions.

If the truth be known, part of the reason I quote from several letters in each segment is to highlight the fact that many of the letters I receive do just say exactly the same things over and over again. Sometimes I receive the same argument stated the same way twice in one day. I find that really bizarre.

Here are the topics that I have covered so far:

  1. You say that MLM is a mathematically flawed concept because its numbers must saturate over time. Amway will never saturate. There is no way that the entire world will ever be involved.
  2. Amway is a multibillion dollar corporation. So regardless of what you say, it is clear that they are successful and it is a good idea to get involved.
  3. Obviously you got a bad impression of Amway because of the specific group that you were in. If only you would check out different AMO's you would have seen that they are not all as bad as you say.
  4. Don't forget that with Amway, you get to own your own business. Where else would you have that opportunity at so little cost?
  5. ...and furthermore, Multi-Level Marketing is nothing more than a logical extension of the hugely successful franchising concept, which made companies like McDonald's great. So it really IS a proven system.
  6. The important point that you're missing is that Amway is perfectly legal, so it doesn't matter what you say against the company.
  7. Okay, wise guy... if Amway's so bad, what do YOU have to offer me that's better?
  8. You sure are negative. I hope you know, nobody loves a critic.
  9. Amway is not a pyramid scheme, but I'll tell you what is: every major corporation is based on a pyramid structure.
  10. The only reason people ever fail to succeed in Amway is because they're lazy. Anyone who can keep working the System can make it.
  11. Of course you would quickly see the benefits of the Amway system if only you were more mature, instead of a snotty kid.
  12. You think you know so much... but you do not know that many fine upstanding corporations also network and form partnerships with Amway. Of course they know what they're doing, so you are wrong.
  13. So many fine celebrities are active members of Amway that it must be good. After all, we know that movie stars, motivational speakers, and professional sports figures would NEVER steer us wrong.
  14. I just wanted you to know that I'm grateful to you for publishing this web page and bad-mouthing my business. Thanks to you, the unmotivated broke losers who would fail in this business anyway will never sign up in the first place.
  15. Amway has a 1% divorce rate, compared to the 50% rate in the rest of the country. Forget about the money, obviously it's great for holding families together.
  16. Amway doesn't work like a Ponzi scam at all! Here, I'll PROVE to you that the system is not a scam.
  17. You obviously have no business talking about Amway when you were never involved yourself.
  18. You were considering the Amway opportunity for just three weeks? Three weeks isn't enough to become knowledgable about anything!
  19. (That's all for now, but you'll see at the bottom that there will be a lot more to follow.)

Numerous letters I received have quibbled with my comment in the introduction that it is mathematically impossible for enough people to join Amway that everyone will be rich. To recap:

The first flaw is the sheer number of people involved. It's fine for you to recruit ten friends who recruit ten who recruit ten, but if you multiply the numbers out you will find that it just takes ten "generations" of friends recruiting friends before the number of people involved exceeds 10^10, or ten billion people, which is double the population of the earth. It takes only seven generations to produce ten million people, which is five times the number of people in Amway to date. Nobody thinks that they're the ones on the bottom of the pyramid, but the truth is that the people who don't make money in this scenario outnumber those who do by almost ten to one.

This argument is known to Amway distributors as "the old saturation argument" -- evidently they have a list of common sense objections to the Amway system which really annoy them, and some stock responses to those arguments.

And you claim that this improves your situation? All you are telling me is that a subset of the world's population will NEVER join Amway, no matter how hard you push. You can't recruit people who don't "dream the dream". Period. If this is true then it only demonstrates that Amway will saturate much faster than the original prediction. For instance, if the average distributor recruits two people, and 50% of the world are terminal non-dreamers, then obviously it will saturate one generation SOONER! (Of course, distributors are given to believe that more like 95% of the world are non-dreamers, which matters it even worse!) While I'm sure everyone is very excited about the untapped 99% of America that hasn't joined, you have to look at number of people in America WHO HAVE NEVER HEARD OF AMWAY. Now you take your percentage out of that number and you'll find it's an awful lot smaller. Since I had my experience with Amway, I've gone around chatting up friends, relatives, economics professors, and so on. Nearly everyone over the age of 20 that I spoke to has been prospected at some time in their life. Many of them even thought it might be a good idea, but had absolutely no intention of ever getting in. How do your statistics take account of the people who have or already tried and rejected, or been rejected by, the system? Can you justify the assumption that they are still potential recruits?

Um, no, it proves that the Amway corporation is taking in a lot more money than it used to. It says that people are paying a lot of money TO Amway in exchange for goods and services. It doesn't say ANYTHING about how much money an individual distributor can expect to make, nor does it prove that you pay a lower price for their products.

The fact that there are three hundred diamonds in a crowd of two and a half million distributors fails to impress me, to say the least. This ratio works out to about one in every eight thousand, or .00012, or a little more than one percent of one percent. I don't know if there are really more than three hundred diamonds, but I often hear Amway people saying there are "hundreds of Diamonds" so I'm going to assume that the number is correct and play a little game with these figures.

Suppose that .012% of the United States at large were millionaires. Well, (.012/100)*250,000,000 = 30,000 -- so there would be thirty thousand millionaires in America. But according to a a book called "The Millionaire Next Door" by Thomas J. Stanley, there are approximately 3.5 million millionaires living in the U.S. today -- that's people whose household net worth is over one million dollars. So assuming that the number .00012% is roughly accurate, and everyone who becomes a millionaire through Amway is a diamond, and Mr. Stanley isn't lying... your odds of being a millionaire through Amway are more than a hundred time worse than being a millionaire without Amway.

Thanks are extended once again to Sidney Schwartz, who located this article and the figures therein.

All this is awfully unconvincing. First of all, to anyone who would tell me specifically that I should have been involved with INA because they're so much better... surprise! INA was the group that "Ted" and company belonged to.

Speaking more generally, over time these letters have all mutually incriminated each other. Group X denounces group Y, which denounces group Z, which in turn denounces group X. The fact that these groups have different NAMES seems to be basically irrelevant. Apparently all these "independent" groups split off from Amway because they want to be the head of "their own" MLM business -- as if changing the name would somehow increase the number of people who would be likely to sign up.

Nothing I've heard leads me to believe that one organization is any different from another. I would say this is just splitting hairs.

Yes indeed, distributors will go to great lengths to convince me that they are heads of their own independent company. They even go so far as to make up fictional names for "their" business. One letter writer signed himself: "Bob Jones, CEO of Jones Enterprises." (Not his real name.) "Ted", of course, had special business cards printed that said his company was "Golden Zephyr Enterprises." (There is no such company.)

Newsflash: buying products and signing up other people does not automatically make you a business owner. If it did, every member of a music club would also be an independent business owner.

All distributors seem to think that they are chairman of the board and sole proprietor of some newly invented corporation. Yet the "business" they do involves buying products from Amway for themselves, then finding other people to buy products from Amway for themselves... all while following all of Amway's rules and obeying their uplines unquestioningly. This is an odd kind of independence indeed. Or maybe owning a business is entailed simply by the fact that you made up an impressive title for yourself and bought some customized stationery?

I can do that too. It's not that hard to print up a bunch of business cards that say "Russell Glasser, Lord High Commander and Dictator For Life, Glasser Dream Weavers Inc.", or to sign all my letters that way. But what meaning would you attach to that?

What's the significance of "owning your own business" in that case? If it's really true that you don't sell anything, then it sounds to me like you order a whole bunch of products from a catalog and leave them in your garage for personal consumption. Why is this any more convenient than ordering in the same way from any other mail order catalog? The price? No, I think I already covered that subject ad nauseam. A tax dodge, maybe? Well, you still pay sales tax in states where there is one, plus shipping and handling costs when they apply, so I sure don't see the difference.

Incidentally, someone pointed out to me that being an Amway distributor who doesn't sell anything is in direct violation of the famous "Ten Customer Rule," the legal loophole used in 1979 to prove that Amway is not an illegal pyramid (i.e., all distributors have at least ten customers who buy from them, therefore Amway is a legitimate marketing organization and not a pyramid scheme). Could it be that Amway DOESN'T enforce this rule, which means that it is technically not legal? Nah, that couldn't possibly be true... could it?

If I were you, I'd stop admitting to this practice, just to be on the safe side.

(An extension of the previous argument.) This is actually quite an interesting and compelling point. The intended parallels are clear: you buy a business, the corporation gives you information and instructions on how the business is run, and you attempt to turn a profit in a way that many other people have before.

This is perfectly justified when the guidelines that the company pass down are actually instructions on how to *run your business*. But all too frequently, the messages one receives from Amway Motivational Organizations are instructions on how to manage your personal life. They tell you how to act, think, speak and behave in your private relationships, and in large part the information COMPLETELY neglects the question of how to sell products -- which, in theory, is the purpose of the business. At least, that's what the FTC says the purpose of the business should be... there's that old ten customer rule again. Without it Amway's just another illegal pyramid.

On the contrary, however, a large number of Amway distributors are led to believe that their sole duty is to recruit more members and not to sell products at all. They are told that the ten-customer rule is just a formality that doesn't matter.

Which leads me to another point: when you franchise for a corporation, that corporation treats you as their public representative, and they take their responsibility for the ethics and legality of the business very seriously.

But by contrast, Amway "businesses" are vigorously sold by low-level amateurs who pass themselves off as experts. When they violate ethical standards, Amway consistently looks the other way and claims that they are not responsible for what overeager distributors do in their name.

And yet, even though Amway does not appear to care about legal and ethical policy violations, the corporation WILL cut you off from a distributorship completely for seemingly insignificant violation of rules such as refusing to buy weekly tapes or failure to attend a particular rally. This is well documented especially in the Touchton and Hanrahan lawsuits on Sidney Schwartz's page.

The fact that Amway's "company policy" is overtly concerned with personal use of products and the largely irrelevant use of motivational material is not so bad if you consider it to be just a set of suggestions and recommendations. But this practice becomes hard to defend when it comes in the form of outright demands that you do things which do not directly impact your business. Dave Thomas may have written a good book, but does Wendy's REQUIRE you to read it before they will allow you to keep your franchise?

There are other pretty clear-cut differences. When you franchise for, say, McDonald's, your job is not to sell more McDonald's businesses but to sell hamburgers. You go into such a business with a very clear and open approach; the building which you get quite prominently displays the corporate logo and makes no false claims about what you are patronizing when you go in there. If you don't do this, there is no real reason to work under the company name.

You can contrast that with "Ted's" "Golden Zephyr" business cards: it is hard to claim that you are representing a company when you misdirect attention to a fictional and unrelated company name. Oh, don't mention Amway until they're already interested... people might have heard negative things! Imagine trying to run a real franchise that way. Who would want to buy rights to a company name if the very mention of that name sent people running in the other direction?

Let me try to summarize. Franchises issue rules that specifically relate to creating a business and do not interfere with your non-business behavior; they take personal responsibility for the business ethics that you maintain while working in their name; and they are set up for a legitimate purpose (i.e., selling hamburgers) that extends beyond the single goal of "making the company bigger". For all these reasons, I believe it is a mistake to consider Amway a legitimate franchise.

Two points to make. One, the fact that an activity is declared legal does not make it an intelligent thing to do. To the best of my knowledge, cliff-diving is also entirely legal, yet I have never once felt the slightest urge to hurl myself off a five-hundred foot cliff and belly flop into the Pacific Ocean.

Two, whatever Amway may have told you, the FTC did not give them the enthusiastic thumbs up that you heard about. They didn't shut Amway down as an illegal pyramid, but that's hardly the same as the glowing endorsement that Amway is "the most legal business in the country." To hear distributors talk, you'd think the FTC was falling all over themselves to rule in favor of Amway and probably become distributors themselves in the bargain. But in reality, the ruling was far more subdued, and included a "Cease and desist" order as a condition; "We won't shut you down, IF..."

The full text of the article is online. It is very direct in saying that Amway is not a pyramid scam because it follows the ten customer rule. It was not exactly enthusiastic about this ruling, and found other aspects of Amway's behavior to be a bit shady at best. Of course, based on most of my letters from overenthusiastic "non-salesmen," it seems like Amway hasn't done much to enforce the ten customer rule which does keep them from being a pyramid.

So in the final analysis, yes, Amway is legal. I'm not going to argue whether it SHOULD be legal or not, but I am going to say that being legal and being smart are not synonymous. All the law said was that you can't be arrested for being in Amway. That's not to say that you can't still be bilked out of all your money.

Illegal, maybe not; immoral, definitely. Last time I checked, immoral activity was EXTREMELY profitable. For references, check with Camel Cigarettes, Robert Shapiro, and the producers who inflict us with any new Pauly Shore movie.

Nothing. I've advised you not to do Amway. I can advise you not to shoot yourself through the head too, but if you ask me "What can you offer me that's better?" I'll just write it off as a stupid question.

A friend of mine recommended that the best answer to this question is: "Watch TV. You won't lose any money, and there's a small chance you'll learn something useful." Following in the same spirit, other things that are better are: take a nap, go for a drive, chat up an attractive member of the opposite sex, or (dare I say it?) write a neat computer program. Better yet, learn some job skills, embark on a good career, invest wisely, and save a lot of money to retire on.

If you would like to see a site that I think gives a good, upbeat, and realistic view of personal finance, I highly recommend browsing over to my favorite "Life in general" site, The Motley Fool.

Really? Let's see about that.

My favorite playwright is George Bernard Shaw. He's fun to read because of his razor wit and his snidely satirical view of the world. (My favorite Shaw quote: "The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.")When you put this quote in its proper perspective, you'll come to realize that every person in history who caused major social change was essentially a critic of the old system.

This applies equally well to great writers such as Charles Dickens, who became famous for criticizing the miserable living and working conditions in England through his negative stories; great scientists like Sir Isaac Newton, who wrote long essays debunking the old Greek worldview, and spoke with surprising venom about his opponents in the field; leaders, artists... it goes on. When you come right down to it, it's almost impossible to do any good work if you can't recognize bad work when you see it?

One of the greatest "negative" people of history was Winston Churchill. You can hardly read anything about him without coming up with entertaining and witty insults to people he disagreed with. On the other hand, Neville Chamberlain, famous for selling out Czechoslovakia as a gesture of good faith for the intentions of Nazi Germany, is a prime example of a positive thinker during Churchill's time.

You see what I'm getting with here? You could almost say that everyone who has ever done anything noteworthy or admirable has also had a strong critical streak that helps to make them more objective.

My my, where should I begin? First of all, this is a not very subtle misuse of the term "pyramid" as we are applying it in this case. According to this standard, anything is defined as a pyramid scheme as long as there are some people in a position of superior authority who wield more power and get more benefits than the (much larger numbers of) lower level workers. In other words, anything with a chain of command or a hierarchical structure of any kind is, ipso facto, a pyramid. By this definition, not only are all corporations pyramids, but so is any sports team, any task force, any orchestra, and every government system ever devised by man (except for total anarchy).


Nobody ever said that we should abolish all structure and rank in everything we do. But a pyramid or Ponzi scam is not defined as an arrangement where "the guys at the top make more money than the ones at the bottom"; that's just silly and tautological. To be more precise, it's an organization in which the sales force profits DIRECTLY off one another, expecting to make money from the consumption patterns of other members of the system.

Think about it. Yes, my boss makes an awful lot more money than I do; and yes, much of that money comes in as a result of my labor. But at the end of the week he gives me a paycheck, and the money that I get paid with does NOT come from his pocket; nor does it come from the shipping clerk's pocket (a member of the corporation who is probably lower in the pecking order than I am). Nope. It comes from money that flows in from OUTSIDE the company, paid by people who bought our software.

It is very noteworthy that I have never, in my entire life, received a negative paycheck for work I did or did not do. To requote one letter: "What is the chance of the regular employee making what the CEO makes? None." Maybe true, maybe not, but even the guy who sweeps the floors makes SOME money from it. They do not pay for the privilege of coming to work.

Compare this to the Amway system, where most people are actually losing money through their involvement due to mandatory sign-up fees, and the purchase of products, cassettes and expensive seminars (which, supposedly, you cannot succeed without attending). Yes, I know, they say they are making an investment in their future, or whatever other jargon they can come up with to justify it. Nevertheless, the fact that the low level agent PAYS the corporation rather than the other way around should be setting off very loud alarms in your head.

Ultimately the problem with a pyramid is not that it's hierarchical, but that it's circular. Everybody expects to be making money off the system, but there's no inflow of money; distributors are buying products and selling them to other distributors, yet somehow they think that everyone will wind up with more cash. Go figure.

Well, gee. To the best of my knowledge, a scam has never been less of a scam because it required work. Ask Bill Starbuck if it was easy to convince an entire midwestern town that he could make it rain.

There is a distinction I would like to draw here between being lazy and having no desire to do a lot of work for something. At first blush it looks like there is actually no difference between these things, but if you think about it they're not at all alike.

I am a computer programmer by trade, a writer by hobby, and a chorus singer for fun. Those are just some of the things in my life that I have spent time to learn. I did it because I wanted those skills and I enjoy having them. There are plenty of other skills I could have picked up as well but chose not to learn them. Some guys like fixing cars. I don't. I would rather drop a wad of money to let somebody else fix my car, because learning to do it myself would just take my time away from activities that I like more. I don't have a problem with guys who fix cars: that's what they like doing, or it's profitable for them. I even admire them. It's just that I would rather do something with my time besides learning about cars and fixing them myself. And there's nothing wrong with my feeling that way.

Well, guess what? Amway costs you time to learn and to do. Sure, sure, everybody knows their lines -- "There's a big network of trained professionals just waiting to help you out" and all that jazz; but even so, the time you spend building an Amway business Amway is not negligible. It is also not nearly as small as the time they tell you it is.

The Amway pitch is based on a high level of misdirection. I can't speak for all prospects, but my would-be upline always told me that I could build the business on ten hours a week and then retire in two to five years. Huh. Funny, that's not exactly the same thing people are sending me now in their letters -- "Everybody knows that Amway is a business, and you have to work hard at it!" Diamonds on the tapes tell you to stop working the business like a hobby (which is exactly what they said I should do when they were trying to get my $150 for the starter kit) and start making it your main focus in life.

So some people discover that there is actually a very great deal of work involved, and they refuse to put that kind of work in. They're lazy, right? Of course not. I don't mind working hard; I do it voluntarily when it's work that I feel will benefit my character or my life. But Amway was not something I would consider an interesting or useful way to spend time, especially given the statistics of success that I examined earlier.

Of COURSE I wasn't prepared to do a lot of work in Amway. One of the major OBJECTIONS they had to get me over was that I didn't want to spend a lot of time learning to become a salesman and a propagandist. Had they told me "You can work this job 40 hours a week for ten to twenty years and you'll be rich!" I would have sprayed their little Sweet Shot bottles right in their faces. I spent plenty of time learning what I want to do for a living. If they want to convince me to do what they think I should do for a living, then they're going to have to tell me it hardly takes any time or effort. And that's what they did tell me.

So first you recruit a distributor by telling him that Amway is a fast path to riches. Then when the fast path fails to materialize, you tell him to stop being "lazy" and work it like a regular business. Boys and girls, can you say "Build this business by cutting a few hours a week out of the time when you'd just be watching TV?" I knew you could. Now, can you say "All people who drop out of Amway or have a small downline are just lazy excuse-giving wimps who can't handle good old hard work?" Gosh... can you say "Over 99% failure rate?"

Can you say "Bait and switch"? I knew you could!!!

How convenient. This means that anyone who is not making a six figure income is, by definition, not willing to do the work, and therefore they don't count. So it's true: Amway has a 100% success rate! Except of course for the people who fail to go diamond; they were probably unmotivated weaklings anyway.

Now I wonder why it is that 99.99988% of the people (see above) who sign up for Amway never go diamond? Are nearly all Amway distributors lazy, stupid, and unwilling to do any work? Well hey, that's something to consider.

The thing I love about this "argument" is that it's absolutely irrefutable. I'm young, therefore I clearly don't know anything; so whatever I say can be safely ignored. However, if I grow up and still hold the same opinions, they'll be saying "It doesn't matter. Even though you're 40 years old now, you're still an immature kid at heart."

When that time comes, I'll take that as a compliment.

Well, why not?

To say that these companies "network with" Amway is very misleading. Coca-Cola allows Amway to vend their products. Saying that Coca-Cola is a business partner with Amway makes about as much sense as saying that Coca-Cola is a business partner with UCSD because they have several vending machines all over campus.

That's not a networking relationship, it's just good business sense. Students need to drink at lunch, and they need a caffeine buzz when they pull an all-nighter in the lab. So if there happens to be a Coke machine available, well more power to the Coca-Cola corporation! They make some money each time we stick 75 cents in there.

By the same token, why should a company with a product to sell refuse to associate with Amway? Here we have a veritable army of two million "independent" distributors who are admonished to buy only products that Amway sells -- that's two million people who won't be drinking Pepsi, dialing with AT&T, or buying their computers from Hewlett-Packard ever again.

How much "studying" would they bother to do before deciding this was a good plan? It's not like they're legally or morally responsible for any activities Amway engages in while selling their products.

Once again, I must emphasize that something which reflects well on the Amway Corporation does not necessarily reflect well on the distributors who buy and sell their products. Coca-Cola likes Amway because Amway sells their products effectively, proving nothing about you, the buyer.

Don't believe me? You still think that all these big companies are "associated" or "networking" with Amway? Then kindly check out Jackie's collection of letters from the companies themselves, disavowing all direct association with Amway.

(Thanks for providing those letters, Jackie. I owe you one.)

Did you ever watch sweeps week on Fox a few years ago, when they were a very tiny and insignificant network? I remember this huge parade of "guest stars" would come marching through all the shows. I had never heard of any of them. "Tonight on Married With Children... stand up comedian Ernie Finkelstein guest stars!!!"

Why do that? Because as long as you've got a name that SOMEBODY might recognize, you might as well squeeze as much ratings as you can out of that by saying he's famous. Still, I always thought it was rather sad to watch this horde of nobodies doing guest appearances. I thought "Aren't they just drawing attention to the fact that they don't have any REAL stars?"

I might say the same about Amway's list of guest stars. Oh, I'm not saying I've never heard of Meg Ryan before; I thought she was really adorable when she played Sally, but I don't base my financial decisions on what she does. Ernest Borgnine is someone I certainly have very little respect for since I watched "The Single Guy". Dick Smothers... let's see, if memory serves, he was some name in comedy until around the 1980's... I don't think I've ever seen a single episode of his show (guess I really am just an immature kid after all). Not to belittle the contribution of Dick and his brother to American television, but is that all you could dig up? I mean, it's not like you can even say that BOTH Smothers Brothers are involved.

Come on now, "a man who ran for a close senate race in Louisianna"?!?!? If you're going to drop names, can't you at least find the name of somebody who WON? (Come to think of it, you didn't even mention whether Woody was one of the people it was close between.) A list of second tier sports stars and comedians, and OF COURSE a whole lot of motivational speakers (that part doesn't surprise me in the slightest)... and always John Sestina, who is always described as "the number one financial planner in the country" -- I'll get back to him in a different argument.

Okay. We've already established that you have two to two and a half million members. I'd be very surprised if some of them weren't names worth dropping. But really now, even the Church of Scientology boasts as members a huge cast of stars, including Tom Cruise, Kirstie Alley, Demi Moore, John Travolta, yadda yadda yadda... all I ever hear from you is Meg Ryan over and over again! How come you're lagging like that?

Bottom line: Appeals to authority and name-dropping sound ridiculous when the people referred to have neither authority nor much name recognition.

Good, I'm glad you've derived so much happiness from this web page. Please let me know if there is any way I can continue to help you. If you want me to come to your house and weed out the undesirables while you show the plan, or make a few phone calls and weed out the undesirables among your downline, just say the word.

But seriously, folks, I hope nobody overlooks this extremely transparent appeal to the "sour grapes" philosophy... "If I can't get rid of your web page, then I'll pretend that it is helping me." However, if my web page and others like it were REALLY as helpful as these letters claim, then they'd become required reading for new recruits. Best to get rid of the deadwood as early as possible, wouldn't you agree? Even so, I'm fairly confident that no dedicated Amway distributor ever has or ever will steer their downline towards this page; clearly they are just trying to get a rise out of me. (And I guess you could say it worked, because of the very fact that I'm writing this argument.)

Let's not kid ourselves: No Amway distributor is ever going to be genuinely happy about anything which causes a recruit to change his mind. Even "deadwood" recruits mean money in the bank. If nothing else, they buy a starter kit at ever-increasing rates, and they occasionally buy a product or two from the catalog. An inactive and otherwise useless distributor is still an income source. The only way they'd ever be a liability is if they choose to go on the offensive, as I did -- something this page will make more likely, not less.

(FURTHER NOTE: After I posted this argument, one distributor wrote to say that he was accepting this as a challenge and that he would indeed make my page required reading for all his prospects. Nevertheless, I think I'd be correct to assuming that this is the exception and not the rule.)

Forgive me, but even when I was totally gung-ho about Amway I always found those numbers extremely suspicious. Amway has a low divorce rate according to whom? Who did this survey, which members were counted, and how long a period was this based on?

For goodness sake, Amway doesn't even keep reliable enough records to tell me how many diamond distributors there are... with thousands of new members joining every day and half quitting every year, how do they expect to get a grip on which ones are divorced? Are we talking only about Directs and above (all 1% of them)? Diamonds and above? Only members who have been in over a year? Ten years? Does the number include people whose divorces occurred before joining Amway? What about those who divorced after quitting? After just one of the couple quit? I, for one, would LOVE to know where this number originated.

Because with all the letters I receive that contain desperate pleas for help (help which I freely admit I am not qualified to give, unlike most of the upline "counsellors"), I can tell you what's obvious to me: the number of broken families that Amway CAUSES is easily enough to exceed the two percent rate all by itself. Your Honor, I present the court with exhibit A:

It's right there on the tapes, in black and white (or loud and soft, if you prefer). The Amway role model, in fact, REQUIRES you to pick Amway over family when given the choice. Just ask Bill Britt. How can Amway spokesmen POSSIBLY justify the statement that Amway holds marriages together, in the face of all evidence to the contrary? My theory (and this is just a guess, but maybe a plausible one) is this: a couple that breaks up because of Amway is not a divorced Amway couple. It's a divorced couple, one of whom is in and one of whom is out. Since this situation does not involve an ex-husband and wife who are BOTH in the business, it's not among the numbers.

Which would mean that the one percent statistic refers to formerly married couples who are both completely (though separately) dedicated to the business, even after their marriage breaks up. If that's the case, I'd only be surprised that the number isn't 0%.

I sure don't know who came up with that definition of a pyramid -- Amway, perhaps? There certainly isn't any legal precedent for it. I'd call it misdirection, unless someone can show me a law or a statement from the FTC saying something equivalent: "Every pyramid scheme relies on being able to make money off the lower levels forever; if someone who got in later can make more money than someone who got in sooner, then the scheme is not a pyramid."

If this were true, then even run-of-the-mill pyramids wouldn't be pyramids. Let's make a typical example out of those annoying letters you read on newsgroups all the time. You know what I'm talking about: "I made $50,000 in two weeks and you can too! Just send five dollars to each of these five names. Then add your name to the bottom of the list, remove the top name, forward it to everyone you know, and voila! Instant cash!" Does everyone agree that THIS is an illegal Ponzi scheme? Good. (If you don't agree, please go ahead and join Amway. It's clear that you'll lose all your money someday, so you might as well be surrounded by cheerful people while you do it.)

Now, let us imagine the following scenario with this BLATANTLY illegal scam. Suppose person A receives this letter and thinks it sounds like a good idea. He duplicates the letter and sends it out to as many people and newsgroups as he can. Unfortunately, only one person is interested; all his other contacts fail to respond. So A recruits only B. B is similarly unlucky and recruits only C, who recruits D, who recruits E, who recruits F. But F strikes it lucky! F recruits 20 people (G through Z). B, C, D, E and F all rake in $100, but A is off the list so he ends up with a measly $25. Since each one paid $25 to the other people on the list, A breaks even and everyone in his "downline" gets $75 profit.

See? Everyone made more than their upline. Now the letter is legal, right?

WRONG, WRONG, WRONG. As wrong as that bogus definition of a pyramid scam.

Ok, the premise being that non-distributors don't know as much about Amway as distributors do. Let's consider some similar statements, shall we?

Is everybody on the same page with me here? These statements. Are. DUMB.

Do you have to be directly involved in an activity to know about it? No. Many doctors study alcoholism, many reporters investigate scams, and many detectives break up crime rings without ever having first-hand involvement in these activities.

Does it HELP your credibility if you're directly involved in the activity you're talking about? In many cases, yes. In some cases, no. For instance, if I'm a computer programmer and you're not, it makes more sense for me to explain how computers work to you than for you to explain them to me.

But what if it's in someone's BEST INTEREST to misrepresent information? For instance, consider the following situation. You want to buy a Ford. You have a choice: you can get all your information from your local Ford dealer, who works with those cars every day, or you can read Consumer Reports, which doesn't make cars or sell them or even deal exclusively with cars, much less Ford. Who do you favor? The dealer? It's highly probable that he will tell you the car you're looking at is the best thing ever made. He may accurately explain the good features, but he won't tell you anything that would keep you from making a purchase. Reading Consumer Reports, on the other hand, will give you comparitively more objective articles that will tell you what that cars strengths and weaknesses are, and how it measures up to other cars. Doesn't the salesman have more exposure to this particular brand of car? Then why don't you take his advice over all others?

Or let's say a politician has been accused of embezzling money. Who do you interview to get the full story? The politician? The politician's press agent? Consider this: NO ONE has more knowledge about what happened than people in his cabinet. Why wouldn't you go to them for information? Could it be because they are not in a position to tell you the whole truth?

In other situations, a person who has direct experience with something may not be lying, but they may lack information despite their involvement. Who would you be more likely to get accurate information about diabetes from: a ten-year-old kid who HAS diabetes, or a healthy medical student? Just because the ten year old has direct physical perception of the disease, doesn't mean he knows more about it than somebody who has studied it academically.

Now let's consider whether an Amway distributor is a reliable source of Amway information. There are two kinds of distributors: high levels, and not-so-high levels. If it's true that high pins make most of their money pushing tools and speaking at engagements and so forth, they have a great incentive to keep their mouths shut about it. These people fall into the "car salesman" category: they may know more than you, but they ain't talking.

Then there's the not-so-high distributors (let's say below Direct level). What you'll find is that these people aren't really able to know all that much because of the amount of information control that goes on in the System. What with the "no crosslining" rule saying that low-ranking distributors can't talk to each other without a supervisor present, combined with the information hiding of high level distributors, these people aren't privy to very much information at all. These people are part of the "kids with diabetes" group: they may be experiencing Amway, but they don't know much about it from an objective viewpoint.

So, can an outsider expect to know Amway any better? I say yes. I say that external observation can teach us a significant amount, especially since it won't be tinted by the fear of crosslining and "stinkin' thinkin'" (see next argument).

How long have I really been examining the Amway opportunity? Three weeks? Guess again. I've been maintaining this very web page for upwards of three years (current date of writing: 7/29/99), and I've been witnessing their practice and methods. I'm not saying I've eaten, slept, and breathed Amway for three years, as some distributors might do; but I've done plenty of reading, talking, and contemplating. All my current knowledge supports the same conclusion that I came to after three weeks. So before you open your mouth about how much time I studied the "opportunity", stop and think that I've probably been doing so longer than you.

And I've got another advantage that the distributors haven't got, and that is the very wide perspective that comes from receiving thousands of letters over the years. See, when you're a distributor, there's this ugly little word called "crosslining" which means talking to or socializing with a distributor who is not directly upline or downline from you. In a family tree sort of way, if your sponsor is like your father, and his sponsor is like your grandfather, and the people you sponsor are your children and so on, a crossline would be like your brother or sister, cousin, uncle, niece, and so on. Communication between crosslines is -- well, maybe not strictly forbidden, but seriously frowned upon.

This policy is ostensibly to protect distributors from negative vibes, but what it boils down to is information control. This is as much as to say, if you talk to your upline he'll always be upbeat in order to keep you interested, and when you talk to your downline you can feel superior to them if they're not doing well.

As nice as this setup is for maintaining a smiley disposition, it isn't too effective at conveying ACCURATE information through the ranks. The fact that the vast majority make virtually nil for profit is lost on most distributors, since they personally are not talking to peers (crosslines). The fact that most money is made through motivational tools is overlooked by those below Direct, since they can't share knowledge with any but those who have a vested interest in keeping them in the dark (see previous argument).

What I have set up in this web page is basically the ultimate in crosslining enablement. Rather than talking to people straight up or down the hierarchy, I have maintained communication with an enormous number of people who were directly involved to varying lengths of time. You don't get this perspective with just any medium of communication: it's taken the rising popularity of the internet to draw them together and get a glorious accumulation of shared knowledge. In essence, I am not just speaking for myself, but for the combined wisdom every single person who has ever sent me mail. Ain't technology cool?

While I'm getting you all jazzed up over this concept, may I suggest that you go go read my mail page right now???

As I was saying. Anyone who claims that there's just three weeks worth of knowledge about Amway presented on this web page, has some serious re-evaluating to do.

These were some other topics that I had originally planned to cover, but I never did get around to them. You can chat about them in the guest book if you want.