Accolade & Acrimony

LETTER OF THE MONTH

    You were right on target. I used to be an Amway distributor, and in fact worked for my upline Diamond for nearly five years before the deceptions and fraud became too obvious for even this dedicated fool to overlook. What opened my eyes? A combination of things. As part of my job, I attended several “country openings.” At the first one I attended, I have vivid recollections of the person who was then head of Dexter Yager’s international development commenting to me, “my mandate here is to sell tools.” That was when the penny dropped and I finally realised that the priority of the “big pins” was not building an Amway distributorship — it was using Amway as a recruiting front for their motivational tools business. In the country of Colombia, which I’m sure you know is very impoverished, people were taking out bank loans to buy their Amway Business Kit. In the past five years, Amway has opened in many impoverished countries: Costa Rica, Honduras, El Salvador, Panama, Uruguay; Romania, Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Hungary; and of course, China and now India. North American diamonds brag on audio tapes about the “dedication” of recruits in these countries. One tape I listened to not long ago talked about a Honduran who rode on horseback from the mountains for 75 miles, and then in the back of a pickup truck for another 50 miles, to come into town for an “Introductory Seminar.” Now, I ask you, what realistic hope does someone who lives that remotely, have of building a successful business? The diamond I worked for in 1996, the last year for which I have complete information, derived only 4% (yes, you read that right, FOUR PERCENT) of his income from Amway itself. In a recent three-part article in the Baton Rouge, LA “Advocate,” a diamond claimed his income from tools barely covered his secretary’s salary. Well, if that’s true, he must have applicants lined up for miles for that million$ -plus annual salary!!!! Amway distributorships are slipping in North America, down in the last two years from over 1 million to only 700,000. Hence their eagerness to expand into new countries. The diamonds don’t care at all about helping people in other countries become successful Amway distributors. They just want lots of recruits who sign up for Standing Order Tape. In my opinion, as someone who knows the business from the inside, India would be better served if they followed China’s lead and booted MLM out of the country. It is indeed a social evil, causing people to prey on others for financial gain, and causing tremendous rifts among families and friends as distributors manipulate their personal relationships for personal gain.
Nomore Scams

You drive the point home. Being in the US I have had several encounters with these Amway preachers so I can vouch for what you are saying. Keep it up.
Amoghe

If I cannot thank someone who could potentially save millions of poor middle class Indians, my life is in vain.
Niranjan

I have just read your cover story Amway. And you know what? I am on my way to the florist to check the cost of a garland, the value of which I would gift a needy person (which is how you celebrate your anniversary isn’t it?!). I suggest you bring out a separate hand out/pamphlet or supplement so that you expose this scam and wake up innocent middle class dreamers who are sleep walking into Uncle Sam’s Coffers or should I say Uncle Scams Coffers. Keep it up!
Ismail Sait, Magrath Road

I am really impressed with the excellent quality of the article’s presentation, content and background.
Jacob John

I take my hat off to this American ability to sell products and services world-wide. I am surprised that even the elite Bangaloreans fell prey to this so called marketing concept of the next millennium. Or, are we in a fantasy to believe that the “Made in USA” label means quality?!
Mathew George, St. Thomas Road

I am Charles Midgett, author of The Other Side of The Plan. Let me first say that I am impressed with the detailed investigation that you performed to get actual facts for your article. You obviously went to a lot of effort and it shows in the quality of your article. By the time you read this, I will have added a link to your website. People from all over the world need to read what you said.
Charles

How refreshing and satisfying to read such an accurate and lucid expose on the so-called great Amway opportunity. The article is extremely detailed and well-researched and I was totally immersed from beginning to end. That said, I would like to point out that a most crucial aspect of the deceptive practices of motivational leaders was essentially missing from the article: the truth is that anywhere from 70 to 90 percent of kingpin Amway distributor riches comes from the sale of motivation and the illegal “Amway Buying Club” (BUYING of Amway products by Amway distributors for PERSONAL USE instead of retailing). Ramjee, it is so very crucial that the Indian people understand this colossal deception. I would love to start a dialogue of any kind to help save the Indian people from this most egregious and predatory enterprise.
Ashley Wilkes

Author of “Amway Motivational Organisations: The Nightmare Builders (http://www.tc.umn.edu/nlhome/m307/wilke001/amway.html)

Whew! Ramjee Chandran’s scintillating article on Amway-Scamway is Pulitzer Prize material. Of the highest quality and a great piece of public service. Here in the USA, people take a step backwards when a person tells them that he or she is associated with Amway! Bangaloreans, you’re better served avoiding this one way trap!
Perryn

What a masterpiece. I encourage you to submit this work for a PhD dissertation to one of the top business schools in the US. I threw away about 275$ to get an Amway representative out of my tail.
Arms

You should be conferred the PhD (considering) the quality of this article. I am a retired GM of Indian Airlines and also a Prof. of Management.
Prof. Ken Joseph

To criticise your article in seven words: “You could not have said it better”. Please keep up the investigative journalism.
Muthu Vairavan

I am including the link to your Amway story from my site http://www.nagpurcity.net Thanks for a great story and public service done as a lot of people in Nagpur as well are getting lured.
Tarique

I have added link to your Amway article from http://www.mahesh.com.
B. G. Mahesh, USA

I have lived in the United States for over 8 years now, and in fact a few of those years were in Grand Rapids, Michigan., (near) where the Amway world HQ is located. I have several comments to make of this company, having known about it. I’ll never forget one of the basic, fundamental truth, as they say here, ‘There is absolutely no free lunch. Somebody, always pays’. Amway is owned by these two families, who practically own the whole town of Grand Rapids among other things. DeVos and Van Andel, two gentlemen in their late years now, are multi billionaires, and one of the top 20 richest men in US. But as for the rest of the ‘millions of world-wide’ Amway distributors, god help them. Amway Asia and Amway Japan are publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange. The stock market has been on a record bull run for the last 3 or 4 years and almost every company stock has hit the roof. If Amway is so successful, why is it that these two stocks are languishing at their all time lows ? Your simple, really elementary math proves that it just doesn’t work, or works for very very small number of people. Why is it that a world class multi billion corporation is not able to give answers to these simple questions and instead blames it on lack of hard work and faith and sour grapes and other excuses ? I hope someone in the government sees the light just like somebody did in China, for the good of everyone involved.
Naren Nayak

This American company is (taking) the Indian middle-class for millions of dollars for Uncle Sam. You must have come across another (scheme) by the name of Japan Life which sells Rs.80,000 mattresses with multi-level marketing spiel.
Penta

Your estimate was 44 (‘directs’), but I would say (only) 5 out of those distributors will become lakhiers (not millionaires) in the next five years. That’s my estimate. I am no longer a member of Amway now, because there are other ways of getting essential items at the wholesale prices, in the USA.
Rajasekhar

I Quit!
I joined under a Indian guy. They initially told me that all I need to spend is 5 hrs a week. But after sometime everybody above pushed me to sign up new people. I found myself talking on the phone all the times and my friends also started avoiding me because of the harassment. My wife started quarrelling and I finally quit. My life is back to normal now.
C Raghavan

I bid farewell to Amway. I would urge you to forward your analysis to RBI and FDI Regulation Board in Delhi so that Government can take some action (Like China) against Amway and stop India losing hard earned middle class money to this US company.
Psaraph

Here in the US (I live in San Jose, California.) there are a lot of Indians who are Amway distributors chasing the dream of becoming millionaires. I sent your article to few of them and their reaction was, “Oh God, why didn’t I think like this before?”
Raghavendra Bhagavatha

I realised I made a wrong decision by joining AMWAY I corrected the mistake and I got my deposit back. Now, I encourage people not to dream of making millions based on someone else’s failures.
Eileen A Chandler

I had to chose between friendship and $120 (in USA). Your article is excellent and I hope it will change the minds of at least a few balanced thinkers.
Bhaskara Reddy

Thanks for the coverage. Luckily my friend and myself had the good sense not to get involved. Must have done something good in my young life so far for this crucial escape.
Rajesh Shedde

Your article has really clarified a lot of questions and has helped me make up my mind to fight against this evil.
Seema Sureka

Ban it!
I wholeheartedly agree with your analysis. Can’t the government of India do something similar to what was done in China? Or do our politicians already have a vested interest in this horrendous scheme! Is anything being done to widen the article’s distribution within India?
Mamata Bhopatkar

Is it possible to make the Government ban Amway in India. Can anything be done about this?
Jeydev Rajamini

Beware of Smiling Indians
I was new in USA and one afternoon waiting in a queue in post office. One Indian lady of age 28, was staring at me. She said “Hi” and asked me about my age, my married status and my job. I thought she was attracted to me. I was pleased. I asked the same questions to her. She informed me that she is unmarried and staying alone. I was excited as I am single, looking for girlfriend in new land. After two weeks, she asked me for dinner in an Italian restaurant. She informed me that she has a wonderful business opportunity for me and that she is really impressed with my personality. I was really excited as I found one girlfriend with good resources in a foreign land. After one week, she invited me to one business party. Next day, one gentlemen came with her to my apartment. He told me about Amway and said that he had made lots of money. Only after I signed up, I figured out that it’s on my head to find new members and cover my money. Also I found out that the young lady was married. She was doing a job like a prostitute to make new member for Amway. Particularly in India, people are (too) emotional in relationships to say no. It is in your kind of journalist’s hand to make people aware that this is the system which will eat away all friendships, relationships and make people so much selfish that Indian culture would not be the same one.
Alpa R. Shah

As you mentioned there are good sides and down sides to (Amway). The down sides being more. In the US we have become used to people accosting us in Shopping malls etc. with the standard question “Do you want to make some money?”. This question is usually answered with “Are you from Amway ?”. Many people here are disgusted with Amway and the lengths to which people will go to recruit new people.
Kushalappa Baduamanda

I have been approached by at least 10 people when ever I go to shopping complexes. They always do one common mistake. They all try to be friendly, or strike a conversation. The first thing I ask them is “Hope you are not an Amway”
Venkatesh Neelakantan

(Amway distributors) all have one thing in common; ‘Greed’. I had seen people using their wife as a bait. They open a communication link, then the hubby jumps in and start the dialogue. These girls, educated, charming, good-looking ,smile at potential prey (I have seen these kind of girls at Bombay Fort, but they sell different things).
Pannakal

I have seen some Indians / Americans brainwashed and go with their wife to please the people, saying lots of stories. We look down upon them in the US.
Muralidhar Subbaraya

A simple outing like going shopping has become a nightmare for the rest of us, as we avert our eyes from every Indian who smiles at us.
M Sriram

Publish it Everywhere
I fully endorse all your views. I live in the US and I was startled ... even a small city like my native place, Tirunelveli, has an Amway office. If your article can be reprinted in one of any popular local media there, I would like to help to make it happen.
Ajeyakum

I hope this article is published in all the local newspapers in different languages. Having come from a middle class family, I would hate see someone’s savings (in many cases it may be out of their provident fund, etc.,) thrown out.
Ramki Ramakrishnan

My heart aches to know that so many hundreds of people are signing for Amway not knowing the complicated structure and their logo “working hard”. Please print the article in several Kannada magazines, so that many can read the article in local language.
Lakshmi P.

I thank you for the initiative that you took in educating the innocent people. If there’s anything I can do I am willing to do. Please publish your article in all magazines and newspapers in India.
Raju.Chidambaram

I hope you can get this article published in our regional newspapers like Prajavani, Deccan Herald etc.. This story should be told to the Indian Public before they are fooled by these idiots who are into Amway. I stay in Chicago. I see lot of my fellow Indians who are Amway businessmen/women. They just plainly disgust us here. They are worse than a “cult”.
Madhu

We Love Amway
As an Amway distributor in the USA and one that is not making money out of it and one that is not actively involved in it, I strongly disagree with some of your comments. Bill Britt is better than some of the fools that we in India call swamis. Please research a little better before throwing your litter all over the globe.
Radharam

A great pity on your poor soul. It is obvious how you were brought up & educated—by looking at all the negative aspects of everything - You ‘ll see everything in yellow colour if you look thru a coloured (yellow) glass. PITY on you. A person with a broke mentality cannot show another person how to be successful!
Mohan P

I am a very successful Amway Distributor in the USA. It is very easy to criticise everything in this world!. Even Mahatma Gandhi was criticised. If (Amway was) so bad, why would corporate America try to partner with Amway! Because of the Britt System my self-confidence has increased, my marriage has become a lot better, I have seen tremendous internal growth. So I am not upset at what you wrote!
Ssringari

And Finally
If somebody seems too polite, and approach you with a “business proposal” believe me they are from AMWAY. Remember what our elders said, “Ati Vinayam Doorth Lakshanam”.
Nitin Kulkarni

Thank you for providing this important and valuable public service! This article is simply, “the whole story”! It is TOTAL EVIL for purveyors of Amway to attempt to tie their CORRUPT system to the Name and Personhood of Jesus Christ! They deserve the TRUTH about them being brought forward to the public. They need to RUN from these CORRUPT and EVIL people! I an certain you are coming under attack as all of us do who TELL THE TRUTH about this EVIL EMPIRE!
Kenneth Lowndes

A family member is becoming embroiled in the Amway mind-control and I am attempting to learn how to best handle it, as they are apparently known for telling people to divorce themselves from “dream stealers” who might speak ill (THE TRUTH) about the company. As your article states, the emphasis is not on selling product. It is on recruiting people. Again, great article. Thank you.
Name withheld