A few days ago, Noor Hussain Sait of
Variety Book Stall told me that one Amway distributor had told him that I hid
the fact that people can get their money back from Amway.
I wasnt hiding it. I did not mention it because I thought that all
prospects were informed about this.
I now find out that this is one valuable piece of information that several people, who had
paid Rs. 4,200 to Amway, were not told or did not understand clearly.
One lady, a beautician, said her sponsor had not told her this and she was
livid. Two others lamented that their 90-day time limit had passed. (Many people also
asked why I had not written the piece two months ago.)
To set the record straight, I now give readers the information that they can
get their money back from Amway.
Steven Beddoe Amway GM who had earlier called me from Delhi
said that (1) they will refund the entire amount within 90 days whether or not the
products have been used; and (2) he also said that after 90 days, people can get back the
Rs. 4,200 less 30% of the value of the products if returned within their shelf life.
There it is. So, not to worry, you can get all or some of your money back
any time you want before or after the 90 day limit according to Steven Beddoe.
As soon as the June issue was released in the market, the phone started
ringing. It almost did not stop. Most callers said that they were saved by the
story and that it helped them clarify their arguments against people who were interested
in signing them up as Amway salespersons. Some others seemed upset and a few threatened me
with legal action and of course, violence.
Simultaneously, the letters began pouring in. The sentiment was the same as
the callers. We have printed only a selection of these letters. Some others will be
printed in the next issue. I have printed ALL the pro-Amway letters received by the
cut-off date against only a few of the anti-Amway letters. Everyday, the mail box (snail
mail and e-mail) is inundated with letters.
I have a request. Please dont send me any more letters in response to
the June cover story because we are a publication with modest resources and simply cannot
handle the volume. However, my sincere thanks to all those who chose to respond, whether
pro or anti.
The most touching call I received (late one evening when I was alone in the
office) was from one lady who broke down and wept on the phone. She said she felt that she
had cheated her downlines and said she couldnt sleep. She said that she
was going to sell some of her possessions to return their money. I told her there was no
need to do that because Amway said they would return the money. I also explained to her
that I did believe that neither Amway nor their salespeople were cheating anyone. My
argument was simply that I believe that the Amway proposition works only for very few
people and of course, for Amway themselves.
Another call which disturbed me was from another lady who told me that an
autorickshaw driver in her neighbourhood had become an Amway distributor. He had been
signed up by a noted, upper class Bangalorean. Now, from our Salaries story
(May 1998), I learned that auto drivers earn around Rs. 2,500 a month if they are lucky. I
wonder if this guy pawned something to pay Amway Rs. 4,200. Apparently, he was telling
people that he would soon be making Rs. 40,000 a month. This time, it was I who nearly
broke down and wept.
Another set of responses talked of companies like Green Gold, Japan Life and
others who, they say, run operations similar to Amway. We are investigating these.
Meanwhile, Amway wrote to me. I replied to them. I have not printed their
covering letter, nor my reply, for want of space and for fear of repetition. However, I
have printed their rebuttal in full, unedited, and with my comments. (Read it with a copy
of the previous issue.)
Readers will notice that Amway have failed to answer my mathematical
arguments. Simply, if the growth of the numbers of distributors is as small as Amway said
it would be, how will the new entrants make money without signing up more people? And from
where will they sign them up?
The story is far from done.
From the incredible responses I have received from all over India and abroad, the USA
mainly, there are a few more aspects of the operations that have cropped up. I will soon
start to work on these and when my research is complete, youll read it.
Notably, The Advocate newspaper in the USA reported that Procter &
Gamble have filed a suit against Amway for running a pyramid scheme. The case, I
understand, is still in court.
The essence of a pyramid scheme, as I understand it, is that the operation
should not develop only on the basis of signing up fees. Then this becomes a simple money
chain. In order not to be a pyramid, Amway distributors must actually sell products to
I raised a challenge to Amway in my last story to produce the details of
sales of products ... obviously, other than those sold with the business kit.
My words were I challenge Amway to draw a correlation between the
money taken from sign-ups and the volume of products they have moved through retail
Amway have not responded to this challenge or mentioned it in their
I again request Amway to make this information available. Even some of their
distributors have asked me to raise this. I also request them to answer the questions I
have raised in my subsequent letter. More on that as it develops.
Meanwhile, all I can say to my readers is a heartfelt Thank you.