Amway: A grand pyramid scheme built around selling mostly soap and detergent from a few very clean, very rich people, down to many less clean, less rich people, and somehow convincing very dirty people that they can be filthy rich by signing up. Headquarters are located in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Amway is also short for American Way. The meetings and corporate culture rely heavily on certain ideas of American patriotism.

Yes, I too, have received The Call. You know the one--a friend, or a casual acquaintance, calls you up, and starts asking you if you'd like to make more money. Well, duh! They then start to tell you about an incredible opportunity they have. About then is probably when you should bow out--and in fact, I've never gotten farther than that, except to say I was too busy for such things. The response by the good multilevel marketer is something like "Well, we find busy people are the most motivated and work well with this sort of plan." (BTW, a part of the whole operation is learning how to recruit new members.) Puh-leeze.

As far as I'm concerned, Amway is a cult. They use brainwashing techniques, they lie to people to get them to join, they encourage their members to convert others and to avoid people hostile to conversion, and they prey on the weak and the weak minded.

If you think I'm exaggerating, you're wrong. My sister was in Amway. She was eighteen, away from home for the first time, and someone invited her to a meeting. They kept her up all night, made her chant motivational slogans and told her wonderful lies about how much money she could make. "No risk", they said, "If you invest and you don't like it you can get your money back." That was a lie, as she found out when no one wanted to buy the shitty products and she tried to leave the organization. People on her "up-line" called her and harassed her at home, trying to keep her from leaving. When she finally left, none of her so-called friends would talk to her anymore, she had spent all her savings and she was stuck with a room full of laundry detergent that plain doesn't work.

Now, knowing that cults:

  1. most often prey on people in weak positions (unemployed, away from home for the first time, alienated from friends and family)
  2. use the classic brainwashing techniques of sleep deprivation and slogan chanting
  3. always tell people that they can leave anytime they want to but make your life very difficult if you try to leave
  4. pretend to care about you but really only want your money

You can see where I might draw this conclusion.

Exploiting your friends and family as business opportunities turns your human relationships into commercial commodities. Do not alienate people you care about.

The Amway system works on a system of points, called PV (point volume, IIRC). There is also business volume (BV), which may or may not be tied to the retail price of the item. When I was involved in it, all new recruits ordered products through their upline direct distributor. The direct could order directly from the company, hence the name. Each product sold by Amway has various points assigned to it based upon the profitability of the item.

High margin items will have high ratios of PV to BV. For example, a low margin catalog item, say a radio, might cost $30 in the catalog and come with 10 PV, whereas $8 shampoo might have 5 PV (the shampoo being an actual Amway product, whereas the radio might be a Panasonic or whatever). Depending on your total PV for a month, the company will give you a rebate for a percentage of the BV. A direct distributor gets a 25% rebate, but some of this will have to be paid to downline, since they get rebates as well (less than 25% though). Other bonuses come about when you become a direct distributor (you must maintain a certain PV for six months out of the year) and you develop direct distributors among your recruits and their recruits.

Let's say I recruit 12 people. That means I have 12 legs, as they were called. If I can get 6 direct legs and maintain direct distributor volume myself, I can become a Diamond Direct Distributor. This is sort of the holy grail of Amway distributions. The presentations talk about these guys making $100,000/yr. Note that I need direct legs, and these legs are not necessarily the people I recruited. They may be people they recruited. Having a single leg with multiple directs is less useful for short term money than having multiple legs with single directs, though a single leg with multiple directs is likely to be a bit more stable than multiple legs with a single direct each. Direct and Diamond are called pin levels, and when I was in it, the pin levels were(this is from memory, so some things may be a bit off. Corrections welcome!):

Direct - 7500 PV
Ruby - 15000 PV
Emerald - 7500 PV + 3 direct legs
Diamond - 7500 PV + 6 direct legs
Executive Diamond Committee (EDC) - 7500 PV + 9 direct legs
Double Diamond - 7500 PV + 12 direct legs
Triple Diamond - 7500 PV + 15 direct legs (I know it's not actually triple, but I think this is actually the number)
Crown - 7500 PV + 18 direct legs
Crown Ambassador - 7500 PV + 20 direct legs

Most of the money these high pin levels make is typically from motivational tapes which they sell which do not contribute to a distributor's PV or BV, but which generate huge, direct profits for directs and higher. Both Bill Britt and Dexter Yager (two of the biggest organizations in Amway. In fact, Yager is Britt's upline), for example, are Crown Ambassadors and own companies which make the motivational materials and hold huge conventions with ticket prices sometimes into triple figures. This is where the real money is made.

I stayed in for a bit over a year, and actually got some good out of it. The business about living your dreams made me decide to get into a new line of work where I would actually be happy, so I have no ill feelings towards the Amway corporation nor the other distributors, but I think it's a good idea for the uninitiated to know where their diamond upline and even direct upline is really making money. Also, know the money described in the presentation of "the plan" is exaggerated for most cases.

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