I was in Amway for 12-16 months, never made any real money, couldn’t be bothered to sponsor anyone, but sold products to make a little cash.
Like many things on the scam speaker circuit, it is style and no substance
Predators examine greed then work it, install lies you love in abundance
Divide, deride, but also unite, have you subscribed as a fan, get you high on timelines promising profits pie in the sky, turn the mind to sand adding urgent pressure of time, cos “God wants you to be rich, economy’s taking a hit, stick it to the man, quit your job, stop saying you can’t and start saying you can!”
Here’s more bullshit… mixed with elements of truth and rhetoric
“You a sheep? Most people are asleep, keeping their “J.O.B. just over broke” gig going even though they're feeling low, probing their existential loathing of a litany of woes, timidly coping via false dignity while fiscally in captivity void of desire, forever employed by those definitely destined to bestow thee faux retirement cos your 401k will be toast!”
Do you see? How they reel you in, I mean.
“I’ll show the way. Follow me. I know what you need. Money, purpose, belief.
"Spread the word, shed the skin of the former you you incurred: preach, teach, rinse, repeat. Grind, sweat, bleed, succeed!
“Oh, and Independent thought is actually bad, so it’s banned all day, always. Ok?
"Stinking thinking ain’t about winning!
“Lets take a breath. Impressed? Cool!
Ready to rewrite the rules? Nice.
"Believe you’re destined for success?
"You’re so wise.”
By the way, saying “yes yes yes” raising hands, participating, manifesting and even praying increases susceptibility to those with low integrity.
Every sneaky psychological trick, script, tactic or opinion presented as fact will finally fit your narrative.
Barely time to think when they speak so quick…
“Oh, and Forget about the terrible debt from joining so-called crazy schemes and courses, cos positivity supports us with status endorsements, actualisation through the laws of attracting forces, better relationships, longer marriages and fewer… uh, never mind.”
The brain might not be be there yet but with all objections met – killed dead – the heart is thumping, pumping, excited and way ahead.
Stage Guru scam wisdom has been imparted, so you drop your guard and then place bets to get started on – whatever – racing to the back of the room, groomed for several grand like a dog on command, filled up and overflowing with so-called “truth.”
“The best investment in a future nest egg starts with yourself! we take cash, credit card.. but no cheques.
"So, Who’s next?”
In 2006, and nearing the end of my university studies, I was approached by someone I lived with to sign up to an income-generating scheme.
The details were vague but it didn’t take long for me to find myself at seminars among lots of smartly-dressed people who all seemed to be in a good mood. 😛
This had originally been pitched as “home shopping” with optional retailing, which I did do a little of. Spend money on stuff to generate cashback.
The basic idea was to sponsor more people who would do the same in order to grow this as a “business” with me being paid increasingly large bonuses for enabling the marketing and sale of products. 💡
I only ever wanted to earn a few hundred quid on the side but found myself being encouraged to covet a millionaire fantasy lifestyle. It became unbelievably boring and disingenious.
Spend Cash for Points, Redeem Points for Cashback
It initially was sold to me on the understanding that the products in the Amivo shopping portal were no more expensive than those on the high street. 🛒
Once signed up, I examined the available products on the Amivo shopping portal and discovered how costly they were. This annoyed me but I stuck around anyway.
The way objections were dealt with (questions like “is this a pyramid scheme?”) included a mixture of humour and logic.
“Well, pyramid schemes are illegal. Pyramid schemes do not have a product. We do. This is multilevel marketing (MLM) also known as network marketing, and it’s legal.
“Besides, corporate America is the REAL pyramid! The only other pyramids I know about are those in Egypt!”
Applause, laughter, applause.
“Don’t Want to Retail? Fine! Just Shop for Yourself”
If we weren’t retailing to the open market with these “exclusive products”, we were expected to at least purchase products for personal use to generate a reasonable minimum number of points volume (PV). 🧮
Getting others to do the same would mean the bonuses gradually increase which in turn would unlock titles like Platinum, Emerald, Diamond, etc. 💎
When I hit 200 PV, I “achieved” the 3% bonus level, received cashback at approximately 3% of £200 and got a round of applause at the next seminar. The standing up in front of everyone for a pat on the head was part of the routine recognitions that played out each and every time.
But why spend so much on high-priced household goods just to earn cashback? 🙄
You could literally save more cash than the 3% bonus was worth by not buying products from Amivo in the first place.
Explanations for the Expensive Products
Once I had actually bought products I could see they were manufactured by a company called Amway. This was the first time I’d heard of Amway despite having seen the plan and signed up to be part of all of this. Some of these Amway products were heavily concentrated and therefore more expensive (as you might expect).
For example, it cost over £6 (this was 2007 money) for a bottle of Dish Drops washing up liquid which lasted a long time but never shed any light on how much money these “exclusive” and “concentrated” products were actually saving.
Amway’s enormous margins on product sales generate points which travel up the pyramid, are converted to cash and then get paid out as bonuses.
To reiterate my earlier point, if I bought all my goods outside of Amway for half the price, I’d might as well have given the difference saved to my upline as cash in an envelope. It would be serving the same purpose.
The market conditions are not the same as someone who joined, say, thirty years ago.
Early on in any given MLM, future high earners establish themselves as the lord in this commerce feudal system before saturation point is reached. The peasants work to generate points with more peasants being registered beneath those on the assumption the best performers can become a lord.
Sometimes, MLM systems mandate compulsory sign up for introductory kits costing up to $9,000 (like in LulaRoe), with bonuses paid to uplines on these kits which, in my opinion, is the Ponzi aspect. ⚠️
Amway was only about £100 to join with a renewal fee of about the same annually, and although there was no outright Ponzi going on in Amway, it’s still a disguised pyramid.
Hard Work, Scant Reward, But Lavish Lifestyles on Display
A lot of work would have been required (it can take decades) just to have been earning the £150k annually as people at “Diamond” level were doing in 2007 (they built six “Platinum” legs, all of which generated around 7500 PV).
This is increasingly difficult to do if not impossible.
The hype and preaching of the prosperity gospel with the “You can do it! Anyone can do it” message is what accounts for the enormous churn rate of those participating in these schemes. 🎣😓
The Economics of Ponzi, Pyramid, MLM
It’s also not possible for everyone to reach Diamond level – the world’s population is not great enough to support it. Check out the book “Ponzinomics” (Amazon UK / Amazon USA) by Robert FitzPatrick if you want to understand more on this.
How then were high achievers managing to live like millionaires on an unstable, ever fluctuating sales-based commission of £150k per year?
The training system (also known as the tools business) was where the cash was made. These tools businesses were unofficial, not publicly endorsed by Amway, but presented as totally necessary if you wanted to make any amount of money whatsoever. 🔑💰
The one I was in was called International Business Systems (IBS). People were basically paying a lot of money to learn how to believe in themselves.
The “system” was comprised of recommended books, CDs, seminars, mentoring, fantasising, religious talk, (mostly when American Diamonds spoke at the events) all designed to indoctrinate.
Influential Books and Reprogramming
Some of the books were good. Seriously! “How to Win Friends and Influence People” predates MLM, but its message had been co-opted by the Amway uplines as part of what I now think of as the Ned Flanders School of Sales Training.
Other books like “Prosumer Power” or “The Parable of the Pipeline” were clearly created purely for MLMs – nonsense propaganda – all against a rather drab backdrop of selling dull products. 😐
What I really saw and felt the most was that our identities were being eroded. We were being turned into Ambots with a set of values chosen by the leaders.
Question: if the Amway “opportunity” was not part of the equation, would people still sign up to the motivational training and tools system?
Conjecture and Fantasy
An elderly Amway Emerald pin was on stage lamenting the types of people who cannot see a good thing when it’s right in front of them.
“If you showed this to Richard Branston(sic), do you think he would join it? Of course he would!”
This guy loved to tell us about his long, stressful career, how he was working 100 hours a week, how he had a heart attack at his workplace, how him and his wife could now care for their special needs son. But that slip of the tongue with “Branston”, undermined his credibility somehow.
These speakers were either out of touch or just bullshitters. 🎭
Selling The Dream to Those With No Chance
The IBS training organisation I had accidentally become a customer of was indeed making money hand over fist. 💷
- Tens of thousands of people were plugged into IBS all day, every day
- Tens of thousands of people were spending extraordinary amounts of money on tools that would never make a difference
The real profit was in selling the lifestyle, which is still seen today in all scam industries, as evidenced by any number of annoying YouTube ads for courses claiming to teach YOU how to make a six figure monthly income with no skills or knowledge.
The IBS leaders always claimed they broke even on the money they made from the sales of tools. It was all about covering costs and helping their downlines, supposedly.
The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) investigated Amway and its unofficial tools organisations, placing a moratorium on all sponsoring for an unspecified period of time.
By this time I was bored silly with it.
The pressure to attend more meetings in spite of my apathy was constant. My uplines had kindly taken me to and from meetings and made time for special mentoring. I’d met the daughter of my upline Platinum and visited the office at his day job.
All part of getting your loyalty. 🫂
I was persuaded to go to a “very important seminar” which had been arranged to clarify the situation and answer the rumours that were circulating. It was £20 to enter.
About a thousand people were there, ranging from the fully indoctrinated to the weary and sceptical, but there was no way you’d ever know which was which.
Amway Diamonds Terminated 💥
In the end, some of the Diamonds had their contracts terminated, supposedly as Amway’s “way” of trying to look like they were being tough on bad actors that had been misrepresenting the opportunity.
Annoyingly – after they’d played the sympathy card – the now ex-Diamonds wasted no time in pushing brand new “opportunities” with scams like Success University, uVme and some others that were sketchy as hell.
Scammers Gonna Scam
The IBS tools business disbanded but rebranded as “The Team” (really? how original) with the exact same premise as before: paid-for books, CDs and seminars.
It’s a classic move in MLM: start a new “business” and transfer an existing downline from the old one into the new MLM, automatically making someone top of a brand new pyramid.
Walking Away from MLM
Mentally, I’d already stopped caring about this nonsense and just needed to detangle not only from the entire Amway machine but from those in my immediate upline who, like others, mostly had good intentions but were too low in the hierarchy to know how money was really made.
Once I’d been dropped home from that final seminar, I never spoke to anyone in the upline again.
Lenient High Court Ruling
The secretary of state wanted to see the company wind up its operations. That didn’t happen because of adjustments Amway made.
The changes – including the eradication of the acronym “IBO” (which stood for Independent Business Owner) in favour of “ABO” (Amway Business Owner) – were supposed to prevent Amway distributors misleading potential new recruits. They had been playing it coy by avoiding the word “Amway” when presenting The Plan (as instructed by their uplines). 👥
The DTI underwent structural changes and was replaced by the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR) in 2007, and then the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) in 2016.
Makes me wonder… do changes like these – in addition to the average lifecycle of any one government administration – explain the inconsistency or lack of appetite for seriously attacking society’s MLM problem?
Former IBS-Amway Diamonds: Where Are They Now?
I’ve been digging and snooping recently. 😉
In 2024, most of these former Diamonds have full time jobs again which include accounting and recruitment.
One of the Diamonds I disliked the most is still at it with various MLMs, as smug as ever, posting inane motivational quotes to his Twitter/X timeline and generally bragging about being rich. Dickhead!
If I did try harder, I might have made money, but keep in mind that such “earnings” would only exist because someone in my downline would have been paying over the odds for commodity products you or I can find at any discount supermarket for half the price. 🚩
It’s fair to say that the road to hell is paved with MLM recruiters! Money is made by those at the top because those in their downline are wasting theirs on overpriced products and propaganda.
I recently appeared on the Life After MLM Podcast to chat with Roberta Blevins (she featured in the 2021 Amazon documentary LuLaRich).
We discussed cults dynamics, predatory behaviour, the Amway tools business, legal rulings, money laundering and more, including the invention of a new alcoholic drink made using Jägermeister and Amway’s “XS” energy drink. And what could that be? You guessed it! A Dexter Yagerbomb.
Do have an MLM story too? Please share in the comments!