The Amway scam: bloggers beware!

About a week ago I was sitting alone in a Panera eating a salad and drinking an iced tea. You’d think I got stood up on a first date. While that would have been sad, I’d have taken that over the feeling of just having been deceived. I had just met with someone about the Amway scam. Except she didn’t tell me it was the Amway scam until the very end.

Bloggers … pay attention

I’m writing about this experience because many of my readers are fellow blogers. We’re all a nice little community and I’d like to think we all have each others’ backs. I was simply talking about my blog, when my experience with Amway started. We bloggers talk about our blogs a lot, so this could be any one of us.

Now before I get into the story, let me explain to you what exactly Amway is. Amway is a multi-level marketing company (or pyramid scheme, basically), where you make commissions off of building a team. Thousands of companies operate this way (Mary Kay, Pampered Chef, Scentsy … just to name a few). Sure you can sell a product in a market already saturated with consultants from that company.

You can also kind of sell the product and heavily recruit others into your “business.” Many are pressured into doing the later, especially since the person who recruited them also gets a commission off of their recruits (and the person above them and the person above them … see how it’s starting to look like a pyramid?). I sold Mary Kay for a short 3-4 months of my life. So I’m already put-off by the term multi-level marketing. Although I have absolutely nothing against buying something from say Pampered Chef at a party. I just never want to do direct selling again (although I’ve like 5% thought about Lularoe only because those dresses are SO cute and I could just set up shop at festivals all summer like gee … a normal business).

Amway scam

Anyway, so the basic premise seems to be that you have a website and sell these Amway products. It has been compared to a cult. This cracked.com story here tells it a little better than I probably can: Amway: 5 Realities of The Multi-Billion-Dollar Scam. Also when you google the word Amway, the next word that comes up is scam. You know that’s not a good sign.

My Amway scam story

So I was at the mall working a table for my side job, the Gutter Shutter. It’s not glamorous, but I’m a show rep for a gutter company on the weekends. I go out to fairs, festivals, home shows, etc. and talk to people about gutters. Several months ago, there was some event at the mall and we had a table set up. I was talking to everyone who walked by and this woman came by. She seemed nice and somewhat interested, so we struck up a conversation. She mentioned that she had a business where she has her own website and she partners with brands like Marshalls and Target to sell products. She said the whole focus was on driving online sales to those sites. Not once did she mention the Amway scam.

To me, that sounded exactly like affiliate marketing. Bloggers, I know most of you not only know about affiliate marketing but are probably also signed up for several programs. I am a part of several affiliate programs andΒ  include affiliate links in my outfit posts. So I told her I was a style blogger and asked her if it was affiliate marketing. She responded with “yes.” “We train you, set you up with a website and then you have your business,” she said more or less (those were not her exact words … this all happened three months ago). I was thinking it was just another affiliate program, so I was interested. I gave her my phone number and we parted ways. Then I never heard anything and assumed that she had lost my number.

A few months later

Last week I got a voicemail from this woman following up. So since I was interested, I called back. I was very upfront with her. “I’m a blogger and I’m really focused on that. I have absolutely no interest in creating a new website. However if I can use the one I already have, I’d be interested.” She did not know the answer to this, which should have been my first clue. Also, I cannot believe I did not ask the name of the company. But I digress …

She is going to have to ask the owners of the company if I can use my own website. But she would still like to meet with me and is willing to come to the Panera by my house. Why not, I think.

The meeting

We start our meeting at the Panera by my house. A third woman who I never met shows up. I suppose she is with the company. But that was another odd tip off. The woman I initially met starts with a brochure. It seems odd to me that a supposed affiliate marketing company wouldn’t just open up the computer and show me how the website works. After all, she told me that it was all about having your own website to drive online traffic to online retailers.

The brochure does not say Amway or at least say it anywhere blatantly visible. She goes through some diagrams, the bogus money I could make (6-figure income … sure), etc. I feel confused. What does her website look like? How does she drive traffic there (social media … Facebook? Twitter?). She also says that she’s unfamiliar with bloggers using affiliate marketing? Well, if this was a legit affiliate marketing company, she’d have been super familiar. It’s kind of our bread and butter.

She hardly ever uses Facebook, she says. “Then how do you drive people to your website?” Family, friends, face-to-face, she tells me. Everything is face-to-face, she tells me. That’s what they prefer. We are about to call the company so I can explain to them what being a blogger is (since she clearly has no idea) when I ask to see her website. Right there … top left corner … Amway. I feel so dumb.

So this is Amway?

I feel so lied to. We make chit chat for another few minutes and I tell her “yeah, I think I’m just happy being a blogger.” I also ask her why she left out the part that it was Amway until now. “The negative connotation,” she tells me. “If you google it, lots of untrue things will come up.” Well that sounds super shady.

Then we awkwardly make small talk about my salad for another two minutes and then she claims to have another meeting in 20 minutes just down the road. Whether she actually did or just wanted me to think she was successful, I’ll never know. Her and that other woman tell me it was nice to meet me and leave. So here I am eating my salad all alone in Panera and processing my thoughts about the Amway scam.

It was a waste of time

That was such a total waste of time. I could have spent that 30 minutes writing blog posts, scheduling social media, updating my pinterest, writing my next e-mail newsletter or doing a whole variety of needed blog things. So here are a few tips to potentially avoid being in this situation:

  1. Find out the name of the company (I feel stupid for not asking).
  2. Do an Internet search and use your judgement. If one bad review comes up, take it with a grain of salt. However if 50 or more come up, then those bad reviews might be making a point.

Do you have an Amway scam story? If so, I would love to hear it! Feel free to share in the comments section.

 

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51 Comments

  1. Amway is not for bloggers .. its more a MLM kind of thing I believe. Thanks for sharing your story. Its helpful for others to not waste their time in such scams … I also do affiliate marketing on my blog http://digitalharpreet.com and help fellow bloggers as I learn new things. I love what I am doing but Amway no I cant do that…

    1. Yeah it for sure is a MLM. I am a part of a few affiliate marketing programs … share a sale, Target, etc. But she told me it was another affiliate program. I think that’s what they do … find whatever they can to relate to something you’re interested in and get you to meet with them.

    1. It for sure is. Some of these companies (like Lularoe and 31) have legit products but I would not want to actually work for them.

  2. Is so easy to get scammed nowdays. i never heard of amway before to be honest. Is nice that you exposed them,so they dont continue doing it.

    1. Hey Anna. Yeah that’s the great thing about being a blogger … you get a platform to share your experiences and hopefully help others with it. That’s probably one of my favorite parts of being a blogger.

  3. I think I’m danger free at the moment because I don’t work with companies, nor I think I ever will… I know that’s no way to grow as a blogger, but unless there’s a company that sells knowledge I’m not interested lol

    1. Ah yeah. There are many ways to monetize your blog. A lot of people use theirs as a platform to create e-products. I’m going to start looking into that myself.

    1. Yeah for sure. Like if you have to hide the company name, it’s probably a pretty shady place.

    1. Hey Jessie! Yeah I’m so surprised by how many people have never heard of them. I’ve told this story countless times in person and many are still like “what’s Amway?”

    1. Thanks! In reality it was just like a half an hour and a lonely salad at the Panera by my house. Could have been worse.

    1. It really seems like it. From what I’ve read, they make a lot of their money off of making you buy their educational tapes and such. Dishonest for sure.

  4. Not being transparent with you about the company doesn’t do a lot for credibility. It’s good that you noticed that it was Amway before getting too involved.

    1. Yeah for sure. If I had not asked to see her website, I would have just missed it. Lesson learned: ask the name of the company, lol.

  5. I hate this type of shady businesses and I don’t understand how they can get away with such a bad things. I’m glad you are using your site for good. I hope more people are reading and sharing.

  6. Oh my god that is crazy I can’t believe the cheek of that woman. Poor you you have are to be careful x

    1. Thanks! Yeah she did seem like a nice woman who probably just got herself into something she’s trying to tell herself it’s not.

  7. These days people will do anything to make money, even if it means scamming other people just to do so. It’s so disappointing, but at least it was a lesson learned on your part.

  8. Great to hear your story! Nice to know that I wasn’t the only person, who felt extremely confused after initial conversation with the Amway rep.
    Here’s what happened to me: when I became pregnant with my daughter I left my very demanding job and became a house maker. However, I still wanted to do something valuable with my time. One day my husband ran into his aquintance and they spent a few minutes catching up, when I guess he mentioned that I was looking for something to do to part time. The guy proceeded to tell my husband that his wife has a part time business and the very next day they were having a get together at their house for people who are interested in learning more and starting their own business. Ding, ding, ding!!! When my husband heard that he thought it’d be something for me worth checking out. And so we went. We arrived to the house and everyone seemed very welcoming. The presentation began. To my surprise it was lead by some man (why a man, if I was there to learn about my husband’s acquaintance wife’s business?.. Hmm..). He started talking right away about his success in this industry, the limitless possibilities for earnings, he talked about everything, but the most important thing- never once did he mention the name of the company or what the business was really about.. I, as a person, who graduated from a well respected university with an actual business degree and having done many business presentations in school, as well as later at my job, was very surprised by the structure he has chosen for his presentation. How could he leave out the most important things? How can he be truly promoting a company and a business without mentioning the name or what that business consists of??! Soon he shared that you would need to purchase some videos and books to ensure success in this business, he also said that to earn more profit you need to build your own “team” by recruiting your friends and relatives. And here comes the biggest red flag for me:when he was describing a tactic that is recommended to be used to introduce people to the business, he said that you should call the person you wish to recruit, tell them you have something to drop off for them. Then once you get there, you leave your car running to have an excuse for speedy departure and literally just drop off the load on your poor relative or friend. WITHOUT even explaining to them what it was that you brought.. Weird, right?!
    By the end of the night I was feeling very confused.. “Is it my pregnancy brain playing a joke on me?”, I thought.
    I couldn’t make sense of it, when some lady walked up to me and offered to speak with me more about it at a convinient time for me. I was trying to find an excuse not to do it, because I was already feeling exhausted and couldn’t bare a thought of wasting my time on listening to a person who clearly knows little about business and recruiting techniques. Anyway, I ended up exchanging phone numbers with that lady to connect the next day (also, I was surprised how easily available all those successful “business people” were!) , but I already knew that I will not be meeting anyone anywhere. I’d use any excuse possible not to attend another meeting. So the very next morning I contacted the lady I was supposed to meet with to notify her I will not make it and to give her plenty of notice to rearrange her day . The response I got back from her was something like this, “Fine. I already have someone else who is a better fit anyway!” Mmmmmmkkkkkaaaay!…. She literally knew nothing about me, but hey, at least I didn’t have to worry about that anymore 😊 P.S. It was not my pregnant brain playing jokes on me, on the way home I asked my husband if he heard anyone mentioning the name of the company. He didn’t. But he was able to tell me that it was Amway because of the catalogue sales and some other things that they have mentioned.

    1. Oh wow, that is quite a story! That sounds like a huge waste of your time. My dad said my aunt tried to get him to do Amway years back during the like two years she did it. She told him and my other aunt that she was considering a business opportunity and wanted their feedback … which was a lie. So when they got there, this man was trying to recruit them. This part kills me … I just love my dad’s cynicism so much. The guy was talking about how they’re a Christian company and want to find other Christians. My dads response: “So you don’t let Jews sell your soap?” The guy was all like “oh no no, that’s not what I mean!” Hilarious. But yeah, Amway is strange … dropping random stuff off at people’s houses is just odd and raises red flags.

  9. I think it’s the same with all other companies like this: Avon, Herbalife, Oriflame, etc. I don’t say that they are a scam, as I’ve seen people making money out of it, but you have to work hard, kiss a lot of asses and make your way up the ladder, which is never easy.

    1. Yeah I mean there are MLM companies that are 100% upfront with you about who they are … Mary Kay, Pampered Chef, Cutco and 31 are some examples. It’s just not my cup of tea.

  10. So sorry you went through that. It’s annoying thinking youre getting a way of evolving your blog and earning some money then to find out they are a scam. I’ve had a few of these too but luckily I’ve been too busy with work to follow them up.

  11. Thank you so much for letting us know!!! Amway has many representatives also in my country, but I was never interested for that kind of sales. I usually ask the companies name first, when someone approaches me and he/she starts talking about big sales, big money, etc. You are right, it’s the first thing someone should ask.

  12. Eek. Hate to hear you had this experience. I’m in MLM and have had my own share of horror stories where people have tried to recruit me away from my company. It’s unfortunate people operate in the manner you described, but that’s exactly why I operate mine so differently…I can’t believe she said she didn’t tell you because of the “negative connotation.” If you have to say that, then you probably haven’t found the right fit. Certainly not the right approach. I share our company name within minutes of getting someone on the phone…shouldn’t be something you have to glaze over. It really is an incredible industry, but it’s not for everyone.

  13. I didn’t know about Amway, but anything that is multi-level marketing sounds like scam to me. If the product was that good, why the brand doesn’t sell it itself, but needs people who pretend to have their own “business”?!
    I’ve been approached by so many different presenters from companies with the same concept. My answer is always very simple – NO.

  14. I’m sorry this happened to you, Nina. I also have an Amway scam story. πŸ™

    This happened a few months after I’d moved back to Louisville, in the fall of 2012. I was looking to make more money since my job didn’t pay very much. My printer at work broke, and I called the company we had a contract with to come fix it. The repair man came, and was very chatty with me while he fixed the machine. For reasons I can’t remember, I brought up the fact I was looking for research jobs for extra money and to use my degree more. He said his wife was working with a company that was doing health research, and that they were having an event later that week to recruit people to assist. I said sure, so he gave me the details. NEVER ONCE DID HE SAY THE NAME OF THE ORGANIZATION. Now you know me – normally I ask 1,000 questions about everything. But I was busy at work, and so desperate for another source of income, I didn’t ask. A couple of days later, I drove to a hotel in East Louisville and attended their seminar. There were a LOT of people there. I’d say at least 50. The presentation begins, and immediately, I’m just “what?!” There was no “research” involved – it was all about selling products on a website and conning friends/family/others into doing so. Essentially you were making money by ripping off loved ones. This is how it came across to me anyway. I was angry that I’d been duped. I found the person who recruited me, said I didn’t think it was for me, and left.

    I’m actually looking into doing Mary Kay right now to earn extra money, but they are very open with everything on their website. I don’t necessarily like all aspects of it, however, at least I know that going into it! Actually, I thought of you yesterday looking at the website – they require you to wear dresses to events. No pants! πŸ™‚

    1. Oh wow that sounds like quite a story. I feel like Amway people take whatever you say you’re looking for and twist it to somehow be Amway. Case in point: both our Amway stories, mine being affiliate marketing and yours research. Both are two very different things.

      You know my story with Mary Kay. I will say that you may feel some pressure to buy inventory and a lot of pressure to recruit. However if you do sell, I will buy from you and maybe even have a party!

  15. Amway and Herbalife are scams. Their focus is on recruiting because your would have difficulty selling their generic products for premium prices. Thus you recruit a bunch of people who buy the products to support their own involvement in the business. The real money is in selling training to the recruits. You’ll notice that meetings and training materials will be emphasized once you get involved. It’s a good think you didn’t bite.

    1. Yeah Joe you’re very right. That was how Mary Kay was in a way and I did that for several months. I’ve always had an issue deceiving people. I felt like trying to recruit people for an awesome opportunity that in actuality was not awesome for me at all was a complete lie.

  16. Hello, I just came across your blog while researching about Amway and I have to say that I had a similar experience too. I was contacted by a guy asking if I was interested in a business opportunity. He described his business as an online business network which combined social media and e-commerce. He asked me a few questions to see if I had the right mindset he was looking for and then invited me to a business seminar.

    Throughout this interaction I was under the assumption that the business seminar was some sort of educational seminar of some sort. Since I am a college student majoring in business I believed this was a good chance to do some networking with the people who were attending. So I sat through the seminar and came to a realization that this was no ordinary business seminar but rather a disguised recruiting scheme. The presenter talked about the income we’ll receive if we join and that we won’t have to work under someone else. Then we were shown a promotional video about Amway. I never heard of Amway and its products till that moment at the seminar.

    At the end of the presentation, the guy who invited me made an appointment the next day to meet up with me again to discuss my joining of his group. Since I was wary of the whole event, I went home and looked up Amway where I found relevant searches that talked about it being a scam. Some stories I found included financial loss as recruited people felt compelled to spend money on books, audio CDs, seminars, and incurring travel expenses. This raised so many red flags to me so I sent a message that I couldn’t make the appointment and that I was no longer interested. The whole event did not feel right to me and I was glad that I listened to my instinct to get out. Overall, I wasted my time and gas to drive to the “seminar” but I did learn to think twice when someone asks if I’m interested in a business opportunity.

    1. Hi Sabrina! Wow, I’m glad you found my story and that it helped you! Ah the power of the Internet! Yeah any company that puts a larger emphasis on recruiting people over selling the actual product is a scam to me. I’m glad you did some research and thought for yourself.

  17. Nina,
    I am sad to see this post doesn’t have more research to your argument. My brother is involved with Amway and it has changed his life. The idea is not for everyone, and Amway knows that. There is a recruitment process, and they won’t even let you pay until they think you’re going to persevere. People who are not extremely interested end up getting involved, fizzling out, just paying for products, and being angry. For this reason, Amway does have a lot of negative connotations. Especially since it has been around so long, and the business model has been changing for years. I just want you to be aware people who work hard in this job are rewarded. Honesty is a huge selling factor for some. According to Forbes, Amway is the largest private company in the US. There are just as many good stories as there are bad and it all depends on the person.

    1. Hey Jana,

      I was unaware your brother worked with Amway. I thank you for sharing that with me and definitely do think that some find a lot of success with it. With this post, I simply wanted to share my experience with other bloggers as other bloggers are some of my readers. I just found the way I was approached odd and deceiving and wanted to share.

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