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).
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 and 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.
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:
- Find out the name of the company (I feel stupid for not asking).
- 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.