Amway

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Amway
Type Private
Industry Direct selling
Founded 1959
Founder(s) Rich DeVos
Jay Van Andel
Headquarters Ada, Michigan, United States
Area served Worldwide
Key people Steve Van Andel (Chairman)
Doug DeVos (President)
Products Amway Home, glister, G&H, Nutrilite, Artistry, AmwayQueen, eSpring, ATMOSPHERE...
Revenue Increase US$ 11.8 billion (2013)[1]
Employees 20,000[2]
Parent Alticor
Website Amway.com
Headquarters in Ada, Michigan

Amway (short for American Way) is an American company using multi-level marketing techniques, that sells a variety of products, primarily in the health, beauty, and home care markets.[3][4][5] Amway was founded in 1959 by Jay Van Andel and Richard DeVos. Based in Ada, Michigan, the company and family of companies under Alticor reported sales of USD$11.3 billion for the year ended December 31, 2012—the seventh consecutive year of growth for the company.[1] Its product lines include home care products, personal care products, jewelry, electronics, Nutrilite dietary supplements, water purifiers, air purifiers, insurance and cosmetics. Amway conducts business through a number of affiliated companies in more than a hundred countries and territories around the world.[6] Amway was ranked No.114 among the largest global retailers by Deloitte in 2006, and No.25 among the largest private companies in the U.S. by Forbes in 2012.[7]

History[edit]

Founding[edit]

Amway Japan Head Office.
Amway Vietnam (Hồ Chí Minh since 2008).

Jay Van Andel and Rich DeVos, friends since school days, had been business partners in various endeavors including a hamburger stand, air charter service, and a sailing business. In 1949 they were introduced by Neil Maaskant (Van Andel's second cousin) to the Nutrilite Products Corporation. Nutrilite was a California-based direct sales company founded by Dr. Carl Rehnborg, developer of the first multivitamin marketed in the United States. In August 1949, after a night-long talk, DeVos and Van Andel signed up to become distributors for Nutrilite food supplements.[8][page needed] They sold their first box the next day for $19.50, but lost interest for the next two weeks. Shortly thereafter, at the urging of Maaskant, who had become their sponsor, they traveled to Chicago to attend a Nutrilite seminar. The meeting was at a downtown hotel, with over a hundred people in attendance. After seeing promotional filmstrips and listening to talks by company representatives and successful distributors, they decided to pursue the Nutrilite business opportunity with enthusiasm. They sold their second box of supplements on their return trip to Michigan, and rapidly proceeded to develop their new business further.[8][page needed]

In 1949, DeVos and Van Andel had formed Ja-Ri Corporation (abbreviated from their respective first names) for importing wooden goods from South American countries. After their trip to the Nutrilite seminar, they dropped[clarification needed] this business and Ja-Ri became their Nutrilite distributorship.[9] In addition to profits on each product sold, Nutrilite also offered commission on the sales of products by new distributors introduced to the company by existing distributors—a system today known as multi-level marketing or network marketing. By 1958, DeVos and Van Andel had built an organization of over 5,000 distributors. However, following concerns about the stability of Nutrilite, in April 1959 they and some of their top distributors formed The American Way Association to represent the distributors and look for additional products to market.[10]

Their first product was called Frisk, a concentrated organic cleaner developed by a scientist in Ohio. DeVos and Van Andel bought the rights to manufacture and distribute Frisk, and later changed the name to LOC (Liquid Organic Cleaner).[11] They subsequently formed Amway Sales Corporation to procure and inventory products and to handle the sales and marketing plan, and Amway Services Corporation to handle insurance and other benefits for distributors (Amway being an abbreviation of "American Way").[12] In 1960 they purchased a 50% share in Atco Manufacturing Company in Detroit, the original manufacturers of LOC, and changed its name to Amway Manufacturing Corporation.[13] In 1964 the Amway Sales Corporation, Amway Services Corporation, and Amway Manufacturing Corporation merged to form a single entity, Amway Corporation[14] Amway bought control of Nutrilite in 1972 and full ownership in 1994.[15]

International expansion[edit]

Amway expanded overseas to Australia in 1971, to Europe in 1973, to parts of Asia in 1974, to Japan in 1979, to Latin America in 1985, to China in 1995, to Africa in 1997, to India and Scandinavia in 1998, to Ukraine in 2003, to Russia in 2005, and to Vietnam in 2008.

Quixtar[edit]

In 1999 the founders of the Amway corporation established a new holding company, named Alticor, and launched three new companies: a sister (and separate) Internet-focused company named Quixtar, Access Business Group, and Pyxis Innovations. Pyxis, later replaced by Fulton Innovation, pursued research and development and Access Business Group handled manufacturing and logistics for Amway, Quixtar, and third party clients.[16]

The main difference was that all "Independent Business Owners" (IBO) could order directly from Amway on the Internet, rather than from their upline "direct distributor," and have products shipped directly to their home. The Amway name continued being used in the rest of the world. After virtually all Amway distributors in North America switched to Quixtar, Alticor elected to close Amway North America after 2001. In June 2007 it was announced that the Quixtar brand would be phased out over an 18 to 24 month period in favor of a unified Amway brand (Amway Global) worldwide.

In 2006, Quixtar published The Quixtar Independent Business Owner Compensation Plan, in which the company reported that the average monthly gross income for "Active" IBOs was $115.[17]

Global markets[edit]

According to the Amway website, as of 2011 the company operates in over 100 countries and territories, organized into regional markets: the Americas, Europe, greater China, Japan and Korea, and SE Asia/Australia.

In 2008, Alticor announced that two-thirds of the company's 58 markets reported sales increases, including strong growth in the China, Russia, Ukraine and India markets.[18]

Amway Australia[edit]

Amway China[edit]

Amway grew quickly in China from its market launch in 1995. In 1998, after abuses of illegal pyramid schemes led to riots, the Chinese government enacted a ban on all direct selling companies, including Amway.[19] After the negotiations, some companies like Amway, Avon, and Mary Kay continued to operate through a network of retail stores promoted by an independent sales force.[20] China introduced new direct selling laws in December 2005, and in December 2006 Amway was one of the first companies to receive a license to resume direct sales. However, the law forbids teachers, doctors, and civil servants from becoming direct sales agents for the company and, unlike in the U.S., salespeople in China are ineligible to receive commissions from sales made by the distributors they recruit.

In 2006, Amway China had a reported 180,000 sales representatives, 140 stores, and $2 billion in annual sales.[21] In 2007 Amway Greater China and South-east Asia Chief Executive Eva Cheng was ranked No.88 by Forbes magazine in its list of the World's Most Powerful Women.[22] In 2008, China was Amway's largest market, reporting 28% growth and sales of ¥17 billion (US$2.5billion).[23] According to a report in Bloomberg Businessweek in April 2010, Amway had 237 retail shops in China, 160,000 direct sales agents, and US$3 billion in revenue.[24]

Amway China holds large incentive trips each year as rewards for its top achievers to different destinations. As the trips involve thousands of participants, events often result in a boost for the local economy of the destination.

Brands[edit]

Amway's product line grew from LOC, with the laundry detergent SA8 added in 1960, and later the hair care product Satinique (1965) and the cosmetics line Artistry (1968). Today Amway manufactures over 450 products, with manufacturing facilities in China, India and the United States, as well as Nutrilite organic farms in Brazil, Mexico and the United States (California and Washington State). Amway brands include: Artistry, Atmosphere, Body Blends, Body Works, Clear Now, eSpring, Fulton Street, Glister, iCook, Kahve, Legacy of Clean, Nutrilite, Peter Island, Perfect Empowered Drinking Water, Personal Accents, Ribbon, Satinique, Tolsom, XS, and Zsenso

Household cleaners[edit]

Amway is best known in North America for its original multi-purpose cleaning product LOC, SA8 laundry detergent, and Dish Drops dishwashing liquid. In the January 2007 issue of Consumer Reports, SA8 with Bioquest was rated the best-performing laundry detergent, scoring 99 out of a possible 100 points.[25] Consumer Reports did, however, criticise SA8's pricing, a situation which was disputed by Amway.[26] Consumer Reports conducted blind testing of detergents in 2010 and ranked versions of Amway's Legacy of Clean detergents 9th and 18th of 20 detergents tested. Consumer Reports program manager Pat Slaven recommended against buying the products because consumers can "go to the grocery store and get something that performs a whole lot better for a whole lot less money."[27][28]

Health and beauty[edit]

Amway's health and beauty brands include Artistry, Beautycycle, Time Defiance, Artistry Essentials, Pure White, Satinique, Tolsom, Body Series, Glister, Moiskin (South America),[29] Nutrilite, Nutriway (Scandinavia and Australia/New Zealand), eSpring, Attitude (India), Atmosphere and iCook as well as XL and XS Energy drinks.

Artistry[edit]

Amway's Artistry products include skin care, cosmetics, and anti-aging creams and serums.

Nutrilite[edit]

Amway's largest selling brand is the Nutrilite range of health supplements (marketed as Nutriway in some countries), and in 2008 Nutrilite sales exceeded US$3billion globally.[30] In 2001, five Nutrilite products were the first dietary supplements to be certified by NSF International.[31] In 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2009 in the nutrient and health food category, Nutrilite won "Platinum" and "Gold" awards in Malaysia, China, Taiwan, Thailand, and Asia overall in the Reader's Digest "Trusted Brands of Asia" survey.[32] In 2008 Nutrilite scientists, in partnership with Alticor subsidiary Interleukin Genetics won the 12th John M. Kinney Award for Nutrition and Metabolism for their research into the interaction between nutrition and genetics.[33] In January 2009, Amway announced a voluntary recall of Nutrilite and XS Energy Bars after learning that they had possibly been manufactured with Salmonella-contaminated ingredients from Peanut Corporation of America. The company indicated that it had not received any reports of illness in connection with the products.[34]

eSpring[edit]

Amway's eSpring water filter, introduced in 2000, was the first home water treatment system to incorporate a carbon block filter and Ultraviolet disinfection unit, becoming the first home system to achieve certification for ANSI/NSF Standards 42, 53 and 55.[35] The unit was also the first commercial product to include sister company Fulton Innovations eCoupled wireless power induction technology. Fulton Innovation introduced the technology in other consumer electronic products at the 2007 International Consumer Electronics Show. Companies licensing this technology include General Motors, Motorola and Visteon.[36][37] In 2006 eSpring was named Product of the Year by the Poland-based non-profit World Foundation of Health, Heart and Mind.[38] eSpring has won numerous Gold and Platinum awards in the Reader's Digest Most Trusted Brand Asia surveys.[39]

Atmosphere[edit]

In 2009 Amway's Atmosphere Air Purifier became the first air cleaner certified Asthma and Allergy Friendly by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.[40][41]

Ditto Delivery[edit]

Amway owns a patent on the online shopping method of Ditto Delivery, which allows consumers to specify an automatic monthly delivery of each product.[42] In May 2001, Ditto Delivery accounted for 30% of Quixtar's North American sales.[43]

Business model[edit]

Amway combines direct selling with a multi-level marketing strategy. "Independent Business Owners" (IBOs) may market products directly to potential customers and may also recruit (sponsor) and train other people to become IBOs. IBOs may earn income both from the retail markup on any products they sell personally, plus a performance bonus based on the sales volume they and their downline (IBOs they have sponsored) have generated.[3] People may also register as IBOs to buy products at discounted prices.

Commercial sponsorships[edit]

Orlando Arena naming rights[edit]

In December 2006, Alticor secured the naming rights for the 17,000-seat basketball arena in Orlando, Florida – home of the Orlando Magic, which are owned by the family of Rich DeVos. The arena, formerly known as the TD Waterhouse Centre became known as the Amway Arena. It was demolished by implosion in March 2012, following the 2010 opening of its successor, Amway Center.[44]

San Jose Earthquakes[edit]

Prior to the 2009 Major League Soccer season, Amway Global signed a three-year deal with the San Jose Earthquakes to become the team's official jersey sponsor.[citation needed]

A major part of the partnership is focused on community initiatives in the Bay Area. As a result, Amway Global is now also the official sponsor of the team's Kicks for Kids program that focuses on fitness and healthy lifestyles, as well as bringing underprivileged children to Earthquakes games.[citation needed]

The partnership also saw the creation of the Amway Global Street Team, which appears at all Earthquakes home games and at a number of soccer and non-soccer events throughout the Bay Area. The members of the Amway Global Street Team give away Earthquakes-branded merchandise and provide soccer skills demonstrations at each event.[45]

Los Angeles Sol[edit]

In March 2009, Amway Global signed a multi-year deal to become the official presenting partner of the Los Angeles Sol of Women's Professional Soccer.[46] The deal, however, would last only one year, as the Sol folded after the 2009 season.

Detroit Red Wings[edit]

Prior to the 2011–12 season, Amway signed a three-year deal to be the presenting sponsor of the National Hockey League's Detroit Red Wings.[47]

Canadian Championship[edit]

Since 2012, Amway has been the lead sponsor of the Canadian Championship, an annual soccer tournament contested by premier Canadian professional teams. The winner is awarded the Voyageurs Cup and Canada's berth in the CONCACAF Champions League.

Politics and culture[edit]

Political causes[edit]

In the 1990s, the Amway organization was a major contributor to the Republican Party (GOP) and to the election campaigns of various GOP candidates. Amway and its sales force contributed a substantial amount (up to half) of the total funds ($669,525) for the 1994 political campaign of Republican congresswoman and Amway distributor Sue Myrick (N.C.).[48] According to two reports by Mother Jones magazine, Amway distributor Dexter Yager “used the company’s extensive voice-mail system to rally hundreds of Amway distributors into giving a total of $295,871” to Myrick’s campaign.[48][49] According to a campaign staffer quoted by the magazine, Myrick had appeared regularly on the Amway circuit, speaking at hundreds of rallies and selling $5 and $10 audiotapes.[48] Following the 1994 election, Myrick maintained “close ties to Amway and Yager”, and raised $100,000 from Amway sources, “most notably through fundraisers at the homes of big distributors”, in the 1997–98 election cycle.[49]

In October 1994, Amway gave the biggest corporate contribution recorded to that date to a political party for a single election – $2.5 million to the Republican National Committee – and was the number one corporate political donor in the U.S.[48] In the 2004 election cycle, the organization contributed a total of $4 million to a conservative 527 group, Progress for America.[50]

In July 1996, Amway co-founder Richard DeVos was honored at a $3 million fundraiser for the Republican Party, and a week later, it was reported that Amway had tried to donate $1.3 million to pay for Republican "infomercials" and televising of the GOP convention on Pat Robertson's Family Channel, but backed off when Democrats criticized the donation as a ploy to avoid campaign-finance restrictions.[48][51]

In April 1997 Richard DeVos and his wife, Helen, gave $1 million to the Republican National Committee,[49][51] which at the time was the second-largest soft-money donation ever, behind Amway's 1994 gift of $2.5 million to the RNC.[49] In July 1997, Senate Majority leader Trent Lott and House Speaker Newt Gingrich slipped a last-minute provision into a hotly contested compromise tax bill that granted Amway a tax break on its Asian branches, saving it $19 million.[49]

In a column published in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram newspaper in August 1997,[52] reporter Molly Ivins wrote that Amway had "its own caucus in Congress...Five Republican House members are also Amway distributors: Reps. Sue Myrick of North Carolina, Jon Christensen of Nebraska, Dick Chrysler of Michigan, Richard Rombo of California, and John Ensign of Nevada. Their informal caucus meets several times a year with Amway bigwigs to discuss policy matters affecting the company, including China's trade status."[53]

A 1998 analysis of campaign contributions conducted by Businessweek found that Amway, along with the founding families and some top distributors, had donated at least $7 million to GOP causes in the preceding decade.[51] Political candidates who received campaign funding from Amway in 1998 included Representatives Bill Redmond (R-N.M.), Heather Wilson (R-N.M.), and Jon Christensen (R-Neb).[49]

According to a report by the Center for Public Integrity, in the 2004 election cycle, members of the Van Andel and DeVos families were the second, third and fifth largest donors to the Republican party.[53]

Dick DeVos, son of Amway founder Richard DeVos and past president of the company, served as Finance Chairman of the Republican National Committee,[54] and his wife Betsy DeVos served as chair of the Michigan Republican Party from 1996 to 2000 and 2003 to 2005.[55]

In May 2005, Dick DeVos ran against incumbent Governor Jennifer Granholm in Michigan's 2006 gubernatorial election. DeVos was defeated by Granholm, who won 56% of the popular vote to Devos' 42%.[56]

In August 2012, gay rights activist Fred Karger began a movement to boycott Amway in protest of the contribution from a private foundation of Amway President Doug DeVos to the National Organization for Marriage, a political organization which opposes legalization of same-sex marriage in the United States.[57]

Religion[edit]

Several sources have commented on the promotion of Christian conservative ideology within the Amway organization.[49][58][59][60] Mother Jones magazine described the Amway distributor force as "heavily influenced by the company's dual themes of Christian morality and free enterprise" and operating "like a private political army."[49] In The Cult of Free Enterprise, author (and former Amway distributor) Stephen Butterfield wrote “[Amway] sells a marketing and motivational system, a cause, a way of life, in a fervid emotional atmosphere of rallies and political religious revivalism.”[58] Philadelphia City Paper correspondent Maryam Henein stated that, “The language used in motivational tools for Amway frequently echoes or directly quotes the Bible, with the unstated assumption of a shared Christian perspective.”[59]

Businessweek correspondents Bill Vlasic and Beth Regan characterized the founding families of Amway as "fervently conservative, fervently Christian, and hugely influential in the Republican Party", noting that, "Rich DeVos charged up the troops with a message of Christian beliefs and rock-ribbed conservatism."[51]

High-ranking Amway leaders such as Richard DeVos and Dexter Yager were owners and members of the board of Gospel Films, a producer of movies and books geared towards conservative Christians, as well as co-owners (along with Salem Communications) of a right-wing, Christian non-profit entity called Gospel Communications International.[49][59][61][62][63]

Rolling Stone's Bob Moser reported that former Amway CEO and co-founder Richard DeVos is connected with the Dominionist political movement in the United States. Moser states that DeVos was a supporter of the late D. James Kennedy, giving more than $5 million to Kennedy's Coral Ridge Ministries.[64][65][65] DeVos was also a founding member and two-time president of the Council for National Policy, a right-wing Christian-focused organization.[66]

Sociologist David G. Bromley calls Amway a "quasi-religious corporation" having sectarian characteristics.[67][68] Bromley and Anson Shupe view Amway as preaching the Gospel of Prosperity.[69] Patralekha Bhattacharya and Krishna Kumar Mehta, of the consulting firm Thinkalytics, LLC, reasoned that although some critics have referred to organizations such as Amway as "cults" and have speculated that they engage in "mind control", there are other explanations that could account for the behavior of distributors. Namely, continued involvement of distributors despite minimal economic return may result from social satisfaction compensating for diminished economic satisfaction.[70]

Chamber of Commerce[edit]

Amway co-founder, Jay Van Andel (in 1980), and later his son Steve Van Andel (in 2001) were elected by the board of directors of the United States Chamber of Commerce as chairman of the private American lobbying organization.[71]

Environmental initiatives[edit]

Amway emphasizes the environmental benefits of many of its products, and in June 1989 the United Nations Environmental Program's Regional Office for North America recognized it for its contributions to the cause of the environment.[72]

Criticism[edit]

Pyramid scheme accusations[edit]

Amway utilizes a tiered distribution and remuneration model (the Amway Sales and Marketing Plan) that promises to reward participants who grow Amway's market share through a combination of sales and recruitment. This tiered distribution model relies on Independent Business Owners (IBOs) acquiring and training further Independent Business Owners, which is the principal characteristic of a pyramid scheme.

Harvard Business School of Leadership, which described Amway as “one of the most profitable direct selling companies in the world", noted that Amway founders Van Andel and DeVos:

"...accomplished their success through the use of an elaborate pyramid-like distribution system in which independent distributors of Amway products received a percentage of the merchandise they sold and also a percentage of the merchandise sold by recruited distributors. "[73]

The "pyramid-like distribution system" of the Amway business model led to Amway being accused of being a pyramid scheme. A 1979 US Federal Trade Commission ruling established that the Amway business model is not illegal.

Controversy[edit]

FTC investigation[edit]

In a 1979 ruling,[14][74] the Federal Trade Commission found that Amway does not qualify as a pyramid scheme because distributors were not paid to recruit people and had to sell products to get bonus checks, and the company was committed to buying back its distributors' excess inventory.[75]

The FTC did, however, find Amway "guilty of price-fixing and making exaggerated income claims";[76] the company was ordered to stop retail price fixing and allocating customers among distributors and was prohibited from misrepresenting the amount of profit, earnings or sales its distributors are likely to achieve with the business. Amway was ordered to accompany any such statements with the actual averages per distributor, pointing out that more than half of the distributors do not make any money, with the average distributor making less than $100 per month. The order was violated with a 1986 ad campaign, resulting in a $100,000 fine.[77][78]

Amway India (Andhra Pradesh and Kerala)[edit]

In September 2006, following a public complaint, Andhra Pradesh state police (CID) initiated raids and seizures against Amway distributors in the state, and submitted a petition against them, claiming the company violated the Prize Chits and Money Circulation Schemes (banning) Act.[79] They shut down all corporate offices associated with the Amway organization including the offices of some Amway distributors. The enforcement said that the business model of the company is illegal.[80][81] The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) had notified the police that Amway in India may be violating certain laws regarding a "money circulation scheme" and the IB Times article writes that "some say ... Amway is really more about making money from recruiting people to become distributors, as opposed to selling products."[81] The complaint was initiated following a dowry dispute between a local man and his wife, an Amway distributor.[82]

Following a petition by Amway, the state High Court issued an injunction against the CID and stated the Act did not prima facie apply,[83] however after Amway requested the CID petition be dismissed the High Court declared that if police allegations were true, Amway's Indian subsidiary would be in violation of the act and the investigation should continue. On August 14, 2007, the Supreme Court of India ordered the state police to complete the investigation against Amway in 6 months.[84] In 2008, citing the High Court decision, the Andhra Pradesh state government enacted a ban on Amway media advertisements.[79] Amway challenged the ban and in July 2009 the AP High Court refused a petition the ban should be enforced.[85] As of June 2009 the original 2006 CID case was still pending at the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Court in Hyderabad.[86]

On August 6, 2011 Kerala Police sealed the offices of Amway at Kozhikode, Kannur, Kochi, Kottayam, Thrissur, Kollam and Thiruvananthapuram following complaints.[87][88][89] Amway stated that "it had been receiving complaints from distributors over the past one month that they were being called to police stations and being 'harassed' to give complaints against the company". The distributors faced tough time because of the lack of proactive steps and slow actions from the company management.

The Kerala High Court on November 9 directed the DGP, Kerala Police to file a statement regarding the status of the investigation initiated against the multi-level marketing companies.A Division Bench comprising Acting Chief Justice Manjula Chellur and Justice C N Ramachandran Nair issued the directive while considering a petition challenging the government order regarding the Kerala direct selling regulations.[90]

On November 2012, The Economic Offences Wing of Kerala Police, conducted searches at the offices of Amway at Kozhikode, Thrissur and Kannur as part of its crackdown on money chain activities and closed down the firm's godowns at these centres. Products valued at Rs.2.14 crore were also seized.[91] Later, Area manager of Amway, P.M. Rajkumar, who was arrested following searches was remanded in judicial custody for 14 days by the Judicial First Class Magistrate, Thamarassery.[92]

On 27 May 2013, Crime Branch officials of Kerala Police arrested William S. Pinckney, Managing Director & CEO of Amway India Enterprises along with two other directors of the company from Kozhikode.[93] They got bail the next day and the business India was unaffected. The Kerala police act on this attracted a lot of criticism from political leaders and industrial organizations including FICCI. On 8 June 2013 Kozhikode Court lifted freeze on Amway offices in Kerala.[94]

Class action settlement[edit]

On November 3, 2010, Amway announced that it had agreed to pay $56 million – $34 million in cash and $22 million in products – to settle a class action that had been filed in Federal District Court in California in 2007.[95] The class action, which had been brought against Quixtar and several of its top-level distributors, alleged fraud, racketeering, and that the defendants operated as an illegal pyramid scheme.

While noting that the settlement is not an admission of wrongdoing or liability, Amway acknowledged that it had made changes to its business operations as a result of the lawsuit. The settlement is subject to approval by the court, which was expected in early 2011.[95] The economic value of the settlement, including the changes Amway made to its business model, totals $100 million.[96]

Canadian tax case[edit]

In 1983, Amway pleaded guilty to criminal tax evasion and customs fraud in Canada, resulting in a fine of $25 million CAD, the largest fine ever imposed in Canada at the time. In 1989 the company settled the outstanding customs duties for $45 million CAD.[97][98] In a 1994 interview, Amway co-founder Rich DeVos stated that this incident had been his greatest "moral or spiritual challenge", first in "soul searching as to whether they had done anything wrong" and then for pleading guilty for technical reasons, despite believing they were innocent of the charges. DeVos stated he believed that the case had been motivated by "political reasons".[99]

RIAA lawsuit[edit]

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), as part of its anti-piracy efforts, sued Amway and several distributors in 1996, alleging that copyrighted music was used on "highly profitable" training videotapes.[100] Amway denied wrongdoing, blaming the case on a misunderstanding by distributors, and settled the case out of court for $9 million.[101] In a related lawsuit initiated by the distributors involved, the Court established that Mahaleel Lee Luster, who had been contracted to make the videotapes, had violated copyright without the knowledge of three of the five of those distributors.[102]

Procter & Gamble[edit]

Some Amway distributors were involved with an urban legend that the (old) Procter & Gamble service mark was in fact a Satanic symbol or that the CEO of P&G is himself a practicing Satanist. (In some variants of the urban legend, it is also claimed that the CEO of Procter & Gamble donated "satanic tithes" to the Church of Satan.)[103] Procter & Gamble alleged that several Amway distributors were behind a resurgence of the urban legend in the 1990s and sued several independent Amway distributors and the company for defamation and slander.[104] The distributors had used Amway's Amvox voice messaging service to send the rumor[citation needed] to their downline distributors in April 1995. After more than a decade of lawsuits in multiple states, by 2003 all allegations against Amway and Amway distributors had been dismissed. In October 2005 a Utah appeals court reversed part of the decision dismissing the case against the four Amway distributors, and remanded it to the lower court for further proceedings.[105] On March 20, 2007, Procter & Gamble was awarded $19.25M by a U.S. District Court jury in Salt Lake City, in the lawsuit against the four former Amway distributors.[106][107] On November 24, 2008, the case was officially settled.[108]

Amway UK[edit]

In May 2007, the UK Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) accused Amway and distributor organizations Britt WorldWide and Network TwentyOne UK of "objectionable practices" and petitioned to wind up the companies.[109] The case against Amway was dismissed in 2008[110] on the condition that a full earnings disclosure[dead link] is published publicly, no registration or renewal fees are charged and that the sale of business support materials are prohibited. The case against Network 21 was dismissed in 2009.[111]

Welcome to Life (Poland)[edit]

In 1997, Amway Poland and Network TwentyOne separately sued the makers of a Polish film Welcome to Life for defamation and copyright violations. The director and producer were later acquitted on the charge of disseminating false information.[112][113] The film, banned for 12 years, was one of the highly anticipated movies of 2009's Warsaw Film Festival and was dubbed by the promoters as a "scary movie about brainwashing"[112] that depicts hard-sell "pep rallies" and distributors stating meetings were operated similar to the Communist Party and methods of recruitment that confusingly resembled those of a sect.[114] A best-seller on the local video black market,[115] the film was banned while the suit proceeded.

In 2001 a regional court ruled in favor of Network 21; however, in 2004 the Warsaw Regional Court dismissed Amway's civil lawsuit. On appeal Amway won the case and the producers were ordered to pay a fine to a children's charity and publish a public apology.[116][117] As of 2009 the film was still banned due to an ongoing case brought by "private individuals" ridiculed in the film.[118]

On 18 December 2012 the court ruled that film can be screened, but the makers have to remove "untrue informations", as the screen near the end of the movie stated that 30% of company income is generated by sales of training materials and that the vast majority of its profits are shared only by the tiny fraction of top distributors.[119] This is not the only court case, so the film is still banned on other grounds.[120]

Dr. Phil and Shape Up[edit]

In March 2004, TV personality Phil McGraw (aka Dr. Phil) pulled his “Shape Up” line of supplements off the market in the face of an investigation by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The supplements were manufactured by CSA Nutraceuticals, a subsidiary of Alticor’s Access Business Group.[121] The FTC later dropped the probe; however, in October 2005, a class-action lawsuit was filed against McGraw by several people who used the products and claimed that the supplements, which cost $120 per month, did not stimulate weight loss.[122] In September 2006, a $10.5 million settlement was reached, in which Alticor agreed to provide $4.5 million in cash and $6 million in Nutrilite products to disgruntled users of Shape Up.[123][124][125][126]

Dateline NBC[edit]

In 2004, Dateline NBC featured a critical report based on a yearlong undercover investigation of business practices within the Amway organization.[127] The report noted that the average distributor makes only about $1,400 per year and that many of the “high level distributors singing the praises of Quixtar [Amway]” are actually “making most of their money by selling motivational books, tapes and seminars; not Quixtar’s cosmetics, soaps, and electronics.”

"In fact, about twenty high level distributors are part of an exclusive club; one that those hundreds of thousands of other distributors don’t get to join. For years only a privileged few, including Bill Britt, have run hugely profitable businesses selling all those books tapes and seminars; things the rank and file distributors can’t sell themselves but, are told over and over again, they need to buy in order to succeed."

It was also revealed that an Amway recruiter featured in the report (Greg Fredericks) made misleading and inconsistent statements about Amway earnings during a recruitment meeting and had an outstanding arrest warrant for drug dealing.[127]

Other issues[edit]

Some Amway distributor groups have been accused of using cult-like tactics to attract new distributors and keep them involved and committed.[58][128][129][130] Allegations include resemblance to a Big Brother organization with paranoid attitude to insiders critical of the organization,[130] seminars and rallies resembling religious revival meetings[58][130] and enormous involvement of distributors despite minimal incomes.[58][129][130] An examination of the 1979–1980 tax records in the state of Wisconsin showed that the Direct Distributors, reported a net loss of $918 on average.[67][129]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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Books[edit]

  • American Victory: The Real Story of Today's Amway published April 1997 by Chapel & Croft Publishing; ISBN 0-9645171-6-7
  • Amway: The Cult of Free Enterprise published December 1, 1985 by South End Press; ISBN 0-9648795-1-4
  • Amway Forever: The Amazing Story of a Global Business Phenomenon published August 2011 by John Wiley & Sons; ISBN 978-0-470-48821-8
  • Amway: The True Story of the Company That Transformed the Lives of Millions published September 1, 1999 by Berkley Publishing Group; ISBN 0-425-17040-3
  • An Enterprising Life published 1998 by HarperCollins; ISBN 0-88730-997-6
  • An Uncommon Freedom, the Amway Experience and Why It Grows published 1982 by Revell; ASIN B000HFJE1Y
  • Commitment to excellence: The remarkable Amway story published 1986 by Benjamin; ISBN 0-87502-136-0
  • Compassionate Capitalism: People Helping People Help Themselves published September 1994 by Penguin Books; ISBN 0-452-27051-0
  • Empire of Freedom: The Amway Story and What It Means to You published September 3, 1997 by Prima Lifestyles; ISBN 0-7615-1088-5
  • How to Be Like Rich Devos. Succeeding with Integrity in Business and Life published 2004 by Health Communications, Inc; ISBN 0-7573-0158-4
  • Merchants of Deception: An Insider's Chilling Look at the Worldwide, Multi Billion dollar Conspiracy of lies that is Amway and its Motivational Organizations published 2009 by BookSurge Publishing; ISBN 978-1-4392-4715-0
  • The First Eleven — The growth of Amway in Britain through the lives of its local heroes published 1984 by AM Publishing; ISBN 0-9509593-0-8
  • Promises to Keep: The Amway Phenomenon and How It Works published 1986 by Berkley Books; ISBN 0-425-09856-7
  • The Direct Selling Revolution: Understanding the Growth of the Amway Corporation published 1993 by WileyBlackwell; ISBN 978-0-631-19229-9
  • The Possible Dream: A Candid Look At Amway published 1977 by Revell; ISBN 0-8007-0857-1

Documentaries[edit]

  • Profiles of the American Dream: Rich DeVos and Jay Van Andel and the Remarkable Beginnings of Amway 1997 by Premiere Films; ASIN: B000OK0YRA

External links[edit]

Government documents[edit]

Profiles[edit]