Thursday, January 31, 2008

20 Questions Continuing On....

Here's some more responses from "Chris", an IBO who was involved with Amway/Quixtar for about 10 years. A few extra questions on this one, and some number crunching as well. One thing I noticed about some of the responses were that they were extremely similar to many, many other people's experience.

When people share their perceptions and thoughts in publicly viewable forums such as this, it becomes more and more obvious that Amway's initial responses of it being a rare or isolated case were case studies in spin doctoring. Moreover, when people have the guts and confidence to share their experiences like this, more people jump on board the quitter train because they come to understand that the problem was NOT them, it is likely either the leadership or the business itself.

Chris makes some very mature and thought out points. Try to keep up...

6. How long into this business until you started to see some issues?
This one makes me smile.
One week! After I had been told I could do this at my own pace, my sponsor called me after the first Open Meeting and said our Ruby was in town & wanted to do a house meeting at my place. I was to fill my house up on Friday night. I was taken aback but I did. 3 people were sponsored after that first meeting. The next major function was about a month from then & I crossed stage as 1000 PV.

Dexter Yager spoke at that function. Here was this man on stage who was saying virtually nothing. I was sitting with my sponsors, their sponsor who was at 4000 PV, and the people in my downline. As I looked around, everyone in our upline was all frantically writing down everything Dexter was saying. I was amazed. I walked out of that session and sat in the hallway wondering if they were possessed or what. There was a dog show at (Name of facility removed) at the same time & I wondered around in there for awhile. When I returned, I went back into the session, and Dexter was still talking. And still saying nothing of any value or substance as far as I was concerned. Then he came on stage again about 11 p.m. He went on, and on, and on, it’s way past midnight & there is no sign that he is going to let up soon. I remember being very annoyed but when I expressed any displeasure, those in the upline simply smiled and didn’t reply. Then I was told by the 4000 PV upline that Dexter was a bazillion times more successful than she was so he must know what he is talking about. I had a bad gut feeling that night & in hindsight that should have been my exit from the business. Over the years, I never did warm up to Dexter.

Later issues became the incessant tools. After 100 tapes, they all started to sound the same, there was nothing new on them. Almost every meeting we had, we were reminded that if we weren’t growing it was because we weren’t listening to enough tapes or reading enough and to just increase that & everything would fall into place.
The prices of the products/the shipping & handling costs. Slow subtle increases were introduced over the years, especially after the Amway business was turned over to the second generation. Explaining this away remained the same however. “One has to be prepared to pay more for quality.” The quality didn’t change but the price for it sure did. And greater than the rate of inflation.
“Fake it till you make it” was strongly promoted as well as “If you stay in, you will win”. I had issues with that. Faking it in my mind is a form of lying and I was very uncomfortable with that.
People who quit were labeled losers and quitters. They were accused of not having big enough dreams and they weren’t worth wasting our time on. I had major issues with that. But said nothing. It soon became apparent that anyone under Gold Direct was really considered stupid despite any success they had achieved in their lives prior to the business and that there was no one more intelligent than those in the business who were at any level higher than you.

People who stopped the standing order tapes & books or didn’t attend seminars/functions/meetings (weren’t “plugged in” to the system) were also not worthy to be associated with. Not being able to afford it was no excuse and even though the system was “optional”, so was success. We were told if we missed one function, it was like we had a cold, if we missed two, it was like we had pneumonia, and if we missed three, we were dead.
After a few years into the business, one of my downline ladies developed an illness & after a couple of years, died. A few days after her funeral there was a summer picnic in (Name of Town withheld). The 4000 PV upline was a Gold Direct by then and she badgered me about attending this picnic. I really did not want to go, I had been closely and directly involved in the lady’s care & her family needed my support after she died. But I caved & I went. It was a waste of time. FED was upcoming shortly after that. I decided to fly that year because the bus ride was simply brutal. I had my plane ticket but decided I just did not want to go. My Emerald really pressured me at a local picnic social gathering about a week before. That time I stood my ground & said I was not going to go. I did not go. During the subsequent years in the business, this Emerald couple offered very little support & although they always said hello, that was about it. It was directly related to my refusal to take their advice, like they took it as a personal affront. Prior to that, there were hugs & great excitement at each meeting. Deception like that became a huge issue for me. Not only this was this demonstrated by this Emerald couple but anyone who appeared on stage promoted themselves as great leaders who upheld values like honesty, integrity, good character but their behavior off stage often demonstrated the opposite.

For as long as I can remember behavior always spoke more to me about the person’s character & leadership abilities as opposed to uttered words alone.

Personalities: we all read Florence Littauer’s Personality Plus. Sanguines & cholerics were promoted big time. Melancholies & phelgmatics were made fun of regularly. This was true on and off stage. I happen to be a strong choleric with a fair bit of melancholy, almost none of me is sanguine nor phlegmatic. I had major issues with people being made fun of because of their personality throughout my time in the business. I believe it contributed to many people quitting. It seemed like a little bit of knowledge in the heads of some in the upline was dangerous. They did not know how to use this or how to be good stewards of the information.

Admonishing IBOs from on stage at major functions. I remember one such function in particular where Columbo & Karen Disalvatore were the main speakers. Instead of sharing words of wisdom, he spent one afternoon telling everyone how disgusted he was by all the cigarette butts he saw outside the building. And this was how he achieved a Diamond level in the business? Wasted trip. And we were expected to edify him.

Over-edifying the upline and de-edifying the downline was a huge issue for me. Our upline would state that we were building our own businesses, however, in reality we were really building theirs. I really felt we were seen through dollar signs in many of their eyes. Incessant edifying was akin to worshipping to me. This over-edifying over the years developed into huge egos for them. They called themselves leaders but there wasn’t much humility displayed by any of them. But arrogance & cockiness sure was displayed. A lot. Far too many became “uncriticizable” and if one even implied a mild criticism, it was received as downright shocking and blasphemous. After 8 years in the business, I started to wonder why if these over-edified people were that great wasn’t at least one of them nominated for a Nobel Prize. By the time I left, that progressed to thinking at least one of them should be recognized as the next messiah for sure.

The caste system. Rather than the various levels of achievement viewed as just that, there was way too often a holier than thou attitude emanating from upline to downline. The higher the level or the higher the upline, the greater the edification required. Even now a critic’s credibility is solely based upon the level of achievement in the business. It’s as if it is thought that as each level of achievement is reached, higher levels of honesty & integrity are somehow magically instilled at that moment. Strange thinking. Results in effectively shutting the majority of people up, though, doesn’t it? Plays into the delusion that the more money one earns, the more intelligent one is. We see that in the world outside A/Q with many people who have university degrees viewing themselves as more intelligent than those who don’t.

The political and religious promotions. It was as if they believed we were simply not smart enough to make these choices for ourselves. If there was no participation in these events, one was labeled as not being plugged in. It was part of the system and being plugged in meant participating in all that was promoted. Plugged in equaled assured success; not plugged in explained all lack of success.

Questions were met with suspicion and very/too often labeled as being negative. “Don’t ask, just do as we say.” The upline also said on occasion that the information I needed to know was privileged and as I achieved higher levels, I would then be privy to whatever information I was seeking. Or, attend the next function & I would hear what I needed to know there. That always struck me as strange & for a long time I couldn’t grasp the need for this secrecy.

Having worked with many people from all walks of life for 30+ years, I had learned that when there were major issues to always go look/investigate further wherever people were steering you from. In 2003, I took the bull by the horns and began googling Amway/Quixtar on the internet.

What I found blew my mind. I found out about the Kenny Stewart & TIF terminations and subsequent resignations of Diamonds in the business. Kenny Stewart had spoken at a couple of major functions, so had Andy Andrews, the Hughes and the Cassens. I had really liked those people. I searched more & that’s when I discovered that tons of money was being made on the tools & functions. All along I had heard the system was non-profit & was simply provided to help us stay motivated enough to work hard to build Diamond level businesses. “See how good our leaders are. They’re doing this for you out of the goodness of their hearts.” Not. Huge red flag for me. Huge. We were led to believe the Diamonds were very, very wealthy from building huge organizations in the A/Q business opportunity. I realized we had been lied to. That was definitely the last straw for me. I realized we were steered away from the internet because of the truths the so-called leaders did not want us to know. Crosslining was discouraged for the same reasons.

I began to research mind control/brainwashing techniques as well as different manipulative styles and how to handle them. I continued to purchase the tapes/videos/books and attended the seminars/functions/meetings but after that listened with a “different” ear. The lies jumped off the stage and the tools at me. Instead I saw phonies. I stopped contacting and showing the plan. I started grumbling under my breath at functions and felt sick to my stomach. I stopped edifying. I stopped participating in the system about mid-2004. I stayed as long as I did after these discoveries because I felt guilty about “abandoning my downline”. We had been told true leaders don’t do that; we had a responsibility to those people to stay in. Also a lie.

I discovered after I quit the business none of my downline thought any less of me and occasional contact with them continues to this day. Eventually they all quit too except for one couple who has been inactive since 2005 & only renew to buy the products at IBO cost.

7. What was promoted most by your upline, products or system?

The system by far was promoted most of the time. Products were too but to a much lesser extent. We were encouraged to hold Artistry & cookware home clinics and we had product seminars – Nutrilite, the water filter, Artistry. At Christmas, locally we had an open house where the IBO’s set up tables with product displays/promotions. In the later years, products were displayed at the back of the room during local monthly seminars.
Selling the products was not promoted. Only after someone said they couldn’t afford a ticket or the system, they were advised to “sell some stuff”. After reading the Business Compendium, I asked once early in the business about the 10 customer rule and was told it didn’t apply to our Diamond’s group.

8. Did your line of affiliation have its own system?

No, at first we were with Internet Services (Dexter) and the last few years with (Name of organization and leader withheld). I don’t know when or why that change occurred – we were not told.

9. How much did your system cost on a monthly basis?

Difficult question to answer because there are many hidden costs associated. I have to break it down.

Standing order Tapes/books/videos: about $185 - $250 (including GST/shipping), average $224.50

Monthly seminars: $20 (excluding GST)

Open Meetings: $5.00

Quarterly Major functions in (Name of town withheld): $100 for the ticket; 3 nights in a hotel = around $200; travel to (Name of town withheld) = varied, often we would carpool & share gas costs, I would say about $40 depending on distance; meals about $75 for the weekend. These are conservative estimates, sometimes it would be a bit more. So, every 3 months this equals $415. $415 ÷ 4 = $138/month (excluding tax)

FED once a year: $100 for the ticket; travel to/from (Name of town withheld) to board the bus $90; bus ticket $150; hotel in Salt Lake City or Phoenix for one night (shared) $30; meals $50 = $370. $370 ÷ 12 = $31.

Aggravation: not calculated

Time: not calculated

Salary lost from unpaid leaves of absence from work: not calculated

Total monthly estimated cost: $224.50 + $20 + $5 + $138 + $31 = $518.50

Not included in this calculation is the cost involved in tool pickup once a week from my sponsor, nor the cost of shipping/delivering tools to downline or the time involved with those activities. Or purchasing extra tools like tape packs, business promotional materials, business building materials, storage cases for the tools, etc.

Not included in this calculation is the travel to and from regional seminars, meetings with upline, social gatherings, display table costs, etc. I would say taking everything into account, the monthly cost would easily be $600 - $700 and up.

10. What was the best moment about building your business?
The people in my downline. We had many laughs and good road trips together. Meeting & interacting with their families. Sharing in their personal life dilemmas. Retaining their valued friendship.

11. What was the worst?

Discovering there were more lies than truths. Discovering that instead of true leadership in the upline, there was deception, manipulation, derision, and taking advantage of good people. My sponsors were good people and remained outside of that.

12. Did you build this as a single?


Stay tuned for the continuation of Chris's story in the next segment, where we delve into the effect of the media on Amway/Quixtar, and how IBO's dealt with or were told to deal with it.


Blogger said...

Just wanted to say that this is some great stuff you have here...Thanks Chris for sharing your experiences so candidly, and thanks Rocket for putting it all together...

There is plenty of food for thought here...stuff that IBO's, ex-IBO's and potential IBO's could benefit from...

Although this only one persons experience and a US one at that, we think this is worthwhile of linking this interview on our blog. Whether it resonates truth with the typical Australian Amway experience also, we can't say for sure, but at least it informs people of what can and does happen in other parts of the world...

Looking forward to the next installment.

01 February, 2008 06:23  
Anonymous Joecool said...

I was in WWDB and Chris's experience sounds nearly like a mirror image of my experience.

01 February, 2008 12:11  
Anonymous Anna28 said...

Good stuff!!! My compliments to Chris for sharing and to Rocket for asking the questions we all want answers to.

01 February, 2008 13:09  
Anonymous rara said...

Many thanks to rocket for this great material and to Chris for being so willing to share his experiences.

I can completely identify with his experiences, and I was in a different organization (BWW). Fortunately, I was in for only about a year and a half and loyal for less than a year, and I reached nowhere near 4000 PV. Not even close. LOL.

01 February, 2008 21:23  
Anonymous Mike said...

Thanks Chris for sharing your experience.

Like Rara, I was in for a few years, however I can relate to what have said

01 February, 2008 21:39  
Anonymous CHEESED OFF said...

This is great information. IBO's are discouraged from searching on the internet. They are told it's full of lies.

Those monthly expenses are huge and at the same time little or no income from the system. They'll tell you it's the "apprenticeship line" while you move onto the "profit line" and later the "freedom line".

Showing the plan is full of lies. They say it's "anyway money" you spend on groceries. When people signup very few go on ditto and many never buy a single item. Instead upline will pressure you to buy a makeup or jewellery kit, or a water or air filetr. Is ths 'anyway money"? No.

In the plan they say you get a refund in 3 months if you don't like it. But if you consume the products in the starter kit those get deducted and you are left witha very small refund. They don't tell you that.

In the plan they say you can save 25% off your shopping just as an IBO. Many people signup without flicking through the catalogue. When they do open it they see a slab of Coca Cola can for $30 plus delivery cost and at the same day at their local supermarket they see it on special for $10.

All the system is doing is new members coming in, dropping out, new ones coming in, and this keeps the leaders afloat in their glitsy lifestyles. They don't care that a lot of people who lose money are students and single parents.

They always push the functions and CDs. Do a estimate of number of members x 12 months x $50 (aveage) cost to subscribe to CDs, books. It's in the millions, right? Then number of members x seminar ticket costs? Millions of dollars again, right? And you get no PV for that, just you lose hundreds of dollars a month. What happens to the millions of dollars of profit they make from the CDs and seminars? Is it used to send the big wigs to their glamourous all expense paid overseas trips? The ones they show on slide shows at the beginning of conferences and seminars?

Isn't it true that over 90% of all members are running their "business" at a loss? No wonder they want to close them down in the U.K.

02 March, 2008 17:40  

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