Some Amway distributor groups have been accused of using "cult-like" tactics to attract new distributors and keep them involved and committed. Allegations include resemblance to a Big Brother organization with a paranoid attitude toward insiders critical of the organization, seminars and rallies resembling religious revival meetings, and enormous involvement of distributors despite minimal incomes. 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.
We follow her up the stairs. There are two large bedrooms separated by a bathroom and a linen closet – the children’s rooms. I step into the one on my left, which is smaller than I expected. It has wood floors and a closet with sliding mirror doors. Out the window, the neighboring house is less than ten feet away, and the space between is filled with broad-leafed palm trees. I hear the faint twang of the radio on the pool deck, playing ‘Sweet Home Alabama.’
In 2014, Founders Crown Ambassadors Barry Chi and Holly Chen, who run the biggest Amway distributorship in the world based in Taiwan, were sued by nine Chinese immigrants in the Southern California region who claimed that, although Chi and Chen promised they could potentially make millions in commissions, Amway business owners make closer to $200 a month.
William Keep, dean of the College of New Jersey’s School of Business, and a pyramid scheme critic, told Bloomberg earlier this year that “in terms of sending clear signals to the industry, the F.T.C. has done worse than nothing since 1979. It sends confusing signals that have in no way helped us understand how to identify a multilevel marketing company that may be a pyramid scheme.”
Amway and its founders have long had deep ties to the Washington D.C., and particularly the Republican Party. The current House basically has a minor Amway caucus with five former distributors and Amway has been one of the largest donors to the Republican Party since the early 1990s. DeVos’s son, Dick, ran for governor of Michigan in 2006 and his wife, Betsy, is currently the Secretary of Education in the first Trump administration. She has speculated that the DeVos family has donated around $200 million to Republican candidates.
After graduating from high school in 1975, Betsy enrolled at Calvin College, her mother’s alma mater. Calvin’s mission, as stated in the 1975–1976 course catalog, was “to prepare students to live productive lives of faith to the glory of God in contemporary society—not merely lives that have a place for religion … but lives which in every part, in every manifestation, in their very essence, are Christian.”