To sell Amway products, you’ll first need to register as an Independent Business Owner (IBO), which will then give you the opportunity to earn an income through their Compensation Plan. After signing up as an IBO, Amway claims that you’ll never be alone due to their world-class business resources, support, education, training, as well as mentoring. However, despite how great the company makes their business opportunity appear, the fact is that most people never make any money (see Bottom Line section for additional information).
We should also note that Kyritsis lives in Greece, a country just coming through the other side of an intense financial crisis (see: "targeting desperate people", above). Amway is based in Michigan, but they do about 90% of their business outside of the United States. It's not hard to see why: Amway is increasingly well known as a scam in the U.S., and American citizens have an easier time suing the company for unethical business practices. In 2010, Amway settled with disgruntled American customers for $155 million.
While the whirlwind of meetings and events were great for cultivating denial, they seemed to do little to help distributors develop “strong and profitable businesses.” Nor were they much good for attracting new blood into The Business. With the exception of First Looks, their extreme cultishness was distinctly off-putting to newcomers. Still, Josh, Jean, and Sherri continued to make the mistake of indiscriminately taking prospects to whatever meeting was going on. Even a Second Look (described ominously as more “motivational” and less informational than a First Look) was inadvisable for outsiders, as Sherri discovered when she took her friend Elizabeth to one.
On one fateful evening in December 2014, I went on Kijiji (I live in Canada) to look for a job and one particular ad caught my attention. This job ad was so vague, and yet so loaded that I filled in my contact details so the person who posted the ad could get back to me. This guy got back to me via the email I filled in and he told about brand new exciting business opportunity. He also sent me a couple of videos showing me people in mansions, beach houses and the rest by exploring this business opportunity in another city.
When it comes down to it, Amway has been in business for more than half a century, and they pay according to their compensation plan. As such, despite their negative general reputation, they do not fit the traditional definition of a scam. However, if you’re thinking about becoming an Amway Independent Business Owner, there are several things you should keep in mind.
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.”

ORLANDO, FL - MAY 25: An general exterior view of the Amway Center on May 25, 2012 in Orlando, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2012 NBAE (Photo by Fernandp Medina/NBAE via Getty Images)
As its Sales & Marketing Plan demonstrated, there were two ways to make money in Amway. You could buy products cheap (at wholesale costs reportedly 30 percent below retail) and sell them dear; or, more lucratively, you could share The Business with others, and build your own empire of “downlines.” Since Amway awards bonuses to its distributors based on their wholesale volume, and since each distributor’s wholesale figures includes the sales made by his or her “downlines,” each convert to the Amway cause would enlarge his or her own incomes. To see how this worked, we were told to imagine recruiting six distributors, each of whom would bring in four more, who in turn would each net an additional two. Our downlines, according to this “6-4-2” formula, would then have seventy-eight members. If each of our underlings did $100 a month in sales, we’d be making an extra $2,000 a month in bonuses.[5]
Amway is a multilevel marketing corporation. Some call it a pyramid scheme. In 2015, its parent company, Alticor, claimed transglobal sales of $9.5 billion. It is the biggest direct-selling company in the world. Distributors make money by signing up other distributors and – somewhere in the background – ‘selling’ Amway products. It’s not exactly clear how Amway products should reach the public. That isn’t part of Amway’s marketing plan; The Plan mostly teaches distributors how to sign up other distributors, to whom they then distribute Amway products, who then distribute Amway products to other distributors they sign up, and onward. Amway has been the target, along with its affiliate companies, of multimillion-dollar lawsuits and other legal actions on almost every continent.
In Western Michigan, what matters isn’t how Amway is run, but what the DeVoses have done for the community. Drive through downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan’s second-largest metropolis, and the family’s contributions are omnipresent. There’s the Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital. A few blocks west, hugging the Grand River that bisects the city, you’ll find the sleek DeVos Place Convention Center, the DeVos Performance Hall and the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel. Across the water, the campus of Grand Valley State University is anchored by the spacious Richard M. DeVos Center. A few blocks north is the DeVos Learning Center, housed at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum. (You would be forgiven if you assumed that DeVos, not Ford, had been president.)
I loved the days when we’d go to the Bayou Club as a family. We began going immediately after joining Amway, when I was in second grade. The development was new, still under construction. There was space between the houses and the far stretch of the golf course undulating luxuriously around them. Model homes rose from the landscape like castles, bigger than any houses I’d ever seen – and vacant. Never occupied. Empty dreams, waiting to be filled.
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