“Our research and development group is getting information about how our top-of-the-line products are functioning that was impossible to gather before,” says Binger. “We have insights into not only how the product is functioning, but also how people are using the product. For example, we gather statistics about motor speed, errors, voltages, and so on, which tell us how well our air-treatment units are operating in the field,” says Binger. “We also collect information about users’ interactions with our mobile application in order to improve that offering.”
As her world shrunk, she immersed herself in World Wide culture. For entertainment, she listened to the motivational tapes, laughing and crying at the tales of hardship and triumph. She read the WWDB recommended books, memorizing snippets of Norman Vincent Peale and Psychocybernetics. She urged me, likewise, to move to the “next level”: to hook into Amvox voicemail (where I could listen to messages from my distant upline Greg Duncan courtside at Bulls-Magic games); make plane and hotel reservations for the upcoming Family Reunion; and get on “standing order” to automatically receive six World Wide cassettes a month at six bucks a pop—which Josh claimed simply covered costs—presumably of meetings recorded onto very cheap tapes. (“I’d gladly pay more for them,” Josh insisted, “because they’re helping me to become financially liberated!”) Sherri told me, in hushed tones, that “Greg Duncan judges you more on the number of standing orders in your downline than on your PV!” I didn’t doubt it. The upper echelons of World-Wide and other groups rake in enormous profits from their speaking engagements and the sale of motivational materials. Dexter Yager, head of the Yager Group, is reputed to make more from his propaganda syndicate than from his actual Amway business.
To understand the DeVos family, it helps to understand West Michigan. A sweeping landscape of flat, rolling farmland freckled with small towns, it sits on the opposite side of the state—in more than one way—from the big, diverse, reliably Democratic Detroit metropolitan area. Broadly speaking, it’s a region where people are deeply religious, politically conservative, entrepreneurial and unfailingly polite—think Utah, if it were settled not by Mormons but by Dutch Calvinists. “There’s an old expression here,” chuckles Gleaves Whitney, director of the Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies at Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids. “‘If you ain’t Dutch, you ain’t much.’”
Totaling 875,000 square feet, the Amway Center replaces the previously existing Amway Arena, updating the venue in favor of a sustainable and environmentally conscious design. The new building comes with updated technology, more amenities, and bigger seats. There's even a hypnotizing graphics wall along one side of the building that brings the arena's modern elements together in a magical display.
I have a friend that I met at Uni and we're very close (met him on my first day which was last year this time). Just yesterday he was approached through a networking website and attended a meeting for a company named "Amway". I did a bit of research and what I've gathered, it's another pyramid scheme. But how? Aren't they illegal? He literally spilt out everything they said in the meeting about "investing in products, marketing it and gaining huge profits eventually", and seemed genuinely excited. He then wants to bring me in as a mentee, because he thinks I'll really like it. I don't believe he would try to bring me in, if he knew it was something along the lines of a pyramid scheme, (since we're close mates and all). So what does Reddit think of Amway? Is it an obvious choice to run?
In the decade since that loss, the DeVos family, with Dick and Betsy at the helm, has emerged as a political force without comparison in Michigan. Their politics are profoundly Christian and conservative—“God, America, Free Enterprise,” to borrow the subtitle of family patriarch Richard DeVos’ 1975 book, Believe!—and their vast resources (the family’s cumulative net worth is estimated at well over $5 billion) assure that they can steamroll their way to victory on issues ranging from education reform to workers’ rights. “At the federal level, when GOP candidates are looking for big donors to back them, they have options,” says Craig Mauger, executive director of the Michigan Campaign Finance Network. “If you don’t get Sheldon Adelson, you can go to the Koch brothers, and so on. In Michigan, the DeVos family is a class of donor all by themselves.”
Ackman says Herbalife is a pyramid scheme because the only way people can make any money is by recruiting others, not by selling the company’s protein shakes. Herbalife says its business model is on the up and up because it is selling a real product to consumers who sign up more to get product discounts than to become part of a recruiting network. Parloff, after months of investigation, came down more on Herbalife’s side than Ackman’s, though in truth, that’s just his best guess. The F.T.C. wouldn’t talk to him, either.
‘No,’ says Dale. ‘I’ve only been playing seriously for six or seven years, and I don’t have much time, working in hospitality. But I love playing at Bayou Club. You join a private club hoping that during season when every other golf course is swamped – I mean, we own a public course nearby, and they’re running on six-minute tee times. They’re herded through there like cattle. It’s tough during season, and it’s not enjoyable golf. Because if you’re playing golf, especially if you’re kind of a quick player, when you run into someone else and then you have to stop and you have to wait for those people to play ahead of you, to get out of the way, it interrupts your rhythm playing the game.’
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.’
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. 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.
Of the Amway distributors who testified in the case, Rich says, ‘I have nothing against someone who tries Amway and concludes the business is not for them. But I wish they would take responsibility for their own actions instead of trying to blame the business.’ Likewise naysayers and disgruntled former Amway distributors simply do not understand how business works and are at fault for their own failures because they lack faith in their ability to succeed, and thus the necessary determination.