Monday, April 16, 2012

Can I Sell You Something?

An effort to require multi-level marketing companies to make certain disclosures to prospective distributors has fallen short. Although the Federal Trade Commission set out to regulate the $28.5 billion industry, which includes large corporations like Amway and Avon, it backed off after a storm of opposition.

The rule that became effective last month does force transparency on work-at-home companies and other scams that frequently rip off the elderly and disabled. But MLMs slipped out of the regulatory net, much to the disappointment of industry critics.

I don't have any experience with the industry, other than having attended my share of Tupperware parties and Mary Kay makeup sessions way back when. But many years ago, we got some new neighbors. They were a friendly family and their son hit it off with our boys.

The guy asked my husband to go out to dinner. I figured he was hoping to make a new friend, but it turned out once the meal arrived, the man started trying to sell Steve on a business opportunity. He beat around the bush, hemmed and hawed, then finally admitted it wasn't friendship he was looking for from Steve: He wanted him to become an Amway distributor.

Once he understood that wasn't a possibility, the dinner ended abruptly. To add injury to insult, the guy came up short on the bill; Steve wound up paying for dinner for the both of them. The friendship never quite materialized, as you might imagine.


  1. What a story! Maybe if companies like Amway were more picky about who represents them, they wouldn't have such a sleazy reputation.

  2. Since the majority of their income allegedly comes from recruiting new distributors, who buy products to stock their inventory, they can't exactly be picky about their reps. That's the rub on the whole industry.