Mild Rant: I Don't Want To Be Your Business Partner

I’ve watched those shows too and to me it’s just unbelievable. I don’t even buy lotto tickets let alone want to spend every penny I have on a risky business. Especially when you learn that mosdt of the places on those shows wind up closing anyway.


The part where the Scamway lady kept holding up brochures and saying “Do YOUUUUU want one of THEEEEEEEESE?” I hope RickJay got some kind of revenge on his father for making him go through that!

Since we are now talking about Amway here (hey, it’s definitely relevant to the OP) I’ll relate my little Amway story rather than turn the 2007 thread into a zombie.

In the late 90s I was working as a computer salesman and someone tried to sell me on Amway since obviously I knew how to do sales. Although it wasn’t called Amway, it was called Quixtar and was careful to avoid using the Amway name.

Anyway, the big sales pitch was that you would get YOUR OWN WEB SITE!!! (Again, this was the late 90s so this was extremely high tech at the time.) I was very wary about MLM, even as young as I was I wasn’t an idiot and knew how that scam worked. Part of the sales pitch was also what good products they sold, though that was not emphasized very much, mostly it was about how I could be my own boss, set my own hours, become rich, and so on.

I kept trying to circle back to the products though. Because as a salesman, I knew that what was important was what you sold. Any legitimate business needs a decent product that people will pay for or it won’t succeed. Eventually I got to the point where I told him that I had absolutely no interest in buying in to be a salesperson, however I liked the products he was selling and was interested in becoming a customer. Which should excite him, you would think.

No, he wasn’t interested in actually selling me any products. If I wasn’t going to join in and become a salesman, then never mind. That was the point where I knew this was 100% a scam. If you have a “business” that isn’t actually selling anything, the only possible way that you can survive is by preying on the marks that agree to work for you.

I expect that’s a good test for anyone who wants to get you to sign on to a MLM business. Find out what their product is, see if it seems like a useful product and if it is being sold at a reasonable price, and if all that is true offer to buy that. If they aren’t enthusiastic about selling you the product this isn’t a real business making legitimate money, it’s a criminal enterprise operating through fraud.

I had a close call with Amway in the 90s. A man I looked up to and admired invited me over for dinner with his family to discuss something very important. I was eager for the date to arrive until I found out from someone else that this was an Amway thing. Damn!

A few days before the dinner, he was arguing with his wife. Apparently this was a thing. At some point she walked out of the house, he followed her. There was yelling. Then their son (somewhere between 12 and 14, IIRC) came out of the house with a gun of some sort and fired several shots at dad, missing, but drawing the attention of neighbors who called the police.

Dinner plans were cancelled!!!

You’re lucky that didn’t happen the night of your dinner. That would have either been the worst or best sales pitch ever.

My friend who sent me a Quixtar link in the late 90s did mention the products. The pitch was something like “why shouldn’t we get the money instead of Amazon”?

Wow, restaurant during Covid, and dry cleaners during a big shift away from working in offices. Besides not wanting to get into another business, I see compelling reasons not to get into these businesses, or partner with someone who thinks they’re a good idea.

The chain of restaurants he wanted to get into has done great. Very takeout-friendly.

Your point about dry cleaning is a good one but, shit, I’ve been to a lot of dry cleaners and I don’t remember any that looked real swanky. The real cash isn’t in owning a retail front. It’s in owning the really big central places that serve the retail outlets with the chemical cleaning process. Even I know that the people making big money in dry cleaning aren’t the people you give your shirts to. It’s the George Jeffersons, people who own a LOT of places and make money off the volume of the central cleaning facilities.

I had the exact same experience with Amway. “The products are so good they sell themselves!” I was told. “Sounds great! I don’t want to join, but you’ve convinced me to buy some soaps,” I replied. “Sorry, we didn’t bring any with us, and we don’t really care about selling you $20 in soap, we really want you to go out and try to get other people to not buy $20 in soap, but instead get them to go out and not sell $20 in soap to even more people.”

This is one of the odd things about pyramid schemes; someone has to buy the product for the participants to get paid. That is the primary means of revenue. The thing is, no one in the scheme is trying to sell product, because you make more money if downstream marks sell the product instead. It’s a bizarre game theory knot, and yet SOMEONE must be selling this stuff. The products do exist.

Maybe, but not necessarily. I think a lot of the revenue of pyramid schemes, if not the primary revenue, is from the seminars and self-help books and tapes and videos, and so on. Because you will have a lot of people that you bamboozle with your promises, who then consider these purchases to be a worthwhile investment, but then when they learn how difficult the process will be just give up. They are out the money they paid with nothing to show for it.

Or another way to put it… How do get rich is to sell people products and training that promise to teach them how to get rich.

I should have thought of that.

In the case of Amway, there is a huge side business in sales seminars and (at the time my friend tried to get me involved) DVDs on how to sell. I think that each associate has to buy at least a certain amount of product per month if their downlinks don’t make enough sales.

In the late 90s Amway held “sales” (recruitment) meetings at a convention center where I worked. They improved their technique since the earlier days, every meeting was carefully choreographed, and they were good. First the attendees were pumped up with loud, banging rock-n-roll. Then the sales pitch(es) started. Couple after couple, introduced as successful Amway dealers, stepped onto stage looking fabulous in furs, bling, expensive clothes & hair, the very embodiment of those earlier brochures. Sometimes the limo delivering them was visible offstage, other times they were careful to mention it. Each pair talked about the incredible life they were living, courtesy of Amway. And on and on and on. Each meeting had a thousand or so attendees, presumably new suckers each time. I wondered where they found so many people willing to buy in to what seemed an obvious scam. Until I saw several people I knew from day jobs, all openly bitter, disgruntled employees desperately seeking a way out, but who couldn’t afford to quit. The perfect recruits for a scam like Amway. To give them credit, Amway did a great job selling Amway.

I had a neighbor that tried to rope me into selling Mary Kay. At the time I was a commercial sales rep for a high end automation system and had no interest in selling anything retail, even if I could make a a few extra hundred bucks a months.

I tried to explain that I already had a way to make a few hundred extra bucks a month. My business was very successful, but it was like picking fruit in a way. There were my long time customers that were low hanging fruit- I could probably eke out a living on these without getting out of bed. Then there were the newer accounts I worked to land and keep that comprised most of my business.

But there were clients out there that were like the hard to get fruit at the top of tree, accounts and projects that would’ve taken a LOT of work to get and keep, and if I went after them I’d be working twice as long and hard in order to clear a few hundred bucks more a month. So I said “Screw ‘em, let someone else have those” and I called it work/life balance.

My neighbor didn’t get it, until someone at her day job noticed her newly developed salesmanship skills and offered her a real sales job— after a few months doing both she finally got it, and quit Mary Kay.

Aren’t there stories galore about MLM people who end up with a garage stacked to the ceiling with unsold/unsellable merchandise?

People like him are a major part of the reason WHY so many restaurants fail early.

Very few restaurants are started by people who have a good head for business. They’re started by people who enjoy food, and/or enjoy cooking, and they decide that they want the public to share in the joy.

And then, like the guy who wrote that article, they discover–too late–that the food is only half of running a successful restaurant, and they have no idea how to do the other half.

The thing is if you’re a foodie who enjoys cooking, enjoys trying recipes and ingredients, you’re going to hate cooking in a restaurant, even if it’s your restaurant. You’ll need to make the same dishes all day long and produce consistent results every time. I’ve heard it said that a restaurant kitchen is basically a small factory.

My former MIL was a Tupperware dealer and while she made money, she had to plow a lot back in. She bought more square plastic boxes than some nations.

So my exwife naturally went into MLM as a true believer. NiSkin was going into the Japanese market and some of the early people contacted us.

We got to know those people who would put on those shows. They know it’s a scam for 90 something percent of the people, but they don’t care.

For that company, each person had to buy several hundred dollars in products per month. With vitamins and supplements it was pretty easy but I have no idea how you would do that with soap.

Where they made the big sales was with people looking to get avoided the lowest level to the next. You had to have three months of more than a thousand in sales per month so they would buy “stock” that they planned to sell later. But then they needed downlines and had to buy their own purchases as well.

Because my then wife was really into it I met scores of people and saw thousands.

I know two who got rich.

Yep. One of my co-workers in the mid 90s was an Amway rep and he was one slimy shitbird. He convinced a different co-worker to sign on for a bit. She bought a giant case of toilet paper one time to make her sales. She didn’t have room in her apartment so she stored it on her balcony and then it rained and ruined the whole batch. If only she had the foresight to properly store it and save it until 2020. She would have made out like a bandit.