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Hope and False Marketing Claims

March 2, 2009

I saw this recently on WSJ.com (bold emphasis added):

Mannatech Inc., a maker of dietary supplements, agreed to pay $6 million to settle a lawsuit brought by the Texas attorney general. The state alleged that the Coppell, Texas company made false claims about its health benefits and marketed products as cures and treatments for diseases.

Possibly the most unusual aspect of the agreement was that the Sam Caster, the company’s founder, former chairman, former CEO and biggest shareholder, agreed to pay a $1 million civil penalty. The lawsuit, filed in 2007, alleged numerous instances in which freelance sales associates falsely claimed that the products helped cure or prevented diseases such as cancer, autism and Down syndrome. Caster, the suit alleged, failed to effectively stop these tactics.

False claims are common in multi-level marketing businesses. The most egregious ones that I’ve been seeing lately concern MonaVie and Perfect Water. While the company likes to categorize its purple juice concentrate as just food, its distributors are quick with wild claims of miracle cures for many physical ailments.

Check out this video with Orrin and Laurie Woodward from a recent MonaVie Regional in Anaheim, California:

I truly believe that MonaVie is hope. Hope is when we help people excel… We are here to offer hope.

— Laurie Woodward

Laurie describes MonaVie not as food, but as hope. Hope? Excuse me? This type of hope is what drives people to buy cases of products, boatloads of tapes, CDs, and conference tickets each and every month. Then again, if people are excelling at buying MonaVie by the case and tons of tools, I guess what she’s saying is true!

Hope is a tricky, fleeting thing. I would bet a case of MonaVie that Laurie or Orrin would have–at least once–said on stage that Amway/Quixtar was hope, that they were not selling soap, but hope. I wonder what they would call it today?

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27 Comments leave one →
  1. Joecool permalink
    March 2, 2009 10:17 am

    When Dateline did their expose’ on Quixtar, apologists were quick to defend Quixtar by saying that Dateline was not credible. What they forgot was that 60 minutes also did an expose’ on Amway called Hope or Soap.

    Amway sells the soap and the LOS’s sell the hope. Some upline leaders went so far as to say the product was irrelevent, and that even if you buried your 100 PV in your backyard, you can achieve your dreams. It is why many recruiters speak about achieving dreams, etc.

  2. mike permalink
    March 2, 2009 4:00 pm

    This is the way of the con man…as in confidence, they are their to build and use your confidence. They are selling hope, the idea..which is to that to make money in this business you have to sell hope..

    The sad thing is that thousands of folks fall victim to the desire to have a better life, and the con-man is there to sell them on the concept.

    No one would give a bum a dollar, but put that same man in a suit and have him tell you that you can become a success and have the life you want…just give himn a hundred dollars….cause it what he has to teach is worth every penny…

  3. Porkchopjim permalink
    March 2, 2009 6:14 pm

    Did Orrin ever find a market for his ‘business training materials’ outside of people buying their own products and trying to convince others do to the same?

    That would be a ‘no.’

    BTW – Is is hope, or honor and character that MonaVie sells?

  4. Douglas Fraser permalink
    March 3, 2009 1:23 am

    I have been an AMWAY IBO for over 30 years. My wife and I are basically retired Emerald DD’s. We worked very hard in our spare time for about 7 years to achieve our level within the Amway system. As a result we have been able to be retired/semi-retired for the past 23 years with a low six figure (gross) income. ALL of this money cae from the AMWAY Plan and not from business tools as others may or may not include as a portion of their gross income. Does the AMWAY Plan work…yes…if you work it and SELL products to at least 5 to 10 customers and teach your bussiness associates to do the samething. That’s called multiplication of effort and that’s how and why the AMWAY plan is so good. Everyone needs to have two or thre streams of personal income…and this is a good source. People have made the AMWAY business great and people have also brought it some great and unfortunate challenges. Bottom line it will be your choice at whatever you decide is worth your time and continual effort to succeed to the level you need to feel like you have achieved something worthwhile.

  5. March 3, 2009 1:58 am

    Thank you for your comment, Douglas. It would be nice to hear more stories of people who have been successful through retail sales and not through the sales of business tools.

  6. March 3, 2009 9:31 am

    Amthrax, ALL of the stories in Amagrams and Achieve magazines depict people who have achieved certain levels that are based ENTIRELY on product sales, not sale of business tools.

    Every single one of them

    I’d like to ask you how many stories have your heard – with names, not rumours – of people being “successful” not through product sales but through business tools? How many can you name? And how does that number stack up to the hundreds and hundreds of new platinums and above named in the US alone every year?

  7. March 3, 2009 11:02 am

    Explain Harriet Lyons:

    http://www.amquix.info/quixtar_lyons.html

    Explain Craig Loupelle:

    http://www.amquix.info/amway_loupelle.html

    They might have made it into the Achieve magazine with their “product” sales, but their goal was to get a cut of the business tools profit. They replaced sustainability for the lure of bigger money on the speaking circuit and tool money.

  8. Porkchopjim permalink
    March 3, 2009 9:24 pm

    Amthrax, ALL of the stories in Amagrams and Achieve magazines depict people who have achieved certain levels that are based ENTIRELY on product sales, not sale of business tools.

    Yup. That’s true.

    I’d like to ask you how many stories have your heard – with names, not rumours – of people being “successful” not through product sales but through business tools? How many can you name?

    None. Please tell us how many stories of Amway excess we have seen celebrated that does not include tool money.

    And how does that number stack up to the hundreds and hundreds of new platinums and above named in the US alone every year?

    How does that stack up against the hundreds and hundreds of new platinums and above who aren’t featured with their pictures (not including the “I’m a platinum” picture) portraying how much Amway income has done for them?

    Good to see you again, Insider! It’s also good to see you arguing semantics and not reality!

    [Editor’s Note] Improved readability of comment by using blockquotes.

  9. Gina permalink
    March 4, 2009 2:16 pm

    And out of those hundreds how many actually keep a P/L and present a prospectus to recruits to prove that they are in fact making their money from selling (not buying for personal use) Amway products. And does Amway confirm with these P/L’s that these people featured in the magazines did in fact reach these levels by selling product.

  10. Porkchopjim permalink
    March 5, 2009 8:11 am

    Well, you certainly can’t reach those levels without selling products to downline IBOs who were told buying them was the key to business success.

    It’s all about ‘selling the products’. Who the customers are really doesn’t matter, you see.

  11. March 5, 2009 9:17 am

    Amthrax, was your “explain” question directed to me? I’m not sure I see the relevance to my comment? I made no claim there weren’t any crooks ever involved with Amway nor that some folk weren’t motivated by bsm income. My point was your claim you don’t “hear stories” about folk making money from Amway is unjustified – there’s thousands of them in Amagrams etc. Heck, dozens, perhaps hundreds of them, have been highlighted in various books about Amway.

  12. Joecool permalink
    March 5, 2009 10:16 am

    “My point was your claim you don’t “hear stories” about folk making money from Amway is unjustified – there’s thousands of them in Amagrams etc. Heck, dozens, perhaps hundreds of them, have been highlighted in various books about Amway.”

    It is my geuss that these folks are recognized by pin level. How much does a 1 or 2 legged platinum make? What about people buying their pins? The Achieve magazine is propaganda, like showing a magazine full of lottery winners to prove that the ottery works.

  13. FreeFromQ* permalink
    March 5, 2009 5:22 pm

    Why isn’t Mr. Steadson’s name included in the Diamond success stories?

  14. MichMan permalink
    March 5, 2009 7:30 pm

    ibofb said:

    “I’d like to ask you how many stories have your heard – with names, not rumours – of people being “successful” not through product sales but through business tools? How many can you name? And how does that number stack up to the hundreds and hundreds of new platinums and above named in the US alone every year?”

    _______________________________________

    I have heard lots. I have several “Profiles of Success” books that listed all of Yager’s diamonds. (“Available through your upline for only $39.99. You need to get one for yourself. But if you are a leader, you should put in an order for every person on standing order tools in your group. How are you going to sell a 100 dresses if you don’t buy 100 dresses?”)

    I would bet that half of those diamonds are no longer in this business. And that many of the ones left don’t even qualify for the pin they wear on their chests.

  15. mike permalink
    March 6, 2009 3:49 pm

    I wonder how many folks got on the cover of Acheive without tools being sold in their business?

  16. Porkchopjim permalink
    March 7, 2009 4:47 pm

    In response to mike,

    I would bet none! What more proof do you need that the tools are not only ‘valuable’ but ‘essential’ to success?

    But it’s chicken – egg: do the tools promote and sustain a successful Amway business, or does Amway provide a cover for a successful tools business? Certain proponents would like to say that it doesn’t matter, because Amway ‘acheivement’ is based on the sale of Amway products. Yet, nowhere does anyone say ‘join Amway and you can have a successful tools business.’ Why not?

  17. Niki permalink
    March 8, 2009 12:45 am

    The product business is a front for the tool business. My diamond makes the vast majority of his money from tools. I’ve seen the numbers! It is sad and the product money is a joke in comparison. He has faked many of his downline pins including a downline diamond. This biz is a fake. I don’t believe anyone of these big pins. They all lie! I don’t know how they live with themselves.

  18. March 8, 2009 10:51 am

    As far as success happening because of pin level achievement, that is a load of bunk.

    True, in some cases, people actually legitimately move products and acquire pins based on the honest movement of products.

    Based on my personal experience, and my online experience over the past decade or so, I would say that legitimate pin acquisition is rare.

    It’s well known that “leaders” have stretch nights, where they encourage downline to buy or (sure) sell products to meet a goal.

    So someone buys 1000 pin, along with 2 other crossline, and then the leader also buys enough to get 1000, and presto! He’s a 4000. Multiply this by several little groups within a group, and you see how people hit 7500.

    All you need is enough people with enough money and enough belief to stretch a few times to get a pin.

    Honestly, how many people do you know NOT in Amway that seek the products?

    In North America, Canada specifically, I know ZERO. I have numerous friends, family, and work contacts in the US, again the answer is ZERO.

    Many of them know about my opinions on Amway, and none of them know non Amway people who seek out the products.

    Perhaps it’s different in Europe, but when Steadson tries to explain away the product movement in the US, he really reveals his ignorance on the topic.

    Not that anyone with a clue takes him seriously anyway.

  19. March 8, 2009 9:44 pm

    Guys,

    Just a quick note here – there are TONS of Amway product buyers over here in Singapore, Malaysia, China, Taiwan and elsewhere in Asia – despite the HIGHER prices compared to other brands at the supermarket.

    And there are MANY pins who are non-System. (some of them are even operating in the USA – Holly and Barri, anyone?)

    So please don’t be too quick to speak.

    OK, brb, preparing for a trip to Indonesia now!

    p/s. I am a System guy.

  20. Porkchopjim permalink
    March 10, 2009 9:15 am

    Rocket,

    Don’t forget that certain ‘proponents’ consider telling their downline to buy as many Amway products as they can in order to ‘generate PV/BV’ is deemed as ‘legitimate’ demand for those products.

    When you use that ‘logic’ – all pin acheivement is legitimate!

    Rykel,

    No one ever doubted that you were a ‘System’ man.

    How do you know about Holly and Barri if they aren’t ‘System’?

  21. March 10, 2009 9:53 am

    Porkchopjim:

    Thanks for a great note – it always concern me if IBOs are PIN-working rather than Net-working, and all good, solid leaders I know of advocate Numbers rather than Pin-buying…

    As for how I know about Holly and Barri, you have a good sense of observation! OK, I am in Holly and Barri’s group in a certain market, and had the opportunity to get up close and personal with the wonderful couple.

    I have heard it once said, and I personally agree, that Holly is one of the most powerful woman in the world of Amway.

    btw, on a sidetrack, I grabbed a news off BBC about the intelligence of chimpanzees.. if you have an interest in science and evolution, I have that article on my blog.. I am new to blogging and welcome your visit!
    http://rykel.blogspot.com

    brb – it’s 1am in Singapore and I just reached home… optimistic about waking up tomorrow but do need a quick rest!! 🙂

  22. March 12, 2009 10:48 am

    I posted a comment more than 24 hrs ago, but it has yet to show up… TESTING 1-2-3 🙂

  23. March 12, 2009 10:53 am

    {Hmmm, sorry about the comment above, people… apparently it is a problem with my internet connection.}

    Porkchopjim:

    Thanks for a great note – it always concern me if IBOs are PIN-working rather than Net-working, and all good, solid leaders I know of advocate Numbers rather than Pin-buying…

    As for how I know about Holly and Barri, you have a good sense of observation! OK, I am in Holly and Barri’s group in a certain market, and had the opportunity to get up close and personal with the wonderful couple.

    I have heard it once said, and I personally agree, that Holly is one of the most powerful woman in the world of Amway.

    btw, on a sidetrack, I grabbed a news off BBC about the intelligence of chimpanzees.. if you have an interest in science and evolution, I have that article on my blog.. I am new to blogging and welcome your visit!
    http://rykel.blogspot.com

    brb – it’s 1am in Singapore and I just reached home… optimistic about waking up tomorrow but do need a quick rest!! 🙂
    `

  24. March 12, 2009 12:02 pm

    Rykel and all – Your comments were flagged in WordPress as spam, and I didn’t notice them until now. I just approved them.

  25. March 12, 2009 7:13 pm

    Hey bro (sis?) amthrax,

    Thank you for noticing the wordpress error… do you think there was a trigger word(s) in my comment that caused the server to flag my message as spam? coz God knows how many of my messages might have been identified as spam elsewhere and I had been left wondering… gotta learn so that I can avoid being wrongly tagged!

    You are doing a wonderful job with this site – highlighting some excesses in the business, but doing so in a delightful and humorous** way… and hence you encourage IBOs and friends alike to comment.

    It is constructively worded articles like yours that people like, not the irrationally hostile “you guys are all pyramids!”-type of blog that everyone hates. Who needs more conflicts and violence among families of the same culture, when there are enough wars and battles outside of this industry? (North Korea, anyone?)

    So I heartily commend you on your good work. I hope that you are enjoying the fruits of your labour, and the comments of your readers.

    ** hey, get more GI JOEs comin’ in!

  26. March 12, 2009 8:00 pm

    Rykel – I don’t know why WordPress flagged your comment as spam. You didn’t have too many links in your comment and there wasn’t anything out of the ordinary. Sometimes, spam catchers do generate false positives.

  27. Gina permalink
    March 13, 2009 10:04 am

    Sorry Amthrax….I am straying OT for just a sec…won’t happen again.

    Rykel,
    I see that you have taken the time to make a few posts in this thread. It would seem that you have in fact ignored the issue on the last thread and it was not a case of you not having time. That could be considered lying. That’s alright, it’s there for everyone to see…how you looked for a sad excuse instead of facing the facts.
    So much for transparent and honest IBO’s.

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