Is Amway the only way?

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    By PHILIP VAN DIJK

    Your friends can be divided into two categories — those who have tried to get you to join Amway and those who have not.

    This is no joke. It is true. And not only can this two edged-sword divide your friends into two categories, it is the deciding factor in the question of whether or not your friends are true friends. I mean, let’s face it, friends don’t let their friends drive drunk, and friends don’t try to get their friends to join Amway. That’s all there is to it.

    Now, with that disclaimer, let me explain to you why I feel this way about Amway and why Amway is positioned just slightly below Microsoft in the little black book of egregious corporations.

    First of all, people who peddle Amway are obnoxious. Obnoxious with a capital “O.” More obnoxious than an early episode of “The Simpsons” when Homer’s voice is all weird. They are more obnoxious than anything and anyone. Why? Permit me one example. NO!

    Every one of us has had the following experience: You are at home eating an anchovy pizza when you receive a phone call from some obscure person that you went to high school with, or some person who you had a flash-in-the-pan friendship with some years ago. This person proceeds to converse with you as if you are one of their closest friends, while you sit and struggle trying to remember who they are.

    This is the first red flag.

    Let me let you in on a little secret: this person is calling for a reason, and it is not because they wants to know how to spell your name for his or her will.

    This person continues the conversation and then vaguely asks what you are doing for work these days. When you respond (mind you, it does not matter WHAT you respond — you could be CEO of Fisher Price, it would make no difference to this person) then this person proceeds in a gentle but firm manner to tell you of this “great business opportunity.” It is “great” and it is “right down your alley.” Now, the jaws of hell could gape open to devour this person and they still would not tell you what the name of the company was. No way.

    Am I wrong? Every one of us has had this experience. Some of us more than once.

    Well, whether or not you set an appointment to let him or her come over for “about an hour” to give you the presentation varies with each individual situation. But I will describe to you, from sad experience, what happens if you do.

    If you do invite the friend over, the first thing you realize is that their “Amway watch” is of a different breed than yours because “an hour” soon turns into three. The second thing you notice is that Amway salesmen have the uncanny ability of never actually telling you they are asking you to join Amway until you are asking who write the check out to. They are very ambiguous about the name of the company. I have had three people (count ’em, three) try to get me to join Amway. In each case, I have asked right up front, “Is this Amway? Because if it is I would rather have my blood spilt.” In all three cases (I am not making this up) the answer has been “No, this is not Amway.” And in all three cases, it was.

    Now, the next thing that happens infuriates me. Red flag number two: someone trying to get you to join Amway uses his or her church standing to legitimize what he or she is selling. It is subtle, oh so subtle. The salesperson will make a vague reference to how some ward members have recently joined. Or they will say things like, “Well, when I was a bishop in California, I would tell people that money was not the root of all evil, but that money in the right hands could do a lot of good.”

    (Oh, and that’s another thing. In this valley people always try to downplay the fact that you have the opportunity to make a lot of money by telling you that you can use it to help the needy.)

    The third red flag, and arguably the biggest is this: “I love Amway because everyone is trying to help everyone else out. We are all friends.” Here is they are really saying, “I make a commission on everything you sell, so sell like a wild, screaming banshee, please.”

    Now, I cannot speak for everyone. Amway may be just the job for you, especially if you got your degree in fashion or something like that, but for those who are in Amway, my point is this: don’t beat around the bush, don’t betray good friendships and don’t use the church for your credentials. Those of you who are not in Amway: I have a great business opportunity for you that is right down your alley.

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