I first joined Amway when I was 19, more than 25 years ago. I was only an IBO for a couple of years, but I made a little cash, liked the products, and was impressed by the company. 18 years ago I joined again and built a reasonable size network. Again, I loved the products and the company – whenever I had to deal with Amway staff the experience was exemplary, they were always trying to help.
Sadly, I’m not finding that’s always the case today and sometimes I get a sense of “arrogance” from them. In one case I was trying to learn about why a particular Nutrilite product – Omega-3 – cost so much more than the competition. As best as I could tell from my research, the product was high quality and of a form that arguably made it perhaps 25% more effective than most competitors, but I simply could not justify it being 3-5 times the price of competitors. This was the case even with competitors where the actual fish oil in the capsules was essentially indistinguishable from Nutrilite’s. Indeed there were some signs it may have come from the same supplier. So I contacted Amway for help to understand the value proposition. The answer I got was essentially “it’s Nutrilite, that’s why” and that they don’t even look at competitor’s pricing and weren’t interested. In another case they launched a new Beauty Cycle product (nail stickers) to take advantage of a trend. I couldn’t find a single example of a competitor that was more expensive than Amway’s offering, and only one that came even close. The competitors also had more range. It was clearly not a competitive product. I contacted Amway about this and was told simply “we’ll pass your comments on to marketing”. The product didn’t last a year before it was pulled, and pricing slashed to get rid of stock.
It wasn’t the pricing that concerned me – many Amway products legitimately command a premium price. What concerned me was the apparent complete lack of caring about what the marketplace was doing. It reeked of a certain corporate arrogance. I felt this arrogance even more as an IBO – that they simply didn’t care about it, and were bothered by me asking. Contrast that to one of my early experiences, where I reported a concern with competitor pricing to Amway, and within a couple of months, Amway had dropped their price!
Then there was what happened a few weeks ago. On May 1 I received an email from Amway Australia saying my IBOship had expired and they were transitioning me to being a “VIP client”. It seems I’d forgotten to renew. I checked through my records and discovered I’d received an email back in November (nearly 6 months earlier) reminding me about renewal, but apparently I’d missed it.
So, this was my fault, I’d not renewed. I’d previously renewed for a 3 year period, so it had been a long time since I’d worried about it. Again, my fault.
Now, I wasn’t too concerned – past experience is that Amway has typically given up to a year to resurrect a lapsed business, so the next day I emailed Amway back and explained I’d been an IBO for 18 years and had downline around the world and that I needed to renew. They emailed me back and said I had to submit a late renewal request directly to a local area business manager, so respond putting her name in the subject. I did so.
The response was that they weren’t forwarding the email as the business managers had decided they weren’t doing any more late renewals. I’d missed the official renewal period (October 1 to December 31) and the “amnesty period” (January 1 to March 31). If I wanted to re-register I should contact my sponsor.
When I checked my records again I couldn’t find anything from Amway about renewing since November. There’d been various marketing emails, but nothing warning I could lose my business during the 6 month period until I got the letter – too late.
Again, this was my fault. But I can’t help but feel that this “sorry, bad luck” response, and the “don’t care about the competitors” responses isn’t the way Amway was when I first joined. In my first years I felt like Amway would do anything to help out – including once helping me renew even later than this! – but not any more.
It’s also worth noting that these experiences I’ve given are from 3 different Amway markets, so it’s not just one country. I’ve also seen reviews of Amway as an employer on various corporate “review” websites where some staff have expressed similar experiences – Amway internally isn’t the same company.
It isn’t unusual in the history of business that when companies grow and expand rapidly they lose their “heart” and the personal touch – many consider Google an example of this – I wonder if the same has happened to Amway?
Now, “losing” my Australian IBOship isn’t as big an issue for me as it could be. The way my business is structured internationally I’ve actually lost very little in the way of my downline, as it’s nearly all through-line of my IBOship in my new home country. In some ways it actually may work out better for me to re-register back in Australia. Nevertheless it’s not the way I’d like my downline IBOs to be handled – at the very least there should have been a lot more warning!
So – long time IBOs in particular – what’s your thoughts on this? Has Amway’s extraordinary growth led to a change of corporate culture? Did I just have rose-coloured glasses at the beginning? Or just some “bad luck” now?