Category Archives: Critics of Amway

A Skeptical Debunking – Robert Carroll’s A Skeptic’s Dictionary and MLM

I’m what’s known as a “skeptic”. Skepticism has been defined as “the process of applying reason and critical thinking to determine validity”1. As such, I don’t believe in things like ghosts, astrology, homeopathy, or supernatural beings. Show me some solid evidence then I’ll change my mind. Skepticism though, suffers from the same flaws as any other reasoning system – if you start with incorrect assumptions, or your “facts” are wrong, then you’ll almost certainly come to false conclusions.

Alas that’s something I often see happen with many “skeptics” and the world of multi-level marketing. They have little knowledge of the area, and they unfortunately tend to start their application of reason and critical thinking from a position of false assumption, often based on cursory internet research. It’s no surprise then that they finish with false conclusions. If you want to apply reason and critical thinking to an area, the first thing you need to do is collate facts. Continue reading


  1. Brian Dunning, What Is Skepticism?, skeptoid.com 

Amway critics lie. Again.

I’ve multiple times pointed out the lies of Amway critic “joecool”, who has been exposed creating false blogs and false identities simply to rubbish Amway. A reliable source contacted me a while back and told me that Anna Banana, aka Cheryl Rhodes, was doing much the same on her “Married to an Ambot” blog, and that many of the stories were plain made up, and many of the commentators were in fact Cheryl pretending to be a legitimate commentator.

Now she’s made it easy to show her dishonest activity. Earlier in the month she posted a blog “Worst Amway Distributor” and claimed -

Not too long ago I get an Amway employee working in the Alticor office in Grand Rapids Michigan end up at my blog after doing a Google search for “worst Amway distributor”.

I thought that was pretty bizarre, so I did that google search. There were ZERO results that referred to her blog except for that current post. (Virtually all the rest are her anti-amway zealot friends linking to that post.)

I tried searching with quotes, I tried searching without quotes. I tried it with all sorts of different search settings. I even tried Bing.

Until she wrote that blog post, google simply did not return her website as a result for that search. Clearly this search by this supposed “Amway employee” simply never could have happened as she states.

What’s the only conclusion? She made it up.

What else is she making up? My sources tell me an awful lot.

Debunking the critics. Claim: the one who does the work receives the smallest compensation

In recent weeks I’ve done a couple of posts where I’ve highlighted some of Amway’s online critics and their hypocrisy and sometimes downright fraudulent behaviour. But what about the claims they make about Amway? Do they make legitimate points? Occasionally they do. But not often. Here’s a recent example:

Over the weekend Joecool aka Steve Nakamura did a blog post that claimed -

One of the issues I have with the Amway plan is that the newest IBO, possibly the one who does the most “Work”, receives the smallest compensation. Amway pays about 32% of their income back in the form of bonuses. An IBO who does 100 PV receives a 3% bonus and somewhere, uplines and sponsors receive the rest.

Later he says -

Here’s a challenge for IBOs and/or prospects who are being recruited into the Amway business. 100 PV will cost around $300 a month and dedication to the tools system will cost you around $200 a month on average. Would you not be better off simply writing a check to your upline for $100 and not even joining?

Let’s examine these two claims. Joecool points out that Amway pays back around 32% of their income, and the IBO doing 100PV (points volume) will receive 3% volume rebate, or a little less than 10% of this. It sounds like the “upline” makes more, right?

No.

There are several ways to generate income in the Amway business. Joecool dishonestly only includes one of them, the volume rebate. The first income source for IBOs is retail margin, which on Amway products ranges from 20 to 30%.

Let’s take an example. Say an IBO sells 2 x Perfect Packs and a 1 x Farmers Market Vibrant Health Combo and 1 x Kid’s Chewable Multivitamin. IBO cost is $244.19.

Product PV BV Profit
Perfect Pack 41.95PV 121.66 52.73
Perfect Pack 41.95PV 121.66 52.73
Health Combo 15.75PV 45.67 19.78
Kids Chewable 4.97PV 14.40 6.22
Total 104.62 303.39 131.46

First of all you’ll note that the IBO cost for *more* than 100PV is only $244.19. Joecool, who was an IBO for less than a year in the mid 1990′s,  claims 100PV will cost the IBO $300. He is still stuck in the mid 1990′s and completely ignores the fact that Amway increased the PV/BV ratios for their major brands several years ago.

So, the IBO profits $131.46 in retail margin, then gets a 3% volume rebate (on 303.39 BV) which is an additional $9.10.

Total gross profit for the IBO “doing the work”= $140.56

What does the upline get? In the US the volume rebate scale goes up to 25%, then there’s an additional 4% leadership bonus, plus various other Emerald, Diamond, Depth etc etc bonuses. I believe it averages roughly 32%, so less the 3% given to the original IBO, that’s 29% of the BV (business volume) or $87.98.

  • The new IBO doing the work gets $140.56
  • The upline IBOs who helped share in $87.98.

So for the total profit available, the IBO gets 61.5% and the upline share in 38.5%.

Joecool’s claim is false.

Joecool gets to this point because he completely ignores retail profit and is most likely assuming an IBO is only “buying for themselves”. Of course, if that’s all they do, then they’re not even operating a business and they have done no work. They’ve merely shopped! If they bought the above for their family (say 2 adults, a teenager, and a younger child), then they’ve saved $131.46 by shopping at the wholesale price and got an additional $9.10 discount.

Not bad.

But Joecool isn’t talking about a shopper, because in the next statement I cite from him he says this person is spending $200/mth on “tools” . If they’re building then they’re trying to recruit customers for the products, and other IBOs to market them. As such that IBO must have at least 50PV in customer sales in order to receive a bonus on downline sales. Where does he account for that? He doesn’t. What about increased volume from their work recruiting others? He ignores that too. As he does an increased bonus thanks to that extra volume.

Even more ridiculous, he seems to think that the money spent to obtain 100PV is 1) a business expense and 2) you receive nothing in exchange for the money!

Both are absurd. Firstly of course, you receive products in return. Products that are some of the best in their categories and have won awards around the world.

As for it being a business expense, have you run that past the IRS, Joecool? Can a business owner who withdraws stock for personal use, or accounts for it as a sale to themselves, claim that as a business expense?

It’s absurd, and sadly Joecool isn’t the only MLM critic who asserts this.

If anything, a $300 product purchase for personal use is an income for their Amway business, from a sale to a customer (themselves). There’s no profit since it matches the $300 expense for the IBOs business to purchase the stock from Amway.

Was this how Joecool ran his Amway business? Spending money not for products he wanted and thought were good value, but merely to try and qualify for a bonus? That’s not only stupid, it’s also potentially defrauding his upline of commissions they should have received.

Unfortunately, we already know Joecool has no problem committing fraud.

Anna Banana Unveiled

Normally I think people who post anonymously online have a right to their privacy and their identities should generally not be revealed. I make exceptions under certain circumstances. Joecool for example, I originally uncovered when he was (falsely) accusing IBOs of threatening his family and later was shown to be posting under different names, pretending to be IBOs or former IBOs in different Amway groups. As far as I’m concerned, once you cross from sharing your opinion to fraud and libel, you’ve relinquished your right to privacy.

While Joecool remains the most prolific anti-Amway obsessive on the internet, back in 2010 another reared their ugly head – “Anna Banana” and her blog “Married to an Ambot“. On her blog, Anna Banana doesn’t hold back, with regular foul-mouthed tirades against Amway, Amway products, and her former upline. The comments she allows are often even worse, with crude anonymous abuse of the worse sort. I sometimes wonder how much of it is hers rather than legitimate commentary.

When the blog first launched, there were suspicions that Anna Banana was yet another Joecool alias. These were raised even further when I discovered “Anna Banana” was the name of a bar just down the road from Joecool’s then place of work. I did some checking with others and concluded that, unlike a number of other blogs, this one was actually a legitimate newcomer, located in the Pacific North-West of North America. Since then I haven’t particularly followed her blog. Any attempts to engage in adult dialogue on her website have been returned with childish abuse.

In April this year though, Anna Banana highlighted some comments on her blog that she says were directed towards me. Comments like this -

“You took my friend and soon you’ll regret this scambot.”

“Typical Scambot unit! I sure hope your upline programmed a few more lines to defend your mission for Scamway/Quickscam. Those like you took my friend and I’ll make sure to make you regret it Ambot!”

“The countdown has begun Ambot! The day when I shall have your head and theirs overlooking my nightstand will not come too soon shitway. I swear, they should upgrade your programming, that old recording in your memory-bank is starting to piss me off scamshit!”

People were posting death threats against me on her blog, and she apparently found it amusing and worth highlighting.  Given that Amway critics had already posted my name and address and photos of myself and my children online, and that Anna Banana was regularly allowing her commentators to link to this information, this was more than a little concerning. The entire tone of her blog and her comments does not engender confidence that these are in jest. Needless to say, such activity is also illegal for both the poster and the publisher (Anna Banana).

As far as I’m concerned, if you publish (and encourage) death threats against me you have well and truly relinquished your right to privacy.

So who is Anna Banana?

The internet isn’t as anonymous as you might think. People often leave traces they forget about, like Joecool leaving his email address published on links on forum posts, which allowed me to identify him. Has Anna Banana done similar? I’ll admit, she’s been careful. She gave no email address on her blog to contact her that I could find, and she never comments on my blog, make it difficult to trace her internet address or other information. When she has commented elsewhere she’s always been careful not to give away too much. Trying to work out her story was difficult, as many of her rants seemed to be about issues that must have been more than a decade ago (talking about tapes) yet she also spoke about other things as if they were recent, even current. Much of the stuff she talked about seemed like little more than caricatures of Amway criticism rather than actual experience. About all we knew was that she was married, she and her husband had been IBOs more than once, and they’d been associated with WWDB.

To see if I could find anything about her, I looked again at her website, and in particular the “source code”. I’d done the same thing with Joecool and several other blogs and discovered that they were using the same google adsense code – identifying them as being by the same person. There was one clue on Anna Banana’s website. She had some code called “IP Blocker” that is used to redirect people from certain internet addresses to other websites so they can’t read (or comment) on her website. This is the code -

<script src="http://www.toolator.com/ban/banned/?member=mermaidude" type="text/javascript"></script>

The code had a member ID – “mermaidude”. Could that tell us anything? I went to google.

“mermaidude” isn’t a common internet nickname, indeed it appears to be unique. A review of the (many) links google revealed showed that “mermaidude” has been active a long time on the internet, with interests ranging from geocaching, to recipes, to horses and dogs. There were also three email addresses and a name that kept coming up – Continue reading

Who is Amway critic Joecool? And does he owe me $50000?

I’ve occasionally participated on a website called scam.com. There’s regular duels there between MLM supporters and anti-MLM zealots with their usual falsehoods and misconceptions. Back in August 2011 a poster joined using the nickname Joecool44. As of writing this post, he has, since joining scam.com contributed 3,473 posts, at an average of nearly 10 posts a day. The majority are posts attacking Amway.

If this all sounds familiar, it’s not surprising. Back in March of 2011 I highlighted the obsessive and fraudulent behaviour of an anti-amway blogger and internet commentator who goes by the name of Joecool. In that post I pointed out his obsessive behaviour, averaging more than one fully fledged blog post a day, and literally thousands of comments on blogs around the ‘net. I also showed how he was setting up multiple blogs and pretending to be different people. All in an effort to disparage Amway and Amway IBOs.

Joecool has continued his obsessive blogging, with nearly 400 blogposts across the 3 blogs he admits to since I wrote that post a 15 months ago, as well as continuing with his anti-amway commenting around the internet.

But here’s where things begin to get interesting. Over on the scam.com site, several of the other members have been challenging Joecool44 about his identity. As regular follows of Amway critics know, it was revealed some years back (not, initially, by me) that Joecool, the anti-amway blogger, was a former IBO in Hawaii by the name of Steve Nakamura, downline of Diamonds Scott and Cris Harimoto. He had been an IBO in the mid 1990′s, for less than a year. Internet sleuths, and some people who apparently knew him offline, had revealed that Joecool aka Steve Nakamura, a married man, had been a regular contributor to a sex and prostitution focused website, World Sex Guide, describing his exploits with illegal prostitutes in Honolulu. (as Joecool18, Steve411, and Steve Nakamura). While initially defensive, joecool/Steve eventually owned up to all of this, said he was working for forgiveness with his pastor, and he deleted his blog, where he had been accusing someone of threatening his family and blaming me for it.

Fast forward to 2011/2012 and joecool the blogger, as well as joecool44 the scam.com poster, have been denying they are Steve Nakamura or even knowing who he is. Whenever commentators have addressed him by the name Steve, he’s responded with comments like “Who’s Steve”? What’s even more bizarre is that obsessive anti-amway scam.com poster Joecool44 refuses to even acknowledge he is obsessive anti-amway joecool the blogger. It’s gone so far that over the past year he has challenged two other posters there “every cent they’re worth” to prove he is Steve Nakamura, and last week he bet me $50000 his name isn’t Steve Nakamura. Not surprisingly, he refuses to put any funds in to an escrow account to back this “bet” unless any of the people he has challenged does so first, and he has also refused to agree to any conditions which might prevent him getting out of things on a technicality (eg getting someone else to write the actual text whenever he says “I am not Steve Nakamura”.)

It’s all a bit silly and childish, but I’ve had a little fun baiting him over the whole thing. Frankly who he is doesn’t really matter that much, unless Amway or IBOs need his real identity in order to sue him for tort defamation, which – after this post – they very well might consider.

So, despite knowing the chance of him ever paying out on his bet is below zero, I figured I may as well dig up and post the evidence, just to show him for the fraud he is. Little was I to know that I’d make further discoveries that offer even more proof of this man’s utter lack of integrity and illegal behaviour.

Now,  please forgive me, this is a very long post. But bear with it, it’s worth it! And let me know in the comments if you think Joecool owes me $50,000.

Who is Joecool?

Continue reading

Class action against Amway Canada thrown out

Well, “thrown out” is probably not a technically correct legal term, but the result is the same. Back in 2009 a pair of disgruntled IBOs, husband and wife Kerry Murphy and Cheryl Rhodes, of Cloverdale, British Columbia, filed a class action lawsuit against Amway Canada. This  of course made news with the anti-Amway brigade, but funnily enough some other news didn’t – way back in November of last year, the Court sided with Amway and said their complaint should go through Amway’s arbitration system.

I should clarify – not their complaint. In what has to be one of the least successful attempts at a class action ever, Murphy and Rhodes launched this lawsuit and promoted their class action through press releases and websites. The result? Well, in a class action, one of the tasks of the Judge is to determine if there is a sufficiently large group of people with the same grievance. In May 2011, his wife Cheryl Rhodes curiously withdrew from the class action. So we’re down to one, and in the judgement, the Judge had this to say -

the plaintiff has only provided evidence of one claim – his own for the amount of $15,000. …. Absent any convincing evidence of multiple claims or multiple defendants, the issue of the reasonableness of a partial stay is simply not triggered.

So it became his complaint. Just Kerry Murphy. No Cheryl Rhodes, and nobody else stood up to offer further claims. It gets even worse for Mr Murphy-

THIS COURT ORDERS that the defendant’s Motion to Stay and to Compel Arbitration is allowed. Costs shall be awarded to the defendant.

It seems to me highly likely that the defendants (Amway) costs for a case like this are going to far, far exceed the $15000 Murphy claimed he lost doing Amway during his four times as an IBO. I notice looking through the court records that  Robert FitzPatrick provided an affidavit in support of Murphy and Rhodes. I have little doubt that anti-MLM zealots like FitzPatrick encouraged this action.

FitzPatrick and his ilk are causing real financial damage to people by leading them astray with their falsehoods and anti-mlm zealotry.

Murphy has appealed the case. I feel sorry for him.

Critiquing the Critics

Bloomberg Business Week has today published an article about the direct selling industry that appears to be little more than a propaganda piece straight from the pen of MLM critic Robert FitzPatrick. It astounds me that supposed journalists do so little research on these self-declared “experts” and even less on the claims they’re making. So I’m going to do their job for them and write a series of articles on some well known MLM (and Amway) critics, who they are, and how their claims stand up to the facts.  My current list -

General MLM Critics
Robert FitzPatrick (Pyramid Scheme Alert)
Jon M. Taylor (Consumer Awareness Institute)
Dr Stephen Barrett (MLMWatch)
Bob Carroll (The Skeptics Dictionary)
Rick Ross (The Ross Institute)
Tracy Coenen (Sequence Inc)
Steven Hassan (Freedom of Mind Institute)
Dean Van Druff (What’s wrong with multi-level marketing?)
Peter Bowditch (ratbags)

More Amway-specific Critics
Russell Glasser (The Perils of Amway)
Scott Larsen (Amquix)
Steve Nakamura (JoeCool, various blogs)
David Touretzky ( Amway/Alticor/Quixtar Sucks!)
David Brear (various blogs)
Shyam Sundar  (Corporate Frauds Watch, India)

If there’s others you’d like me to address, please drop me a note in the comments below!

Update:

New post on Steve Nakamura aka JoeCool –  Who is Amway critic Joecool? And does he owe me $50000?