Tag Archives: Howard Megdal

What Howard Megdal didn’t want his readers to know

I mentioned a couple of days ago that I had tried to reply to Howard Megdal on the three articles he wrote disparaging Amway and the Mets over the new Amway Business Center at Citi Field in New York. Despite initial denials from Megdal, one of his co-editors, Emma Span, admitted she was deleting my comments and had banned me for posting “spam”. Well I just discovered I’d stored a copy of one of the comments I was trying to post that was rejected. This is apparently what some “journalists” apparently consider “spam” these days -

Howard,I’ve been researching and writing about multilevel marketing companies like Amway for over a decade, and unfortunately your article is full of inaccuracies. This isn’t surprising considering you quote Robert FitzPatrick, who has spent a better part of his life spreading myths about multilevel marketing.(1) You say “the most basic requirement is that participants sell a reasonable percentage of the products to outsiders”. This is false, and the FTC has explicitly stated as much in response to allegations by the likes of FitzPatrick. What’s important is that people are purchasing products out of legitimate demand and not out of some belief doing so will some how make them rich. It makes no difference if they are registered as distributors or are full retail paying customers. It’s this same falsehood that Bill Ackman is promoting in his failing attempt to short Herbalife. Having said all of that, Amway requires all it’s active distributors in the United States to have a minimum level of sales to retail customers.

(2) You’ve mixed up two different lawsuits. One involved a large group of distributors that Amway terminated from the company because of alleged unethical practices. Amway fought and won that lawsuit, including a version in California that alleged it was an illegal pyramid. The other involved a separate couple of California distributors. Amway elected to settle that lawsuit, and an analysis of the settlement shows why – the settlement is costing them significantly less money than going to court would have. Interestingly, despite having contacted 97% of all Amway distributors and former distributors in the US over the past decade, the class settlement administrators have been unable to get rid of the money! There’s apparently simply not enough people who feel “scammed”. Indeed only 0.7% of distributors submitted a claim for reimbursement of losses. An independent consultant for that case found that at most only 18% of all distributors had even $100 of expenses over the entire lifespan of their time as a distributor. On the other hand, government mandated statistics published by Amway show that “active” distributors (46% of those registered) earn on average nearly $2500/yr in monthly commissions alone, not counting retail profit margin and not counting yearly bonuses which can be as high as several million dollars. Despite this hard data critics claims 99% lose money, which is virtually a mathematical impossibility.

(3) You quote FitzPatrick as saying regarding MLM companies – “Not one would have passed the [Federal Trade Commission legal] test. Obviously not Amway. It did not pass that test.” This contradicts the fact that the FTC investigated Amway more than 30 years ago and cleared the company of allegations it was an illegal pyramid.

(4) You cite the decision of a Belgian court regarding allegations Herbalife is an illegal pyramid, and state it is “a company operating using Amway’s business model”. How can you make that claim when the Belgian court explicitly stated one of the reasons behind their decision was that Herbalife *did not* follow the Amway model? (As an aside, the Belgian court decision seems contrary to EU law on this type of model, so I’d be surprised if it’s not overturned on appeal).

Amway has an excellent reputation in much of the world, even winning “most admired company” awards in several countries. Unfortunately in the US it’s reputation was tarnished by a number of distributor groups operating in less than ethical ways. Those kind of issues were cleaned up by Amway some years ago, and it’s been primarily the likes of anti-MLM zealots such as Robert FitzPatrick who have actively been misleading people that has maintained the myths about the company and industry.

Please don’t support their efforts by repeating these myths uncritically.

Unfortunately this kind of censorship isn’t uncommon among Amway critics. Here’s a list of anti-MLM bloggers who I know won’t post comments from me -

  • Shyam Sundar, Corporate Fraud Watch
  • David Brear, MLM The American Dream Made Nightmare
  • Cheryl Rhodes (Anna Banana), Married to an Ambot
  • Jon Taylor, Consumer Awareness Institute
  • Robert FitzPatrick, Pyramid Scheme Alert
  • Tracy Coenen, The Fraud Files

It seems some people just can’t handle The Truth!

In contrast, guys like multiple NFL MVP Kurt Warner, who has won awards for his outstanding personal character, make great videos like this to promote the company. Not to mention the ridiculous number of awards Amway, it’s people, and it’s products have won around the world

The disgusting censorship of Howard Megdal, Emma Span, Sports on Earth and Capital New York

Amway recently opened a business center at Citi Field in New York, home to the New York Mets baseball team. There was nothing secret it about, I published a story about it more than two months ago. The opening of the business center apparently came as a shock to some New York journalists, and in particular one by the name of Howard Megdal, who wrote two disparaging and ridiculously inaccurate articles about the Amway/Mets deal for the website Capital New York. According to Bridgett blogged appropriately about the response – America’s National Pastimes: Amway-Bashing & Baseball.

I wrote a reply to Howard in the comments on one of the Capital New York articles, pointing out some of the errors. The site said I needed to register, so I did, upon which I received an email saying my account needed approval before the comment would be posted. I waited. No post. No approval. Other comments appeared. I tried registering a new account, separate from the article, using my full name and email address. I received an email saying my account needed approval. No approval was ever forth coming. Attempts to log in said the accounts were blocked.

I posted a comment on twitter, tagging both Howard Megdal and Capital New York to protest. Megdal replied they weren’t deleting anything. I still couldn’t post.

HowardMegdalCensorship

I tried again, I still couldn’t post a comment. In the meantime, Amway showed nothing but class and reached out to Megdal and invited him to tour the facility.

His response was a third article on the website Sports On Earth, a join venture between Major League Baseball and USA Today. The article was again full of tired cliches and outright falsehoods about Amway and multilevel marketing. I posted a reply there. Sports On Earth uses the Disqus commenting system, so I could see my comment in my My Disqus control panel. It said it was awaiting moderator approval.

Then it disappeared.

I wrote a very short comment on the same article asking Howard why he was deleting my comments. It appeared immediately. Megdal replied that he wasn’t deleting comments, and couldn’t. I pointed out that if it wasn’t him, then his moderators certainly were. Another commentator said they’d like to see my responses for some balance. So I wrote several responses addressing the many inaccuracies in his article. A moderator, another “journalist” on the site,Emma Span, said she had deleted the original comment, accusing me of spamming “Amway PR”, and said if I posted again she would delete all my comments. She was true to her word, for when I protested she deleted my responses and the comment from other readers saying they wanted to read my responses.

Not surprisingly, I can no longer comment there.

This kind of censorship from ostensibly professional media outlets is nothing less than disgusting. I was not offensive in my comments, I did not in any way violate the terms and conditions for commenting on these websites. I simply pointed out the many inaccuracies in the article, with appropriate citations to back up what I was saying.

Those responsible simply didn’t want people to read what I had to say.

Interestingly, I researched Howard Megdal a little further as I wrote this article, and it seems I may have misread his motives a little bit. I thought he was unfairly attacking Amway. It seems though his target isn’t Amway at all, it’s the Mets and their owner, Fred Wilpon. In 2010 he wrote a whole book lobbying to become the Mets General Manager. Apparently it didn’t work, and in 2011 he wrote another book attacking them – Wilpon’s Folly: The Story of a Man, His Fortune, and the New York Mets.

The Mets challenged many of the assertions Megdal made in the book, removed his media credentials, and wrote in response -

The author’s desperate self-promotional campaign for relevance has led to perpetuating baseless speculation and complete inaccuracies.

Now, I haven’t read any of Megdal’s books and neither am I an expert on the Mets. I do however consider myself to have some expertise on the subjects of Amway and Multilevel Marketing. If Megdal’s reporting on other topics is as wildly inaccurate and misleading as his reporting on Amway and MLM, and if he condones the active censorship of those who challenge that reporting – well, I’d suggest trusting very little of what he writes.