Sounding Too Good to be True

Sounding Too Good to be True

Sounding Too Good to be True


A crook is a crook, and there's something healthy about his frankness in the matter. But any guy who pretends he is enforcing the law and steals on his authority is a swell snake. The worst type of these punks is the big politician.

Al Capone

So recently I was messaged on LinkedIn with this message:

"...I'm most intrigued by the projects and volunteer work you have done. I'm curious, do you keep your options open for opportunities outside of being a Software developer?"

Hm, what opportunities?, my first thought was. Saying that they were interested in my projects and volunteer work made me believe that they were working with/for a non-profit group or something similar that needed some technical expertise. When asked about what these opportunities were, I recieved a very vague and not-helpful answer. Okay, maybe they just don't want to reveal their ideas, I've seen that before, nothing super weird. I went along with it just to see how deep this rabbit hole really went.

I decided to set a meeting, because Hey, either this will be something legitimate - probably not - or it'll be a fun learning experience to learn descriptiveness is key in business.

While talking to the salesperson who reached out to me, they seemed very friendly and personal, which drew me into an informal, casual state. Most people they reach out to would probably fall for this act of personability and blindly trust them, but I've been burned by companies in the past, so I learned to stay attentive and take everything with a grain of salt.

Upon meeting the salesperson, it was almost as if I was talking to another person. Instead of the friendly, personable potential employer/partner that I was interacting with over LinkedIn, I was now being approached by a inexperienced salesperson who made it very obvious that they were just spitting out lines memorized by a book or seminar.

From here on out, I will include paraphrased dialogue, using SP as the salesperson, with my thoughts and responses throughout the exchange.

SP: Have you ever thought about being your own boss or have any business experience?

Okay, yes, everyone would love to be their own boss, but if I was being approached by a company, I'm assuming the situation is not going to be as easy as being my own boss. But anyways, I'm already here, might as well play along...I explained that I had business experience working with different startups, forming my own LLC, and marketing. To a normal salesperson, this might trigger a deeper conversation about what those experiences involved and what I learned from them. But that answer didn't suit the memorized lines...

Having to listen, the saleperson was explaining to me very basic business principles along with how easy it is to make money and be profitable being your own boss through a bunch of B-roll graphics and vague slideshow information.

It was as this point it was revealed that I was being targeted as a potential IBO (Independent Business Owner) for a company called Amway. I have heard of them before and know people who have also been contacted by them, so at this point I knew that they were your standard pyramid-scheme company who made billions of dollars off of unsuspecting, inexperienced sellers called IBOs. I was shown a slide of Amway's history, siting as giving out 53 billion dollars in bonuses. I was thrown lines like, "What would you do with part of 53 billion dollars" and "Wouldn't it be nice to have all that money?"

Yes. Yes it would...too bad I know I'm not going to be the one that sees it. I wonder how much of those bonuses go to the top tier businessmen at Amway, because I'm sure its a very outweighing percent compared to the bonuses given to the common IBOs. Instead of concrete facts and descriptions, I was given vague information and skewed statistics about the average IBO earnings. The basic notable level IBO earning average is roughly $55,595 according to their pamphlet I was given. Hm, not too bad! Well, that's before I tell you that a quarter of this pamphlet is small, legal print...and in that print it says Approximately .29% of IBOs in North America achieved at least Q12 Platinum status in...2014. YAY! So as long as you are in the TOP .29%, you can make a decent living. In fact, in a 2008 study amongst 33,000 IBOs involved with Amway, ONLY 90 broke even...that is a 99.72 percent chance of failure, leaving you in a worse position that when you started. People have sued Amway before, but they have lost.

Amway doesn't care if YOU make money, they just care if THEY make money. How is this possible if all of their IBOs are in the red? Well, lemme tell you. They hire very inexperienced salespeople - like the one I was talking to - because Amway knows that they will most likely fail due to their inexperience with business/finances, and put more money into Amway's paid seminars, DVDs, and conferences to "get better" when in reality they are fed fake information that will never help them. The only people who actual make money are those who are sponsoring/organizing all of these "help" options that their IBOs buy into.

Amway tells their potential IBOs that the company - and the IBOs themselves - make money buy selling products, when in reality they are selling the dream of being your own boss (Funny how those words were mentioned to me, right?).

I should've just walked out, but I stayed to only be asked more incredibly vague questions.

SP: How would you feel about an extra $50,000 a year? What would you do if you could live comfortably?

I gave somewhat truthful answers, but on some I just blurted out random things that passed my head, and I said Okay to just about everything that was told to me, because I really did not want to participate in this conversation....that was until she put one of HER salespeople on the phone, and made me have a discussion with them...

He seemed a bit more in tune that this was all just an elaborate plan to make money off of me compared to the inexperienced salesperson in front of me, so I decided to grill him just a little bit. He offered the same vague promises and benefits from becoming an IBO. I asked him "Well, what does it take to be an IBO?", like the naive target they assumed I was.

SP on phone: Well it takes a drive to want to be your own boss and succeed.

Great...literally the same memorized phrase. I kind of expected that, so I took it a step farther.

Me: So [salesperson's name] has explained the high level, abstract ideas very minimally, minus the hoped-for outcomes. What are the actual nitty-gritty details to what being an IBO entails?

Let me spare you 3 minutes of B.S. that this man spit out, because absolutely none if it was an answer. He continued to spit the same memorized lines at me, this time changing "It takes a drive to be your own boss" to "I had to learn to be my own boss". What kind of improved answer is that? I tried to ask him again, and it was more generic, vague answers than even before. He told me "I had to learn how to be confident." I wanted to yell at him, "THATS NOT A JOB DESCRIPTION THATS A BASIC HUMAN TRAIT!" It was bad, and I made sure to end the call as soon as possible.

After the phone call, the salesperson wrapped things up telling me to do research on the company, while staying away from Google which she referred to as "being dirtier than a bathroom wall"...I had to call them out on this and it did, which made it pretty awkward but necessary for that kind of ignorance. Instead, I was told to research on only a select few sites that were in the Amway pamphlet - fun fact, all these sites are either owned by or partners with Amway, so they are all very bias. My salesperson even through in a comment about their Grandmother not being okay with the affiliating with Amway until she was told that they have an A+ credit rating, which could be found on this site. Either she has the most economically vigilant Grandmother or it was a sketchy lie to put that fact out there in a friendly manner.

I ended the meeting as quickly as possible and just left shaking my head. I was even given plastic tubes filled with unknown liquids from a pharmaceutical company as samples - I was told to put them into water and ingest them, all without any nutritional/ingredient facts or knowledge of what they did. Please do not fall for these Pyramid Scheme scams, as you will most likely lose, because the company makes sure their game of a business is rigged against you.

Friends don't let friends work with Amway.

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