Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Amway IBO's Hosed By The IRS Again!

Check out this post by Forbes blogger Peter Reilly. He has written articles in the past documenting some cases of Amway IBOs being hosed by the IRS in tax court because they have no business plan or a realistic plan to make a profit. He even mentions Joecool's blog. Imagine that? My blog mentioned in Forbes!

http://www.forbes.com/sites/peterjreilly/2016/06/25/tax-court-denies-amway-losses-due-to-lack-of-profit-motive/#662835204815

I was surprised to see that I haven’t written about an Amway case in over two years. Well, a new one came out this week and James E. Hess, like pretty much every taxpayer who has ever disputed disallowance of Amway losses in Tax Court, lost. Amway cases are a subset of Section 183 (commonly known as hobby loss) cases.

The rule is that in order to post losses to your tax return, the underlying activity has to be one in which you were trying to make money. I have written about quite a variety of activities where the taxpayer has contested an IRS hobby loss determination- musicians, artists, drag racers, players of slot machines, even blogging to name a few. The most common though are horses and Amway. The horse people frequently win, but the Amway people pretty much always lose

A Bit About Amway

The Hess decision is of interest because it has more in the way of discussion of the Amway IBO (Independent Business Owner) experience. There is the big picture of how you can make money in Amway.

"Amway distributors can generate revenue by: (1) selling products directly to consumers; (2) earning points through Amway’s reward point system; and (3) sponsoring other individuals who join Amway as distributors. In the latter case, the original distributor is called an “upline” distributor, or a sponsor, in relation to his new recruit, the “downline” distributor. The upline distributor receives points when any member of his downline sells Amway products even though he does not participate in the sale. Those points can then be redeemed for cash in the form of a bonus check. If a downline distributor engages another individual to be his downline distributor, the original upline distributor takes a percentage of the sales of both downline distributors even though he had nothing to do with the activities of the new downline distributor. Thus, to maximize Amway-related income, a distributor must sell Amway products and also try to enlist other individuals as Amway distributors."

The Missing Business Plan

The Tax Court denied the losses because Mr. Hess did not have any sort of a business plan. What he received from Worldwide Group “did not contain information that is generally found in a formal business plan”. It was more of a description of how revenue could grow.

It is interesting to note that the Tax Court has become a little more relaxed in calling for formal business plans in Section 183 cases recognizing that people in essentially crap shoot businesses like art and horse breeding don’t need accountants to tell them how to make money. Yet it seems to be holding the line when it comes to Amway.

Mr. Hess reported net losses from 2005 to 2011 ranging from $10,000 to $25,000. In only one year did revenue exceed $1,500. Nothing changed.

Tax Court Seems To Align With The Critics

What I found most intriguing about this decision, is that way that it mirrors critiques of the Amway experience, which seem to have their own section of the blogosphere. For example Joecool of Amway – The Dream Or The Scheme? recently wrote in a post called Amway Success?


Submission to upline was one of the things we were told. Our group was told that upline would never purposely lead us astray so we should trust them and never try anything without checking upline.

Our group was taught to reduce debt, but ironically, upline said it was okay to go deeper in debt if it was to attend a function or to buy more cds.

Anytime we asked about how much income uplines may have been earning, we were either told it’s none of our business or shown a photocopy of a 10 year old bonus check that someone upline may have received. Our proof that the business worked was upline showing off pictures of sports cars and mansions.

Losing money is success. Many times, our group was told that losing money was a sign of success. It was success because we were investing in our futures. That the business really is not about money but about friendships. I suppose upline taught this because everyone was losing money so it was nice to hear that success was around the corner, and that we were all nicer people and on our way to success if we just attended more functions and bought more standing orders

Amway Crabs In A Pot?

Another funny story told by my uplines, and apparently still told today is the story of the crabs in a pot. That crabs will prevent other crabs who want to escape the pot by pulling them back in or pulling them down. The story goes that people in the working world also do this, by stepping on others to get ahead. I've never actually seen for myself if crabs actually pull each other down if one of them tries to escape, but I suppose it might be true. I do know of some people who will do anything to get ahead and they can be ruthless.

But the people who are willing to sacrifice others to get ahead do not appear to the the majority, but the exception. Many people are willing to work a career job and maybe over time, they move up the corporate ladder. Many people do this without having to "pull people down" in order to succeed. I believe this crab in the pot is just another ploy by uplines to get IBOs to think that their friends and family, by warning them of the potential perils of Amway, are just crabs pulling you back into the pot. It simply isn't true. Think about it, why are there so many negative stories and experiences floating around out there about Amway and the tool systems? Why is there a lack of new success continuosly emerging fro Amway? Who do diamonds quit or walk away from the business under unfriendly terms? Where are all the people who retired and walk the beaches of the world? Why do crown ambassadors keep working until they die?

Maybe the success you think there is in Amway simply doesn't exist. Let me repeat. Maybe the success you were led to believe exists in Amway, just isn't there. Amway's been around more than 50 years. Why can't anyone name a dozen or so people who built their Amway business once, then walked away, collecting significant residual income since? I wonder why Amway doesn't advertise this as a benefit of being an IBO?

Speaking of crabs in a pot. Ever wonder why all these virtuous diamonds break away from their beloved mentors to form their own groups? Ever wonder why there are countless issues of diamonds suing diamonds over tool income? If the money coming in is uncountable, why can't these diamonds come to a peaceful agreement? Why use lawyers which many diamonds talk about a evil because lawsuits are often about getting something for nothing.

Maybe it is the diamonds themselves who are crabs in the pot, all pulling each other down whenever one of them is on the verge of success? Maybe the diamonds are the crabs in the pot pulling IBOs down and squeezing tool money out of them?

Monday, June 27, 2016

Anyone Can Succeed In Amway?

One of the "false hope" things my upline used to tell our group was that everyone was going to succeed. That although things are tough, one day we will all be at diamond club together looking back at the struggles and laughing. Well, nothing could be further from the truth. One of the things that Amway promoters like to state is that "anyone" can succeed", but in the same line of reasoning, I could also say that "anyone" can win the lottery. The same thing can apply to not "everyone" can succeed in Amway and not "everyone" can win the lottery. Amway is not a game of chance like the lottery, but this still applies.

Using the term "anyone can succeed" is simply a statement that gives people hope. It appears that Amway promoters love to use the psychology of giving people hope as a means of recruiting and retaining IBOs. Hope is what keeps people motivated. The problem with the Amway opportunity, is that it is false hope. It is very easy to see that in most groups, the majority of downline IBOs will lose money. The majority of active IBOs, if they receive a bonus, will get only about $10 a month from Amway. If they use voicemail, or subscribe to standing order, they are already at a net loss for the month. Never mind the open meetings, major functions and other expenses associated with the Amway business.

I believe it is hope that makes gambling popular. One pull on a slot machine handle can change your life. Many IBOs believe that one good run of business can change thir lives. Unfortunately, the Amway business has not appeared to produced much fruit in North America. It seems that any new success is simply replacing older pins who no longer qualify. In my opinion, it is a telltale sign that Amway has stopped reporting North American sales. I'm sure if sales were up, they would stand on their rooftops and trumpet out such success. While Amway reported an increase in sales, there is insufficient data to determine the cause and effect of the sales increase. I have heard some chatter that it could be a result of increased prices. I wish the corporation would just be more transparent about these issues.


To summarize, "anyone" can succeed. But that simply means that you never know who the next platinum or diamond may be. You don't know where they will come from. And it is unlikely to be a new recruit. If you are using a system such as N21, WWDB, or BWW, then I can say with certainty, that "everyone" cannot succeed.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Amway Success?

Looking back at my IBO days, I can now laugh at some of the strange stuff we did and believe it or not, I have reason to believe that my old LOS, WWDB still teaches some of this and some other major groups also teach it. I believe some of these practices were the reason why some people refer to the Amway business as cult or having cult like qualities. If you recognize some of these practices, you might be in an unethical group and you should ask your upline the tough questions and possibly reconsider or reprioritize your involvement in the business.

Submission to upline was one of the things we were told. Our group was told that upline would never purposely lead us astray so we should trust them and never try anything without checking upline. Afterall, upline had experience and probably had all the answers. Some of this checking upline included asking permission to get married, buy a car or a home, or even something as small as purchasing a camera. The upline said maybe someone upline might have advice on how to get a good deal on a camera so no harm in checking upline before making a purchase. It is my guess that upline didn't want your disposable income being spent on anything other than standing orders and functions. Our group was taught to reduce debt, but ironically, upline said it was okay to go deeper in debt if it was to attend a function or to buy more cds.

Late meetings. Our upline was into late meetings, many occuring after midnight. I suppose it was a show of loyalty and dedication to the upline and the system. In reality, it made most people angry at their jobs because they had to wake up early to go to work. For me it made me mad at our upline because the meetings taught us nothing of substance and it just made us tired. Our upline used to talk about time being important but it was never important enough to make him show up on time for his own late night meetings. Another cult like factor - sleep deprivation.

Secrets. Anytime we asked about how much income uplines may have been earning, we were either told it's none of our business or shown a photocopy of a 10 year old bonus check that someone upline may have received. Our proof that the business worked was upline showing off pictures of sports cars and mansions. Of course we now find that some WWDB diamonds had homes foreclosed, and one prominent triple diamond had some dealings in bankruptcy court. Looking back, I suspect that many diamonds have mortgages, which would be nor problem except that these leaders scoffed at the stupidity of having a loan. That diamonds pay cash for everything, including homes. My former sponsor still lives in a run down rented home beause he won't purchase a home unless he's got the cash. My former sponsor is a physician so I find his position on buying a home preposterous. His oldest child, a son probably grew up deprived of his parents because of dedication to the system and the functions.

Losing money is success. Many times, our group was told that losing money was a sign of success. It was success because we were investing in our futures. That the business really is not about money but about friendships. I suppose upline taught this because everyone was losing money so it was nice to hear that success was around the corner, and that we were all nicer people and on our way to success if we just attended more functions and bought more standing orders. People who sold off some of their personal property were edified if they did so to attend a function. Obviously these folks were not advised to run their business within their means. Upline even said that going into debt was okay, but only if the debt was to invest in the business or to buy extra function tickets.

While some of these practices seem bizarre, I believe it is because the upline advice was self serving and meant to channel their downline's dollars into tool purchases. It is the only conclusion I can make. What's your conclusion?

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Amway Is "Fair"?

One of the bogus things my upline taught us was that the Amway opportunity was fair. That it was a completely level playing field. On the surface, that sounds right because "everyone starts at zero". While everyone does start at zero, the compensation plan is unfair to those who "do the work" and in my opinion, should be revamped so lower level IBOs make more money. It would probably help with IBO retention and maybe, some higher level leaders wouldn't have to work so hard to keep replacing people who quit. It is my informed opinion that many IBOs quit because they aren't making a profit. Real profits would motivate people to stay involved in the business.

If you are a new IBO, then you might not be really familiar with the Amway compensation plan. Amway pays out about 30+ percent of their gross as bonuses. Thus if you move 100 PV in goods, or about $300 in sales, then Amway pays out about $100 in bonuses. You as a new 100 PV IBO, would receive about $10 and your uplines, some of whom don't even know you exist, will split up the remaining $90 in bonuses. It truly is not a case of doing the work and getting paid. You are doing the work so upline gets paid. To add insult to injury, upline wants you to purchase materials (functions and other tools) that tries to convince you that this is a good deal.

And something very significant to think about. In what other sales profession are you compensated so low (3%)? I can only think of real estate, but in real estate, your sales are likely in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. In just about any other sales related profession, you get a much higher cut than 3%. Yes, your bonus or commission can be higher if you move more volume, but then you are likely receiving more money because you are now exploiting people doing 100 PV who get only $10 back. In other words, your profits come from your downline's pockets.

Even after you consider the unfair compensation, you must factor in the cost of tools. Most uplines promote tools (cds, voicemail, functions) as vital to an IBO's success. Some uplines push the tools harder than others. But the tools purchases will often be the primary cause of IBO financial losses because the cost of tools will normally exceed an IBO's bonus. It is very common in the US for monthly tool purchases to exceed $200 a month on average, and very very few IBOs will ever reach a high enough level in the Amway compensation plan to earn enough just to break even. Also, the tools apparently do not work. There is no unbiased evidence to suggest that tools have any causal relationship to IBO success.

With Amway's spotty reputation and the unfair compensation plan, IBO retention is spotty. Many IBOs sign up and do little or nothing, and many IBOs don't even last a full year before they quit. What happens is IBOs begin to figure out that recruiting downline is next to impossible and therefore, generating more volume is nearly impossible, even for individuals with skills. If you are a new IBO or a prospect, I encourage you to sit down and really look at the math and factor in the cost of tools. There are many ways to earn a dollar, I just don't feel that Amway is an efficient way to do that.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Amway Is Get Rich Slow?

One of the things upline used to say was that Amway is not "get rich quick". I suppose they say this because most people would more likely think scam if they promoted it that way. But when you stop and think about it, 2-5 years, build it right and you have willable, residual income for life while walking the beaches of the world? That's not get rich quick? Or is it more of a disclaimer so that the opportunity doesn't sound "too good to be true"? One thing is for sure, even if uplines tell you that it's not get rich quick, it's obvious that IBOs think they will eventually get rich, even if it's not "quick".

What most IBOs don't figure out quickly enough, is that they are unlikely to even make a net profit, let alone getting rich in Amway. How many of these people exist? Where are all of these retired Amway IBOs who built a business in 2-5 years and then walked away from their business and will be collecting a significant residual income for many years to come afterwards? I don't know of a single person who has done this and none of the Amway defenders and zealots I have encountered over the years have been unable to supply this information either. It's like some kind of myth or urban legend that people have actually retired from Amway on residual income. We also know that due to attrition, it is virtually impossible to maintain a profitable Amway business. People quit the business daily, thus even what looks like a solid business can be gone in a very short amount of time.

I can acknowledge that Amway is a business opportunity and will definitely take some work to be able to achieve something. But thinking realistically, what business could you actually be able to walk away in 5 years and not work again? More than likely that business doesn't exist, whether it's Amway or not. Say you opened a conventional business. There wouldn't be many scenarios where you could walk away after a number of years. The business would still require work and maintenance. But for some reason, people are mislead to believe that you can do this in Amway where there is a high attrition rate and where your business can only expand by person to person.

Sadly, many of the people who are attracted to the Amway opportunity are often young people looking to get more out of life. They are often ambitious but may lack a means to gain wealth, thus the appeal of the opportunity is there. Unfortunately, these nice young people are more likely to end up channeling their hard earned dollars into standing orders and functions which will almost guarantee that they end up with a net loss. The bottom line is that not only is Amway not get rich quick. The more likely scenario is that your involvement with Amway will very likely be not getting rich at all. A net loss is the most likely result. I challenge anyone to try and prove me wrong on this point.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

How To Make Big Bucks In Amway?

RK = Robert Kiyosaki and RDPD = Rich Dad, Poor Dad, Kiyosaki's book.

http://www.johntreed.com/MLM.html

“Mr. Reed,
I found your site interesting, especially your analysis of RDPD. I must admit that I enjoyed the book because of its "easy read," but your analysis is right on target.

I attended a Quixtar (aka, QuixScam, Amway, AmQuix, Scamway, etc.) conference in the Fall of 2000 at which he was a keynote speaker. He espoused network marketing and recommended complete dedication to building the Quixtar pyramid business even though he hadn’t found pyramid businesses worth his time. Ultimately, RK has found a way to obtain significant financial benefit from pyramid-based businesses without having to build one of his own.

The story is that Bill Galvin discovered his book at a carwash in (or about) Houston Texas. At that time, RK could not get his book published and distributed in a more traditional manner. Bill Galvin is a diamond under the Dexter Yager organization for Amway/Quixtar. In fact, I still have an old prospecting tape of a dialogue between Bill Galvin and Robert Kiyosaki. You can have it if you want it. I’m sure you’ll enjoy it. By the way, the tapes he produces for Amway/Quixtar diamonds are also distributed by the 10’s of thousands for which he gets a cut of each $6 tape that costs less than $1 to produce.

Anyway, Bill Galvin distributed RDPD to the "leaders" in his group. Bill and his leaders loved the book, so they contacted RK to buy more. The distribution of motivational tools in the Amway/Quixtar distributor networks is extremely efficient (and profitable for higher ups). His popularity grew quickly as his books were channeled to many thousands of lower level distributors by diamond distributors. Distributors would often buy several to hand out while prospecting new recruits. Not wanting to be left in the dust, other MLM networks picked up on the book and it has spread through their organizations as well. I would guess that the MLM industry was responsible for putting RK on the best seller list.

If you take RK’s mantra of "financial literacy" seriously and begin take financial control of your life, the vague and inconsistent information in his book becomes progressively more alarming. I tried to research any record of Kiyosaki but found practically nothing. I am impressed that you found as much as you did.
You made some very interesting references to "cult of personality." RK appears to benefit from that phenomenon and it probably explains why various MLM organizations (especially Amway/Quixtar) have latched onto him. Many of the high level distributors in MLM organizations also benefit from what could be described as a "cult of personality." There is obviously some "synergy" there. If you don't mind, I'll quote you on your reference to cult of personality.

My disappointment with RK has grown steadily due to inconsistencies, vaguesness, unsubstantiated claims, and his chosen association with MLM organizations. That alone should be sufficient to arouse suspicions.

By the way, did you know that his first two bankruptcies were supposedly related to a nylon wallet manufacturing business? I'm not sure where I heard that...it may be on that Galvin/Kiyosaki prospecting I told you about or in one of his books. If you recall in the late 70s early 80s there was a fad with bright colored nylon wallets. RK was supposedly involved in manufacturing those...first domestically and then importing them from China. Since that was pre-internet, Secretary of State corporation records don't reliably go back their far to do an online search.

After deciding that manufacturing wasn't for him, he built a financial education (or services) company that had 11 offices around the world. He sold his business or his share of the business for "several million." I didn't know if you were aware of that.

After that, RKs goal was to buy "one to two houses per year." [I am not a real estate expert, but why would RK focus on buying houses versus other RE investments?]

Sorry if all of this is old news. I can't remeber what he information he published versus what he talked about in the prospecting tapes he has made for Amway/Quixtar distributors.” Best Regards, Jeff Parsons.