There's been some interesting debate, although not that recently recently on the James Randi Educational Forum (JREF). Most call Amway a scam and one prolific defender cites the point that IBOs are not Amway. And Amway doesn't sell training materials. While that is legally true, the owner of Amway, back in 1983 acknowledged that the sale of tools was, basically unethical and possibly illegal. However, inaction by the Amway corporation led to the heyday of the tool scam and financial abuse of downline. There's the loophole that covers Amway. IBOs are independent.
However, these same IBO leaders could not run free scamming downline if Amway were to intervene. I believe Amway doesn't take any apparent significant action for fear that these leaders would move their groups to another MLM. The result over the years is a lousy reputation in the US where the name Amway is associated with pyramid, scam and other undesirables. I suppose Amway has survived though, because of a saying by PT Barnum. There's a sucker born every minute. I suppose there are enough pockets of young or unsuspecting people who can still be convinced to join, so it's business as usual.
Which brings to to the next point. Unfortunately, new IBOs are basically suckers. They pay a fee to Amway, in order to become an unpaid Amway salesperson. You absorb your own time and expenses in order to move Amway products, and if you move enough of them, you can get a minimal bonus. You also at your own time and expense, recruit other unpaid salespeople for Amway. Your reward for this is you get credited for a portion of their sales, provided they use or actually sell anything. Most IBOs do little or nothing so your efforts are usually in vain.
But the real trick is to have IBO leaders convince downline that voicemail and cds and live meetings (seminars) can actually help you succeed. There is zero unbiased evidence to suggest that this training or tools do anything but make handsome profits for the people who sell them. Even if many IBOs sign up and do nothing, there are enough serious ones to support the pharoah diamond leaders. And food for thought, do IBOs really need voicemail in an age of email, twitter, facebook and other more efficient means of communication?
So yes, Amway IBOs are not Amway. Amway diamond leaders are not Amway.
But if Amway cannot or will not stop those who taint their name, then they simply must live with the reputation of being a scam or a pyramid. They can be legal to the letter of the law, but most people see it for what it is. Being legal doesn't necessarily mean ethical or moral. It is my opinion that when you sign up for Amway, you are nearly assured of losing money. It's not your fault though, it is the result of a bad system. I encourage everyone to do their due diligence before joining any business, Amway notwithstanding.