I am writing to you out of concern for my parents. My story goes > as follows... > I graduated from college in May of 1995. Excited about an extended > vacation, I agreed to go to my brother's house in Georgia (I live in PA) > for a month, and then help drive when him and his family came up for a > visit in June. The Monday after I graduated, we (he and his wife came up > for the event) flew to Atlanta. It was on the flight that I first became > frightened. Rick started telling me about this great business opportunity > that they were going to tell me about, and that they were taking me to St. > Louis in two weeks for a convention, but mom and dad didn't know anything > about it. My red flag went up right there. > We left Atlanta and drove the two hours south to their home in > Perry, GA. I put my stuff away and was half asleep on the sofa (it was > around 10:00, and I had gotten up early to be ready for the flight), when > he came out with this large easel and marker board. He then proceeded to > make his "pitch". They had the next month planned out for me - I was to > start their northen line of distributors, and they were going to train me > how. The one red flag that went up before multiplied, mainly because for > such a great business opportunity, he wasn't saying the name of the company > he was talking about. After he was all done, I could only see it as a > pyramid scheme, something illegal like the "send a dollar" chain letters I > received before. He left videos, books, and cassettes for me to go over > the next day. I never looked at them, but he happily went through the > nifty pictures of people who were diamonds and millionaires and owned this > and that, just like they were going to very soon. I was very scared. I > finally called home around the Thursday of that week, and arrangements were > made for me to fly back the next Monday. > I told my parents about it, and they were very sympathetic, even > talking to friends of theirs who were one involved. > My brother didn't mention it again until last summer, when he > brought materials along up with him and stored them in our basement - > brochures, catalogs, tapes, etc. Even then, he didn't say anything about > it. > Now, the past month's events. I found a new job, and used up my > last vacation days from my old job. I needed a getaway, but didn't have > much money to spare, so I decided to go to my brother's place for a week. > He hadn't been talking about it much, after all, and it was only a week. > So the plans were made. The last call we made, a few days before I was to > go, he asked if we were free the weekend of the 21st. We said yes, and he > said that they were coming up for a "working weekend", and that they were > going to talk to some folks and us about what they're doing. "It's really > changed," he said. > I went to Georgia, but drove instead of flying, and told my parents > that if they mentioned Amway at all to me, I would leave right away. The > stay went OK - lots of hinting going on ("Here's what you need Andy - a CD > jukebox. [in the spring catalog. What the hell would I do with a > jukebox??]" "Yeah, I could get used to taking the kids to school, running > some errands, and taking it easy the rest of the day."). Also, I got to > talk to their babysitter (whom we seem to talk to a lot), and found out > that they gave her the pitch. She's 20, a part-time college student paying > her way by babysitting when not in class. Very low target, but one it > seems they're after - young, and in need of cash. > Their "working weekend" was this past weekend. I made plans to be > at my best friends almost all the time. Still, he kept asking me when I'd > be back, and why I had to go, etc. - I knew he wanted to talk to me, but I > knew not to give him the chance. It was like a chess game. My parents, > however, could not escape - it's their house. This is where I get worried. > He gave them the pitch Saturday sometime. I got home late, and everyone > was asleep, so I didn't hear about it - just saw the brochures and "free > gift" lying on the kitchen table. Sunday I was gone all day again, and > came home around 7:30. They were all at my sisters for a supper. On the > microwave lying was a distributor application, and it was signed by both my > parents. I was very scared at that point - to me, it was like they had > signed their souls to the devil himself. They came home around 11:00, and > I confronted my mother about the application. She contends that they don't > have to do anything. Rick told them that they don't have to sell anything, > and they made it clear that they wouldn't. She could *not*, however, tell > me what the application was for. She said they just wanted them to sign > it, and said they wouldn't have to do anything. I kept insisting that if > they didn't have to do anything, they wouldn't have had to sign anything. > She was of the opinion that this was my brother and his wife's little game, > and that they were just playing along to make them happy. > What did they sign? He left a stack of catalogs here on the > kitchen table for them, and a box that contains business start-up info. My > mother insists that the stuff can't be for them, because they don't have to > do anything. Is this part of their "Quick Growth" that I saw on their > folders they had? Get the people to sign now under no obligation, and then > ease them in later on? > Sunday night he also gave the speech to my sister and her husband, > who said no and *didn't* sign anything, and, I found out later, didn't know > my parents had signed. > My whole problem with them now is that I feel I have a dollar sign > over my head - I'm potential income for them, and they're going to try to > snag me no matter what. And any question they ask me now seems like a set > up, and I just don't trust them! One point I thought of: they see people > as income - the more under them the more money they'll supposedly get. > People are not income, though, to be marketed. People's skills, are. They > don't see that, though. Also, is their any data on the percentage of Amway > people who actually become millionaires, as opposed to the percentage of > the general population who do? > One of the effects that we see that they don't, is the time lost > with their children. They have a two-year-old daughter, and the babysitter > taught her to count and say her A-B-C's. Yet their time now is being used > to "invest in their children's future" (from one of the tapes my borther > played for me on the way back to the airport in 1995). > I want to write them a letter, and tell them how wrong they are, > but at the same time I know it won't do any good; it will only disrupt the > family. At the airport yesterday, my sister-in-law said that they'll > probably be back sooner than we think. I know he had a large list made out > of people to talk to, and didn't get to all of them (he even called an old > classmate for a list of everyone from his high school class - that was 26 > years ago!) > In short, I'm desperate and would like to know if my parents are > going to turn into Amway zombies. Thank you very much for your time and > for your web site - I'm printing it all out. > > J. Long
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