I have a close friend who sells Pampered Chef and have bought a couple of things from her--but they're things I would've bought anyway, and, like jedikaiti's friend, she's not the type to do high-pressure sales or recruitment tactics. She is also very honest about the sales parties she hosts; she'll tell you right up front that it's a Pampered Chef party.
That's nothing at all like the experience I had with Amway in the fall of 1995:
I was "prospected" while walking home from the grocery store. The nice man who offered to help carry my bags talked to me about an opportunity to start my own business. It sounded pretty good. I was recently out of school, and looking for work. We exchanged phone numbers.
I called him back, and we arranged to meet at a coffee shop on a Sunday afternoon to discuss this "opportunity." He drew the circles, quoted some statistics, and asked me about my "dream."
Several things bothered me. When the guy drew the circles for me, he commented, "Some people will look at this and say, 'pyramid.' But then, aren't most businesses structured that way?" He emphasized the legality and honesty of "the business"--which until then I hadn't thought to question. Methinks the man did protest too much!
He also equated "being successful" with making money. The elderly and the poor were "burdens." Diamonds and furs could be mine if I joined the business. He asked me what I would be willing to give up for all those material goods.
What bothered me most was that his personal story sounded entirely too much like a religious testimony. It can be summed up in a few sentences: 1. I was once just like you; 2. Here's what I was doing (exaggerating how awful, boring, etc. it was, of course) before I "got saved" by the business; 3. I had doubts at first, but 4. once I was "saved," it changed my life; 5. My life is wonderful now, and yours can be too! (I already have a religion--I don't need another.)
Only at the end of the story was Amway mentioned.
He encouraged me to "check the facts" and listen to some tapes. I passed on the tapes, but said I would check the facts, and call him back once I had. I never did call him.
In the course of "checking the facts" I found several books and Web pages critical of Amway, and was horrified
at what I found out. The "personal story" I'd heard had been plagiarized from an Amway tape. I had a 99%+ chance of losing money I could ill afford to lose. (At the time, I was living on a grocery budget of about $20 per week. Just to give you an idea...) And in order to "be successful" in Amway, I would have had to give up all the things in my life that were and are central to who I am--my faith, my family, my friends, my writing, my music--in order to "show the plan" five or six nights a week.
In short, it was not worth it.