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Herbalife, Amway: Commercial Cults?

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posted on Nov, 21 2009 @ 07:39 PM
While browsing through Cult information sites I was surprised to hear of "commercial" cults, a label sometimes applied to direct marketing and distribution networks like Amway or Herbalife. I wonder whether this discription is at all fair. But then I recalled going for a job "interview" with an unkown telemarketing group. They took 20 of us for the presentation, so they were obvioulsy focused on constant recruitment. The business was in a delapidated building and the operation looked like it could be packed up over-night. They claimed not to have a website, and the commision pay was for getting people to attend a presentation concerning a time-share holiday club. Especially as I was working towards a degree, I was quite disappointed when I didn't get the job. It later turned out that they were under an umbrella company operating a scam. More recently we were approached by really aggro sales-ladies flogging a range of make-up "from the stars". Luckily we didn't fall for it, but I read on sites concerming the Victoria Jackson range that the sales-people are naive youngsters, lured with false promises of a high income and management positions. They spend up to ten hours a day, often for minimal income on commision only. Here in South Africa this brand is new, but in the UK it seems well established. I wonder if I should approach these young ladies with some of the information I gathered? But who knows, some people are making money from Herbalife and so forth? Is it even fair to speak of a "commercial cult"? They do seem kinda brainwashed, and they are totally committed.
Rick Ross defines a commercial cult rather cautiously, with a mighty general disclaimer on his Cult News site:

"Can some multi-level-marketing and commercial schemes be seen as somewhat cultic?
Yes, some commercially motivated groups stress total commitment, avoid answering critical questions and seem to employ "cult like" manipulative techniques to achieve what can be seen as undue influence. Though most lack the intense focus upon a central leader like a classic cult, I have received repeated complaints about alleged abuse within some commercial groups.

People considering multi-level-marketing need to research a company thoroughly and ask tough questions.

Is the company about selling a product or selling its system of distribution? This can often be seen by the emphasis it places upon the importance of recruitment.

What amount of the company's income is derived from promotional tools and/or percentages paid up the chain of distribution, as opposed to product sales?

What is the actual net monthly income for the average distributor and the the typical number of hours devoted to achieve that income?
These are important common sense questions that should be clearly answered and objectively proven before becoming involved with any marketing and/or commercial sales group." (

Victoria Jackson make-up (see Victoria Jackson: Enough already at - The Irish Beauty blog seems to be a bit of a mixed bag. Some customers seem happy, although the sales pitch is a lie: the products are made in China and not used by Hollywood stars, they are not vastly reduced in price, they will not be introduced into major retailers, they are talc based with little pigment and not hypoallergenic (allegedly far from it). Yet everyone has a sale pitch, and surely the sales-people will leave when they see the light?
Should one make an effort to "deprogram" workers in commerical cults?

[edit on 21-11-2009 by halfoldman]

[edit on 22-11-2009 by halfoldman]

posted on Nov, 21 2009 @ 07:53 PM
reply to post by halfoldman

Apologies: 2 links above are unclear. The specific Victoria Jackson blog is http//, the Rick A. Ross disclaimer is at Hope this works.
Nope:sadly, despite repeated efforts no link goes to the specific blog on "Victoria Jackson: Enough already", yet it can be googled at "Ireland+Victoria Jackson" for posters interested in that specific case.

[edit on 21-11-2009 by halfoldman]

posted on Nov, 21 2009 @ 09:47 PM
reply to post by halfoldman

There is a really interesting history and definition of commercial cults on the Cult Help and Information - Commercial Cults site.
Strangely these cults do have similarities to legitimate businesses and even governments in their pyramid structures.
The strange thing is the uneasy vibe one gets from the sellers/recruiters involved - it is an almost bizarre feeling of being intensely watched and interpreted that is similar to dealing with certain government representatives or religious cult members.

posted on Nov, 22 2009 @ 02:55 AM
reply to post by halfoldman
I wonder how one deals with such "cults" from a religious perspective, since most religions also employ sales-pitch techniques.

posted on Nov, 22 2009 @ 04:02 AM
This is just an observation from me. But in Thailand (where I currently reside) there are large billboard adverts, TV commercials and proper advertising for Amway products going on.

I'm not sure if this is localised in Thailand or if other developing nations also treat them as a legitimate business.

Back in blighty Shamway is seen as a fairly corrupt corporation peddling overpriced products through people's gullibility and social capital.

I do agree that these sales people appear to be as brainwashed as any scientologist and are potentially as dangerous as Heaven's Gate in their zeal for selling.

It is possible I suppose that they are aliens masquerading as humans but more likely just nut jobs.


posted on Nov, 22 2009 @ 11:35 AM

Originally posted by m0r1arty
Back in blighty Shamway is seen as a fairly corrupt corporation peddling overpriced products through people's gullibility and social capital.

I do agree that these sales people appear to be as brainwashed as any scientologist and are potentially as dangerous as Heaven's Gate in their zeal for selling.

It is possible I suppose that they are aliens masquerading as humans but more likely just nut jobs.


Quite right!

My beloved parents fell into the ScAmway trap in the late 70's- early 80's, and a few more thereafter...In EVERY case, they bailed (after the mandatory initiation fee, of course) when they discovered the strange hivelike behavior of its adherents...

I remember firsthand the "potlucks" and meetings and those memories still make my skin crawl.

I've had numerous friends fall victim to these MLM pyramid scams, and in every case, they distanced themselves from me after they figured out that I wasn't going to fall for what they were trying to sell me. I've personally witnessed MLM scams tear families apart...just like cults do.

You are so correct when you say "corrupt corporations peddling overpriced products through people's gullibility and social capital"....and when they run out of steam in one country, they quickly jump ship to other countries which may be less aware of the truth about MLM...

Excellent topic and post!

posted on Nov, 22 2009 @ 08:30 PM
reply to post by RolandBrichter

Both posts are so interesting. I think in South Africa we are also seeing a proliferation of scams and cults that are an old hat elsewhere.
A lot of the cult sites say that people stuck in commercial cults actually cut off friends and family who refuse to join, or are critical. Having never been in such a cult that sounds so strange (although I've seen it with religious cults). I mean cutting people off because of your line of business - that's astounding.

posted on Nov, 22 2009 @ 09:23 PM
reply to post by halfoldman

Fascinating what I just read on Amway, Focus on the Family, Blackwater mercenary connection. Not really surprising that religious cults and commercial cults are probably run by the same people using similar mind-control techniques. The following extract is from

"Dick DeVos was born into the Amway fortune in Grand Rapids. His role as international vice president and later president of Amway is due to his anointment by his father. He married Elizabeth ( Betsy ) Prince, daughter of Edgar and Elsa Prince, who generated a family fortune in Holland, just south of Grand Rapids. Both family influences are reflected in the candidate for Governor that we see today.

The Prince family is also deeply connected to extreme right and Republican Party politics. No one in the United States gave more money to James Dobson's Focus on the Family, its Michigan Family Forum affiliate, or its Washington, D.C. arm, the Family Research Council, than the late Edgar Prince. This network formed little known political action committees across the state and country that were more influential but less well known than Pat Robertson's Christian Coalition.

The brother of the would-be First Lady of Michigan, Erik Prince, also adopted the extreme right views of his parents but has used his wealth to start a military mercenary army. The company that it operates under, Blackwater USA, started in 1997 and quickly started getting contracts when George Bush became president. The are a major contractor in Iraq, hiring former Special Forces, Rangers and Navy SEALS to run security for U.S. ambassadors and unconventional warfare in the streets of Iraq's cities."

posted on Nov, 24 2009 @ 08:10 PM
reply to post by halfoldman

I wonder sometimes whether religious and/or commercial cults are not just extremes of political cults.
It's not always true, but often one can tell someone's political allegience when one knows their business and religion.

posted on Nov, 24 2009 @ 08:23 PM
reply to post by halfoldman

When it comes to the question of if a corporation is part of the Illuminati, I would say " You will know them by their fruits" Kind of like the creeps who tried to vote down Ron Paul's " Audit the Fed"

I examined a couple of them like Maxine waters, who voted against it, and found on wiki, that she had been voted on a list of most corrupt politicians. So, it comes to show a lot a bought the character of those people, especially by what they are opposing.

posted on Nov, 24 2009 @ 11:03 PM
I don't know if they qualify as "cults" but they are definitely full of bad vibes. The funny thing is they have been around for a long time and there has been plenty of time for people to realize they are a crock. Anyone who still falls for this BS has got to be dumber than a sack of hammers.

posted on Nov, 24 2009 @ 11:15 PM
reply to post by Lord Running Clam

That depends where you are. I think we're getting a lot of them now, promising poor young people a "career".
But then, I was given a flyer at the traffic lights from the "Children of God", and I thought they were long defunct.

posted on Nov, 25 2009 @ 06:42 AM
There are so many MLM scheme's out there like Amway or Herbalife. They are almost cult-like in their promise of easy money with minimal work, which the weak-minded with no common sense easily fall prey to. All it takes is a little diligent research. But so many folks are pulled in by the "easy money" aspect.

Another is Monavie, a "nutritional" juice:

Only about 1% even qualify for commissions. And only about 10% of that 1% makes at least $100 per week. Now there's some easy money for ya.

World Financial Group is daughter fell prey to them. They make them wear orange t-shirts and attend "seminars", at $150 a pop, exhorting them to recruit more "associates". My daughter finally took the hint and backed out after shelling out $2000 or so for nothing, but at least a litter wiser.

All four companies mentioned here are in:

Another red flag about these kinds of companies is how many lawsuits have been brought against them. And how many of those did they settle out of court.

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

posted on Nov, 25 2009 @ 07:00 AM
My parents were also fooled into believing the Amway philosophy back in the late 70's. The only thing my parents gained from it was some pretty good laundry detergent.

Nowadays they operate as Quixtar to avoid the typical reaction to Amway. Do some research on Quixtar and its higher ups in the Amway chain and you will find some very wealthy people that have made their fortunes on the backs of the average Joe who can barely spare a dime.

The higher ups require everyone in their down line to buy training materials and to attend massive conferences held in large commercial arenas. This is where the real money comes from in addition to the bonus checks received from Amway corporate. It is a party atmosphere and money is spent like it is going out of style.

The average "business owner" may only earn $1,000 a year if they are lucky. Subtract all of the money spent on training materials and conference trips are you back deeper in the same hole that you started in.

These higher ups in the org. are also notorious for involving their down lines in investment/Ponzi scheme type investments. GREED GREED GREED

here is a fun little site read about the $17million Ponzi scheme surrounding Don and Ruth Storms and those in their downline. They were former neighbors who took a massive fall due to their greed and arrogance.

edit to add: When the economy is in the dumps these types of orgs. flourish by dishing out huge doses of false hope and false dreams. Many even use religion and God to get their message across. Nothing like a minister preaching to a downline that God wants them to have wealth and physical possessions.

[edit on 25-11-2009 by jibeho]

posted on Nov, 25 2009 @ 07:15 AM
Gosh is Amway still going?
Here is some background - which discusses the cult issue.
Many years ago we sold our house to a couple who I later bumped into and who invited us round for a drink and to discuss 'a job'. The guy was a head teacher, not in the first flush of youth and to our great amazement he produced a mini trampoline - one of their products - and proceeded to bounce up and down on it with energetic zeal. Then they demonstrated various business products. We were like rabbits caught in the headlights and didn't have the guts to just up and leave. Apparently they used to recruit a lot from the teaching profession. Don't know if this is still the case.
It certainly wasn't for me. I won't capitalize on friendships to sell even charity raffle tickets.
They call it 'multi level marketing'. In my view it is an offspin of pyramid selling, which is illegal in the UK. Here is an article on the difference.

[edit on 25-11-2009 by unicorn1]

[edit on 25-11-2009 by unicorn1]

posted on Nov, 25 2009 @ 07:18 AM
Well the people I have known who participate in AmWay, now Quixtar have been pretty darn mind controlled. They mostly associate with other members and the little money they do make is given right back to the company as fees for seminars to improve their sales techniques and marketing strategies. It's the same way with Mary Kay.

I once briefly met a guy who was a neighbor of mine right before I moved to another neighborhood altogether. About a month after I moved he started calling me. I never seemed to be home and he would leave a message. Something just did not seem right about the guy and his messages became more snarky and pushy so I didn't answer the phone even if I was home. I figured he would give up. Wrong! After a while it was like an experiment, he would call at all hours, every two weeks or so...for one year! It was sad and amusing at the same time.

Finally one night at about 10:30 or so he called and I answered it. I asked "Why the hell do you keep calling me? I don't even know you, it's been a year since we barely met, what the hell dude!?" He launched into his AmWay script. It was so surreal. Suddenly I was wishing he was a stalker instead, then I could have just called the police!

Another neighbor of mine sells Mary Kay. Because of my job and business contacts, she wanted me to sell it as well and, though she is the nicest person, she just would not take no for an answer. Finally I had to print out all of the pages of complaints I could find on the web and give them to her in order for her to get that I wasn't interested. I never came right out and said she was caught up in a scam but she never asked me again.

posted on Nov, 25 2009 @ 07:43 AM
reply to post by kosmicjack

I was once "quixtarred"/approached while I was shopping in a CompUSA. The moment the guy opened his mouth with typical questions I knew what was coming. I told him to save his breath and move on and he did. I watched him approach about 3 other shoppers after me.

Tuck your pride between your legs when you go trolling for suckers.

posted on Dec, 1 2009 @ 02:37 PM
reply to post by jibeho

The issues of the late calls and especially the trampoline (above) are hilarious
However, it's not at all funny while happening.
I spoke to an ex-member of Herbalife today, and all she has to show is a bag, and they took all "comfrey" tea products off the market for being toxic (as in poisonous).

posted on Dec, 1 2009 @ 02:57 PM
Amway is still around? I haven't heard about these people in years. The last time I got involved with these people was back in '79 or '80. I'll agree these people where very cult like. I went to one of their meetings and they'ed make it look like the fact your life is so terrible is because it was your own fault, because you're a putz, etc. but... if you followed their "business plan" you could be saved and be ever so rich, rich rich. Yah, the only rich ones ones where the people at the top of the pyramid. Only you couldn't say the word pyramid, that was considered blasphemy and they would prove you wrong by drawing all these circles on a board calling what they do a "business plan" and have all these fancy sayings that were designed to make you feel small unless you were a part of their circle er.. pyramid. Do yourself a favour, if these people are still around and they approach you, just run.

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