A few years ago, I started noticing that some people were chronic sellers of Amway-exclusive products on eBay.
Amway’s Rules of Conduct prohibit their distributors/Independent Business Owners from selling its products via online auctions.
But these folks were not IBOs, and peculiarly, they were selling at prices that suggested they were getting their hands on these items at extremely low cost.
I wasn’t the only who noticed, it turns out.
Amway has been well aware of the practice too, and in June the corporation filed a lawsuit against three of these eBay sellers, Brian and Natalie Schirle of Bend, Oregon, and Ken Hankinson of Grand Rapids, right in Amway’s backyard.
Mr. Hankinson is quoted as saying that he received his products to sell via channels such as garage sales and thrift stores. Seeing his name for years, and the quantities that he has been selling, I laughed when I read that.
Apparently, one of his fellow eBayers also found the claim hard to swallow:
Excerpting from a June 21 story on mlive.com, “Unauthorized sales not only fly in the face of the company’s distribution system but damage the company’s reputation for assuring customer satisfaction with a return policy, contend Amway attorneys.
Products allegedly sold through the couple’s auctions came with a limited 14-day return policy, compared to Amway’s 180-day customer satisfaction guarantee.”
What I find amusing is how Amway critics are trying to portray this as a David vs. Goliath struggle. Amway, of course, plays the role of big, bad Goliath hypocritically suppressing the very same free enterprise that is at the center of its business model.
It’s much more accurate to look at Amway as standing up for all of the hundreds of thousands of Davids who, as Independent Business Owners, are in no position to challenge eBay, the online auction Goliath that is enabling this illegal activity.
In response to this laughable contention that Amway’s legal action is somehow anti-free enterprise, an Amway spokeswoman stated:
(Kudos to Shandra Martinez for her follow-up reporting.)
I am grateful that we have a corporation that is willing to take that stand, and take this action, especially when they know it’s going to invite potshots from those who have some pathological foam-at-the-mouth animosity toward Amway specifically and, often, multi-level marketing companies of any kind.
Because of these unauthorized sales, IBOs suffer because it undermines the prices they charge and creates an uneven playing field. and Amway is stepping in.
That’s a strong statement illustrating that Amway truly does look out for its IBOs and is going to bat for all of us.
Amazon.com, with all your unauthorized Amway-exclusive products, I hope you’re next.