The year 2007 was pivotal for Amway/Quixtar at home and abroad. Once again, controversy dogged the company and questions arose about the way Amway/Quixtar IBOs marketed the business. One of its biggest legal challenges came in one of its oldest international markets, the United Kingdom. The top earner there, Trevor Lowe, had been an Amway distributor for 26 years, rising to Diamond level. Amway had immersed itself in the United Kingdom’s culture, making gifts to charity, hiring popular television personalities to present recruitment videos, and paying two Conservative members of Parliament to act as consultants to Amway U.K. Some years earlier, former Prime Minister Tony Blair even recorded a video “message of support” for the United Kingdom’s direct-selling association.1 The United Kingdom was an important market for Amway because it represented the gateway to Europe.
However, the British government’s Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform agency, or BERR, had been investigating claims that Amway U.K.’s agents exaggerated that IBOs could receive substantial financial rewards by selling Amway products and earning bonuses for recruiting other distributors, and misled people into purchasing books, videos, tickets to meetings, and other materials that were said to be vital in starting an Amway business. BERR’s investigation concluded that only 10 percent of Amway’s IBOs in Britain even made a profit—and those were the ones who had been business owners the ...