How Direct Sellers Dodged FTC Regulation

Amway and others lobbied against rules protecting distributors
A 1960s Tupperware party SSPL/NMEM/Daily Herald Archive/Getty Images

For years so-called multilevel or direct-selling marketers, which enlist individuals to flog vitamins, cosmetics, and weight-loss supplements to their friends and acquaintances, have drawn criticism from consumer advocates, who liken the businesses to illegal pyramid schemes. That’s because distributors also make money by recruiting other sellers and getting a cut of their revenue, and newcomers are often encouraged to invest in training materials and supplies. Those practices have led to class actions filed by former distributors who claim they were defrauded and calls for increased regulation to protect them.

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