I am not one to apply the term "cult" loosely, but after having attempted the Amway business for a year I can definitely say that at least some factions of Amway use "cult tactics" [sic] to keep their membership numbers going. To be fair, I don't think the Amway Corporation itself condones these sort of practices, but they certainly don't do anything to discourage it.
It seemed this was true at the distributor organization I was involved in. The cult tactics I observed over the course of a year included the following:
After joining up, our upline urged us to attend an average of four meetings of varying size and length a week.
The other three days a week, they urged us to be calling and setting up appointments to "show the plan" with everybody we could possibly think of.
In case you haven't yet done the math, this left exactly zero days to have any social contact with any friends or family who didn't join Amway with us. (by the way, exactly one family member and zero friends signed up with us).
When I expressed concern about this to our upline Emerald, his response was "if they won't join up, are they really your friends?"
At the meetings and in conversations with other Distributors, people who will not join Amway are frequently referred to as losers, people who have no ambition and cannot think "outside the box" who only bring down the few successful people they have in their lives.
By the way, my social life in Amway was restricted to my upline and downline. We actually got scolded once for going for a night out with another couple in our immediate sponsor's immediate downline (in other words, they were recruited by the same couple that recruited us)!
Watching TV and reading anything other than Money, Forbes, and other business and finance-related magazines, is discouraged. If your car has a tape-deck, you are encouraged to have a training tape playing anytime you are driving.
Also, when I expressed resistance about shelling out money for tapes and meetings, my sponsors did not hesitate to push my wife into buying these things without my consent. Needless to say, this caused marital strife, which the upline laughingly referred to as "Am-wars" and which they said were common among recruits during their first years in the business.
To make an already-long story shorter, after a year and about $1,000 lost on meetings, tapes, etc., I got fed up with this and stopped attending meetings and demanded our standing-order tape subscription be canceled.
My wife continued attending the meetings until our former sponsors asked her, in my absence, if she was really sure she wanted to spend the rest of her life with someone who had no ambition and no dream and would likely keep he from ever realizing her dreams as well.
My wife, who up to that point still believed that the Amway people we knew were our friends, never spoke with them again.
I could go on for hours about how horrible of an investment of your time and money Amway was apart from the cult tactics, but that's really a separate subject EXCEPT that the cult tactics are probably necessary to keep certain Amway distributorships like the one we were in going, in light of the fact that 99% of their members are losing money on their Amway businesses at any given time.
Hope this information helps people think twice about joining Amway/Quixtar, or, having failed that, helps them not feel bad if they join and decide to quit later.