Volunteer “Fired” Because of Amway’s Suit Against Him

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August 12, 2012; Source: MLive

Ken Hankinson volunteered twice a week with Mel Trotter Ministries in Sparta, Mich. He unloaded donations and drove forty miles round trip to do so. But when Amway sued Hankinson for selling Amway products on eBay, the organization serving homeless people suggested that he not return. Hankinson says the reason given was that, as reported by MLive, “a member of the company’s founding families served on the organization’s board.” Hankinson, a retired schoolteacher, had volunteered as many as 10 hours per week.

But Sandra Gaddy, the vice president of development at the charity, said, “Mr. Hankinson was asked to take a leave of absence from his volunteer work to avoid a possible conflict of interest…As a benefactor of Amway product donations over the years, Mel Trotter wanted to avoid being falsely accused of providing the products at the center of the lawsuit.”

This article states that Hankinson asserted that he obtained his supply of Amway (and Alticor, Amway’s parent company) products at an auction, yard sales and thrift shops; the latter included Mel Trotter stores. Although the lawsuit has been settled and Hankinson can volunteer with Mel Trotter Ministries again, he does not plan to return to the organization. “The more I thought about it, the more upset I was that they threw me under the bus,” said Hankinson. “I was doing valuable work.”

An interesting situation. We’d love to hear reader thoughts on this one. –Ruth McCambridge

  • Tex

    This is par for the course with Amway. This is a total scam, as the upper level IBOs make most of their profits on the tools they sell to their groups, and Amway profits from higher product prices and lower bonus payouts, as the upper level IBOs don’t want to rock the Amway boat. The rest of the 99+% of IBOs lose from both of these factors. Feel free to contact me for more information at stoptheamwaytoolscam@yahoo.com.

  • Reader, R. George Bailey

    I don’t trust any ministry that has the name of any mortal man still living on it. These egotistical preachers need to learn that neither they, nor their boards own any real ministry that is of God. It all belongs to God! For shame! If it is a real ministry of God, it will have NO living man’s name on it but Jesus Christ, the Father, Son or Holy Spirit, or a Holy Saint who has been proven by God through miracles or martyrdom, or a Holy Day or Holy Place of the Church. Never by a self proclaimed man of God!

  • JZ

    Amway/Alticor is a dodgy billion dollar company that resorts to altering Wikipedia to hide their deceptive practices. Also, 100% of their political donations went to Republicans and conservative groups like Heritage and ALEC, who are trying to cut funding for non-profits like Mel Trotter across the country. They are the ones who should be sued by us, the people, and Mel Trotter Ministries caved into evil.


  • Cynthia

    I understand why they let him go and I understand why he doesn’t want to return.

    On the surface of it, it seems safe to assume that someone who is selling stuff he gets at yard sales on eBay is in a different financial league than a member of the founding family of Amway. One would like to believe an organization that calls itself a ministry could bring some compassion for the volunteer to the table. BUT it has been my experience–and I say this without heat–that in most organizations , religious or not, in a disagreement between the needs of a person with power and a person without power the person without power is going to lose.

    We can talk all we want about how important the volunteers who really do the work of the organization are but if there is someone farther up the food chain who has a problem with them, the delivery guy is always going to be the one who goes under the bus.

  • Jeff

    Your comments are so true. It is good to see that others understand the truth about Amway and their connection to the far right wing in this country. This company and its leaders are living large on the backs of the working poor.

  • Dolores, NYC

    This is not about Amway. This is not about buying cheap at flea markets and selling on eBay for profit, This is not about a religious organization. It is about the status of a non-profit organization which should not be compromised in any way. Why should any non-profit organization allow one person’s unethical behavior cause a possible conflict of interest? It is unfortunate that Mr. Hankinson is upset, but integrity and character should play a giant part in anyone’s volunteer work – not just the hours offered per week.

  • Jan

    If indeed Mr. Hankinson was selling Amway products on eBay in violation of Amway’s compliance policies, then certainly he should have been sued. But there’s very little he could do about the ministry’s Board politics. The ministry obviously didn’t value his service enough to continue getting the blessing he brought every week. It sounds like an opportunity for forgiveness all around. In every situation no one is all right or all wrong.

  • Paul Rattray

    Indeed an interesting case. Questions to ask: Does Amway specifically forbid its products to be resold? If not then Ken Hankinson did nothing wrong and Mel Trotter and Amway are in the wrong. If yes, then Ken Hankinson did the wrong thing and the reaction of Mel Trotter is correct.

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  • C.T.L. Spear

    Friend, you need to research the topic. Mel Trotter has been dead many years.