Today in the USA and elsewhere, due to many competitive commercial factors (supermarkets, discount stores, Online shopping, etc.) hardly anyone buys consumer goods on his/her door-step.
Historically, door-to-door direct selling (or what used to be known as peddling) was a very common way of doing business in the USA, but at the start of the 20th century its image was blighted by fly-by-night quacks and charlatans. In an age when most women did not go to work, and even the middle-class had servants to cook, clean and receive visitors, door-step products were invariably cheap and cheerful, and aimed at ordinary housewives. From just before WWI until the 1970s, the 'Direct Selling Association' was a national trade association in the USA that represented (and was only financed by) a number of generally-reputable commercial companies of various sizes. These businesses used to generate profits by regularly selling everyday goods (perfumes, cosmetics, costume jewellery, household products, books, etc.) directly to the general public through salaried, and/or non-salaried, commission agents. Although unethical high-pressure sales tactics were increasingly used by new, and less-reputable, DSA members, in their traditional format, direct retail transactions were authentic and lawful, because they were based on value and demand. Furthermore, the DSA members originally tried to keep fly-by-night quacks and charlatans at bay, and, at one time they agreed that the number of commission agencies for any particular company, should be limited in given geographical/population areas. This common-sense measure was intended to prevent counter-productive internal disputes amongst the sales-force and to enable individual sellers to have a fair chance of finding sufficient loyal customers to make a decent living.
Today, when examined in splendid isolation by casual observers, the self-proclaimed activities of the corporate structures forming 'Direct Selling Associations' internationally, can appear to be the same as above. However, when the wider-evidence is examined, during the second half of the 20th century (as door-to-door selling died out in the USA and elsewhere) the membership of 'DSAs' came largely to comprise an ever-growing number of so-called 'Multi-Level Marketing/income opportunity' companies ('Amway', 'Herbalife', 'Nu Skin', 'Forever Living Products', etc.) which have been used to dissimulate rigged-market swindles or pyramid schemes. The racketeers behind these counterfeit direct selling companies, have acquired their wealth by steadfastly pretending moral and intellectual authority, whilst deceiving an endless-chain of victims (now comprising countless millions of individuals around the globe) into making regular losing-investments in exchange for effectively-unsaleable commodities (i.e. banal, but grossly-overpriced products, often of a dubious pseudo-scientific nature with highly-exaggerated, and/or miraculous, claimed benefits which cannot be quantified). These transactions, already totalling many billions of stolen dollars, have actually been based on the false-expectation of future reward. However, they have been laundered as lawful retail sales based on value and demand.
The outrageous 'MLM direct selling' lie, has been hiding in plain sight for so long: that many people now not only accept it as the truth, but they have laughed out loud at rational persons suggesting that, in reality, so-called 'MLM recruiters' are adherents of the crackpot pseudo-economic theory that endless chain recruitment + endless payments by the recruits = endless profits for the recruits. However, it is important for readers to distinguish between short-term participants and chronic, core-believers in the 'MLM income opportunity' fairy story. The overwhelming majority of people who have been taken-in by 'MLM,' have quit within a short time, usually because they find it impossible to convert, and/or maintain, other contributing recruits, and/or they have no cash, or credit, to continue contributing themselves. Since they were invariably recruited by a friend or relative, they have little reason to complain, and they wouldn't know exactly what to say, or where to complain, anyway.
There has been a significant minority of chronic 'MLM' proselytizers, with access to cash or credit, who continue as de facto slave recruiters, sometimes for decades. In many cases, these dangerously-deluded, self-righteous persons will do, or say, anything to sign-up, and/or maintain, recruits - convinced that they will only achieve total financial freedom by helping others to achieve it .They have been indoctrinated to ignore their mounting losses/debts and to commit everything they can get their hands on. Some even steal from their friends and families, and/or deprive themselves, and/or their families, of food, heating, etc. In the very worst cases, gung-ho 'MLM' adherents known as 'Road Warriors' have been indoctrinated to go without sleep and have ended up dead at the wheels of their cars - crashing whilst en route to late-night recruitment meetings.