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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Wednesday, April 1, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Spokane

Avon severs ties with longtime Spokane saleswoman who criticized company’s shifting business model

Jeannie Greene delivers Avon products in Spokane on Wednesday, March 11, 2020. After expressing concern about the company’s direction in an interview earlier this month with the newspaper, Avon fired her this week. (Kathy Plonka / The Spokesman-Review)
Jeannie Greene delivers Avon products in Spokane on Wednesday, March 11, 2020. After expressing concern about the company’s direction in an interview earlier this month with the newspaper, Avon fired her this week. (Kathy Plonka / The Spokesman-Review)

The Spokane Avon lady who planned on leaving the company after more than three decades due to changes she saw in their business model has been abruptly let go.

Jeannie Greene received an overnight letter earlier this week from the New Avon Co. indicating the company closed her independent seller account because she had been “disparaging the Avon Brand through an article and your comments to the media conflict with Avon’s values.” A company spokeswoman confirmed the authenticity of the letter and said Greene had violated a company policy by not clearing an interview with their corporate headquarters first.

Greene had planned to sell products for a few more weeks and had to break the news to her customers Wednesday.

“I didn’t want to give up my people,” Greene said by phone Wednesday. “Today was so hard.”

Greene has been selling Avon products door-to-door for 36 years. She said earlier this month that she was concerned the company would no longer send her paper receipt books to track her sales and that she’d seen some of her customers’ favorite products disappear from catalogs after Avon’s North American operations were purchased by South Korean firm LG Household and Health Care Ltd. in April 2019.

After an article about her concerns appeared in Saturday’s Spokesman-Review, Greene said she received a phone call from an unlisted number Monday morning indicating the company was dropping her as an independent saleswoman due to “inaccuracies” in the story. The overnight letter followed Tuesday, but she also received a shipment of Avon goods that she delivered Wednesday, which she believes is her last.

Greene said she didn’t regret her criticism of Avon’s direction after being sold.

“Of course you want to represent your company,” Greene said. “I never said anything bad about their products. I wear their makeup, their jewelry. I’m a walking billboard for them.”

In a statement, an Avon spokeswoman did not answer the newspaper’s question about inaccuracies in the initial reporting.

“New Avon Company is the leading social selling beauty company in North America, with Independent Sales Representatives throughout the United States and Puerto Rico,” the statement reads. “Our business policy for Avon Independent Sales Representatives includes prior written permission from Avon for participation in any press interviews.”

Greene said she was unaware of any requirement for corporate approval of interviews.

Greene said the dismissal doesn’t hurt her family’s finances, as she made just a little more than $3,000 selling products for the company in 2019. She’s more worried about the message the corporate owners are sending with her dismissal and control over what representatives can and can’t say about the company.

“It just opened my eyes,” Greene said of the letter she received terminating her association with the company. “That was the catalyst. There was no call for it at all.”

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