Is ACN A Scam?
September 23, 2013 9:27 AM   Subscribe

I friend of mine is telling me about this ACN (American Communications Network Inc) service she is getting into. Does anybody have any experience with them?

I found out she has to pay $500 at this meeting they are driving her to. She has to pay to setup multiple accounts. etc... It sound very suspicious to me.

She doesn't have a lot of money and see's this as a way to get some. To me it looks like she will try to "sell" her friends and family (and me?!!!?) services like telephone, tv, utilities, etc. cheaper that we get them from the source. (How is that possible? Example DirecTv is cheaper through ACN than via an account with DirecTv??? Sounds very unlikely)

I could only find a nine year old posting about this here. Any information would be helpful. I plan on printing a bunch of info and overwhelming her. She wouldn't take my word, perhaps the word of many she will...

Thank you.
posted by Leenie to Work & Money (13 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
The Ripoff Report is a good resource for more information. Here is a search for ACN. It's clearly a scam.
posted by desjardins at 9:33 AM on September 23, 2013 [5 favorites]

It sounds like multi-level marketing.

Must read.
posted by Dansaman at 9:43 AM on September 23, 2013

I've got to say I think the opposite to Ruthless Bunny (although the more perspectives you have the better) - ie. that it's doing her a kindness to gently try and stop her from getting scammed.

However, if the facts don't work, why not try sitting down with a cup of tea/coffee/something else, and saying look, I want to understand what this is that you're doing. Will you explain it to me how it works? Get her to plan it out with you, how her investment is going to pay off, and then show her the pitfalls you've found on the web and say, what happens if this? I just want to know you're ready for it because I don't want you to have a bad time.

See if you can get her to start questioning it for herself, so that she can slowly come to her senses rather than being forced out of a comforting belief.
posted by greenish at 9:44 AM on September 23, 2013 [3 favorites]

In 2010 ACN avoided a pyramid scheme lawsuit by the state of Montana by the skin of their teeth. You can read more on the BBB page.
posted by griphus at 9:46 AM on September 23, 2013

My take on it is to always remember that businesses often say, "We cut out the middleman!" but MLMs say, "We add more and more and more middlemen!"

How can this possibly work, exactly?
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 9:52 AM on September 23, 2013 [5 favorites]

Yeah, I had a buddy wheedle me into going to one of these. It's MLM. They have a cockamamie scheme about making themselves the middle men in people's utility bills, satellite bills, and the like. They were also pushing hard on a video phone service ("It's so much better than Skype!" except, you know, not free.) I faked an emergency phone call and bailed the hell out of there.

My friend signed up and I did not. He ended up regretting it. RUN.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:57 AM on September 23, 2013 [1 favorite]

Please try to help her. Tell her it's a scam, tell her that no legitimate business would ask for $500 before meeting with her.
posted by Slinga at 9:58 AM on September 23, 2013 [2 favorites]

A friend of mine got roped into ACN, I hadn't heard from her in a while and suddenly she's pestering me non-stop to discuss my cable bill, come to presentations, and to give her my friends' contact information. It was unbelievably tiresome, not just to me but to our shared circle of acquaintances.

She did not make a livable wage and she damaged a lot of her relationships doing this (as one does when one tries to monetize one's friendships). It took a year before she snapped out of it and another 2 years before any of us were willing to have anything to do with her. I imagine from her perspective she felt pretty isolated and abandoned in the fallout; I know I continue to think less of her than I had before (as one does when one realizes that the friendship is nothing more than a contact to be mined for another's personal gain).

So yeah, talk her out of it if you can.
posted by jamaro at 10:17 AM on September 23, 2013 [3 favorites]

I think a socratic method may be the most effective if she is getting invested in the group. Don't tell her it's a scam, just ask her to explain to you how she can tell when someone is lying to her. Have her explain how she can tell if something like the classic "buy the brooklyn bridge and collect on the tolls" scam works. Ask her if what she knows about Bernie Madoff and how his operation worked. After all of that, you can have a conversation about all the similarities between the scams and ACN.
posted by Sophont at 11:14 AM on September 23, 2013 [1 favorite]

It's multilevel marketing and could suck years of her life for no return. I have several family members who devoted YEARS to ACN. I've been to tons of ACN meetings myself and know them very well. I know from personal experience that they don't lie about the savings, so that is not a scam. To help my close loved one I had ACN for phone, cell phones, etc. I did this for them for years and I don't believe the service was a scam. I even liked their internet customer service and have good thoughts about them.

BUT it would have been so much better for everyone in my life if we had never heard of them. The phone and internet services ARE NOT THE POINT OF ACN. They are meaningless. First, she will waste a lot of money. 500 is just the start. Next, she will never make back a tenth of what she puts in. And she will have to try desperately to do so. There will be meetings and conferences and they will make her feel like any problems are all her fault because success should be guaranteed. But ACN is designed so that people like her do Not succeed but rather make money for their upline. As soon as she joins she will know that the phone services were simply bait. The focus will have to be on getting other people to become "associates" like her, to get as many as she can to go through the same struggle. This creates competitiveness with people who are supposed to be friends and loved ones. For those who agree to become customers but not associates, she may be grateful at first but her up line "mentors" will pressure her to turn those customers into more dupes. I think I was signed up as an ACN associate at some point, with all fees paid by my family member who was desperate to make it work. This dishonesty was encouraged by all the higher ups. Who knows how many people avoid him now because every time he called them before he had to push ACN. Nothing to show for it. Her failure is required for ACN to work. Most have to put in more than they can ever get out.
posted by Danila at 12:52 PM on September 23, 2013 [2 favorites]

Yeah, a friend of mine got sucked into the Australian version.

100% scam. Promise.
posted by Salamander at 1:52 PM on September 23, 2013

When a friend asked me to join. After I learned more about how it worked I ran far, far away. Any business in which someone makes money by building a network rather than selling a product is most likely a scam.
posted by KwaiChangCaine at 7:44 PM on September 23, 2013

Frankly, I don't like the MLM model at all, but some people (a rare few) who are extremely good salespeople who are good at building their downlines do make money with them.

Of course, extremely good salespeople might make even more money working in sales for a traditional business.

If she really wants to do MLM, there are reviews out there of the different MLM programs. Being hauled off to the first one that comes along, where they make you pay $500 (and sign and pay who knows what else before they drive here back!) probably isn't the best one to choose.
posted by yohko at 12:30 PM on September 24, 2013

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