ACN Inc.

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ACN, Inc. [ACN]
Type Private
Industry Telecommunications
Founded Incorporated 1993
Headquarters Concord, North Carolina, USA
Key people Robert Stevanovski, Chairman
Gregory Provenzano, President
Anthony Cupisz, VP
Michael Cupisz, VP
Chip Barker, CEO[1][2]
Products
Revenue US$ 550 million (2010)[3]
Employees 1,300 (2010)[4]
Website www.acninc.com

ACN, Inc. is a multi-level marketing (MLM) company that provides telecommunications, television, energy and other services through a network of independent sales agents known as "Independent Business Owners" (IBOs), who themselves recruit new sales agents below them. Based in Concord, North Carolina, USA, ACN began operations in the United States in 1993 as American Communications Network. It extended operations to Europe in 1999, to the Pacific in 2006, to Asia in 2011, and now operates in 23 countries, on four continents.[5] As a reflection of its international operations, it changed its name to just the initial letters ACN.[citation needed] The company is a member of the Direct Selling Associations in North America [6][7] and Europe.[8]

Company structure[edit]

The company is based in Concord, North Carolina, United States, ACN has international expansion offices located in Montreal, Quebec, Canada; Amsterdam, the Netherlands; Sydney, Australia; Wrocław, Poland; Umeå, Sweden and Seoul, South Korea.

History[edit]

In 1993, Robert Stevanovski, Greg Provenzano, and twin brothers Tony and Mike Cupisz, founded the American Communications Network, Inc. ACN opened for business in January, 1993 with twenty initial "independent representatives". ACN's initial business was as a marketing arm for a long-distance reseller called LCI Communications. This relationship lasted for five years until LCI was acquired by Qwest Communications.[2] By 1998, ACN was listed in Inc. Magazine's Inc. 500 list as No. 22 in this annual list of the 500 fastest growing private companies in America.[9]

Formerly ACN, through the subsidiaries ACN Energy and ACN Utility Services, operated as a gas and electricity retailer. ACN's energy assets were acquired by Commerce Energy Group in 2006.[10]

Since 2006, ACN has been endorsed by multi-billionaire and The Apprentice executive producer, Donald Trump. He has spoken at ACN International Training Events at which he has praised the company's founders, business model and video phone.[11][12]

ACN built its own digital phone service network in 2008. On June 21, 2012, ACN launched its newest generation video phone, the IRIS X.[13]

In 2008, ACN moved its headquarters from Farmington Hills, Michigan to Concord, North Carolina.[14][15]

In 2011, ACN expanded operation to the Czech Republic and Hungary, bringing the company's reach to 23 countries on four continents.[citation needed]

Services[edit]

ACN offers landline telephone service (local and long distance), Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), including video phone service, high-speed internet, satellite television, cellular phone, and home security services, primarily to consumers, and secondarily to small businesses. Beginning in 2011, ACN also began offering an ACN-branded international calling smartphone app available for iPhone, Android and Symbian, reselling WiMAX wireless Internet, and technical support service for personal and business computers, as well as getting back into the energy reselling market.[16]

With variations depending upon the country of operation, provision of ACN's services follows three models:

  1. The reselling of ACN-branded services ultimately originating in an incumbent provider. This is exemplified by local and long-distance telephone, where ACN buys local telephone service from an incumbent provider such as Qwest or AT&T, and bills customers in its own name. This model was made possible by telephone industry deregulation beginning in 1996; prior to this, ACN was involved solely in reselling long-distance telephone service. It was the expansion of deregulation internationally that made it possible for ACN to begin to operate outside the United States.
  2. Acting as a sales agent for the service provider, where an ACN representative sells the service, but order fulfillment, billing, and servicing is performed by the branded provider. In the US, ACN resells internet service through AT&T, Verizon, CenturyLink, Time Warner Cable, Comcast, and Cox. ACN offers wireless services through Flash Wireless, Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint. Television services are provided through DIRECTV, Dish Network, AT&T U-verse and Verizon FiOS. Home security is offered through Lifeshield for renters and ADT Home Security for homeowners. ACN home automation is offered through Vivint.[17] ACN now also resells energy (electricity and natural gas) through Planet Energy and XOOM. In 2013 ACN will have the largest footprint of any other direct seller and electricity and gas with 18 states and 64 utility markets.[18]
  3. The selling of ACN-branded and provided services. These are Voice over Internet Protocol[19] and the Iris X Videophone,[20] in which ACN owns and maintains its own network of servers. Starting in January 2011, ACN has also added an ACN-branded computer technical support service to its service offerings.[21]

Criticism[edit]

In following the laws applicable to the direct-selling industry, ACN's Income Disclosure Statement bears the warning that "not all ACN Independent Representatives make a profit and no one can be guaranteed success as an ACN Independent Representative."[22]

In response to criticism posted on the Internet, ACN's Global General Counsel, Colleen Jones, states that "ACN is aware of the bad press that's out there on the internet, and we pretty much ignore it." [23]

Legal cases[edit]

In August, 2010 the Montana Commissioner of Securities and Insurance Monica Lindeen announced the issuance of a Cease and Desist Order and Notice of Proposed Agency Action against ACN, Inc. and several of its founders for allegedly operating a "pyramid scheme." [24] In September, 2010 the Commissioner moved to vacate the Cease and Desist Order in full settlement of the case.[25] In the course of the Commissioner's investigation, the Commissioner determined that the actions giving rise to the initial concerns were not part of the ACN business model, but instead were isolated instances taking place by certain ACN's independent representatives in Montana. The Commissioner and ACN agreed that ACN would implement additional training with its independent representatives to assist them in better understanding their responsibilities as ACN independent representatives, and that ACN would contact its Montana video phone customers to assist them with installation of their service.[26] The Better Business Bureau reported that "both the Commissioner and ACN are pleased with this positive outcome, and the Commissioner's efforts to protect Montana residents."[27]

On June 13, 2002, ACN settled a case with the Bureau of Consumer Services in Pennsylvania wherein it was alleged that a small number of IBOs were "slamming", or switching consumer services without authorization. ACN disputed the allegations and the exact details of the settlement are under court seal. However, the suit alleged that approximately 135 informal complaints were filed with the Bureau of Consumer Services (BCS) between June 2000 and November 2001, consisting of 22 consumers alleging that their generation service was switched without authorization ("slamming"), 81 alleged instances of overcharging ("cramming"), and 32 complaints with allegations of various violations of the Commission's regulations contained in Chapter 54, 56, and 57 of Title 52 of the Pennsylvania Code.[28]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Krippel, Julie. "ACN, Inc. information and related industry information from Hoover's". Hoover's. Archived from the original on 13 July 2007. Retrieved 2007-07-08. 
  2. ^ a b Seale, Barbara. "Company Spotlight: ACN". Direct Selling News. Retrieved 2007-09-20. [dead link]
  3. ^ Direct Selling News
  4. ^ "ACN: Business Is Booming". Direct Selling News. Retrieved 2007-05-08. 
  5. ^ ACN,Inc. "Tapping the Network". Retrieved 2012-07-16. }>Smart Business Detroit (December 2005) "Tapping the Network"
  6. ^ DSA. "ACN". Archived from the original on 18 February 2009. Retrieved 2009-01-27. 
  7. ^ DSA Canada. "ACN Canada". Archived from the original on 23 January 2009. Retrieved 2009-01-27. 
  8. ^ WFDSA. "ACNEuro". Archived from the original on 12 January 2009. Retrieved 2009-01-27. 
  9. ^ Inc. Magazine. "The Inc 500". Retrieved 2007-09-20. [dead link]
  10. ^ Commerce Energy Group Inc (filing date February 10, 2005). "Item 2.01. Completion of Acquisition or Disposition of Assets, Form:8-K". Retrieved 2007-07-06. 
  11. ^ ACN & Donald Trump
  12. ^ "Donald J. Trump on ACN's Home Based Business". Retrieved 20 July 2012. 
  13. ^ "ACN Digital Phone Service". Retrieved 20 July 2012. 
  14. ^ "Telecom company ACN moves to Concord". Charlotte Business Journal. February 26, 2008. Retrieved 2010-10-10. 
  15. ^ "ACN Contact Information". ACN. Retrieved October 10, 2010. 
  16. ^ "ACN Products". ACN. Archived from the original on 29 April 2011. Retrieved 2011-04-09. 
  17. ^ "ACN High Speed Internet". Retrieved 20 July 2012. 
  18. ^ "MyACN.com". Retrieved 20 July 2012. 
  19. ^ "ACN Digital Phone". ACN. Retrieved 2009-07-12. 
  20. ^ "ACN Video Phone". ACN. 
  21. ^ "ACN Premium Technical Support". ACN. Retrieved 2011-01-19. 
  22. ^ ACN Inc. (2010). "ACN Income Potential - Compensation Plan". Archived from the original on 23 May 2010. Retrieved 2010-05-20. 
  23. ^ "ACN Commitment to Integrity Video". ACN. Retrieved 2012-03-05. 
  24. ^ Temporary Cease and Desist and Opportunity for Hearing
  25. ^ Motion to Vacate Temporary Cease and Desist Order
  26. ^ "MT regulators, ACN settle Pyramid Scheme Investigation". KXLH. October 12, 2010. Retrieved February 17, 2014. 
  27. ^ BBB Business Review
  28. ^ "Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission v. ACN Energy, Inc.". Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission. June 12, 2002. Retrieved 2008-12-24. 

External links[edit]

Official ACN websites[edit]