One world, one vision
|Headquarters||Concord, North Carolina, USA|
Robert Stevanovski, Co-founder
|Revenue||US$ 700 million (2013) |
ACN, LLC (formerly ACN, Inc.) is a North-American based multi-level marketing (MLM) company which provides telecommunications, energy, merchant services and other services, depending on the country, through a network of independent sales agents known as "Independent Business Owners" (IBOs), who themselves can recruit new IBOs. IBOs can earn residual income and bonuses through the acquisition of personal customers, as well as customers by other IBOs who they recruit. Based in Concord, North Carolina, United States, ACN began operations in the United States in 1993 as an American Communications Network. It extended operations to Europe in 1999, to the Pacific in 2004, to Asia in 2011, and as of 2018 operated in 25 countries, on four continents.
The company is based in Concord, North Carolina, United States. ACN has international offices located in Montreal, Canada; Amsterdam, the Netherlands; Sydney, Australia; Wrocław, Poland; Umeå, Sweden; Seoul, South Korea and Mexico.
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. 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.
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.
From 2006 until he announced his presidential candidacy in 2015, ACN had a business relationship with former The Apprentice executive producer Donald Trump. Trump appeared in promotional videos touting the company's “revolutionary products”, devoted an episode of The Apprentice to ACN’s “revolutionary” videophone, and earned millions of dollars giving speeches at ACN International Training Events, up to early 2015, where he has praised the company's founders and business model.
In 2008, ACN moved its headquarters from Farmington Hills, Michigan to Concord, North Carolina. In 2011, ACN expanded operation to the Czech Republic and Hungary, bringing the company's reach to 23 countries on four continents. In 2014, ACN expanded operations to Latin America, beginning first with Mexico. In 2016, ACN expanded operations in Japan.
ACN offers landline telephone service (local and long distance), Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), high-speed internet, satellite television, cellular phone through the company's own MVNO. Flash Wireless, 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 through partner XOOM Energy.
With variations depending upon the country of operation, provision of ACN's services follows three models:
- 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.
- 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. ACN offers wireless services through its own MNVO Flash Wireless. Television services are provided through DIRECTV and Dish Network. Home security and automation is offered through Vivint. ACN now also resells energy (electricity and natural gas) through Planet Energy and Xoom Energy.
- The selling of ACN-branded and provided services. These are Voice over Internet Protocol 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.
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."
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."
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." In September 2010, the Commissioner moved to vacate the Cease and Desist Order in full settlement of the case. 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.
On June 13, 2002, ACN settled a case with the Bureau of Consumer Services in Pennsylvania wherein it was alleged that 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.
Trump's status as spokesman
Following the official beginning of his 2016 presidential candidacy, all references to Donald Trump were removed from the ACN website and Trump distanced himself from the company in an interview with the Wall Street Journal. "I know nothing about the company other than the people who run the company," Trump told them. "I’m not familiar with what they do or how they go about doing it, and I make that clear in my speeches." Following the publication of the article, which also claimed that few participants in its sales representative program actually made money, ACN issued a statement that it was "a biased story that reflected the opinions of the reporters rather than the facts on ACN or our relationship with Mr. Trump."
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