I'll tell my ACN story without intentionally making ACN look bad, just so you can judge for yourself what it is like to be involved with this organization. In early 2010 I was recruited by a family friend whom I respected. He had just joined through another man that was a friend of his, whom then became my "upline mentor." He had been independently wealthy, but not because of ACN. In fact, he hadn't profited yet from ACN in the year he had been in it. From what I gathered his previous business was no longer profitable so he turned to multilevel marketing business opportunities. He told me that he and his wife had unsuccessfully sold healthfood chocolates through a multi level company, and had now switched to ACN which they thought was better.
I had been told by my friend to show up to this guy's place to look at some cars. But after some verbal probing, my friend admitted that this was just a rouse to get me to sit in on an ACN prospects meeting. Out of respect for my friend, I attended. There were about 6 people who showed up to the "personal business reception" (meeting) I was at. Nobody was even remotely interested in the proposal besides me, eventhough I personally thought it was an interesting business opportunity. I didn't sign up right away and went to some more formal meetings before signing up. I was pressured to sign up before the end of the month based on the "promotion" they were running. Turns out, they have a promotion every month and just use that as a tactic to pressure recruits into signing up. They apparently want you to feel like time is running out so that you have to join now!
I signed up anyway and got qualified by purchasing a video phone under a two year contract and the $30/month "business assistant" and a new cell phone. The video phone didn't really work very well and couldn't dial basic phone numbers, so I couldn't use it, eventhough I was locked in paying an additional $40/month for two years! My mentor tried to get it to work and he couldn't fix it either. That made me lose confidence in ACN's so called "flagship product" the videophone. It simply didn't work. How was I going to expect people to use this in place of their current home phone if it doesn't even work? Never got the answer to that.
Next came the nuts and bolts of being an ACN rep--recruiting. At this point I was told to draw up a list of everyone I know and call them and invite them to my house for weekly recruitment meetings. I told my mentor even before signing up that I didn't know many people because my family doesn't live in this state and I haven't lived here very long, and that I was concerned I wouldn't be successful in ACN as a result. He said not to worry because I know more people than I think (so he said). This is where things started to go downhill. I was only able to get a few people to show up to meetings, and half of them were confused as to why they were even there. Nobody in any meetings showed even a remote interest. My mentor and his wife put a lot of effort into helping me with this, but they succeeded only in alienating the people I knew. He'd tell me to give him their number so he could call them, and I advised him that probably wouldn't work based on what I knew about the people in question. He said he knew what he was doing and told me to follow the "system" and never judge people ahead of time based on whether I think ACN would be right for them. He tried calling a few people and they were annoyed by his approach and told him to leave them alone.
I continued to be positive and was not deterred by initial failure. I continued going to the weekend meetings and was discretely talking to people at my day job about ACN trying to get them to meetings. My coworkers quickly caught on to what I was doing and began making fun of me at work about my involvment in this "pyramid scheme". It got so bad that even after I stopped talking about it, they continued to make fun of me about it, creating awkward and innappropriate situations for me at my work. I told my mentor this and he told me I need to find a new job. I guess he didn't realize this was my livlihood and I couldn't just up and quit. Once he realized that most people I knew were broke and didn't have any extra money to spend on ACN, he said, "No more broke people." I didn't really know what to do about that because I only know who I know, which I told him that from the beginning.
While this was going on, my mentor was still actively recruiting others in addition to me. One guy he signed up at the same time as me, but that man decided to get his money back a couple days later. The only other person the guy who sponsored me brought to a meeting was his friend who was such a severe alcoholic that he had to leave the meeting early to go get a beer. My sponsor then stopped participating in ACN altogether after that. But I still held strong, not giving up and stayed positive as my mentor kept telling me to do.
There was one prospective recruit that I was hoping to get signed up under me. She was very open to it at first, but apparently read about it online and determined it was a scam. She then got frustrated the next time I called her and told me to stop hassling her or she would report me. This woman was my own mother.
My roommate made fun of me from the beginning, and even tried to belittle me during some of my meetings to embarrass me in front of my guests and mentor. I began to think the people I knew were just mean-spirited, but then I realized this was just how people naturally reacted to multi-level marketing and what they viewed as pyramid schemes--and they are highly sceptical, negative, and unhelpful as a result. Everyone who was in ACN that I talked to, even my mentor, told stories about how people they knew had done the same things to them. It's something everyone has to deal with in this business apparently.
I had tried to improvise and do things that I felt would optimize my chances of recruiting people, but invariably whatever I did my mentor told me was wrong. Even when he did it his way and the outcome was worse. He kept saying to trust the system, which I continued to do to no avail. When I watched him present to my recruits it was like watching a robot with a plastic smile. It was the same formulated sales pitch over and over and to be honest it felt like a sales pitch from a sleezy car salesman. He'd spend 90 minutes on something that should only take 30 minutes and the people would be squirming in their chairs while eying the door just waiting for him to stop talking so they could leave. Meanwhile he would be continually be going over mundane details pointing to figures on a small sheet of paper that no one could really read clearly from the distance they were seated. It was just plain awkward in my opinion.
My last hope was to get my girlfriend to sign up under me. She had a big family and a lot of business contacts which would have been a great asset with a lot of potential. Unfortunately she was convinced by her friends and family not to join, and we broke up soon after. When finally the people I thought I could count on most to join didn't, I became incredibly frustrated and disheartened and was tired of wasting all this time just to lose more and more money. I had my mentor telling me one thing and everyone else telling me another, and I was trapped in the middle and forced to absorb the strain from both ends. I think my mentor caught on once he realized that even my own girlfriend wasn't joining, and he stopped contacting me. Probably as much cutting his losses as it was him realizing I was done with him and ACN.
I did ACN for about two months actively. During this time I was pressured by my mentor and his wife to go to weekly and quarterly meetings. The weekly meetings became pointless once I was no longer able to get even one person to go with me. The quarterly meetings were huge seminars held in other states that cost $150 to attend, plus transportation and hotel. Even attending one of those meetings would cost me as much as it did to join ACN! And they wanted me to attend 4 of these per year! Fortunately I didn't waste any more of my money by trying to attend these meetings, but my mentors always attended. I can only imagine how much money they spent on those things. That explains why they were so committed, and quite frankly, desperate, to make this business work. It's pretty transparent and sad once you see it for what it is and realize what is actually going on inside these people's heads.
When I joined initially I was under the impression that this would be part time and not cost an arm and a leg. It became clear as soon as I joined that this was a business of desperate people doing anything and everything they can to make this work, including not setting the correct expectations and using outright deception. I remember finding out about the $150 annual fee after investigating ACN online, and I told my sponsor about it in front of my mentor. My sponsor was shocked and said to my mentor, "You didn't tell me about that fee!" The truth is they never tell you about it because why would you join with all these extra fees? The fees are almost unending: $499 sign up+ $150 annual fee + $40/month video phone + $30/ month website membership + 4 expensive seminars a year + the cost of marketing materials + the cost to attend weekly meetings and paying for your guests entrance fees, etc. And if you want to just cancel, cut your losses, and get out...you guessed it...another fee of $200 for early cancellation. At least I know now how ACN is able to stay afloat. They charge for everything!
Now imagine them being honest and telling you before you join about what you ACTUALLY would have to pay and what you can ACTUALLY expect? But of course they don't tell you about any of that because NOBODY WOULD JOIN if they told the truth about their business. So they resort to typical unethical sales tactics and do little more than paint you a mental picture of a pie in the sky that is waiting for you if only you would just "stay positive" and keep feeding money and time into this system.
Looking back on it, I think ACN is one of those businesses that you are either too smart or too dumb to get involved in. Too smart, in that you will not join because you will see up front how difficult it is to be successful. Too dumb, because you will not join because you think everything is a scam and don't really understand a complex business model. But either way, most people won't join. And those that do join are now left to contend with all the people who will not join for the reasons stated above.
I knew that there was no guarantee that I would make money in ACN, and I was prepared to lose all the money I put in, and I did. The business model still makes sense to me on paper, but unfortunately this is a people business, and people are notoriously difficult to deal with when it comes to this sort of business. I realize now that there are some people who should NEVER join ACN because it is not right for them. You need to know a lot of people (preferably with money), and you need to be very socialable and a good salesman. It's unfortunate that the only qualifications to become an ACN rep are a heartbeat and a credit card, because so many people like myself continue to be lied to, manipulated, and then tossed to the side. Then to add insult to injury, they are told they failed because they gave up and were just too negative. But with all that is stacked against you when you join, most people would give up, otherwise continue to lose more and more time and money.
I am fortunate because I was able to absorb this financial loss and move on. I never signed even one person up, so I didn't have anyone upset at me after they lost their money like I did. My mentor, based on what he told me, had a long list of people he got to sign up but whom never made any money. And by "never made money" I mean LOST their money. What's odd about that is he really didn't make much money off of them, so he really just wasted his own time. Like most multi-level businesses, most of the money he brought in went to those way above him in his upline. I recall one of the first meetings I attended where my sponsor showed up in his fancy sportscar and had got not one, but TWO speeding tickets on the way in. That's a few hundred dollars in fines right there. Then when I was at his house a few weeks later, a process server showed up and gave his wife three more photo radar tickets he'd accumulated. This guy was clearly leaking money like a siv due to his own personal indescretions. I drew the conclusion that someone who is that financially reckless would probably do anything to make that money back, even if his business practices are just as reckless. Now this guy was just one ACN rep, but he was the one I ended up with. I'm sure other ACN reps have had better and worse experiences with their mentors.
It's now a year after I joined ACN and I've not heard back from my mentor since we initially stopped contacting each other. I am still trying to find a way out of the $40/month video phone service and I'll probably have to pay $200 to cancel early. So a year later and I am continuing to be drained of my money due to ACN. But hopefully I will soon be done with ACN entirely and can move on wtih my life.
Please note that I have been 100 percent honest about all this. Clearly I do not like ACN, but I didn't have to call it names and be beligerant toward the company or my sponsor. I figured if I put my honest and accurate account of my experience then people can read this and judge ACN for what it really is, rather than being influenced by a bunch of negative rhetoric.