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While doing the research for this review, I came across a post about a guy who was practically tricked by a family member into attending a presentation of the ACN business opportunity.
The presentation he said, started with Donald Trump talking about how great ACN and it’s products were and ended with Donald Trump saying something like “what are you waiting for?”
We all know who Donald Trump is.
Other than him being one of the current United States presidential candidates, he is also a household name known for his business savvy, his television show The Apprentice, being an obnoxious and controversial person or for his appearance in the blockbuster comedy Home Alone 2, depending on who you ask.
From 2006 until he started running for president, Donald Trump became the celebrity face of ACN, saying great things about their products, speaking at their conferences and even featuring them on his show The Apprentice.
With publicity like that, you could see how people would want to jump all over something like ACN. The opportunity to make money with their own home based business and the approval of a celebrity multi-millionaire. What could possible go wrong?
Well in this article, we’re going to take a look at the network marketing company that is ACN and I’m going to tell you why you should look past the endorsements of Donald Trump.
What Is ACN and Their Business Opportunity?
ACN is a network marketing firm that offers people a home-based business opportunity where they can sell the companies products.
These products include residential phone service, high speed internet, VoIP, satellite television, cell phone service, home security and even energy through their affiliate Xoom Energy.
Signing up to become an Independent Business Owner or rep for ACN costs USD$499 as well as a USD$149 annual renewal fee.
You can earn money by selling the services offered and by recruiting other salespersons as part of your down-line. Just like any other MLM opportunity, building a down-line is usually what is most emphasized as this can mean more income from bonuses than just selling the services.
ACN Compensation Plan
I swear that when I see most network marketing compensation plans, I usually need an Advil for the headache that follows.
ACN’s compensation plan was not much different but after studying it a bit, I understood just enough to know how IBO’s got credited for their sales.
Every IBO starts out as a Team Trainer (TT). They have to acquire customers or have 7 customer points and 4 services to move up to the next level, a Qualified Team Trainer (QTT).
Each service carried a specific number of customer points so the more services you sell and the more customers you acquire, the higher you move up in position.
To really explain how you get compensated within ACN with all the services and positions involved, it would take all day to explain in this blog post so you can check out the North American Compensation Plan for yourself right here.
Why You Might Not Want to Try ACN
ACN has been criticized a number of times for the usual reasons that you would expect an MLM company would.
They’ve been taken to court in 2010 in Montana for allegedly running a pyramid scheme. The company claimed that it was just a case of some IBOs were not operating in accordance with ACN’s rules and they would provide better training.
Even the products and services that are offered by ACN have been subject to bad press.
ACN’s video phone for example was once praised by Donald Trump himself but the product didn’t sell very well because the phone could only connect with other video phones offered by ACN. Who wants that?
It seems as though the products didn’t pay well either. In this article on Wall Street Journal, there’s a report of this guy Jamie Gardner who was an ACN rep for 3 years.
Here’s an excerpt from that article that might give you second thoughts about joining.
Jamie Gardner, 42, of San Diego, served as an ACN representative from 2010 to 2013. He said the Trump endorsement was “a major selling point” he used to entice new people into ACN.
“I ended up spending about $3,500 I didn’t have,” Mr. Gardner said. “I was spending maybe $150 a month just to get $10 in return.”
Mr. Gardner sold gas and electric services to some customers. He said he made $1 a month from each of eight restaurants in a chain. He concluded that the only way to make any real money was to recruit others. “I just couldn’t get anybody under me,” he said.
I didn’t spend $3500 with Quixtar when I was a member but this certainly sounds like what a lot of IBO’s do go through.
However I wanted to point out the part where “he said he made $1/month from each of eight restaurants in a chain”. A total of $8 bucks from 8 customers? From selling energy services?
Of course, he could bump that up by recruiting others but this just doesn’t sound like the kind of business model that I would want to be involved in where your income is dependent on other people in your team. No thanks!
But Donald Trump said that this was good, right?
Let’s get back to Donald Trump and his endorsements of ACN.
Donald Trump Didn’t Make Money Directly Selling MLM Products
Network marketing people use this tactic all the time where they would talk about Donald Trump supporting MLM and they use the ACN examples as evidence.
What they never tell you is that Donald Trump never made any money directly selling MLM products or building a team of his own.
But Donald Trump did make money with ACN.
Every time Trump made a speech for ACN or endorsed the company and it’s products he was being paid. He got paid up to $2.5 million for a single speech according to the article on Wall Street Journal.
And ACN’s appearance on Celebrity Apprentice? That was like one big commercial where the company paid Trump to appear on the show and have their product and opportunity featured.
The problem with these things comes down to one word – disclosure.
Less people would have jumped at the opportunity if they knew he was being paid to say nice things about ACN.
Trump, after he started running as a presidential candidate, was later quoted saying:
“I do not know the company. I know nothing about the company other than the people who run the company. I’m not familiar with what they do or how they go about doing that, and I make that clear in my speeches.”
This sounds like a very different tune than what he was singing back when he praised their video phone and would be confusing to anyone who believed that Trump was involved in network marketing.
After his latest remarks, ACN removed any references to Trump from their website.
Alternatives to ACN and Multi-Level Marketing Business Model
This blog is called Affiliate Marketing vs MLM and there’s a big reason for that.
I used to do MLM and now I do affiliate marketing and they’re two very different business models that I love to compare.
I don’t really recommend anyone get into MLM but I enjoy getting people to check out affiliate marketing because I think that it is perfect.
With affiliate marketing:
- you don’t depend on anyone (team) for your income
- you’re not tied to any one company
- there’s no complicated compensation plans to figure out how you’re getting paid
- you focus on sales, not team building in addition to making sales
- you don’t need to invest a lot to get started
- the world is your audience, not just the people you can directly talk to
Affiliating with companies such as Amazon, Target, Walmart and these other big companies that people know and trust doesn’t cost anything and sales are easy (once you know how to promote) because people already shop at these websites everyday.
Some alternatives of ACN’s products that you can promote using affiliate marketing will probably pay you better than ACN can. Here are 3 examples.
(1) Dish (Satellite TV)
As an alternative to selling satellite TV through ACN, you can affiliate directly with Dish and make even more money.
The company’s affiliate program pays you $150 for every subscriber activation whether the person makes a phone order or applies on the internet.
ACN also offers Dish as one of their satellite TV offerings but I highly doubt that you can make $150 per sale.
The affiliate program is managed through a third party affiliate network called CJ Affiliate.
(2) DIRECTV (Satellite TV)
DirecTV is another satellite tv offering that you can sell through ACN but you can also affiliate with this company directly and earn even more.
The affiliate program pays $110 for each subscription that is activated. Just imagine getting a couple of those every day.
Just like Dish, the DIRECTV affiliate program is run through CJ Affiliate so you’d have to sign up there and then connect with Directv through that platform. Affiliate with both DIRECTV and Dish and you’ll get one check when CJ pays out.
(3) Verizon Wireless (Cell Phone Service)
An alternative to selling phone service through ACN would be to affiliate with any wireless phone service provider like Verizon, Sprint, AT&T, T-Mobile etc.
There are plenty of these affiliate programs available on CJ Affiliate and other affiliate networks. Verizon Wireless is one of them and they offer different commissions on different products up to $75 per activation of a new service contract.
Judging from the compensation plan, it doesn’t look as if anyone is getting paid these kinds of commissions in ACN. However, they get paid for the lifetime of the customer or as long as the IBO remains an ACN rep.
How to Get Started
In order to effectively promote these product and maximize your income, you need to first understand how affiliate marketing works and learn the strategies ordinary people use to make full time incomes every day with this business model.
Finding effective training can be tough if you don’t know where to look.
Fortunately, I’ve used this one program since January of 2007 that teaches affiliate marketing and I even credit their training with helping me to quit my day job in 2009 to become a full time affiliate marketer.
This program is known as Wealthy Affiliate and you can read my review about it here.
The program is free to sign up and check out the introductory course (10 lessons) and there is also a premium membership if you seriously would like to pursue affiliate marketing.
If you need guidance, I’m available any time and you can check out my profile here.
I’d love to hear from you in the comments. What do you think about Trump and his endorsements of ACN? Do you have any experience with ACN? Please share your thoughts.
Thanks for the article. I was already cautious of MLM businesses, but now that I know that Donald Trump has endorsed one, regardless of how much business savvy he might have, it actually makes me less likely to ever think of joining one. That man really is toxic. If he offered me to join ACN, even with a discount, I would probably refuse just to spite him, as childish as that sounds.
Saying that, I didn’t actually know about ACN so thanks for highlighting it to me. Now I have another dodgy business to add to my ‘avoid this’ radar.
Jay Gumbs says
It’s interesting to hear how people feel about Donald Trump. Toxic is a strong word but from seeing a recent speech he made, I think that this is probably how I feel about him too.
I think that some people even though they don’t like him have the opposite reaction because they separate the business savvy from the person and make their decision based on that.
I wouldn’t recommend that anyone join ACN just because the compensation plan makes it seem as if you have to work to hard to end up getting paid very little for your effort. This is actually very common with most if not all MLM companies until maybe when you do get a lot of people under you. To me it’s a good reason to just avoid MLM and look for something else.
Travis Smithers says
It is quite interesting to read what you have discovered with the connection of Donald Trump and ACN. At one time I use to think about the endorsements of products or services from movie stars etc. meant something.
Once I saw some types of the products they were endorsing and then checked out to see they were getting paid, I realized very quickly that any endorsement from high profile people was usually in it only for the money.
Anytime I see or hear celebrities endorse something I ignore it as useless. Either the product or service is good or not. If a celebrity is endorsing it, then you need to be extra careful to whether it is any good.
Your article speaks volume and like you, I know your affiliate program is the better choice.
Jay Gumbs says
Yes be very wary of celebrity endorsements. They’re usually not as genuine as an endorsement by regular people like you and me.
I think all this came out because Donald Trump started running for president otherwise we might have never known.
It’s funny that Donald Trump could actively promote something that he didn’t know anything about. But then I suppose a $2.5million payout is nothing to sneeze at. I always wonder how it is that pyramid schemes are illegal and yet network marketing is allowed as it seems like pretty much to same thing to me. What is the defining difference?
Jay Gumbs says
Well Kris there is a very fine line. To me most legitimate MLM companies might just well be pyramids. Most courts go by the 70% rule which says that a legitimate MLM is one that sells 70% of their product to non-distributors.
So if an MLM focuses on mainly recruiting even though they have a product then they’re really a pyramid scheme. I don’t think most MLMs can claim they sell 70% of their product to non-distributors. There are some companies like Avon that I might believe to be legit but to be honest I can’t see how ACN isn’t a pyramid.
Tommy Potter says
It is not common to see such detailed publication as yours. I think it has many ingredients that attract attention. The Trump name, like it or not, makes us turn our heads and be vigilant. Then your analysis of what is MLM and the general appearance well written and illustrated, I found very satisfying both the subject and format
This is a very detailed and thoroughly explained article.
Here in India, there are a lot of late night commercials labelled “infomercials” that features actors that sing praises about a particular product.
They understand the value their brand brings in charge exorbitant amount of money.
Of course, that cost is passed down to the customer.
I stay away from such Network Marketing schemes because more often than it the only way to make money is to recruit other people.
Jay Gumbs says
Josh, I know a lot of infomercials that have celebrity endorsements from Proactiv to Total Gym. Some are good but most of them you just have to be cautious and do your own research.
Nice posting and its very clearly explained. I do understand your message.
Personally i am not a fan of donald trump, and i had no solid knowledge about ACN. For me MLM Is not a sustainable business model and with the compensation plan, you will feel as you are working for someone and become their servant. Until you have many downlines, you will become better financially. But what about those downline, work so hard for the benefits of their MLM upline. This is not a good system where at the end of the day only those upline earn while others are Working hard. In Malaysia, MLM is known for Scam.
I think MLM is a complete scam and its not a good sustainable business model.
Thanks alot for posting this article and make us understand about the topic. Overall, i like how you describe and tell the story. Its really engaging. 🙂
Jay Gumbs says
I feel the same way Dan. There are some companies that I see using the model well but I think they’d be better off if they used the affiliate marketing model.
Hope all is well
What an interesting read…i also love affiliate marketing..But i always tried to do things my way and rush things and ended up with small dribs and drabs of money coming in here and there never really finding stability in my AM ventures.. i was involved in network marketing and i have to say one thing the training was AWESOME..i learned a lot and it opened my eyes to a lot of things that go’s on in the world.. The only reason why NM is getting so much flack is because its financial model is more open than the banking and so called normal financial sector. But behind the doors the Banking and normal Financial sector are built on exactly the same model structure. The financial sector just hides it from the public with smoke screen advertising and only the top make money..so in affect the Banking sector and the Corporate sector and the Financial sector is the biggest pyramid scheme. Please tell me more about wealthy affiliate ? What do you promote on wealthy affiliate..
Have a nice day
Jay Gumbs says
Thanks for reading Jaco. I don’t know much about the financial and banking sector that you’re speaking of but all I know is that whenever I see a compensation plan from a network marketing company, it hurts my head as if they’re deliberately trying to confuse you.
You can read my Wealthy Affiliate review here to learn more about WA.
It’s an educational platform where you can learn how to effectively put affiliate marketing into practice. The strategies you learn there can also help you to promote your network marketing company as well if you’re into that.
Basically, anyone who wants to spread the word about their business, no matter what type (online or offline) can benefit from Wealthy Affiliate. This is why I mentioned it here.
Kevin Pola says
I have always be very wary of MLM and the way they structure their businesses. Many of the reviews i have read talk about the money being in building a network, not selling the products they offer. I much prefer affiliate marketing. So , for me it would not matter who was endorsing the scheme, I would not have anything to with it. Thanks for your review it was very interesting. Cheers Kev
Jay Gumbs says
I agree with you Kevin. Doesn’t matter at all who is endorsing whatever MLM, it just doesn’t make sense getting involved the way the business model is structured. Thanks for reading.
When I saw ACN I had to do a double-take as I was in it
about 20 years ago. They had bought out a phone MLM that I was promoting so I just got grandfathered in.
When cell phones came on the scene it took the wind out of sales. I was promoting a commercial style 800 no. for truckers as well as other landline services.
We were given a cell phone opportunity that was not competitive so I dropped out of it.
I didn’t think ACN was even around anymore.
I enjoyed your heads up review.
Jay Gumbs says
Well I didn’t even realize ACN was around 20 years ago so that’s surprising. How come you’re not on top of the pyramid?
What a beautifully thought out post that allows the reader to see why MLM doesn’t work.
I also agree with you that affiliate marketing is the way to go as you don’t have to give them any money to endorse their products or be reliant on others to perform.
(On a personal note I’m disappointed to hear that another successful businessman is exploiting the average man’s desperation to get ahead, so they can make a quick buck.)
Jay Gumbs says
That’s the thing people don’t realize when they say “independent business owner”, it’s more like “dependent business owner” because they can’t create a substantial income on their own. Their income is dependent on how much a team they have and how productive that team is.
Kim R. says
Really nice write up about a potential scam. Many of companies take advantage of people and get them wrapped up into something that they did not know they were getting into. I am associated with wealthy affiliate as well and would endorse that if anyone is interested in affiliate marketing to try the free trial. You won’t regret it!!
Any marketing ‘scheme’ that pays more for recruitment than for sale of a product is, in my mind, a scam.
While some MLM is legit most that I’ve seen are dubious at best. Anytime you rely on sales from those below you ( and you worry about your sales because those above you are relying on you) that takes YOUR journey to success away from you and puts it in other’s hands.
Thanks for the write-up on ACN. I’ve been looking around for legit money making opportunities and after reading your article I know that one’s not for me.
Jay Gumbs says
Well said David. That is what most MLM is all about and why it’s a good idea to stay away from this type of model. You’re going to almost always end up losing unless you somehow manage to build a team and get sales (those are the lucky ones and relying on luck to me is gambling).
I found out about ACN from a Haitian Uber driver in broken English. I’ve a journalism backgrond and I have been in advertising for 15 years up until an injury left me unable to work a few years ago. Since then I have worked as an account manager for a software company. I got the link he gave me and it had a 12 minute presentation video. While the video was playing I looked elsewhere on the page and saw links to documents, sales graphs, earning ratios, etc. It didn’t take long for me to recognize the patter behind an MLM set up. Aside from an investigative background, I wanted to make fast money also in my early 20’s during the latter half of the ’90s, so I had already had my run ins with these kinds of places before. I felt bad for the Uber driver. I called him back and attempted to explain the fraudulent nature behind these schemes but I’m not sure he understood what I was trying to say, as he continued to attempt selling me on it and how “we” are expanding into a number of different South American companies he rattled off. But I digress.
I thank you for the mention of affiliate programs as I have been wanting to know more about them. Thanks!
Jay Gumbs says
I’m always happy to put people on to affiliate marketing. Good luck Armando. If you have any questions you can always ask me.
I have to say, I really hate MLM. I don’t hate their products, as often their products are actually really great. But I don’t like the business model because at the end of the day there will always be someone on the end of a down line buying the products at the most expensive price because they don’t yet have their own down line. Maybe I have missed something, but I don’t understand how that is even a sustainable business model.
I have tried a range of MLM companies in the past as I was sucked in to the idea of having my own business. And often I did genuinely like their products, but I really wished I decided 10 years ago that I would get into affiliate marketing. I totally agree with you that affiliate marketing is the way to go.
Jay Gumbs says
I think one of the biggest problems with the network MARKETING model is that the distributors themselves don’t know how to market. They aren’t taught properly how to market and that’s because their upline doesn’t know either. This is where things start to break down because you can’t be a part of a marketing business and not know how to market. You’re going to do things the wrong way.
The second part is that the MLM companies themselves don’t even provide the distributor with enough options or freedom to market the products or the opportunity. This is why they eventually collapse or run into trouble with the law. Their compensation models (most of them) don’t help either when the bottom level is barely or unfairly compensated for their efforts.
I do agree with you that a lot of the times, the products are really good. Sometimes I feel like they would be more successful if they were sold using the affiliate marketing model.
MLM = pyramid scheme. My brain just translates it that way lol
Anyhow I don’t have that much respect for Donald Trump. I used to think he was a big shot businessman… but now that he has come into the limelight with this presidential stuff I don’t think he is that bright to be honest.
He has said some really daft things hasn’t he?
Jay Gumbs says
Oh yes. This guy seems to put his foot in his mouth every time I hear him speak. I hope when November rolls around, Americans decide to vote for someone else.
Wow. Naming Donald Trump in your article and headline is definitely a good way to get traffic. I don’t support this politics, but I admire the way he’s branded himself as a self-made man.
However, I’m unsure he’s the best person to look to as a role model for business or personal finance, since I think he’s gone bankrupt a few times. Not that someone can’t bounce back from hard times financially, but with someone like Trump, it may be hard to separate the legitimate accomplishments from embellishment or fabrication. I definitely think there are at least SOME things to admire about him, but it’s hard to identify where the truth ends and the overexaggeration begins.
You even point out in your article that Trump himself never made any money selling MLM directly, even though that’s what you may actually believe about him initially.
Jay Gumbs says
Yeah I think a lot of people got the wrong idea when they heard Trump was endorsing ACN or MLM. Maybe they thought he made millions selling ACN products and building a team.
It’s pretty lame to see how this type of business work. Devious schemes trying to rip off persons with their hard earned money. They like to use psychology against customers to persuade them to use or buy their products. I really the MLM scheme, as they only offer good benefits when you make more persons join the “cause”
Ruben S says
I built a MLM with 50K+ distributors back in the day. Here is the thing. Donald trum gets paid to endorse this company like Breese gets paid along with other celebrities get paid as well. We use to hire big name speakers to our events and pay them handsomely. With todays technology you don’t need to join any company with an upfront fee of over 40.00 Also if they make you buy their products monthly. Today anyone can learn how to use the phenomenon’s of our times and do much better than any MLM. Good luck
Frank Vigil says
What a great way to get your ACN Review way up there. Donald Trump is the man everyone is talking about right now. Now on the other side. Not everyone likes Donald Trump either, so it could work both ways. You get some and will lose some. Great Article and Thanks for Sharing.
Jay Gumbs says
What you’re saying is true and they’re going to bring it up more now that he’s so much in the spotlight. I’m one who don’t like Donald Trump either – he always seems to put his foot in his mouth every time he speaks. And #GropeGate.
Nathan Stadler says
I was an ACN rep for over 2 years and I have to agree, it’s a lot of money up front for very little compensation. I got in because of Donald Trump, I wanted to make money like he made money. Of course he made money in real estate, not in selling services. It took me 2 years to realize it.
Jay Gumbs says
Yeah this is something most people don’t realize. It’s a pretty low way to “catch” your prospects.