ACN part V: People are trying to discredit me!

This is the super fun part. I love it.

An earlier commenter said he liked my analysis of ACN\’s MLM program (selling useless videophones and marginless/commoditised mobile plans) and would post it on his site. I was chuffed, of course.

But then his post appeared. And, while he did take the time to quote me, he rounded it out like this:

Does Dan know what he talking about? Who is Dan?

“Dan (or Daniel) Walmsley is a comedian, musician and programmer currrently living in Melbourne, Australia.”

So can a comic really know that much about lame technology? Or is Dan lame himself?

Well, the obvious answer is “Yes, I am lame. But not as lame as a multinational company trying to pull the wool over the eyes of naive aspirational people by using deceptive MLM marketing techniques”.

Now, let it be known that I\’m not some kind of super-expert on business or MLM. I\’m a technologist. But I\’m not just some random guy that likes to mouth off – I do have significant domain knowledge.

So, of course, I responded on his site. I\’m not sure yet whether he\’ll approve my comment, so I reposted it here:

Way to raise doubts without engaging with any of my criticisms in a constructive way 😛

Fascinating that you would post such a negative (or at least dubious) review of my post given your comment on my site:

“I will shoot you a link from my site because this is a nice and clear business analysis with what is wrong with ACN product.”

And now you raise doubts about me personally? Well, I didn\’t want this to be about me, but since you insist…

It turns out that Dan does know what he\’s talking about. Despite the modest resume on my site I have over a decade\’s experience in the telecommunications and programming industry, a degree in Computer Science and Engineering with Honours, am a domain-knowledge expert in podcasting and video-conferencing and co-founder of several tech companies working in telecoms and media.

I co-produced one of the most successful cross-media shows in Australia last year, was Solutions Architect at Sputnik Agency (a digital marketing agency considered one of the best in South East Asia), and in a previous career I was a senior programmer doing global systems integration for the National Group, handling risk management across 5 continents and dozens of major banks.

I\’ve been presented twice this year to mobile phone and social networking industry groups and am participating in the MEGA program for enterprise mobile development.

You could say I know a thing or two about the telecoms industry. I\’m not just a comic, and I don\’t find what ACN is doing particularly funny either. I think it\’s deceptive – borderline exploitative – and nothing I\’ve heard from them or anyone else so far has convinced me otherwise.

Like I said, I didn\’t want this to be about me. I think my analysis speaks for itself, and that my arguments can be engaged with on their own terms.

I have taken it upon myself to simply say what I think about ACN online. Because ACN\’s marketing techniques only work if people aren\’t exposed to counter-arguments or more detailed technical analysis of the market and the product. They rely on hyperbole and fluff to sell the-idea-that-other-people-want-this-product without presenting a rigorous analysis of the marketplace.

Such an analysis would inevitably show that the pie for resellers is much smaller than it seems at first blush.

And no, I\’m not performing the bulk of that analysis. I have a day job, and better things to do. I\’m just giving people enough information that they might seek to ask the right questions.

5 Replies to “ACN part V: People are trying to discredit me!”

  1. http://arbyte.us/blog_archive/2005/04/ACN_Pyramid_Scam.html

    A quick google shows the analysis done for anyone who wants to know…

    I think the numbers on customer commission rewards are particularly telling

    “In the introductory presentation, Angela said that the nationwide average telephone bill is $49. Let’s use round numbers and call it $50.

    If I want to earn enough to offset the annual ($149), monthly ($5.99), and administrative ($1) fees, that takes $149 + 12×$5.99 + 12×$1 = $232.88/yr. At 1% commission, my customers’ total billing would have to be $23,288, or $1940.67/mo. That’s 39 customers each at $50/mo. Angela only has 27! And remember, any one of them not paying their bill will wipe out my commission! “

  2. Dan; of course I posted your comment.

    I am glad that you replied with more information – the easiest attack from the lame ACN supporters will be on your background.

    The most important thing you said was this:

    “I have taken it upon myself to simply say what I think about ACN online. Because ACN’s marketing techniques only work if people aren’t exposed to counter-arguments or more detailed technical analysis of the market and the product. They rely on hyperbole and fluff to sell the-idea-that-other-people-want-this-product without presenting a rigorous analysis of the marketplace.

    Such an analysis would inevitably show that the pie for resellers is much smaller than it seems at first blush.”

    I should have emailed your first with my post – sorry for any confusion about intent.

  3. I unwittingly attended an ACN presentation last night and found them very dodgy indeed.
    1 – their supposedly “revolutionary” new video phone looked like old technology to me
    2 – their lack of web presence suggested at best, poor business sense, and at worst (and more likely) that the product was uncompetitive and a borderline scam. If a product isn’t generating good online buzz through social networking and other web and web 2.0 technologies, then they may be doing this to avoid accountability. Bloggers and people posting on forums can’t be controlled. If the forum is heavily moderated, then users simply move elsewhere!
    3 – their telephone plans were uncompetitive – and they didn’t even have an iPhone option.
    4 – the presenter peppered his words with jargon and acronyms like “avocation” and “ETT” and took his time about explaining them, which seemed to disorient participants
    5 – they didn’t present us with a business plan, and the explanation of how the business worked missed out on several crucial steps.
    AVOID!
    So cheers to you, Dan, for putting the word out on these guys!

  4. Thanks for this, Dan. As it turns out I’m going to an ACN seminar tonight at the behest of a relative who’s pretty excited about this “opportunity”. Your posts and the commission calculations from Arbyte will be a great base for asking pointed questions. We’ll see what happens.

    Colette: your comment about “no web presence” startled me at first, because ACN does have websites, but then I got it. As you say, there’s no buzz. Just Googling “Iris videophone” got 89,000 hits, but the first hundred-twenty (that’s as many as I bothered with) were mostly sites that either sold the phone or sites from ACN reps. (Hey, since there’s no “cold-marketing”, according to Arbyte’s analysis of their Policies and Procedures, how can the reps do that?)

    Anyway, since I’m in Canada and there’s a Canadian branch of ACN, the details might be a little different. One difference that stands out is that on the ACN Canada website they have to disclose what the average earnings of an IR are (in the fine print, yes, and at the bottom of the page), but it’s right there: $500 per year. Though based on what Arbyte worked out that might be high. We shall see.