Excel Communications: Look Before You Leap Forum
As a reporter, I have been getting a healthy quantity of email reporting that there could be big problems developing with Kenny Troutt's Excel Communications.
In August 2001, VarTec Telecom Inc. acquired Excel Communications. Joe Mitchell Jr., Founder and Chairman of VarTec, stated, "This collaborative effort will create a more powerful force within the telecommunications industry as a major player in the consumer sector."
The strength of Excel Communications (the fourth largest of the top telecommunications companies) lies in its unique marketing approach. Excel Communications does not advertise; instead, they use network marketing (a shirt-tailed cousin - although legal - of pyramid schemes).
The basis of their marketing modality is to recruit independent representatives that gather a few customers, who recruit independent representatives that gather a few customers, ad nauseum...
The tightly-knit system has worked for some time, even after its founder said, "goodbye," to the company that began a trend of being bought-and-sold more times that one cares to count.
A silent murmuring began within the network. Our news-line began to receive inquiries from new representatives within the organization, who questioned the ethics of Excel. Reports included a promise to pay bonuses based on certain performance requirements. After the representatives met the requirements, and the promises made, no bonuses were paid.
Other reports include false advertising, un-announced price hikes and "policy changes." There have been a growing number of reports about their lack of integrity, specifically concerning their billing practices, long-distance billing errors, corporate interpretations of their own service agreements, and so many reports about their MyExcel Internet service, that its hard to determine where the weakest link is within their system.
Specific reports that have included reports being filed with the Federal Trade Commission and various State Attorney Generals about false advertising about Excel's Unlimited Internet Access, that has resulted in the "banning" of users who have "abused" their "Unlimited" Internet service who have exceeded usage hours. This seems to be done at their sole discretion, citing that they have the "right to refuse service" to anyone for any reason, and that all of their customers agree to their Terms of Service by using their service, which can be changed at any time without notice.
Advertising "Unlimited Internet Access" with the following phrase within their Terms of Service may be considered an unlawful misrepresentation, or false advertising:
|"The Company reserves the right to disconnect users who are idle or have been connected for an exorbitant amount of time (approximately in excess of 150 hours per month). Currently, users are disconnected after approximately 20 minutes of inactivity or after approximately 6 hours of continual use. These parameters may be changed at any time at the Company's discretion."|
I am not a lawyer. I am only a reporter. I would be interested in hearing from anyone who has had unsavory experience with Excel Communications.
In my (albeit, likely, legally ignorant) humble opinion, if a company the size of Excel Communications, could actually get away with the incidents that have been reported to us, that they could make Enron look like kindergarten play-time.
They have recently announced that they are going back into the United Kingdom. With the volume of reports that we have received from the UK, I doubt that they have taken time to check the body count from their last failed launch.
Don't get me wrong, I've heard some really good things about Excel Communications, but only from Independent Representatives who are earning thousands of dollars-a-month in the multi-level communications coup (these stories are in sharp contrast to reports from lesser-earning representatives).
If you have any factual information that you feel might be helpful, or if you would like to tell your story without implicating yourself, then please send me an email to email@example.com (this email for news tips only).
Thank you, in advance, for any help that you might be able to offer from your unique perspective that can aid our research of these issues.
I promise not to disclose your personal information, only to make other potential victims aware of pitfalls that may be ahead, or avoided, by entering into a questionable association with Excel Communications, if warranted.
I had no idea about the flood of emails that I would receive, when asking for specific data. The people who have somewhat negative items to report have all provided documentation of their reports. About fifty percent of those who have had positive things to say about Excel, have also insulted me, threatened me with legal action, and used profanity.
I am only interested in receiving factual, documented proof - either way - and will not engage in name-calling or Excel-bashing.
Recent reports include Excel's censoring their own in-house bulletin board system, so for those who wish to participate, I am offering a free, un-moderated, Excel Boardroom Online, where you can share information with each other.
Many of you have asked me for answers to questions that you feel as though Excel will refuse to answer, or commit to (this is a common statement).
Hopefully, with as little friction as possible, this will give you a public forum, where you can ask your legitimate questions, and hopefully get an intelligent response from someone who is knowledgeable and cares about those involved with the company in question.