"To protect, serve and promote the effectiveness of member companies and the independent business people they represent. To ensure that the marketing by member companies of products and/or the direct sales opportunity is conducted with the highest level of business ethics and service to consumers."
That is what the mission of the Direct Selling Association claims to be. DSA--you know that organization that lends all the credibility in the world to Network Marketing Companies. Did anyone notice in their mission that the their primary missive is "To protect, serve and promote the effectiveness of member companies." Wow, does not seem like it is too interested in the consumer.
They also have a Code of Ethics to which all members must subscribe. This document is extensive and to be honest not the most clear thing I have ever read. But after reading a few short paragraphs, it became evident to me that several Network Marketing companies with which I am familiar--and one in the travel industry was simply not complying with the code.
So, just what does the DSA do with miscreants among themselves? When I asked, I got the answer I feared--not much. When I initially contacted DSA, asking about companies that do not comply, I was told I would have a response from the legal department in 10 days. Well, 45 days later, a member of their legal department--Dean Heyl. Aside from saying that he could not comment on the specific questions, he directed me to an obscure page on the DSA site that was not readily visible to most. It instructed me on how to file a complaint. In an attempt to actually see the process, I found a page detailing what to expect when you file a complaint. And here is where it becomes evident that the DSA will do nothing for the consumer.
In a nutshell, you follow these steps:
- To protect my anonymity, I am to mail, fax, or electronically send in the complaint to DSA
- Who then passes it on to an Administrator who is not an employee for impartiality
- Who then passes it on to the offending company
- Who then tells the Administrator why they feel their customer is wrong
- Who then sends you a letter saying that the company feels it was not in the wrong and thanks you profusely for using a DSA company.
Now I am not sure how an administrator (while not "employed by" but certainly contracted by the DSA) is impartial. And I am not so sure how my anonymity is insured when my complaint is passed from the mail clerk, to a secretary, to someone else, to the administrator, and finally to the person I am complaining about.
There really is not anonymity or honestly a chance of your complaint going anywhere. They are missioned to protect the companies that pay the exorbitant membership fees to fund their lobbying efforts in Washington. One would imagine that with travel, the annual fee must be substantial since it is such a "high ticket" item. One would imagine that the travel member companies are some of their largest members in terms of membership fees. One wonders if they might not have an "in" with the FTC right now and if that might change in January 2009?