Direct Selling Association
|Purpose||Trade association for direct marketing companies|
|approx. 200 companies|
|David B. Holl|
The Direct Selling Association (DSA) is the name of several similar trade associations in the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Malaysia, Singapore, and New Zealand that represent direct selling companies, primarily those that use multi-level marketing compensation plans. On behalf of its members companies, the DSA engages in public relations and lobbying efforts against regulation of the multi-level marketing industry, and it funds political candidates through a political action committee.
History of the U.S.A. DSA
The American DSA, headquartered in Washington, D.C., is the national trade association of a group of firms that manufacture and distribute goods and services sold directly to consumers typically through multi-level marketing.
Founded in Binghamton, New York in 1910 as a trade group for door-to-door salesmen, the association was originally called the Agents Credit Association. It was renamed the National Association of Agency Companies (NAAC) in 1914, and briefly renamed the National Association of Agency and Mail Order Companies in 1917, before returning to the NAAC in 1920. It became the Direct Selling Association in 1968. As of 1970, less than 5% of the DSA's members were multi-level marketing companies. By 2009-2011, the DSA's membership had grown to include nearly 200 companies, more than 90% of which were multi-level marketing companies.
DSA in other countries
The DSA serves as a public relations and lobbying group acting on behalf of its member companies. The DSA played a role in petitioning the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to exempt multi-level marketing companies from consumer protection regulations outlined in the FTC's 2006 proposed Business Opportunity Rule, encouraging people to write 17,000 form letters complaining about the rule from 2006 to 2008. The law was passed in 2012, with most multi-level marketing companies considered exempt.
The DSA has said that pyramid schemes which disguise themselves as direct selling companies have caused confusion in the industry. In 2013, Tupperware, which does not use multi-level marketing, left the DSA citing industry changes and concerns over pyramid schemes. In 2014 Avon, a founding member, left the DSA citing that it's bylaws were inadequate in protecting consumers from fraud. News reports have connected Avon's quitting to pyramid scheme allegations against DSA member Herbalife, which is under investigation by the FTC. The DSA made a statement that they would look at Avon's concerns.
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- Ehrenfreund, Max (16 September 2014). "Avon splits with trade group, citing risk of pyramid schemes". Washington Post. Retrieved 31 July 2015.
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- Smith, Ernie (19 September 2014). "It's Not Me, It's You: Why Avon Left an Association it Helped Found". Associations Now. Retrieved 31 July 2015.