Direct Selling Association

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Direct Selling Association
Formation 1910 (1910)
Purpose Trade association for direct marketing companies
Headquarters Washington DC
approx. 200 companies
David B. Holl[1]

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.[2][3][4][5]

History in the US[edit]

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.[6] 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.[5][7]

The DSA belongs to the National Retail Federation and its member companies pledge to abide by the DSA code of ethics. [8]

In other countries[edit]

As of 2011, the DSA has sister organizations in the UK (with over 40 member companies),[9] Australia (nearly 70 member companies),[10] and Israel (7 member companies),[11]

Political lobbying[edit]

The DSA serves as a public relations and lobbying group acting on behalf of its member companies.[2][5] 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.[4][12][13] The law was passed in 2012, with most multi-level marketing companies considered exempt.[12]

The DSA also funds political candidates through its political action committee.[3]

Pyramid schemes[edit]

The DSA has said that pyramid schemes which disguise themselves as direct selling companies have caused confusion in the industry.[14] In 2013, Tupperware, which does not use multi-level marketing, left the DSA citing industry changes and concerns over pyramid schemes.[15] In 2014, Avon, a founding member, left the DSA citing that its bylaws were inadequate in protecting consumers from fraud. News reports have connected Avon's quitting to pyramid scheme allegations against DSA member Herbalife, which was under investigation by the FTC at the time,[15][16][17] and has now been ordered agreed to pay two hundred million dollars in a settlement.[18] The DSA made a statement that they would look at Avon's concerns.[16]


  1. ^ "DSA Board of Directors". Retrieved 4 September 2015. 
  2. ^ a b Barrett, Stephen. "Consumer Health Digest #11-39". National Council Against Health Fraud. Retrieved June 16, 2012. 
  3. ^ a b "Direct Selling Association Political Action Committee PAC - Qualified 2012 Committee". The Blaze. Archived from the original on February 3, 2013. Retrieved June 16, 2012. 
  4. ^ a b Klein, Karen E. (April 16, 2012). "The Multibillion-Dollar Direct-Selling Industry Dodges the FTC". Bloomberg News. Retrieved June 16, 2012. 
  5. ^ a b c Taylor, Jon M. "Direct Selling Association (DSA) vs. Consumers". Consumers Awareness Institute. Archived from the original on 2012-06-13. Retrieved 2012-06-17. 
  6. ^ "History - Direct Selling Association (US)". Direct Selling Association (US). Retrieved 21 December 2014. 
  7. ^ "Direct Selling Organization (US) Membership Directory Search Results". Direct Selling Association (US). Retrieved 12 August 2011. 
  8. ^ "DSA Code of Ethics". Direct Selling Association (UK). Retrieved June 17, 2012. 
  9. ^ "Direct Selling Organization (UK) Member Companies". Direct Selling Association (UK). Archived from the original on 22 August 2010. Retrieved 12 August 2011. 
  10. ^ "Direct Selling Association of Australia - List of Members". Direct Selling Association of Australia. Archived from the original on 9 August 2011. Retrieved 12 August 2011. 
  11. ^ "Direct Selling Association (Israel) - Members" (in Hebrew). Direct Selling Association (Israel). Archived from the original on 21 July 2011. Retrieved 12 August 2011. 
  12. ^ a b Stroud, Matt (8 April 2014). "How lobbying dollars prop up pyramid schemes". The Verge. Retrieved 31 July 2015. 
  13. ^ Greenberg, Herb (9 January 2013). "How Multi-Level Marketers Dodged a Bullet". CNBC. Retrieved 31 July 2015. 
  14. ^ Greenberg, Herb; Frayter, Karina (9 January 2013). "Why Spotting a Pyramid Scheme Isn't So Easy". CNBC. Retrieved 31 July 2015. 
  15. ^ a b Ehrenfreund, Max (16 September 2014). "Avon splits with trade group, citing risk of pyramid schemes". Washington Post. Retrieved 31 July 2015. 
  16. ^ a b Berr, Jonathan. "Why Avon quit direct-sales group". CBS News. Retrieved 31 July 2015. 
  17. ^ 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. 
  18. ^ "Herbalife settles pyramid scheme case with regulator, in blow to Pershing's Ackman". Reuters. 15 July 2016. Retrieved 15 July 2016. 

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