Version as at 23rd June 2015
DSA CONSUMER COMPLAINTS – UK
The Direct Selling Association of the UK (the DSA) operates a Complaint Service. It is a two-stage service for resolving complaints by consumers against companies which are members of the DSA. [If your complaint is not as a consumer but in a business capacity, e.g. you are a direct seller complaining about your direct selling company, then the DSA will handle your complaint under its Non-consumer Complaints Procedure. Details are available from the DSA.]
Can I use the DSA Complaint Handling service?
You can use the service if the following four requirements are all satisfied:
1. Your complaint relates to your dealing as a consumer in the UK or anywhere else. [If your complaint would be more appropriately dealt with by the DSA in another European country, then we might with your agreement refer you to that other DSA.]
2. Your complaint is against:
(i) a member company of the DSA of the UK [A list of members can be seen on the DSA website:www.dsa.org.uk.] , or
(ii) a direct seller of a member company of the DSA [in which case the complaint is treated as a complaint against the member company].
3. You have already drawn your complaint to the attention of the company and failed to receive a response with which you are satisfied.
4. Your complaint does not fall within any of the excluded categories listed below.
The DSA Complaint Service may decline (either at Stage One or Stage Two) to deal with complaints in any of the following categories.
(i) A complaint where you have not first attempted to contact the DSA member company in an attempt to get the complaint resolved.
(ii) The complaint is frivolous or vexatious.
(iii) The complaint is subject to litigation or is being considered (or has previously been considered) by another dispute resolution body or by a court.
(iv) Resolution of the complaint would require examination of a lot of evidence or non-documentary evidence or would require oral examination of the parties.
(v) The complaint involves large sums of money, including where the price of the transaction or the amount of alleged loss exceeds £5,000.
How can I submit a complaint to the DSA Complaint Service?
You must set out your complaint in writing. Please indicate:
(i) whether your complaint relates to the UK or another country (please specify);
(ii) the date of the transaction or events in question and any other relevant dates;
(iii) what response you have received from the DSA member company.
Please also include copies of any relevant documents, including any receipt, order form or invoice. You are advised to keep copies of your complaint and of all documents submitted.
You can submit your complaint in either of the following two ways:
• Send an email (with or without attachments) to the following email address: email@example.com. If you do not get an acknowledgement of this email within two working days, please phone to check that the email has been received: +44 (0)1604 625700.
• Write to Consumer Complaints, Direct Selling Association, 30 Billing Road, Northampton NN1 5DQ.
If you have any questions about the DSA Complaint Service, please either send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone the DSA on +44 (0)1604 625700.
How much will it cost?
Nothing. The Complaint Service is free to the consumer/complainant.
A consumer may use the Complaint Service without being obliged to use a legal representative. Although the consumer/complainant will normally not have any professional representation, the consumer is nevertheless free to use professional representation, assistance or advice. The consumer/complainant will have to bear the cost (if any) of this. The DSA Complaint Service does not make any orders for the payment of either side’s costs by the other.
How does it work?
It is a two stage dispute resolution service.
Stage One – seeking an agreed solution
After you have submitted your complaint, the DSA will, if necessary, seek any clarification from you as to the details of the complaint. It will then refer your complaint to the member company in question. In the vast majority of cases, this will result in a resolution to the complaint being agreed by you and the company. The DSA allows a period of at least 3 weeks to see if such an agreed resolution can be agreed. If your complaint is one of the few which does not result in an agreed resolution, then, if you wish, the DSA will refer the complaint to the DSA’s independent Code Administrator for an adjudication.
Stage Two – adjudication
The way in which the Code Administrator will handle the complaint is set out in the Code Administrator’s Consumer Complaint Procedure below. The Code Administrator is an independent legally qualified person appointed by the DSA for a period of three years or longer (renewable) to adjudicate on complaints, to carry out compliance audits of DSA members and to advise the DSA, principally in relation to complaints and compliance. In all other respects the Code Administrator is independent of the direct selling industry.
Other information about the DSA Complaint Service
International connections. A complaint against a member company of the UK will be considered, irrespective of the country in which the complaint arose. However, there are DSAs in many countries and, if it appears appropriate to do so and if you agree, your complaint will be transferred to a DSA in another country or to SELDIA, which is the federation of European DSAs and is based in Brussels.
Language. Complaints must be received – and will be dealt with – in the English language.
Binding nature of adjudication. By the terms of its membership of the DSA, each DSA member company is obliged to comply with adjudications of the Code Administrator. A DSA member is not free to opt out of or to withdraw from the complaint handling process. It has never happened that a DSA company has failed to comply with an adjudication. In the unlikely event that a member company did so, the company would be referred to the DSA disciplinary committee and, if the member still did not comply, would almost certainly be expelled from the DSA. You, the consumer, however are free to abandon the complaint handling process at any time and you are not bound by the Code Administrator’s adjudication and you retain your rights to pursue a claim against the company in the courts.
Length of the procedure. The length of the process is to some extent dependent on how fast the parties respond to the points made by the other side and to queries from the Code Administrator. Most complaints which reach Stage Two will receive an adjudication within two months, often within a month.
Privacy. Information provided by you in submitting your complaint will be used by the DSA only in connection with the handling of your complaint and will be communicated by the DSA only to the DSA member against whom you have made the complaint and to any other parties to the complaint. The DSA member will be expected to handle such information with care and to communicate it within the company and to relevant direct seller(s) but only to the extent that is necessary in order to resolve and/or respond to the complaint. All complaints will be summarised in general terms (and without identifying individual complainants or companies against which complaints were made) in annual activity reports to the DSA council and interested consumer bodies.