Consumer Complaints Procedure
The Direct Selling Association UK 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.
THE DSA CONSUMER COMPLAINTS PROCEDURE
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 here, 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 Does it Work?
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.
How Much Will it Cost?
Nothing. The Complaint Service is free to the Consumer/complainant.
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 to the following email address: firstname.lastname@example.org. 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, Unit 14, Mobbs Miller House, Christchurch Road, Northampton, NN1 5LL
If you have any questions about the DSA Complaint Service, please either send an email to email@example.com or telephone the DSA on +44 (0)1604 625700.
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.
Other Information about the DSA Complaint Service
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.
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 Member 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.
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.
DSA CODE ADMINISTRATOR’S CONSUMER COMPLAINT PROCEDURE
This sets out how a complaint will be dealt with once it has been referred to the Independent Code Administrator. This procedure is intended to provide a cheap and quick way of resolving small complaints. It is not designed to handle a complaint resolution of which requires examination of a lot of evidence or non-documentary evidence or which requires oral examination of the parties or one which involves large sums of money. In such cases the Code Administrator will decline to consider the complaint.
1. Representation and Costs
I. The complaint procedure is intended to be straightforward, quick and cheap
II. Thus the complainant may use the complaint procedure without being obliged to use a legal representative. Although the complainant will normally not have any professional representation, the consumer is nevertheless free to use professional representation, assistance or advice. The complainant will have to bear the cost (if any) of this. The Code Administrator does not make any orders for the payment of either side’s costs by the other
III. The procedure is free to the complainant
IV. This procedure is intended to enable the parties to avoid legal proceedings and settle a dispute without having to resort to legal proceedings. It is not available where the complaint is the subject of another form of dispute resolution or of litigation between the parties
2. Establishing the Facts
I. The procedure will normally be conducted entirely in writing. Where both parties agree, it will be conducted entirely by email, provided that that is suitable for the Consumer/complainant
II. It will be an open procedure. Thus all material submitted by each side (whether documents or written answers to questions or any other material) will be available to the other, who will be entitled to make comments upon it. Such comments should be made promptly. In the case of written material submitted by the DSA Member, the DSA Member will be expected to supply two copies (one to the Code Administrator and one to the complainant).
III. The Code Administrator may himself take an active part in the process in that he
(a) may at any stage before making an adjudication encourage the parties to settle the dispute amicably, and
(b) may himself pose questions to one or other of the parties and ask for specific information and/or documents. The parties will be expected to use their best endeavours to answer such questions and provide the requested information and/or documents – and to do so promptly.
IV. The Code Administrator normally will consider only such evidence as is provided by the parties. The Code Administrator may, however, seek evidence (normally in writing) from any relevant person. Copies of any such evidence will be made available to the parties.
V. Before making an adjudication, the Code Administrator may issue provisional findings of the facts and ask the parties to comment upon them before reaching his final findings of the facts. His findings will be based on the information supplied by the parties and any other information which the Code Administrator has obtained under 2 (IV) above.
3. Quickness of the Procedure
I. The Code Administrator will determine the matter as quickly as possible after the complaint is referred to him
II. The speed with which the procedure is completed is to some extent dependent upon the parties supplying documents, answering questions etc quickly
III. The Code Administrator may, at any time in the process, impose deadlines for responses and failure to meet a deadline may result in an adjudication which fails to take into account the missing response(s)
IV. In any event, the Code Administrator will normally deliver his adjudication within two weeks of receiving the final representations/documents/comments of the parties
4. The Adjudication
I. The Code Administrator will uphold the complaint if there has been a breach of the Consumer Code of Practice of the DSA or of the relevant law. The relevant law will normally be the law of the country where the Consumer lives
II. If he finds that there has been a breach of the Code or of the law, the Code Administrator may impose on the DSA Member any, or none, of the Sanctions listed in the DSA Consumer Code of Practice
III. He will give both parties a copy of his written adjudication, which will include his reasons for his decision. This will normally be done by email
IV. The adjudication is binding on the DSA Member but not on the complainant
I. Except as mentioned in this paragraph, the proceedings and the adjudication will be confidential to the parties and to the Code Administrator
II. The Code Administrator may refer the matter to the DSA Disciplinary Committee in accordance with the provisions of the DSA Consumer Code of Practice
III. The Code Administrator shall summarise all complaints in general terms in his annual activity report to the DSA council (which report may be circulated to consumer bodies having an interest in the proper functioning of the complaints procedure). Such summaries of complaints shall not identify the complainant; nor will they name the DSA Member; they will describe the type of complaint (in general terms) and indicate whether (a) it was settled before adjudication and, if not, (b) the party in whose favour the adjudication was made
This is the complaint procedure for use in the case of complaints by consumers against a Member Company of the DSA of the UK.