Ethics: A Key Focus Area for the DSA

25th June 2018

Lynda Mills, Director General of the DSA, explains why ethics are so critical to the Direct Selling industry.


The DSA was established in 1965 – over 50 years ago – and is the recognised trade body for direct selling companies in the UK.  Many have long legacies and are fondly thought of by the millions of people who have bought products from them, names such as Avon, Usborne Books at Home, Amway and Neil’s Yard Remedies Organics.

Over a third (34%) of the UK population as bought products though direct selling and the channel typically involves products being sold face-to-face, or via a social selling setting / event as well as online, i.e. outside the traditional retail environment of a high street store.

DSA Member companies account for 59% of direct sales in the UK.

The DSA is committed to guiding the direct selling industry forward in an ethical manner and continuing to further strengthen its image and reputation by promoting a better understanding of direct selling in an open and honest manner.

UK is one of the most heavily regulated environments for direct selling in the world. In addition, membership of the DSA adds another layer of standards / best practice

The primary vehicles for maintaining these standards and best practice is through the DSA’s two Codes of conduct:

Code of Business Practice

  • The company must provide proper contracts, contract cancellation rights and product buy back rights which exceed those demanded by law.
  • The company must provide adequate basic training as part of any initial investment.
  • They must pay commissions and bonuses promptly, and provide regular and comprehensive statements of account.
  • The company and their direct sellers must not make unrepresentative or exaggerated earnings claims.
  • They must not ask for unreasonable investments.
  • They must make provisions for buying-back unsold products.

Consumer Code

  • The company must provide adequate training to those joining, including training on their responsibilities to customers.
  • They must use transparent and fair selling methods.
  • They must offer a 14 day cooling off period for all customers.
  • All sales and promotional literature must be truthful and accurate.

The DSA also has a stringent complaints procedure for resolving any issues that may arise.

Direct selling in the UK is a £2.1 billion industry and there are 425,000 people working in the sector. Sadly it only takes a few rogue individuals to cause significant and lasting damage to member companies and the industry as a whole. For this reason, a lot of the DSA’s work is around educating not just those external to the industry, but those working within it, to make sure that the standards the DSA demands are indeed being met, and best practice is adhered to.

Direct Selling provides a low investment opportunity to become business owners with results based on the efforts put in by individuals.