While it's rare that consumers find complaint with DSA members, we stand ready to assist you if the need arises. If ever you feel a DSA firm is engaging in a business practice you believe to be unethical, illegal, or violating our Code of Ethics (to which every DSA member must adhere), we recommend these steps:
Try to resolve the matter directly with the company. Your complaint should be in writing and include the following basic points:
Date and details of the incident
If possible, identify the specific Code you feel was violated
Efforts you've made to resolve the matter
Cost and amount of product, if relevant, and include invoices or other supporting documents
Any responses the other parties made to resolve the matter
Current status of the complaint
How you'd like to see the issue resolved or remedied
If you still are not satisfied, contact the DSA's Code Administrator (C.A.), providing a written description of your complaint. The C.A. acts independently, and all member companies have agreed to honour his/her decisions. The C.A. is not connected with any member company nor Association staff, and you can correspond directly with the C.A. (marked "CONFIDENTIAL") via:
DSA Code Administrator c/o Direct Sellers Association of Canada, 180 Attwell Drive, Suite #250, Toronto, Ontario M9W 6A9
On the other hand, legitimate companies like those in the DSA concentrate on selling worthwhile products or services at competitive prices, often through home shows, providing a popular, low-cost way for you to start your own small business. So, before starting your own home-based venture in direct sales or multi-level marketing, ask three (3) critical questions:
What are the startup costs?
If they're substantial, be careful. Legitimate companies want to make it easy and inexpensive for you to start selling their products and services.
Will the company buy back inventory?
If not, you could be stuck with a roomful of unsold, unsaleable inventory. (DSA members adhere to strict codes requiring, among other things, that active members permit their salespeople to return products in saleable condition on reasonable commercial terms.)
Does the company have substantial sales to consumers?
If it's "NO", don't get involved! Multi-level marketing, like any other healthy business, is built on sales and service to consumers. Pyramid schemes concentrate on making most of their money from you and other new recruits.
Don't be rushed into a decision about starting your own business. And avoid any company refusing to answer questions about its products and services, startup costs, average earnings, etc. Remember... pyramid schemes seek to make fast money from you. Legitimate firms want to make long term money for you and with you as you build your business by selling consumer products and services.
That's the credo of the member companies of the DSA.
Pyramid schemes are ILLEGAL. Canadians lose millions of dollars every year to pyramid schemes, illegal scams in which huge numbers of people at the bottom of the pyramid pay money to a few people at the top. For this to work, for everyone to profit, there would have to be an unending source of new participants. But there isn't. In reality, supply is limited, so each new level of participants has less chance of recruiting others and a greater chance of actually losing money.
Some pyramids use a get-rich-quick sales pitch for investing, luring people and their money into illegal "investment clubs". Others are disguised as legitimate direct selling or multi-level systems, bilking victims who thought they were paying for help in starting their own small business. So, how can you tell the difference?
One big rip-off tip-off... more focus on recruiting people than on selling products.
It's a red flag if anyone tries to entice you with unlimited wealth simply by recruiting more people into the scheme and/or payment of large, up-front "membership fees." Pyramid schemes will typically charge high "entrance fees," possibly buried in the cost of a starter kit, in startup inventory, or for training or other services. These proposals will concentrate on the importance of recruiting others to achieve high profits. Often, little or no focus is placed on the product or service they may claim to represent, or on the subsequent sale of these products and services to customers.