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Tools You Can Use: Research and Case Study Archives

Tools You Can Use: Research and Case Study Archives

researchAs a business owner, you probably already know the value of research and case studies for your business. The more you can find out ahead of time, the better decisions you can make. DSEF’s partnership with professors and researchers throughout the academic world has allowed us to compile an archive of academic research papers and case studies addressing relevant topics to the direct selling industry and business in general. And you can access them right now!

With titles such as “Redirecting Direct Selling: High-Touch Embraces High-Tech,” “When Acquisition Spoils Retention: Direct Selling vs. Delegation Under CRM,” “Multilevel (network) Marketing: An Objective View”  and “Motivation of Direct Sellers,” you are sure to find research that will help your business. Whether you’re searching for third-party validation of the direct selling business model, considering expanding into international markets, exploring how to court Baby Boomers for your salesforce, and more, you’ll find information in the archives that can help.


Tim Haran

“From my point of view, I think specific company case studies are really valuable,” says Tim Haran of USANA Health Sciences. “The direct-selling model is such that it’s tough to incorporate many of the off-the-shelf social solutions we’re presented with regularly. I appreciate seeing how similar companies — with the same business model — work with vendors to tweak platforms/software, etc. to maximize its impact for our business. It helps us better understand what might and might not work for us. Any general best-practices or tutorial-type information (consumer vs. salesman, marketing management, etc.) we can provide to our distributors is also helpful.”

You can access any of the documents in the archive from DSEF’s website, by clicking here.

DSEF & BBB: Will You Have to Pay a 4% Surcharge for Using a Credit Card?

DSEF & BBB: Will You Have to Pay a 4% Surcharge for Using a Credit Card?

By Caitlin Vancasblue_with_website-225x30022

Did you know that every time you make a credit card purchase, the store you are buying from pays a fee to the credit card company? Did you also know that as of this week, PA merchants are able to pass along up to 4% of these credit card interchange fees to customers?

All but ten states (CA, CO, CT, FL, KS, ME, MA, NY, OK, TX) are allowing merchants the option to incur these new surcharges. Luckily, if a business does decide to add a check-out fee for credit card users, it must be clearly posted near the door of a physical store location or on the website for web transactions. Customer receipts must also clearly state any additional costs to consumers using a credit card. Purchases made by debit and pre-paid cards will not be impacted.

According to the National Retail Federation, merchants are unlikely to begin surcharging for credit card use. What do you think? Your BBB recommends asking stores you frequent about any additional costs that may be incurred if you pay using a credit card. If a merchant does not follow the rules about alerting consumers to these fees in their store or website, notify BBB and the FTC. Click the links for more information about the surcharge on Visa and MasterCard’s websites.

DSEF and the Council of Better Business Bureaus (CBBB) foster honest and responsive relationships between businesses and consumers—instilling consumer confidence and advancing a trustworthy marketplace for all.

About the Better Business Bureaus
As the leader in advancing marketplace trust, Better Business Bureau is an unbiased non-profit organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. Every year, more than 87 million consumers rely on BBB Business Reviews® and BBB Wise Giving Reports® to help them find trustworthy businesses and charities across North America. Visit for more information.

DSEF & BBB: Not All Customer Reviews & Review Sites Are Created Equal

DSEF & BBB: Not All Customer Reviews & Review Sites Are Created Equal

blue_with_website-225x30022By Myriam Cruz

Looking for pre-purchase advice, more and more consumers are turning to reviews for products and services. However, not all reviews are created equal and many consumers question their validity after several reports claim fake reviews are more common than expected.

An article by TIME Magazine highlights that while various review sites – such as YelpTripAdvisorExpedia and Google – are implementing steps to identify both positive and negative fake reviews, “the system is being manipulated…and that’s all negative for consumers who are using them to try and make smart choices.”

Aside from company staff and marketers, freelance writers are also paid for reviews praising a company, product or service. In one case, a Wall Street Journal reporter plugged the name of a reviewer into a search engine and discovered the “consumer” was a communications manager at the company whose product she was praising.

Are there any consequences for such misleading behavior, you might ask?

Considering similar situations misleading, theFederal Trade Commission (FTC) revised its Endorsement Guides in 2009 to reflect three basic truth-in-advertising principles:

  1. Endorsements must be truthful and not misleading.
  2.  If the advertiser doesn’t have proof that the endorser’s experience represents what consumers will achieve by using the product, the ad must clearly and conspicuously disclose the generally expected results in the depicted circumstances.
  3. If there is a connection between endorser and the marketer of the product that would affect how people evaluate the endorsement, it should be disclosed.

While FTC guidelines provide some protection from misleading customer review practices, they are only part of the solution. Consumers play a vital role when it comes to identifying and denouncing misleading practices.

As Better Business Bureau (BBB) joins the customer review industry, it provides guidelines to help identify real reviews from fake or paid praise. In the end, the best way to obtain information about a product or service is to become familiar with the review process and use review sites that have a user verification process, such as BBB’s email verification.

Do you think it’s worth looking at reviews before purchasing a product or service? Are you more likely to consider reviews for higher priced items?


DSEF and the Council of Better Business Bureaus (CBBB) foster honest and responsive relationships between businesses and consumers—instilling consumer confidence and advancing a trustworthy marketplace for all.

About the Better Business Bureaus
As the leader in advancing marketplace trust, Better Business Bureau is an unbiased non-profit organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. Every year, more than 87 million consumers rely on BBB Business Reviews® and BBB Wise Giving Reports® to help them find trustworthy businesses and charities across North America. Visit for more information.

DSEF & BBB: The Customer is Always Right – This Minute (Part 3)

DSEF & BBB: The Customer is Always Right – This Minute (Part 3)

By Lance Trebesch

Timing Is Everything

In Parts 1 and 2 of this series, we established that always-happy customers represent 1% of the average organization’s customer base. The other 99% are likely willing to flock to your competitors or slander you on their social networks the moment you fail to please them. Your window for rectifying the situation, addressing their problems, and proving your loyalty to them is small and shrinks quickly.

You have a two-fold strategy: first, identify problem areas and address or eradicate them before your customers have an unpleasant experience to begin with. Second, create mechanisms that allow you to instantly communicate with anyone who still isn’t satisfied.

Likely, you already know what areas are causing trouble in your business model. As Mark Hurd demonstrated, most of your customers are willing to pay more money for better service. Now is the time to invest in improvements:

  • Product Quality: Obviously, address this first. If your product or service is substandard, why are you in business? Sell something worth selling.
  • Website Design: Everything needs to load properly, be easy to use, and look up-to-date. If customers can’t interface with the site, you can’t sell online.
  • Delivery Options: Partner with a reliable company. Offer multiple options. If your product is expensive, consider whether free shipping gives you an edge.
  • Support Staff: You need smart, friendly people, familiar with all aspects of the business, able to deal with cranky customers, and ready to fix problems.

Most people with complaints would rather complain to someone who can help them, rather than barking randomly into space. Be available to hear problems. Go out of your way to make it easy for people to provide feedback. It’s far better if they complain to you than to a public website!

  • Webforms: Your website should include an easy-to-find link where customers can contact you. Any complaints should be answered immediately.
  • 800 Number: If call volume is low, maybe you only need twelve hours of customer support a day, but for bigger business, 24-hour toll free numbers are a must.
  • Social Networks: Your customers are connected. Are you? Many people head for Facebook or Twitter first. Be there, waiting for them, ready to answer.
  • Reach Out: Don’t wait for folks to complain. Customer surveys and other direct contact soliciting feedback help you provide everyone with what they want.

DSEF and the Council of Better Business Bureaus (CBBB) foster honest and responsive relationships between businesses and consumers—instilling consumer confidence and advancing a trustworthy marketplace for all.

About the Better Business Bureaus
As the leader in advancing marketplace trust, Better Business Bureau is an unbiased non-profit organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. Every year, more than 87 million consumers rely on BBB Business Reviews® and BBB Wise Giving Reports® to help them find trustworthy businesses and charities across North America. Visit for more information.

Here’s to Your Success! DSEF’s Latest Resources

Here’s to Your Success! DSEF’s Latest Resources

Every direct selling company knows that the foundation of a successful salesforce is a successful mindset. Teaching new business owners how to overcome challenges and turn self-doubt into positive, actionable plans is critical for building thriving businesses. So, too, is learning how to properly balance work and family life. It’s one of the biggest challenges entrepreneurs face—and one that can quickly derail even the most promising business venture.

To benefit small business owners, including your salesforce, the Direct Selling Education Foundation has made two new tools available: the Creating Your Success Mindset e-book and the Balancing Work & Life PowerPoint series.

Creating Your Success Mindset

New E-book:

What does it take to build a successful, thriving business?

One word: mindset.

Successful business owners know that responding to each and every situation that comes along does not guarantee success. What does is setting each day’s agenda so that it corresponds with your goals. Successful business owners choose the tasks and the direction most in line with their goals. And if you want your business to succeed, you need to do the same.

How? DSEF has produced Creating Your Success Mindset, a free downloadable e-book that will help your salesforce with this process. The activities included in the workbook are designed to help your salesforce focus their business efforts in the right direction. Readers will learn how to:

  • Define your why
  • Tune out negativity and committing to positive self-talk
  • Make a plan
  • Build in accountability
  • Use visualizations
  • Make a plan for when you fall
  • Focus on excellence instead of perfection

Balancing Work & Life:

New PowerPoint Modules

DSEF partnered with the Direct Selling Association to create four narrated PowerPoint modules that help small business owners effectively manage their day-to-day personal and business activities. The Balancing Work & Life modules include:

Managing All Aspects of Your Life
If you don’t take care of each part of your life, you run the risk of burning out, putting yourself and your family at risk, creating more stress, and not achieving your dreams. So how do you create a work-life balance that allows you to achieve all your personal and professional goals? In this module, you’ll learn how to manage your life through self-assessments and goal-setting in health, career and professional development, spiritual growth, relationships and family, finances and responsibilities, and fun and personal development.

Getting & Staying Organized
Clutter and disorganization, ineffective systems, bad planning, and self-sabotage—they can prevent you from building a strong foundation for your business. The key to combating them is to get and stay organized so you will be less overwhelmed and more focused and creative. In this module, you’ll learn tips on how to deal with clutter, create effective systems, allocate time appropriately, and fend off those nagging doubts and fears.

Working Successfully from Home
As an entrepreneur, you have the ability to build your business from the comforts of your home. But are you prepared to tackle the challenges that come along with that? Can you effectively set boundaries between your home life and work life? In this module, you’ll learn the pros and cons of maintaining separate personal and business space, working around family members, establishing boundaries, and avoiding distractions and temptations while working at home.

Reducing Stress and Building Resilience
Running a business is not easy. In fact, it can be extremely stressful at times. And stress can have a tremendous impact on both your personal and professional success. It can lower your immunity, create poor moods, and lead to strokes and heart attacks. The key minimizing stress is to maintain a good level of health and energy and learn the necessary skills for coping with change and overcoming problems. In this module, you’ll learn stress relievers and how to build a resilience roadmap to deal with life’s demands.

Direct Selling Entrepreneur Program: Start Spreading the Word!

Direct Selling Entrepreneur Program: Start Spreading the Word!

At the National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship’s (NACCE) annual conference in Chicago last month, Robin Diamond and Nancy Laichas introduced DSEF’s new community college curriculum—the Direct Selling Entrepreneur Program (DSEP)—to an enthusiastic group of nearly 500 community college administrators, instructors, and staff. The Pampered Chef’s Founder and Chairman Emeritus Doris Christopher gave DSEP a ringing endorsement from the stage during her conference keynote address, calling it a “win-win-win” for community colleges, for the direct selling industry, and for the country’s 16 million direct sellers.

“The Direct Selling Entrepreneur Program is an acknowledgment from the higher education community of the important entrepreneurial contribution of direct selling,” says DSEF Executive Director Charlie Orr. “The Direct Selling Education Foundation contributes and supports a range of meaningful activities for an ethical marketplace that promotes fairness, economic opportunity, and independence. The same values and influences that drive many individuals to pursue a direct selling entrepreneurial opportunity will motivate them to pursue the education that will bring them even greater success.”

The program—a direct selling curriculum to be offered through community colleges across the United States—provides direct sellers with management and entrepreneurial skills to help them increase their business acumen. Two community colleges will offer the course this month, with more to follow in 2013. Read DSEF’s August newsletter feature for more details.

As community colleges across the country begin to offer DSEP, you can help us spread the word in a variety of ways:

  • Share DSEP’s Facebook page with your field so they have access to the most  up-to-date course information
  • Put us in touch with your salesforce training and development team to collaborate in reaching direct sellers near community colleges offering DSEP
  • Contact us for help in asking your local community college to offer DSEP
  • Share the upcoming course schedule with your company, employees, and salesforce

For any questions about the Direct Selling Entrepreneur Program, please contact DSEF Director of Marketing & Communications Nancy Laichas.

Donors Make a Difference: Orville and Heidi Thompson

Donors Make a Difference: Orville and Heidi Thompson

For DSEF, the difference between what we would like to do and what we can do is this: your support.

Scentsy co-owners Orville and Heidi Thompson know this. That’s why they, like so many other industry leaders, are committed to helping the Foundation reach its vision of creating a global marketplace that respects and appreciates direct selling.

In the coming months, we’ll profile those donors who have helped us execute our programs through their corporate and personal financial contributions. You’ll learn why they believe DSEF is important to the success of the industry and, ultimately, your business.

This month we speak to the Thompsons, who in addition to running a growing international party-plan company also serve on the DSEF Board of Directors.

DSEF: How do DSEF programs help Scentsy, its salesforce, and the industry?

Orville: The great benefit of DSEF is the credibility it helps build for all direct selling companies, including Scentsy. Direct selling is ideal for people who want flexible work hours, to control their financial destiny, or to replace income from a job loss. By partnering with organizations like the Council of Better Business Bureaus and the FTC, DSEF not only increases understanding and awareness of direct selling, but it also promotes the industry’s strong commitment to consumer protection and business integrity—and that helps everyone in the industry, Scentsy, and especially our Consultants.

DSEF: What specific programs are you most excited about?

Heidi: We’re especially excited to see the launch of the Direct Selling Entrepreneur Program with community colleges this fall. We know a lot of people enter the direct selling industry with no prior business experience, and it can be very intimidating. This new, 30-hour community college course helps new and even experienced direct sellers gain more confidence, learn better strategies for their business, and experience greater success. Having access to this kind of a class at the community college level will open doors for many people to launch a successful small business, while reinforcing that direct selling is not only legitimate, but a preferred way of doing it.

DSEF: What is most rewarding about your Board involvement?

Orville: I believe direct selling solves the business conundrum of our day. Traditional brick-and-mortar retail stores can’t store inventory like online retailers, but online stores can’t build brands effectively. So there’s a challenge that needs to be met. Traditional retail is not efficient, and online retail can’t build brands. Direct selling companies like Scentsy are creating businesses that distribute product as efficiently as online giants like Amazon, yet build brand loyalty through personalized shopping experiences as well or better than any traditional retailer. As a member of the DSEF Board, it’s gratifying to help people see the enormous possibilities of our sales model.

Heidi: By serving on the Board, I know I’m creating awareness of the direct selling opportunity and giving hope to people to reach their personal and financial goals. As just one example, at the Direct Selling Association’s Annual Meeting in June, we were proud to support the walkathon which benefited the Dallas chapter of the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship. We met some great young people who are learning how to be successful entrepreneurs, and there’s no limit to what they can achieve. That’s the best part for me—giving people hope and then watching them achieve their dreams.

DSEF: Why is DSEF support so important?

Orville: For years, direct selling has endured unfair press, prejudice, and misunderstanding—keeping it from the level of acceptance and support it deserves. How else would so many people start their own business and achieve their financial goals without extreme risk and heavy investment? The Direct Selling Education Foundation helps build a strong reputation for our business model by promoting ethical business practices, overcoming misperceptions, and establishing the value of direct selling among traditional thought leaders.

Heidi: I support the Direct Selling Education Foundation because I’ve seen so many examples of the difference direct selling can make in people’s lives. It certainly transformed our lives as entrepreneurs, and we’ve seen it transform our Consultants’ lives as well. The Foundation creates awareness that direct selling can be a great source of income and even a full-time career for many people.

To join the Thompsons in supporting DSEF, donate now.

DSEF’s 3rd Annual Pack a Present Toy Drive Is Just around the Corner!

DSEF’s 3rd Annual Pack a Present Toy Drive Is Just around the Corner!

In just a few weeks, many of you will be packing your bags to head to the Los Angeles area for DSA’s Communications & Marketing Conference (Dec. 5-7). Make sure you leave room in your suitcase for a gift for a child in need. To help make the holidays a little brighter for area kids, The Direct Selling Education Foundation is once again sponsoring “Pack a Present Toy Drive,” this year partnering with the South Bay chapter of the Boys & Girls Clubs.

“Now in its third year, DSEF’s Pack a Present event is becoming a December tradition for direct selling company and supplier company executives,” said Charlie Orr, DSEF Executive Director. “I encourage every conference attendee to “Pack a Present,” and help us demonstrate our industry’s giving spirit to the local community.”

DSEF will collect the toys at the Terranea Resort in Rancho Palos Verdes, CA, from Dec. 5-7. On Thursday, December 6, Boys & Girls Club representatives will bring a group of children to the hotel to have cocoa and cookies with Santa and receive the gifts.

“The holidays can be a tough time for kids in need,” said Tamara Ingram, DSEF Community Program Manager. “DSEF’s Pack a Present not only provides a memorable experience for the kids who join us for the event, it ensures hundreds of area children will feel the joy of the season.”

DSEF’s Pack a Present event is one of the many ways the direct selling industry gives back to those less fortunate during the holidays. In the past eight years, direct sellers have donated more than $85 million to the TODAY Show Holiday Gift Drive, according to Amy Robinson, DSA’s Chief Marketing Officer. “The TODAY Show Holiday Gift Drive is just one example each year of how direct selling serves as a force for good in our communities, across the country and throughout the world,” Amy said. “DSEF’s Pack a Present provides a heartwarming opportunity for direct selling executives to offer a personal donation, and we’re thrilled that the Foundation is hosting the event at our upcoming Communications & Marketing Conference.”

DSEF wishes to thank Pack a Present’s generous sponsors AmwayTeam National and 4Life, and extend our special appreciation to John Killacky of Bartha for portraying Santa Claus at this year’s event.

While donated gifts may be for children of any age, gifts for teens are especially needed. Cash gifts are also welcome and all gifts should be in their original packaging and not gift-wrapped.

If you haven’t yet done so, you may register here for DSA’s Communications & Marketing Conference. For more information about DSEF’s Pack a Present Toy Drive, or to inquire about available sponsorships, contact Tamara Ingram.

DSEF & CBBB: Facebook Wants To Hear About Phishing Scams

DSEF & CBBB: Facebook Wants To Hear About Phishing Scams

By Amy Fowler

Facebook Security just announced a new way to report phishing attempts to the company. Phishing is a way for scammers to steal your personal information, including username, password, bank account numbers, Social Security numbers and more.

If you see or receive a phishing email or message, then forward the information Facebook Security encouraged consumers to report these malicious messages:

By providing Facebook with reports, we can investigate and request for browser blacklisting and site takedowns where appropriate. We will then work with our eCrime team to ensure we hold bad actors accountable. Additionally, in some cases, we’ll be able to identify victims, and secure their accounts.

BBB has identified several common phishing scams related to Facebook, including:

Friend in Distress Scam
Facebook users may receive a message in their inbox from a friend saying that they are in a dire situation — such as stranded in a foreign country — and need money wired to them. The recipient of the message doesn’t realize that their friend’s account has been hacked and that the message was actually sent by scammers. If the Facebook user does wire money to the scammers, they have no way of recovering the money after they learn that their friend is actually safe and sound.
Phishing Friends
You see a provacative post on a friend’s wall or receive a personal message from a friend enticing you to click a link to watch a shocking video or read an unbelievable story. You click on the link and are asked whether you are 18 or are told you must agree to certain conditions. When you agree, you are actually allowing scammers access to your account or computer. Sometimes the link includes a computer virus or other malware.
Viral Wall Post
This also involves provocative messages enticing readers to click a link. However, the end result is that the post you fell victim to is posted to your wall for your friends to see and proliferate.

In addition to reporting any such scams to Facebook Security’s new email address, BBB offers the following tips to stay safe on social media sites:

    • Be extremely wary of messages from friends or strangers that direct the user to another website via a hyperlink.
    • Before wiring money to a friend in a jam, users should attempt to contact their friend outside of the social networking site, such as over the phone or via e-mail to confirm the situation. If that’s not possible, BBB recommends asking them a question that only they would know the answer to.
    • Users should always make sure their computer’s operating system and antivirus and firewall software are up to date.
    • Social networking sites are about sharing information, but BBB recommends that users take steps to keep important information private, espeically details like contact information, vacation dates and other information scammers can use to trick you, your family or friends.
    • Be selective when choosing friends. While a user might not want to be rude, BBB recommends that it’s best to decline a request for friendship if the user doesn’t actually know the person.

For more tips and information, visit Watch Your Buck, the local blog for BBB Serving Central, Coastal, Southwest Texas and the Permian Basin.

DSEF and Council on Better Business Bureaus (CBBB) fosters honest and responsive relationships between businesses and consumers—instilling consumer confidence and advancing a trustworthy marketplace for all.

About the Better Business Bureaus
As the leader in advancing marketplace trust, Better Business Bureau is an unbiased non-profit organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. Every year, more than 87 million consumers rely on BBB Business Reviews® and BBB Wise Giving Reports® to help them find trustworthy businesses and charities across North America. for more information.

On Board with DSEF: Rigoberto Reyes

On Board with DSEF: Rigoberto Reyes

Each month we’ll visit with a member of DSEF’s Board of Directors to learn how their experience and expertise helps the Foundation build trust in the market place by standing up for consumers and championing ethical entrepreneurship.

This month we visit with Rigoberto Reyes, who works for the Department of Consumer Affairs, L.A. County, and is President of the California Consumer Affairs Association (CCAA), which promotes consumer protection for Californians through education, collaboration and advocacy. Rigo serves on DSEF’s Board of of Directors and is a member of its Consumer Committee, which helps to build a broader understanding of direct selling’s channel of distribution and partners with consumer advocates, educators and public policy leaders to ensure the direct selling voice is heard throughout the global marketplace.

DSEF: How did you become involved with DSEF?

RR: I met Bettie Smith at a consumer event and heard her talking about the great work DSEF does on behalf of consumers and the direct selling industry. We have been continuously working together for the past 10 years. DSEF has been a terrific partner.

DSEF: What do you feel is DSEF’s value to the public and the direct selling industry?

RR: Everything we do has to do with consumer protection. I think the value of working with DSEF, and the DSA, is helping them to understand some of the concerns and issues that pop up from time to time, and working with them to put in place some policies. We encourage them to fix any problems that come up dealing directly with customers. We always say that it is a lot easier to prevent an issue than to have to deal with it down the road. I think DSEF is instrumental in working with the industry in strengthening consumer protection, ethics and policies in general. In the end, I think it is a win-win situation, certainly for a company in being recognized as treating customers fairly. For those companies that go out of line, we remind them that long-term business&#8211customer relationships need to be built on trust and definitely on fair treatment.

DSEF: What specifically does your organization do to ensure a fair marketplace for consumers and businesses?

RR: The L.A. County Department of Consumer Affairs is a government agency and the issues really don’t change. We see companies that are deceptive, either through misrepresentation or omitting information. From deceptive practices to outright fraudulent activities, our department helps consumers and helps good companies remediate disputes, when remediation is appropriate. When we see some fraud pattern, or when we see companies that have to change the way they do business in order to do it legally, we do investigations—whether for civil or criminal charges—that are then brought to the attention of the district attorney’s office, the attorney general and federal agencies. We feel that that type of service helps the good companies as much as the victims who are being impacted by bad operations out there.

DSEF: How important is it for business leaders to support and promote consumer rights?

RR: I think it is critical. Any business leader who has a long-term vision for his or her company and who does not have a strong consumer protection plan in place is not in a good place. What is good for the company is obviously good for the consumer. When you have strong business leaders who create an industry that is known for fairness all around, that creates business growth, it creates customer trust and, in the long term, it creates strong success for anyone in that industry. When the big players in an industry don’t promote or advocate for good business practices and consumer protection, eventually the whole industry gets tainted and anyone who goes into it, long-term, is in trouble.

DSEF: What new challenges do businesses face in the online consumer marketplace?

RR: One of the big challenges agencies like ours face is managing customer expectations. Consumers expect almost immediate fixing of problems. For instance, if you have a dispute or complaint online, the consumer expects that the minute he enters the complaint somebody is going to resolve it or someone is going to get back with him—someone is going to give him the resolution he needs. We see it here. Consumers submit complaints and the next day they are calling for status. In the old days, 30 days to 60 days was the window, the expectation. I think companies that are not responding quickly are going to lose that customer, and then the customer is going to go on and tell others, and eventually the bad service will snowball when the consumer starts passing around information.

DSEF: What specific challenges do you see affecting direct sellers in the marketplace?

RR: I do not think they are any different than your regular stores in the sense that everyone is going online. Everyone has to capitalize on the new technologies and certainly the efficiencies that online selling and interaction create. However, I think that opens doors for possible friction, especially in regard to privacy. The collection, the selling and the safeguarding of consumer information is an issue. Companies need to ensure that information is being used for the originally intended purpose. For instance, if I go to a company’s website and sign up for a survey and they ask for my personal information, I want to be secure in knowing that information is being used for what I expected, what I authorized. I think that is becoming a major issue, and it needs to be worked out because it is not going to go away. We have to look for solutions and we have to work together to implement those solutions. At the end of the day, consumers will get a better deal and will be more inclined to do business with whomever is selling them goods and services.

DSEF: In what ways can DSEF and the industry further strengthen relationships with consumer regulators nationally and globally?

RR: I think one way is for DSEF and the industry, who are on the front lines working with consumers, to look for ways to be more responsive, to look for ways to address issues and try to anticipate those things before regulators have to get involved. It would be really helpful for companies to report to the appropriate authorities and try to work together. I think when it really gets out of control is when a problem comes up and they do not do anything about it, or worse, try to hide it. When the government comes in and it becomes a big fight, customers are the ones who get harmed in the process.