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Complaint/Case Handling Process


Case Handling Procedures/Confidentiality Policy

The DMA Corporate Responsibility team and Ethics Operating Committee receive promotions for review in a number of ways: from consumers, member companies, non-members, or, sometimes, consumer protection agencies. The Committee reviews most of the matters that are received by DMA concerning possible violations of the ethics guidelines; however, it is not possible for the Committee to review all complaints or inquiries received.

Criteria For Case Review

The most important criteria for accepting cases to be reviewed include the following:

  • the magnitude of the promotion or practice brought to DMA’s attention;
  • the possible damage or economic harm to consumers;
  • a pattern of complaints received by the DMA;
  • and complaints that are the subject of media and/or government attention.

Review Process

Complaints referred to the Committee are reviewed against the Guidelines for Ethical Business Practice and if a majority of Committee members believe there is a potential violation, the company is contacted. Most companies work with the Committees to cease or change the questioned practice. Case proceedings are kept strictly confidential. However, if a member company does not cooperate and the Committees believe there are ongoing guidelines violations, the Committees can recommend that action be taken by the Board of Directors and can make case results public. Board action could include censure, suspension or expulsion from membership, and the Board may also make its actions public. If a non-member or a member company does not cooperate with the Committees and the Committees believe violations of law may also have occurred, referral of the case is generally made to federal and/or state law enforcement authorities for their review; such referral may be made public.

General Complaint Handling Procedures and Policy

The DMA is interested in hearing from you if you believe a direct marketing promotion or practice is questionable and may warrant a formal review by the Committees. The DMA receives and investigates complaints against member and non-member organizations.

File a General Ethics Complaint

DMA staff may be reached via ethics@the-dma.org for questions or concerns.

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