DMA Mediation & Arbitration Service
The Direct Marketing Association (DMA) has partnered with the BBB (Better Business Bureaus) to provide mediation and/or arbitration services to assist DMA members in resolving commercial disputes that arise between organizations in relation to direct marketing.
BBB is one of the largest providers of dispute resolution services in the country, resolving thousands of marketplace disputes each year in a fast, fair, professional and cost effective way. Working together, the DMA and BBB have developed a mediation/ arbitration service tailored to address the needs of the direct marketing sector and resolve disputes including those involving issues unique to the direct marketing industry. The DMA/BBB service combines the dispute resolution experience and expertise of BBB with the industry knowledge of DMA.
If you have a dispute you are unable to resolve directly with the organization concerned, the DMA/BBB mediation and arbitration service provides an informal, user-friendly alternative to legal proceedings.
To begin the process,
Complete the Claim Form and email it to email@example.com or mail it to: DMA CSR Deptartment, Attention: DMA/BBB Dispute Resolution Program, 1615 L Street, NW, Ste 1100, Washington, DC, 20036.
DMA will attempt to gain agreement from the other party to participate in the process. If they agree to use the program, we will share their information with you, collect the basic participation fee and notify the BBB to begin the process. If the other business refuses to use the program, we will advise you and you may explore other options to resolve the dispute.
Once both parties have agreed to use the process and the fees have been collected, the BBB will contact you to initiate the mediation/and or arbitration hearing. Full process details are included below.
Note: If you are a BBB accredited business, you may also have dispute resolution options available through your BBB in addition to the mediation and arbitration provided by this program. Please contact your BBB for more information about the benefits of accreditation. If you have any questions, please contact Beth Grant at firstname.lastname@example.org or Rodney Davis at 703.247.9367/Rdavis@council.bbb.org.
Frequently Asked Questions:
What is mediation?
Mediation is a voluntary procedure. While the mediator will make every effort to help you resolve your dispute, you are under no obligation to reach an agreement with the other party. Either party involved in the dispute may decide to end the mediation session at any time with proper notice to the BBB. For more detailed information about the mediation process you can read the Rules for Mediation.
In mediation, BBB will provide a professionally-trained mediator to confer with the parties and guide them in working out their own mutually-agreeable solutions. To make the process readily accessible, mediation of disputes involving DMA members are conducted by telephone. If the parties reach a mutually acceptable resolution, the mediator will put the agreement into written form and send the agreement to both parties.
What is arbitration?
Arbitration is an informal process in which two parties present their views of a dispute to a neutral third party, an arbitrator, who will decide upon the appropriate resolution. The BBB provides a professionally trained arbitrator who will listen to both sides, weigh the evidence and make a decision about the dispute. This decision will be binding on both parties.
The following remedies may be awarded in an arbitration proceeding: a) release of contractual obligations between the parties; b) full or partial refund of the cost of the product and/or service involved in the transaction, including sales tax and other direct incidental costs associated with the sale of the product or service; c) return of the product (if a full or partial refund is awarded);
d) completion of promised work or fulfillment of contractual obligations; and/or e) the amount of any actual out of pocket loss or damages, not to exceed $50,000, caused by the deficiency in the product or service.
Additional remedies may be awarded in an arbitration proceeding only if the parties agree in writing that the arbitrator may award the specific remedy. The following may not be awarded in BBB arbitration unless it is specifically agreed by all parties that the arbitrator may award them: a) compensation for mental anguish; b) punitive damages; or c) legal fees. For more detailed information about the arbitration process you can read the Rules for Arbitration.
How does the process work?
This outline, the Rules for Mediation. and the Rules for Arbitration. provide you with information to help you decide if mediation or arbitration is your preferred way to resolve the dispute. In order to proceed to mediation and/or arbitration, both parties will have to indicate their willingness to participate in the process.
The DMA/BBB service includes certain limits on the remedies available so each party should carefully review the program rules and procedures before deciding whether to submit the dispute to the DMA/ BBB service. If you have questions about the process, the DMA will answer those questions before a final commitment is made to participate in the process. Prior to referring the case to the DMA/ BBB service, the DMA will confirm agreement of the parties to utilize the service and collect their filing fee.
Is the decision binding?
The parties decide in advance whether the decision will be binding. Generally, the decision made in mediation proceedings will not be binding on the parties whilst decisions made in arbitration hearings will be binding on the parties. However, the parties can take an alternative approach if agreement is reached between the parties and BBB prior to the proceedings commencing.
How much does it cost?
The fee for the mediation or arbitration service is $1,500 for members and $3000 for non-members, which shall entitle the parties to up to three hours in a mediation session and/or arbitration hearing. BBB will charge the parties $250 for each additional hour incurred in mediation and/or arbitration exceeding the initial three hours.
The initial fee is paid to the DMA - $1,250 is passed on to BBB as an initial dispute resolution charges.
Who pays the fees?
The parties to the dispute share the fees equally unless they have agreed otherwise.
How long does it take?
The BBB makes every effort to obtain a final resolution of your complaint within 60 days from the date the signed Agreement to Arbitrate is received from both parties. The BBB may extend this time at its discretion.
Most disputes are resolved within the initial three-hour mediation session or arbitration hearing. If resolution of the dispute takes longer the parties will be charged an additional $250 for each hour.
What are the benefits of mediation or arbitration?
- Dispute resolution services are low cost: You have the ability to avoid expensive court and legal fees.
- Dispute resolution allows for informality: You are free to have a lawyer assist you, but most people do not use one in BBB mediation or arbitration. Hearings are held via the telephone in a relaxed manner and courtroom rules of evidence do not apply.
- Dispute resolution is empowering: It offers you a chance to state your case in a confidential forum. In mediation, you create your own solution.
- And finally, Dispute resolution is convenient: BBB will try to schedule mediation and arbitration sessions at the parties' convenience, and conducts the sessions by phone to reduce the parties’ costs. s
How do I get started?
- Firstly, the parties must read the Rules for Mediation and determine the preferred way to resolve the dispute. If you have a question about the service, please contact the DMA's Corporate & Social Responsibility (CSR) Department via email: email@example.com or mail: DMA CSR Dept, Attention: DMA/BBB Dispute Resolution Program, 1615 L Street, NW, Ste 1100, Washington, DC, 20036.
- Once the parties have determined their preferred way to resolve the dispute, both parties will have to indicate their willingness to participate in the process by completing and returning the appropriate complaint form and complaint response form to the DMA along with the $1,500 filing fee which should be divided equally between the parties.
- On receipt of the application form and fee, the DMA will forward the case to BBB.
- The BBB will then liaise with the parties to draw up an Agreement to Mediate/ Agreement to Arbitrate which must be signed and returned by both parties.
- On receipt of the Agreement, BBB will consult with the parties and the mediator/ arbitrator to set the date for the mediation session or arbitration hearing.
- Prior to the mediation session or arbitration hearing, BBB staff will request copies of all documents each party wishes to rely on during the mediation session/ arbitration hearing, so this information can be shared with the other party and reviewed by the mediator or arbitrator. All documentation will be sent to the parties at least 10 days in advance of the session/ hearing.
- The mediation session or arbitration hearing will be held via the telephone.
- The settlement terms (if an agreement is reached) or the arbitration decision will be provided to the parties within 10 days of the close of each process.