|Received:||7/16/2006 4:13:03 PM|
|Organization:||The Longaberger Company|
|Subject:||Business Opportunity Rule|
|Title:||Notice of Proposed Rulemaking|
|CFR Citation:||16 CFR Part 437|
Comments:I am concerned about the proposed Business Opportunity Rule R511993. I believe that in its present form, it could affect my direct selling business as an Independent National Sales Leader with The Longaberger® Company. I understand that part of the FTC’s responsibilities is to protect the public from “unfair and deceptive acts or practices,” but some of the sections in the proposed rule inhibit my ability to have a career opportunity or offer one to other women and men. One of the most confusing and troublesome sections of the proposed rule is the seven-day waiting period to enroll new Home Consultants. To get started in a Longaberger business, the business kit only costs $144. People buy TV’s, cars, and other items that cost much more than that, and they do not have to wait seven days. This waiting period gives the impression that there might be something wrong with our business opportunity. I also think this seven-day waiting period is unnecessary because direct selling companies have a 90 percent buy-back policy for all products, including business kits purchased by a salesperson within the last twelve months. In fact, our company’s buy-back exceeds the DSA Code of Ethics requirement which, in my opinion, makes this rule unnecessary. Under this waiting period requirement, I will need to keep very detailed records when I first speak to someone about Longaberger and will then have to send in many reports to the company headquarters. Additionally, it is my understanding that the proposed rule also calls for the release of any information regarding lawsuits involving misrepresentation, or unfair or deceptive practices. It does not matter if the company was found innocent. Today, anyone or any company can be sued for almost anything. It does not make sense to me that I would have to disclose these lawsuits unless Longaberger is found guilty. Otherwise, Longaberger and I are put at an unfair disadvantage even though The Longaberger Company has done nothing wrong. Finally, the proposed rule requires the disclosure of a minimum of 10 prior purchasers nearest to the prospective purchaser. I am glad to provide references, but in this day of identity theft, I am very uncomfortable giving out the personal information of individuals (without their approval) to strangers. Also, giving away this information could damage the business relationship of the references who may be involved in other companies or businesses, including those of competitors. In order to get the list of the 10 prior purchasers, I will need to send the address of the prospective purchaser to Longaberger headquarters and then wait for the list. I also think the following sentence required by the proposed rule will prevent many people from wanting to sign up as a salesperson: “If you buy a business opportunity from the seller, your contact information can be disclosed in the future to other buyers.” People are very concerned about their privacy and identity theft. They will be reluctant to share their personal information with individuals they may have never met. I have been an Independent Longaberger Home Consultant for the Longaberger Company for more than 20 years. I became a Home Consultant because I loved the products, and I later realized the freedom and advantages of owning my own business. Now my family depends on this extra income to supplement our budget. I am very upset to think that people will be reluctant to try direct sales, because of this proposed rule. Direct sales has allowed so many people to achieve a better quality of life through had work and dedication, with little outlay of money. These people wrote their own version of the American Dream--owning their own business. I appreciate the work of the FTC to protect consumers, but I believe this proposed new rule has many unintended consequences and I think there are other alternatives available in achieving its goals that have a much more positive outcome.