DEAR ABBY: My daughter, "Amelia," recently joined the ranks of a "direct sales force." She has asked me to make arrangements so she can present her products to my circle of friends. I love Amelia beyond words and would do anything to support her, but I told her that in this instance I felt I would be betraying my friends by "using" their friendship.
In my opinion, hosting a "party" for the purpose of selling makes the invitees feel obligated to buy something whether they need it or not. I told Amelia I don't want to put my friends in that position. My daughter took immediate offense and told me I was way off-base because attendees are "free to purchase products -- or not -- as they choose." In other words, I'm the one with the hang-up and it isn't necessarily shared by others.
It upsets me terribly that my daughter is now angry and thinks I have abandoned her because I'm uncomfortable supporting this effort. She has another successful career, so this venture is not a matter of financial life or death to her. What should I do? -- IN A TOUGH SPOT IN ILLINOIS
DEAR IN A SPOT: Direct sales companies are rapidly expanding their forces these days, in light of the recession. And many people regard it as an attractive opportunity to replace lost income or hedge against job loss. According to USA Today, there are now roughly 15 million direct sellers in the United States.
With all that "partying" going on -- the objective of which is to sell, sell, sell -- many people have wised up to the fact they are promotional rather than social in nature and refuse the invitations. I see nothing wrong with inviting your friends, as long as they understand, in advance, the purpose of the party as well as the fact that you won't be personally offended if they do not choose to participate.