By Sanette Viljoen
Modern technology makes it easy to contact any consumer via SMS or e-mail. The Consumers Protection Act 68 of 2008 tries its best to regulate this means of communication with the consumer by enabling the consumer to try and restrict unwanted marketing.
The Act defines direct marketing as follows:
“- to approach any person whether in person, per e-mail or electronic communication for the direct or indirect purpose of:
- a) promoting or offering or providing of any product in the normal course of business or
- b) requesting a donation of any kind from the person.”
The right to restrict unwanted directed marketing is covered by section 11 of the Act. It gives the consumer the right to refuse, terminate, stop and to block any form of direct marketing.
Any person who is approached by direct marketing agents may within a reasonable period request that the instance or person who approached him/her, cease these marketing techniques immediately and that no further communication of any kind be directed to him/her.
In order for this to succeed, appropriate procedures need to be put in place to help us as consumers to facilitate this process. It is also important to be aware that no person or instance may levy a fee from a consumer who requests that direct marketing cease, e.g. the costs to send and SMS to “stop” may not be recovered from the consumer.
The Consumers Protection Act specifies certain times during which no consumer may be approached by direct marketing, unless he/she consents thereto. These times when no-one may approach you, are as follows:
– Sundays and public holidays
– Saturdays 09:00 – 13:00 and
– any other day from 20:00 to 08:00.
If it is believed that a company or instance transgressed the stipulations of the Consumers Protection Act, or that further forms of such communication are forbidden, then a complaint or a request may be submitted to the National Consumers Commission, who will investigate the complaint. It may also be submitted to the Direct Marketing Society of S.A., who keeps an “opt out” register in which consumers can indicate that they do not wish to receive any form of direct marketing communication. This register is provided to all the members of the Direct Marketing Society.
In theory, instances are then forbidden to contact the consumers on the register. However, the effectiveness of this is not always 100%.