South Africa has an ‘opt-out’ regime when it comes to direct marketing. But perhaps we should take a step back. What is ‘direct marketing’ exactly? It is when you approach a person directly (personally) for the purposes of direct marketing. In this context ‘approach directly’ can mean that you approach the person in person, by mail, by e-mail, telephonically, by SMS etc. for the direct or indirect purpose of marketing your products or services.
What does an opt-out regime mean? It means that you can contact consumers without their consent until they opt out or ‘unsubscribe’. The National Consumer Commission is supposed to establish a national opt-out registry, but they have not gotten around it. Once this happens the rules of the game will change slightly. You will then have to check that a consumer is not on the list before you contact them.
The CPA also prescribes the times at which you can contact consumers and gives them a ‘cooling off’ right if they have bought products or services as a result of direct marketing.
A word of warning to direct marketers: these rules are about to change. The Protection of Personal Information Act was passed recently (it is not in force yet). Electronic marketers will have to ask consent before they market to consumers in future.
If you want to read more about the rules on direct marketing see Chapter 4 of Consumer Law Unlocked.
Consumer Law Unlocked by Elizabeth de Stadler provides a comprehensive overview of consumer law – not just the Act – in a way that follows the typical chain of transactions. No business or professional advisor should be without it.
Consumer Law Unlocked is available to purchase here