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What the Consumer Protection Act means for direct marketing in South Africa

According to Money Web, the Consumer Protection Act will significantly impact direct and indirect marketing practices, particularly on how they can promote the supply of goods and services to consumers.

The act prevents any misleading, fraudulent or deceptive marketing to be used- which includes exaggeration, ambiguity or failing to disclose a material fact. A business must not misrepresent the characteristics of its goods or services; their standard, quality or grade; or the availability and expected delivery timing of these goods or services. A business must disclose if they are acting on behalf of a supplier.

In terms of direct marketing practices, Money Web reports the CPA gives the consumer the right to block any communication from direct marketers, or demand that a business stop initiating any further communication.

Other protections for consumers include the prohibition of negative option marketing, which is the initiation of of a transaction if the consumer fails to act; bait marketing, which occurs when misleading advertising entices a customer to a supplier; and unfair discriminatory marketing practices, which include excluding person from accessing goods or services, prioritizing customers' access to goods or services or supplying different quality goods or services to particular customers.

However, South African Commercial Property News reported that the CPA's restrictions on telephone or walk-up canvassing tactics after 7pm during the week and 12 noon on Saturdays greatly hurts the real estate industry.  

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