Telemarketing vs. the Consumer Protection Act

On 1 April 2011, South Africans saw the Consumer Protection Act (CPA) come into effect. Although certain limitations and restrictions will now be imposed on companies in terms of their conduct and approach towards the consumer, it is fair to now have the necessary measures in place to protect the consumer. There are companies out there that damage the reputation of those that engage in fair and ethical business practice and South Africans are now being empowered to stand up to these companies.

As a result of the CPA, many companies will need to revisit their strategies. One strategy that particularly stands out is telemarketing. Yes, some of us are going about it the “right” way but it is almost as if this form of marketing is being overused and is cluttering our personal space. I have personally received about 4 telemarketing phone calls in a week from complete strangers. I find this tactic quite invasive and I do feel sorry for those poor telemarketers on the other end of the line whose job it is to try and sell. It has even come to the point that Darren Simpson (aka Wackhead), a prankster on a popular radio station, has used the concept of telemarketing in many of his pranks.

The CPA is not designed to rid South Africa of telemarketers but it is there to instill some degree of control in the industry. There are now times within which telemarketers are allowed to call consumers and consumers have complete control over whether or not they would like to participate. In an article on law24.com, it states that consumers have a 5 day cooling-off period where they are allowed to cancel any agreement that they might have committed to.

This controversial strategy brings to mind a key concept that companies need to remember: permission-based marketing. Contacting the consumer with his/her permission is a better strategy than unexpectedly invading his/her personal space. Companies will need to think more strategically about their approaches, especially with respect to telemarketing.

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