We all know that marketing is a crucial element of most successful businesses. But how, now that the new Consumer Protection Act (CPA) places substantial limitations on what is termed 'direct marketing'?
What it is all about?
In its effort to protect consumers who, when faced with a very persuasive marketer, finds it hard to say 'no', the Act places limitations on direct marketing.
Direct marketing occurs when a consumer is approached - either in person, by mail or via electronic communication (for example, using telephone, fax, SMS or e-mail) for the direct or indirect purpose of:
- • promoting or offering to supply goods or services in the ordinary course of business to the person; or
- • requesting the person to make a donation.
In turn, "promote" is defined to include the following activities, all typical to marketing in the ordinary course of one's business:
- • To advertise, display or offer to supply goods or services;
- • To make any representation that could reasonably be inferred as a willingness to supply goods or services; and
- • To engage in conduct that may reasonably be construed as an inducement to a person to engage in a transaction.
What to do now?
Remember that the CPA does not forbid direct marketing to potential clients, but merely regulates it. One can therefore continue to do direct marketing, provided the safety mechanisms built into the CPA are complied with.
These are the following:
- • Adhere to a consumer's request not to receive any more direct marketing from you. This will require you to clean your databases and to capture all requests to 'unsubscribe' diligently.
- • Refrain from doing any direct marketing on Sundays and public holidays, between 20h00 and 08h00 on weekdays, and outside of 09h00 and 13h00 on Saturdays.
- • When a transaction is concluded as a result of your direct marketing efforts, you need to advise the consumer that he/she may cancel the transaction - provided he/she gives you notice in writing within 5 days after the transaction was concluded, or within 5 days after the consumer received the goods that was delivered in terms of the transaction.