Direct Marketing in terms of the Consumer Protection Act

Communication, wanted or unwanted, is a vital part of our lives. Direct marketing is where a person is approached by a supplier for the purpose of advertising his/her goods for sale, services available, or to request a donation. The Consumer Protection Act gives every person a right to restrict or block any communication from suppliers of this nature. 

What is direct marketing?

  • Direct marketing is where a supplier, either in person, by post, or electronically, communicates with a person for the purpose of advertising his/her goods for sale, services available or to request a donation.
  • A person can be approached electronically by means of a telephone, fax, sms, wireless computer access, email or other form of technology.

When is a supplier allowed to communicate with a person via direct marketing?

  • Saturdays between 9am and 1pm;
  • Mondays to Fridays between 8am and 8pm; and
  • when a person requested or agreed to another time.

How can a person block or restrict a supplier from communicating with him/her via direct marketing?

  • After a person has been approached by a supplier for the purpose of direct marketing, that person can demand, within a reasonable time, that the specific supplier stops communicating with him/her.
  • This demand can take the form of replying “no”, “stop” or “opt out” to an email or sms. A person can also place a sign on his/her postbox stating “no junk mail” or “no adverts”.
  • A supplier may not ask any person a fee for demanding it to stop communicating with him/her.
  • A person can further indicate his/her intention not to receive direct marketing communication to the supplier, or by registering on the website of the Direct Marketing Association of South Africa (“DMASA”).

What is a cooling off right?

  • A cooling off right means that a person may cancel an agreement entered into with a supplier that resulted from direct marketing, without a penalty fee.
  • A person has a cooling off right of 5 (five) business days from the date of concluding an agreement or delivery of the goods.
  • The notice of cancellation must be in writing and delivered to the supplier by hand, fax, e-mail or registered mail.  
  • The supplier has 15 days from receiving the notice of termination or the returned goods, to return payments to a person minus the following charges:
    • charge for use of the goods; and
    • necessary restoration costs.

What happens when a supplier does not comply with the Consumer Protection Act?

If a person is of the belief that a supplier has breached the Consumer Protection Act in respect of direct marketing s/he may lodge a complaint with the supplier, or lodge a complaint with a complaints body, such as an ombudsman, the National Consumer Commission and so on, for investigation.

Do you have any more questions?

What is the Consumer Protection Act?

  • The Consumer Protection Act regulates the relationship between a consumer and a supplier and will apply to any agreement for the supply of goods and services.
  • A consumer is any person to whom goods or services are marketed or supplied to in the ordinary course of business.
  • A supplier is any person, company, close corporation or partnership who markets or supplies goods or services to a consumer in exchange for consideration (for example, money).

What does the Consumer Protection Act say about marketing?

  • Marketing must not be misleading or deceptive, for example, suppliers must not:
    • give untrue characteristics about themselves, or their goods or services; or
    • offer a false price.
    • During marketing the supplier must not force, pressure, intimidate or harass a person to enter into an agreement.
    • A supplier must advertise goods or services only if they are available and can be supplied.
    • Suppliers may not force a person to provide him/her with contact numbers of his/her friends, family or other people in return for a benefit.
    • Suppliers may not forward a person’s details to third parties without his/her permission. 

Will a public advert be considered as direct marketing?

  • No, if a person responds to a public advert for example a billboard on a highway, it does not constitute as direct marketing.
  • A person has to be approached by a supplier in person, by post or electronically for the purpose to advertise his/her goods for sale or services available or to request a donation. 

How can LegalWise assist you?

Should you require an explanation of your rights on this topic, please contact your nearest Branch.


The information contained on this website is aimed at providing members of the public with guidance on the law in South Africa. This information has not been provided to meet the individual requirements of a specific person and LegalWise insists that legal advice be obtained to address a person’s unique circumstances. It is important to remember that the law is constantly changing and although LegalWise strives to keep the information up to date and of a high quality, it cannot be guaranteed that the information will be updated and/or be without errors or omissions. As a result, LegalWise, its employees, independent contractors, associates or third parties will under no circumstances accept liability or be held liable, for any innocent or negligent actions or omissions by LegalWise, which may result in any harm or liability flowing from the use of or the inability to use the information provided.

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