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.