Say goodbye to nuisance cold calls

Ever subscribed to something that keeps on sending you texts or do you constantly find yourself getting interrupted by cold callers in the evening? Nicolette Dirk finds out what you can do to get yourself off the marketing lists- and get a good night’s rest.

When buying a product in a shop or online it is usually standard procedure to provide contact details, be it your cell number or email address. But what you are also providing is unwritten permission for the marketing team of that store to contact you about sales or promotions related to similar products you have purchased.

This is according to Alastair Tempest, president of the Institute for Interactive Marketing (IIDM) and chief operating officer of the Direct Marketing Association (DMASA).

“Many people don’t read the terms and conditions of the contracts they sign. If you give your details for a financial product at, e.g Absa, you are infact also giving them permission to promote similar products to you in the future,” says Tempest.

Where the line is drawn regarding this consent is the promotion of other products. An institute that sold you a financial product cannot contact you about cars they are promoting.

Tempest says this is why reading the fine print of the terms and conditions of your contract are so important because there are sections that allow you to opt out of getting marketing notifications.

How do you make them stop!

So you have been negligent in reading your contract and are getting nuisance emails and cold calls at all hours of the evening. The good news is that according to the Consumer Protection Act, you have the right to tell telemarketers to stop contacting you with immediate effect.

“Products promoted via email usually have the unsubscribe option and products being marketed via sms also have the ’STOP’ option. When it comes to calls you can instruct the telemarketer to take you off their list and send you notification that it has been done. Also clarify that it is a recordable conversation,” says Tempest.

And once the Protection of personal information (Popi) act has been finalised, consumers will enjoy even more protection. Regulations will be strictly enforced and companies, who do not comply, could face fines of up to R10 million.

“One of the problems in South Africa is that the consumer protection legislation is a slow process and consumers and companies are not well-versed about the rights of the consumer,” says Tempest.

Directing Marketing Association opt-out

Another option is to register with South Africa’s Direct Marketing Association where you can register to be on the opt-out database. Once you are registered here it helps you to make sure your address, email address, telephone and cell number are no longer available to organisations, who are members of the DMA, who want to make offers and send information that you do not wish to receive. Currently there are 76 000 members on this database.

But before you hit that unsubscribe button…

International companies, which are not governed by the rules of South Africa’s Direct Marketing Association, also use illegal marketing mechanisms for fraudulant purposes.

Tempest says a product like Viagra (which cannot legally be sold online) will be promoted but once you click the unsubscribe button a virus will set in that will give con-artists access to your personal details. Only opt for the unsubscribe button if the marketing product  is from a reputable South African company.

Is marketing all that bad?

Tempest says that once you permanently make your data inaccessible to marketers, you also prevent yourself from receiving information that you may  like to have in the future. Some charities use telemarketing as an economical way to raise awareness and much needed support.  He adds that many good deals are also communicated to the public through marketing.

Moneybags says:

Always look at the fine print before signing for a product to check for an opt-out section for promotional notification.

Enquire about the opt-out section if a marketer/telemarketer contacts you.

For general enquiries about opting-out,  contact South Africa’s Direct Marketing Association on 0861 362 362.