The Consumer Protection Act (Act 68 of 2008), or CPA in short, is the legal framework that protects consumers from being exploited by corporations. All businesses that supply goods and services need to take note of this Act and ensure they meet all the requirements. The CPA will affect how you go about implementing your online marketing strategy therefore, keep it in mind when drafting your plan.
Businesses need to think beyond the actual person who is purchasing their product or service. The CPA protects both the consumer who the product or service is delivered to, as well as the actual user of the product or beneficiary of your service. If a mother buys a television set for her child, both the mother and child will be protected by the CPA.
Marketers should pay attention to right (2) in the CPA, it states:
Consumers have the right to curb unwanted direct marketing initiatives, including unsolicited correspondence and have the right to refuse direct marketing such as an SMS, email, telephone call or letter. To ensure your business is abiding by this law, you must add an option for the consumer to end all correspondence. Cease all marketing messages that are being spent to consumers who have replied ‘STOP’ to an SMS or unsubscribed from a mailer and take their name off your mailing list free of charge.
If the consumer has not replied ‘STOP’ to your marketing messages, you still have to ensure that your messages aren’t being sent before 8am or after 8pm during the week. On Saturdays refrain from sending marketing messages before 9am and after 1pm. You are not allowed to contact anyone on Sundays and public holidays.
What to do when a consumer wants to lodge a complaint.
According to the CPA, consumers have the right to complain. This can be in their individual capacity, as someone else on their behalf or by someone who represents a group with the same complaint. When approaching your business, the consumer must ask for the manager or owner to explain the nature of their complaint.
Consumers can ask for the name of the staff member who assisted them and communicate the promise they made that was violated. If the salesperson was misleading about the features of a product, the consumer can insist on getting the right product that matches the features mentioned, or get their money back. For more examples read this document.
It’s important to ensure that any complaint is handled professionally, then and there, because if the consumer feels it was not dealt with appropriately, they can take their case further and approach the provincial or national consumer body.
How will this impact your online marketing strategy?
When consumers opt-out, they will no longer pay attention to your business, meaning the potential to gain more sales leads will decrease. However, marketers are adapting a new online strategy to reach an increasing market. According to Hubspot, “Commerce is shifting more and more online.” You need to ensure that your business is up to the task of easily selling goods and services online.
The biggest payer for search engines is Google. When a potential customer wants to find out more about a particular product or service, Google provides them with the information they need to make a buyer’s decision. The need to centre your online marketing strategy around ecommerce couldn’t be clearer. The only question that remains is: can you afford not to think about starting an online store
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