TrustFabric, which boasts creating South Africa’s first independently run direct marketing opt-out list, has launched a mobile version of its service on MXit and reported receiving 32,000 registrations within the first ten days.
“Many South Africans are frustrated with random sales calls and daily SMS spam,” said TrustFabric in a press statement issued today (11 April 2012).
“The Consumer Protection Act (CPA) gives South Africans the right to block direct marketing by adding their contact details to an Opt-Out list, but an official National Opt-out list is yet to be appointed,” TrustFabric said.
According to TrustFabric, it launched its mobile service on 1 April, exactly one year after the CPA came into effect.
TrustFabric explained that there are two opt-out lists in South Africa, with the other list operated by the Direct Marketing Association of South Africa (DMASA).
The DMASA made headlines last year when its list with 39,000 records was reported as leaked. Last month the DMASA said that about 70,000 consumers have signed up to its “do not contact” (DNC) database.
TrustFabric said that the National Consumer Council (NCC) decided against appointing the DMASA’s list as the official list last year after many South Africans wrote to the NCC, expressing their concern with the conflict of interest in giving a group of direct marketing companies control the national opt-out list.
“The NCC estimates the cost of building its own opt-out service to be in the order of R5 million and so far has taken no action to build an opt-out service because of funding constraints, leaving the process in limbo and leaving citizens without the protections against direct marketing which are defined in the CPA,” TrustFabric said.
TrustFabric is aiming to have its list recognised as the official national opt-out list, saying that it would legally force direct marketing companies to check if a number is in the database before they are allowed to phone or SMS people.
According to TrustFabric, its Opt-Out list never shares any contact details with marketing companies, but rather lets them upload a batch of numbers they plan to contact and filters their lists based on user preferences.
TrustFabric said that it submitted a proposal to the NCC to operate the national opt-out list last year, claiming that the service is free for all citizens and was developed without any costs to government.
“We have registered about the same number of users in 10 days as the DMA’s service managed to do in 5 years. It’s clear from the numbers that people are frustrated with spam. By making our opt-out service more accessible using Mxit and mobile phones, a much wider group of citizens are now able to block direct marketing,” said Joe Botha, CEO of TrustFabric.
After the recent growth in opt-out registrations, TrustFabric will approach the NCC again to appoint the TrustFabric list as the official National Opt-Out list.
TrustFabric also operates a Child Protect service which offers marketing companies a way to avoid sending adult content like alcohol and tobacco marketing to minors. This service works in a similar way to the opt-out service, but simply checks if a mobile number belongs to a user over 18 years old.