The Wireless Application Service Providers' Association (WASPA) has prescribed tough new sanctions for members that violate its Code of Conduct by neglecting to send their subscribers monthly reminders that they are subscribed to a paid-for service.
These reminders must follow the format and style specified by WASPA to give customers more clear and explicit information about the services they subscribe to, the inclusive costs of the services, who the service provider is and how to unsubscribe from the service. The reminder must be unambiguous so that users will not confuse it with an advert.
Different penalties apply for WASPs that send out no reminders and those that do not send out reminders in the correct format containing all the necessary language. For the first transgression, WASPs may be subject to a stiff fine and will be monitored carefully by WASPA for a year to follow.
Any further breaches may result in more fines, as well as a 30-day suspension of the WASP's membership of the organisation.
"WASPA is committing to ensuring that consumers have a transparent view of the WASP services they subscribe to, who is providing them and how much they are costing," says WASPA chairman Leon Perlman. "It is also important that consumers can easily unsubscribe from such a service if they want to.
"We have found that this is one of the elements of the Code of Conduct that WASPs most frequently neglect, so we have put these sanctions in place to enforce compliance."
The WASPA Code of Conduct, which most of South Africa's major WASPs subscribe to, outlines in detail how the organisation's members should conduct themselves in their interactions with the public, including how they advertise their services, their billing procedures, and the type of content they may carry. WASPs are service providers that provide mobile applications and content such as bulk SMS messaging to corporate customers and directly to consumers.
The primary objective of the WASPA Code of Conduct is to ensure that members of the public can use mobile services with confidence, assured that they will be provided with accurate information about all services and the pricing associated with the services. It also aims to equip consumers with a mechanism for addressing their complaints about services provided by WASPA members.
"WASPA's Code of Conduct has real teeth because of the sanctions we can impose on non-compliant members," said Perlman. "We are determined to protect the public against bad practices by WASPs to uphold the good name of our industry."
WASPA has a template in place recommending a range of fines and sanctions for members that breach the Code of Conduct.