The Wireless Application Service Providers' Association of South Africa (WASPA) has fine-tuned its Code of Conduct to address consumer concerns and complaints about abusive practices among certain providers of SMS quiz subscription services.
"WASPA has received a number of complaints from the public about certain practices among providers of quiz subscription services and realised that it had to take immediate action to protect the interests of the public and its members," says Leon Perlman, chairman of WASPA.
"We believe that the changes we have made to our Code of Conduct will ensure that consumers can enjoy quiz services in the knowledge they have clear information about how much these services will cost them and how to opt-out of services they no longer wish to subscribe to."
According to the amended Code of Conduct, providers of mobile quiz subscription services must now indicate that their quizzes are subscription services on all advertising, even online ads such as those delivered on Facebook and Google.
When subscribers receive SMS messages with PIN codes to retrieve the results of quizzes they have completed, they should be able to easily understand that inputting their PIN codes to get the results will result in them subscribing for the quiz service.
These activation SMS messages must follow a compulsory format specified by WASPA and must clearly outline the terms, costs, and stop/opt-out details of the service as well as the contact details of the service provider.
In addition the WASP is not allowed to bill the subscriber beyond R300.00 per month (soon to be R200.00 per month) before obtaining explicit consent from the subscriber to continue billing for that service. The service provider must get permission once again to bill the subscriber once the bill is passes R400.00 a month, and every time thereafter that the bill increases by an increment of more than R200.00.
WASPs that run quiz subscription services must also send all subscribers a reminder SMS in WASPA's compulsory format every 30 days reminding them that they are subscribed the service and outlining the costs of the service, contact info of the subscription service provider and any opt-out/stop details).
The speed with which WASPA has been able to react to consumer concerns about quiz subscription services vindicates the self-regulation model that the industry has adopted, Perlman adds. "We are determined to protect the public against bad practices by WASPs to uphold the good name of our industry."
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.