Yes, opting out is a free option
Businesses using SMSes as a marketing tool should be wary of charging customers for “opting out” of their SMS notification services.
Bulk SMS service provider SMSPortal says the Consumer Protection Act is often disregarded by businesses and service providers who charge customers a fee for cancelling subscriptions to mobile marketing or pre-emptively blocking mobile marketing on their phones.
[Reverse-billing cancelled mobile marketing subscriptions] will soon be widespread practice, I imagine,” said SMSPortal CEO Charles Stretch.
It is not only ethical business practice but it is a CPA requirement, and when consumers are more aware of being charged to opt out of unwanted SMSes, sometimes without even subscribing in the first place, there will be pressure from consumers on businesses to have the charge reversed,” he said.
In terms of the reverse-billing scheme, the mobile network will bill the cost of an “opt-out” SMS to SMSPortal, which then forwards that charge to the advertiser.
According to the CPA, opting out of mobile marketing schemes is supposed to be free,” said Vodacom spokesman Richard Boorman. “However, if you subscribe to a service, let’s say a daily horoscope, you will generally pay to opt out because you’ve already signed up for the service.”
SMSPortal belongs to the Wireless Application Service Providers’ Association, which “aims to regulate the wireless network industry, manage the public’s complaints and consumer rights,” said Stretch. The association recently updated its code of conduct, forbidding members from charging consumers a fee for opt-out requests or pre-emptive blocks.
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