South African premium rated service providers need to take note of the new ICASA code of conduct for premium rated services. The code was published in Government Gazette 40402 on 4 November 2016 and is effective immediately.

In this summary, we’ll look at the regulations for contact and dating services, how end user information may be used, new billing threshold notifications and the implementation of compulsory toll free numbers for complaints procedures.

You can read more about the new numbering structure, double opt-in requirements, and the new regulations around promoting and advertising premium rated services in our previous article.

Contact and dating services

Contact and dating services with an on-going incremental cost must inform the end user of any additional costs at reasonable intervals and must require the end user to actively confirm their continued participation. ICASA does not however stipulate what is meant by ‘at reasonable intervals’. Reasonable steps must also be taken to ensure that the end user is authorized by the bill-payer to use the service and that no children use the service – information of the user’s age must be obtained prior to activation.

End user information (EUI)

Unless the end user has expressed prior consent, the purposes for which the EUI may be used is limited.

All other personal information gathered through the provision of services must also be managed in accordance with the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPI). It’s unclear what ‘other personal information’ means but the provisions of POPI are applicable, even though the act is not effective yet.

EUI is defined as:

All information that a provider of premium rated services obtains as a result of the use of a premium rated service by an end-user and includes, but is not limited to, information regarding:

(a) the end-user’s usage patterns (including number of calls, times of calls, duration of calls and parties called);

(b) the services used by the end-user;

(c) the end-user’s telephone number and network configuration;

(d) the end-user’s location information; and

(e) the end-user’s billing name, address and credit history.

Billing threshold notifications

A new requirement in terms of the code is that the premium rated service provider must send a notification to the end user if their total cost for a premium rated service in any calendar month exceeds R200 and just before it reaches the amount of R220. A response is required from the end user confirming their acceptance of any additional costs over R220 prior to any additional cost being billed. There is not much certainty on when exactly the notice must go out. As long as the notice is sent at some cost point from R200.01 to R219.99, the premium rated service provider should be compliant.

Take note that the above thresholds apply if there is no other threshold specified by the account holder and that the end user can instruct the threshold to be changed.

Toll free number for complaints

Customer service contact numbers provided by the service provider must be a toll free number and it must operate during normal business hours at a minimum. Additional means for the end user to content them such as fax or email, must also be provided. All complaints must be investigated and addressed within 15 days.

What you should you be doing now

  1. Review and implement the steps outlined in Part 1
  2. Implement the billing notifications for contact and dating services in terms of the billing thresholds.
  3. Review how you use EUI and start implementing POPI compliance measures.
  4. Get a toll free customer service contact number.

If you need any more information or have any questions regarding the ICASA code of conduct, contact our expert advisors who will gladly assist to help you ensure that you’re compliant.

Please do not consider this summary as a legal opinion. Clickatell will not accept liability for any losses suffered as a result of relying on the information. Please seek legal counsel if you’re concerned about how this affects your business.

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