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Consumers praise WASPA for looking out for their interests

Released: 25 January 2011

South Africa's Wireless Application Service Providers' Association (WASPA) reports that the vast majority of the consumer complaints about its members handled last year have been amicably resolved.

WASPA is an industry body that encourages best practice in the fast-growing mobile content and applications sector. It acts as a self-regulatory body that aims to protect consumers against bad practices such as spam, inappropriate content and fraudulent or unfair pricing.

The WASPA complaints department handled a wide range of disputes between consumers and wireless application service providers this year, most of which were complaints about unsolicited commercial messages and billing issues. A high percentage of consumers were happy with the outcome after they reported disputes with WASPA members to the organisation. Some comments from the public WASPA received during the year include the following:

"WASPA is doing excellent work in upholding public perception of these mobile services and protecting against bad practices. Well done to the WASPA team."

"I am so impressed with this service that I just felt I had to compliment you on the immediate feedback and resolving of complaints."

"I initially had a negative picture and perception of the industry in view of the fact that you are self-regulated, but have come to view the industry in a new light."

"I wish to thank WASPA for their prompt and valuable service. It is nice to know that there is such an organisation for the protection of the consumer."

WASPA was launched in 2004 by WASPs with the full backing of the country's cellular operators. Since then, it has played a vital role in growing the industry by protecting the rights of consumers and its members.

The aim of the association is to instil consumer and business confidence in the WASP industry by setting out and enforcing clear rules for the industry that balance the interests of all stakeholders, said WASPA chairman Leon Perlman. Most WASPs in South Africa today are WASPA members.

The WASPA Code of Conduct 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, unsubscribe procedures, and the type of content they may carry.

WASPA can sanction members who break the rules with penalties that range from hefty fines to suspension from the organisation. It also provides a mechanism through which members of the public can address grievances with service providers that engage in bad practices like spamming or misleading consumers about subscription fees.

Should you have a complaint about a WASPA member, you can lodge it here: http://waspa.org.za/code/complaint.shtml



WASPA represents the mobile development; value added services and content services community in South Africa. After lobbying the mobile operators and WASPs in late 2003 for an industry body, WASPA's formative meeting was held in August 2004. Membership of WASPA was made mandatory by the mobile operators and TV stations for any company doing value added services in South Africa.

WASPA's remit is to promote and self-regulate the WASP industry. As part of the self-regulatory component of WASPA, there is the now internationally recognized and emulated self-regulatory regime for mobile value added services that includes the WASPA Code of Conduct & Advertising Rules. WASPA's Code of Conduct regulates inter alia, competitions, chat, adult services, spam, CRM, advertising of services,subscription services and pricing. The first version of the Code was passed in June 2004 and implemented on 1 September 2005. It has been updated numerous times as the need has arisen.

Enforcement of the Code & Advertising Rules is achieved by a novel quasi-judicial system that consists of a procedure for lodging and responding to complaints where it is thought the Code is being contravened. Adherence to the Code and the Advertising rules is mandatory for all providers operating in South Africa.

ICT lawyers acting as WASPA adjudicators will find on the merits and have the power to suspend, fine, expel any WASP or Information Provider found to contravene the Code rules. Adjudications are enforced through contractual provisions in all WASP agreements. There is also a 3-person appeals panel as well as an emergency panel.

Issued by:

Ivan Booth
Reliable Sources PR
082 851 7419
ivan (at) reliablesources.co.za