No “annoying” promo texts past 7pm as CA cracks-down on mobile operators

Promo text messages.

Close-up of a subscriber using his mobile phone. Mobile network operators will no longer be allowed to send marketing text messages to subscribers after 7pm.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

What you need to know:

  • If enacted, the standards will be a relief to mobile users who are bombarded with a lot of marketing messages daily without an option of opting out of them.
  • The companies will also be mandated to open “Do Not SMS, Do Not Call Register, Do Not Spam and Do Not Disturb” or subscribe to a duly registered national register.

Mobile network operators will no longer be allowed to send marketing text messages to subscribers after 7pm, in new guidelines by the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA).

The draft regulations limit telcos such as Safaricom, Airtel Kenya and Telkom Kenya to only send promotional messages to their subscribers between 7am and 7am.

This comes as mobile users have for years complained of being bombarded by promotional messages by advertisers such as betting firms, businesses and even politicians through mobile operators at any time of the day.

The Consumer Protection Guidelines and Customer Care standards also require mobile operators to specify to customers how they can opt out of receiving promotional content.

If enacted, the standards will be a relief to mobile users who are bombarded with a lot of marketing messages daily without an option of opting out of them.

“Marketing communications delivered by SMS may only be sent during the day within the time period 7am and 7pm,” says the guidelines that will come into effect after 12 months.

The mobile operators can however send the promotional messages to customers who consent to receiving them.

“Marketing and corporate communications delivered through SMS or e-mail shall be free and shall have an opt-out option, unless consented to by the subscriber,” say the guidelines.

The companies will also be mandated to open “Do Not SMS, Do Not Call Register, Do Not Spam and Do Not Disturb” or subscribe to a duly registered national register.

Telemarketing calls

Mobile customers can then register their numbers in any of the categories.

“A service provider shall desist from delivering any spam or telemarketing calls from itself or other providers to any number in the register,” they add.

The mobile operators are also required to put in place a mechanism and procedures by which content service providers identified by mobile users can be prevented from spamming customers that do not wish to receive their promotional content.

This is set to be a big blow to mobile operators who are reaping millions of shillings from advertisers seeking to push their products to the millions of users that the operators have.

Telcos have increasingly come under pressure from consumers over numerous complains due to bad service such as poor voice and data services which topped consumer complaints to the CA in the quarter ended June 2022.

Protests over poor voice and data services accounted for half of the customer complaints made to the regulator between April 1 and June 30 this year, a recent report said.

It showed complaints about the CA’s services and business opportunities came second at 28 percent in the quarter to June, followed by frequency interference (11 percent) and courier delivery delays (6 percent).

The regulator last year received a total of 1,623 complaints on diverse issues including billings, illegal surveillance, service interruption, false advertising, privacy breaches, and service quality among others but “inappropriate” content was dominant.

They accounted for about three-quarters of the protests filed.

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