Lodging a Complaint with WASPA

WASPA stands for the Wireless Application Service Providers’ Association, an association that has established industry regulations and codes of conduct for the wireless application service providers in South Africa.

The need for WASPA emerged in 2004. As a result of the massive growth of the mobile phone market, the increased capabilities of mobile phones, and the ability for third parties to bill for services, has lead to a proliferation in services and applications for mobile phones. Initially, the WASP business environment was largely unregulated resulting in some practices that were damaging to consumer confidence.

The idea of an industry body for WASPs was put forward by Leon Perlman in August 2004 and this was supported by WASPs and the network operators. WASPs realised that to have a sustainable and vibrant industry would require suitable regulations and the need to enforce them by means of an industry body. WASPA was then founded in 2005 and shortly thereafter drafted a Code of Conduct. This code has regularly been updated and is enforced by a number of independent adjudicators under the auspices of WASPA.

Almost all paid-for mobile content services and all commercial messaging, including application-to-person messaging, involve WASPs. The mobile network operators however do also offer some of these services directly. All companies providing WASP services in South Africa are required by the mobile network operators to belong to WASPA. However, it is important to note that that WASPA is not responsible for any mobile billing.

How to Lodge a Spam or Billing Complaint

You can lodge a complaint directly with WASPA if you feel you or your child have been spammed, or wish to report misleading advertising for mobile services, or complain about billings related to premium rate SMS services. You can check the WASPA Code of Conduct and the WASPA Advertising Rules to see which mobile industry regulations have been breached.

You can lay a complaint with WASPA online. You can lodge a complaint here. Alternatively, you can contact WASPA via email, call them on 011 476 7710 / 087 805 3328, or send a fax to 086 606 2016. WASPA’s complaint’s line operating hours are: 08h30 to 16h30.

Before laying a complaint with WASPA, first gather as much information as possible. The following details are important when submitting a complaint to WASPA so that WASPA can best assist you:

  • Your cellphone number, as a contact number if the complaint relates to your child’s cellphone number.
  • Your child’s cellphone number. If this cellphone uses a dual-SIM, then supply all the cellphone numbers associated with it.
  • The actual name of the WASP responsible for the billing or the mobile service. You can determine this by either checking your cellphone’s itemised bill or by calling your service provider. If your bill only describes a service as IBS Subs, WASP Content, or the MTN event billing numbers (083 123 6701 and 083 123 6702), then you will need to contact your service provider for the WASPs details. If you know the shortcode or longcode, you can also identity a WASP on the SMS Code website.
  • A detailed description of the problem or complaint. If it is a spam complaint, then a record of the SMS content you received, including the sender’s details and date/time information. If it is a subscription service or premium rate mobile content related problem, then the shortcode (for example, 35010) associated with the service.

Once you have submitted a complaint or a problem, then WASPA contact the WASP concerned. The WASP has five working days to resolve the matter to your satisfaction. If you are not happy with this, then you can request that the matter be reviewed by an independent adjudicator. A decision against a WASP may result in a hefty fine or suspension of their service, or both.

Complaints regarding services offered directly by Vodacom, MTN or Cell C should rather be directed at them, as WASPA has no jurisdiction over the mobile network operators.