The dos and don’ts of recording conversations

The dos and don’ts of recording conversations

There are several reasons why a business may want to record its interactions / conversations with customers: improving customer service; ensuring that employees always treat customers in the best possible way; ensuring easy customer follow-up and resolution of disputes; demonstrating accountability to customers; and aiding reliable note-taking.

Several businesses may not, however, realise these benefits as they are unsure of the legality and legal parameters of recording conversations. To clear up grey areas and enable you to grow and improve your business using all tools available, we have set out the basics of recording conversations in South Africa.

Am I (or is my business) allowed to record conversations with customers?

While, in terms of the Regulation of Interception of Communications and Provision of Communication-Related Information Act 70 of 2002 (“RICA“), the general rule is that no person may record a conversation without consent, the Act does set out certain exceptions to this rule. The exceptions include (and you can therefore record a conversation) where:

  • you are a party to the conversation (“single-party consent”);
  • you have the prior written consent of at least one of the parties to the conversation; or
  • the conversation relates to, or occurs in the course of, the carrying on of your business (“the business exception”).

It is important to note that the business exception is subject to further requirements in terms of RICA.

As a side note, certain businesses (specifically those in the financial services and intermediary industry) are legally required to record certain conversations with customers and to maintain such recordings for a statutory minimum period. This is however beyond the scope of this article.

Consent to record

As stated above, consent of at least one party to the communication is required when recording a conversation. This rule does not apply where the recorder is also a party to the conversation.

However, where a third party is recording the conversation, the third party must obtain informed consent from one of the parties to the conversation in order to legally record the conversation.

Guidelines for recording conversations

  • When recording conversations under the business exception, it is required that you make all reasonable efforts, in advance, to inform all parties that you will be recording conversations. It is good business practice to ensure and be certain that all customers are aware when conversations are recorded.
  • Use reliable technology to record and store recordings of conversations – you want to make sure that your customers’ (and your business’s) information is protected! In this regard, ensure that any recordings and storage thereof comply with all relevant laws (including, for example, the Protection of Personal Information Act 4 of 2013)
  • Maintain an effective storage system so that you can make the most use of your recorded conversations in developing your business

The article is serves only as a basic introduction to the topic of recording conversations and legal advice should be sought in relation to specific circumstances.

5 thoughts on “The dos and don’ts of recording conversations

  1. I am a landlord and recorded the exit inspection of my “tenants from hell” on Monday 18 September. They had previously disagreed with me on all the items that were not as they were when they took possession of my flatlet. So I felt it was necessary to record this exit inspection and have it on record, in case they disputed what went down in the conversation. (There were MANY instances of them changing their stories in their 10-month tenancy. I found them to be VERY dishonest in their dealings with me. ) I felt I needed confirmation of what they had said on this last occasion before I gave them my “findings” when I detailed what happened to their deposit. I used up their whole deposit having to attend to all the items that needed fixing, replacement or cleaning. At the end of the day they owe ME. They are, of course, going to dispute the things that were said during the “flatlet inspection”. At this stage I don’t care about the money they actually owe ME, I just want them out of my life !!

    1. Thank you for your query. We will need additional information from you to adequately respond. Kindly call us on 021 6711550 to set up a time to chat.

  2. I used to work in a salon, and I was aware of camera monitoring placed strategically throughout the salon. This information was also brought to my awareness in a contract which I didn’t sign as it needed to be revised and afterwards this contract was never given to me again. However, belatedly, I found out that there was also audio monitoring. There are no signs inside or outside the premises to alert the ladies and clients of the salon of the entirety of this surveillance. In a salon, many confidential exchanges are made between clients, stylists, nail tecnicians etc.I have four questions: 1; Is it legal for these salon owners to have this kind of surveilance of the employees and clients and record audio and visual between clients and stylists 2.;The termination of employment was a horrid event which was humiliating and I want no aspect of me left behind for their entertainment. What can I do to have all footage of me erased 3; What can be done to make the public aware of this fact and the extent of surveilance? 4. Can footage of me used during arbitration even though I never received warnings nor disciplinary whilst working there.Can they present footage of me afterwards during these arbitration meetings.

    1. Good day Anon,

      While, in terms of the Regulation of Interception of Communications and Provision of Communication-Related Information Act, 70 of 2002 (“RICA”), the general rule is that no person may record a conversation without consent, RICA does set out certain exceptions where recording without consent is legal. These exceptions include (1) where you are party to the communication (2) you have written consent of one of the parties to the communication or (3) the recording is in connection with the carrying on of business. In your case, proper legal advice should be sought. You are welcome to contact Dommisse Attorneys to set up a consultation.

      Thank you.

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