A firm which threatened to phone consumers even on a Sunday lunchtime has had the dubious honour of becoming the first business to be fined for making thousands of unwanted marketing calls.
The Information Commissioner’s Office claims the ruling, welcomed by the DMA, is likely to be the first of many. It follows accusations that the ICO has been slow to act against rogue telemarketers since gaining extra powers to issue monetary penalties last year.
Glasgow-based DM Design – offering bespoke kitchens and bathrooms – has been slapped with a £90,000 fine for what the regulator described as a “clear disregard for the law and a lamentable attitude” to the people it was targeting.
The monetary penalty is the first the Information Commissioner’s Office has issued for a serious breach of the Privacy & Electronic Communications Regulations relating to live marketing calls.
According to the ICO investigation, DM Design consistently failed to check whether individuals had opted out of receiving marketing calls – in clear breach of the law – and responded to just a handful of the 2,000 complaints it received.
In one instance an employee refused to remove a complainant’s details from the DM Design’s system and instead threatened to “continue to call at more inconvenient times like Sunday lunchtime”.
The ICO already has informed two more companies that it is intending to impose significant penalties over breaches of the law, and a further ten firms are subject to ongoing investigation for cold-calling and sending spam text messages.
Commissioner Christopher Graham (pictured with director of operations Simon Entwisle) said: “This company showed a lamentable attitude toward the people whose day they were disturbing. This fine will not be an isolated penalty. We know other companies are showing a similar disregard for the law and we’ve every intention of taking further enforcement action.”
The ICO has the power to fine firms £500,000 for serious breaches of the regulations, while Ofcom can issue penalties of up to £2,000,000 over breaches of rules linked to abandoned and silent calls.
DMA chief of operations Mike Lordan said: “We’re pleased that the ICO has used its power to issue its first fine to a company breaching telemarketing rules. Companies cold calling people registered with Telephone Preference Service are causing serious harm to the reputable telemarketing industry.
“The ICO must use enforcement action to protect the consumer, as well as the interests of the vast majority of companies that comply with the law and adhere to the highest standards of best practice. We know there are more companies breaking the law, so we look forward to seeing further enforcement action.”
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