Takeaway chain Papa John’s, whose strapline is “Better Ingredients. Better Pizza”, has paid the price for getting its marketing mix in a mess after being found guilty of sending 168,022 texts and emails to customers without valid consent.
The issue emerged after the Information Commissioner’s Office received 15 complaints from Papa John’s customers about the unwanted marketing they were receiving. Some complaints said the activity was causing both distress and annoyance.
One complainant wrote: “I never gave my consent for marketing text messages, it causes me distress receiving these so frequently without being able to stop them.” Meanwhile, another noted: “Nearly 100 messages in the past two months is the textbook definition of harassment.”
The ICO’s subsequent investigation found that between October 1 2019 and 30 April 30 2020, Papa John’s sent over 210,000 marketing messages, with 168,022 confirmed as received.
But the ICO found that the pizza chain, which has been operating in the UK since 1999, was relying on the so-called “soft opt in” exemption for marketing consent.
This allows organisations to send electronic marketing messages to customers whose details have been obtained for similar services, but offers a simple way for people to refuse or opt out.
However, the ICO ruled that Papa John’s could not rely on this exemption for customers that had placed an order over the telephone, as they were not provided with a privacy notice at point of contact nor were they given the option to opt out.
Fining the firm £10,000 for breaching the Privacy & Electronic Marketing Communications Regulations (PECR), ICO head of investigations Andy Curry said: “The law is clear and simple. When relying on the ‘soft opt in’ exemption companies must ensure they have their customer’s consent, and any marketing they send provides a simple opt out option.
“Papa John’s telephone customers were not given the opportunity to refuse marketing at the point of contact, which has led to this fine.
“We will continue to take action against companies who may be gaining unfair advantage over those companies that adhere to the law and comply with electronic marketing law.”
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