Industry enforcement body the DM Commission has blamed firms playing “fast and loose” with marketing rules for a huge increase in consumer complaints, even though most operate within the law.
And DMC’s chief commissioner George Kidd claims it is no longer enough to just comply with legislation; consumers are getting increasingly miffed about invasions of privacy and sharp practices.
Kidd issued the warning following the publication of the watchdog’s annual report this week, which showed complaints have soared 26% from 266 in 2012/13 to 360 in 2013/14; with many sparking thousands of parallel complaints to the Telephone Preference Service and the Information Commissioner’s Office.
The report recorded 103 investigations into companies alleged to be in breach of the DMA Code, the industry’s self-regulatory code of best practice. Two companies – Reactiv Media and Maximum Impact – were expelled from DMA membership as a result.
But Kidd reckons the majority of complaints logged and investigated would have been avoided if marketers followed the new DMA code, launched in August last year.
He said: “The overwhelming majority of marketers understand the law and know what they can and can’t do when it comes to using people’s data. However, there are many who play fast and loose with the rules. As the nature of the complaints show, consumers don’t focus on whether or not marketers are or are not breaking a law or regulation. They are angry when they feel deceived or misled when their requests for privacy are ignored and when they think their personal information is being sold on.
“Marketers therefore must look beyond complying with the law and standards of best practice to complying with their customers’ wishes. Doing so is essential for creating effective marketing, earning consumer trust and preventing complaints. Following the DMA Code is the route to putting their customer first at all times.”
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