GDPR might now be grabbing all the headlines but it seems many marketers are still ignoring PECR – the legislation which has been in force for over 16 years – with a Welsh double-glazing firm the latest to get caught with its trousers down after making over half a million illegal marketing calls.
Superior Style Home Improvements, set up in 2015, has been neither “superior” nor “stylish” since it appeared on the radar of the Information Commissioner’s Office for a telemarketing campaign, which ran from May 2017 to April 2018.
An ICO investigation was launched following a raft of complaints, including one call in which the agent had asked to speak to a person who had been dead nearly nine years. When they were informed of this, the agent then carried on regardless, asking whether the recipient was still interested.
Another complainant said: “[They] called offering ‘free home improvements’. I told them never to call again; they called half an hour later.”
The regulator discovered that Superior Style had made almost 850,000 calls during the 11-month period, using six different caller IDs and, according to its ruling, 518,781 (61%) of the calls were made to people registered on the Telephone Preference Service. However, only 83 TPS registrants actually complained.
In response, Superior Style tried every trick in the book to fight the charges.
First, it stated that it had been under the impression that its automated telephony provider would automatically screen calls against the TPS. It could provide no evidence of this, however.
It then claimed it had built its database from sales leads gathered through “doorstep canvassing” and a purchased list. The firm added that it had bought that data from a third-party in September 2016, which had been purchased on its behalf from “another home improvement organisation”. However, Superior Style said that the third party had now gone into liquidation and therefore could not verify the original source or consent.
But Superior Style did concede it had carried out no due diligence before using the data to make the calls. The firm has now been fined £150,000.
Dave Clancy, member of the ICO investigation team, said: “Companies engaged in this illegal activity should take note, we will take action against those that continue to disregard the law around electronic marketing via phone calls, emails and text messages.
“These cause a real nuisance – and often distress – to people who don’t want to receive them. Company directors should also be aware that they can now be made personally liable for fines that we issue.”
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