Price comparison site Moneysupermarket has paid the price for trying to persuade customers to opt back into receiving direct marketing after being fined £80,000 for sending over 7 million emails to customers who had made it clear they did not want to be contacted in that way.
An Information Commissioner’s Office investigation found that the company sent 7.1 million emails over 10 days updating customers with its terms and conditions. But all the recipients had previously opted out of direct marketing.
Moneysupermarket’s email included a section entitled ‘Preference Centre Update’ which read: “We hold an email address for you which means we could be sending you personalised news, products and promotions. You’ve told us in the past you prefer not to receive these. If you’d like to reconsider, simply click the following link to start receiving our emails.”
Asking people to consent to future marketing messages when they have already opted out is against the law. In March Flybe and Honda were also whacked with fines for contacting customers who were off limits, under the guise of updating their databases. Morrisons was also hauled up by the ICO for a similar breach, but got off with a fine of just £10,500.
ICO head of enforcement Steve Eckersley said: “Organisations can’t get around the law by sending direct marketing dressed up as legitimate updates.
“When people opt out of direct marketing, organisations must stop sending it, no questions asked, until such time as the consumer gives their consent. They don’t get a chance to persuade people to change their minds.”
Moneysupermarket sent the messages between 30 November and 10 December 2016. The ICO’s investigation found that 6,788,496 were successfully received.
Eckersley added: “Emails sent by companies to consumers under the guise of ‘customer service’, checking or seeking their consent, is a circumvention of the rules and is unacceptable. We will continue to take action against companies that choose to ignore the rules.”
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