Reactiv Media, the Yorkshire direct marketing firm which suffered the double indignity of being booted out of the DMA and fined £50,000 by the data regulator, has been whacked again after the High Court rejected an appeal against its fine, and then increased it to £75,000.
Set up in June 2007 by Tony Abbott, the firm’s website boasts: “We’re one of the largest data owners in the UK, providing the cleanest, freshest, most up to date records available.”
However, it was the subject of 481 complaints to the Telephone Preference Service and 120 to the Information Commissioner’s Office, over a sustained campaign of nuisance calls. The misdemeanors first date back to 2012, after a raft of complaints brought it to the attention of the direct marketing industry’s overlord, the DM Commission.
At the time, Reactiv agreed to change its practices, but just months later it was in the dock again, following fresh complaints about unsolicited calls offering PPI compensation between April and September 2013.
Despite a new warning from DM Commission, Reativ continued to generate complaints about its activities, ultimately leading to it being expelled from the DMA in April last year.
By July it had been served with a £50,000 from the ICO, but deemed this unfair and went to the High Court to try to get it overturned.
However, the Information Rights Tribunal not only agreed with the ICO that the fine was justified but stated there was evidence that showed “a culture of denial and minimisation of the breach, weak governance of the company and a tendency to blame others rather than accept responsibility”.
Due to the case’s aggravating factors the Tribunal was satisfied a larger penalty of £75,000 was more fitting for the crime.
Whether the new penalty will be enough to dent Abbott’s “local hero” image is another matter; he regularly appears in the regional press to dish out business advice. In fact, in November the firm signed as the major shirt sponsor for Halifax Rugby League – which is part owned by Abbott – and pledged to work with the club’s fans to improve their finances.
At the time Halifax’s commercial director Craig Poskitt said: “This season we will be working with Tony and his team to offer our fanbase and corporate partners the opportunity to take up Reactiv’s ever growing portfolio of products, whether this be saving money on your day to day utility bills or even planning your funeral plan I am sure Reactiv will be able to help.”
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