Recruitment giant Reed has become the latest business to join the PECR Hall of Shame after being caught sending out thousands of emails to customers who had unsubscribed from receiving marketing communications.
The issue first emerged in February 2021, when a number of Reed customers complained to the Information Commissioner’s Office spam reporting service that they had been targeted by an email campaign promoting a CV review service, despite having opted out.
In response to ICO inquiries, Reed stated: “We are fully aware of the systems incident on 4 February 2021 where an email was sent in error to users of our services. This issue which caused the email to be sent has been identified and has since been rectified. We will now provide you with all the information you have required as soon as we can in order for you to complete your investigation.”
In its full response, Reed claimed the issue was caused by human error, adding that the email had been sent just 24 hours before its CRM system had been updated – and the opted out names blocked – meaning the message was sent to the entire database.
In its ruling, the ICO acknowledged that the campaign had been sent to opt-outs by human error by insisted that because 37% of the 16,983,447 total – some 6,250,966 customers – had been affected a monetary penalty was appropriate.
Fining the business £40,000, the ICO ruling stated: “This is a high number of people affected… The sending of unsolicited direct marketing messages is a matter of significant public concern. A monetary penalty in this case should act as a general encouragement towards compliance with the law, or at least as a deterrent against non-compliance, on the part of all persons running businesses currently engaging in these practices.
“The issuing of a monetary penalty will reinforce the need for businesses to ensure that they are only messaging those who specifically consent to receive direct marketing.”
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