Nev Wilshire, the David Brent-style star of BBC Three docusoap The Call Centre, has had the smile wiped off his face following news that two of his firms have been fined a total of £225,000 for making nuisance marketing calls.
Wilshire has become something of a minor celebrity following the airing of the show, with his catalogue of one liners, including “happy people sell”, “swallow that frown”, and “smile as you dial”.
But the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has taken a dim view of his companies’ antics, today issuing the two monetary penalties, including the first fine against a company linked to calls relating to Payment Protection Insurance (PPI).
Nationwide Energy Services has received a penalty of £125,000, and We Claim You Gain £100,000 – both companies are part of Save Britain Money Ltd based in Swansea, and run by Wilshire.
The penalties were issued after the companies were found to be responsible for over 2,700 complaints to the Telephone Preference Service (TPS) or reports to the ICO using its online survey, between 26 May 2011 and end of December 2012.
Neither company carried out adequate checks to see whether the people they were calling had registered with the TPS, which is a legal requirement under the Privacy & Electronic Communications Regulations governing electronic marketing.
ICO director of operations Simon Entwisle said: “The public have told us that they are fed up with the constant bombardment of nuisance calls. While the activities of Nev and his call centre employees have provided entertainment for many, they hide a bigger problem within the cold calling industry. People have the legal right not to receive marketing calls and these companies have paid the price for failing to respect people’s wishes.”
The ICO said a further 10 investigations into other companies are ongoing.
Commenting on the action, DMA chief of operations Mike Lordan said: “We’re pleased that the ICO has used its power to issue fines to companies breaching telemarketing rules. Companies cold calling people registered with the Telephone Preference Service are causing serious harm to the reputable telemarketing industry. The ICO must use enforcement action to protect the consumer, as well as the interests of the vast majority of companies that comply with the law and adhere to the highest standards of best practice. We know there are more companies breaking the law, so we look forward to seeing further enforcement action to protect the legitimate industry.”
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