22Jun

Three companies, all in the Manchester area, were disciplined by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) over their marketing practices in early June 2016. In all cases the marketing activity concerned potential consumer claims of one form or another.

The most startling case was that of Altrincham-based Advanced VOIP Solutions Ltd, who were fined £180,000. The company made large numbers of automated calls regarding insurance, packaged bank accounts (PBAs) and flight delays. Even if customers followed the instructions in the call to opt out of receiving future calls, the calls continued, with some households reporting as many as 50 calls a day.

Steve Eckersley, head of enforcement at the ICO, said of Advanced VOIP’s behaviour:

“The number of complaints in this case is just a drop in the ocean compared to the millions of calls we think this company has made.

“We have sent out a clear message to companies who behave in this way – however much you try and dodge the law, it won’t work, and we will act.”

Central Manchester-based Quigley & Carter Limited was fined £80,000 for sending thousands of unsolicited texts regarding PBA claims. This company relied on third party firms to send its texts, however one of the third party firms it used, Help Direct UK Limited, has itself been fined by the ICO in the past.

Mr Eckersley said of this company:

“People were left annoyed, angered and upset by these texts. The rules around electronic marketing messages are simple and there for a very good reason – to protect people’s privacy rights and stop unwanted phone calls, texts and emails.

“We committed to target organisations that broke the rules. Quigley and Carter should have known the rules and obeyed them. They failed to follow the law and so we’ve acted – to show them and others that organisations cannot ignore their obligations.”

Bury-based Central Compensation Office Ltd has not been fined, but has been issued with a Stop Now order by the ICO after making live marketing calls to individuals registered with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS). If the order is breached, a criminal prosecution could follow. The company trades as Industrial Workers Office and National Advice Clinic.

Andy Curry, ICO Enforcement Group Manager, said of Central Compensation Office’s actions:

“When people sign up to the TPS it’s because they do not want to be bothered by companies phoning up and selling them things.

“People are right to complain when firms are not mindful of the rules.”

The ICO has taken numerous similar actions, and has repeatedly warned claims management companies and other firms that marketing calls cannot be made to people who are TPS registered, and that automated calls and texts can only be made to people who have explicitly consented in advance to receiving these types of communications.

The information shown in this article was correct at the time of publication. Articles are not routinely reviewed and as such are not updated. Please be aware the facts, circumstances or legal position may change after publication of the article.