Scottish Firm Fined for Cold Calling

Posted on 29 March, 2013 by MOVEHUT

A Glasgow-based company has been fined £90,000 for making thousands of unwanted marketing calls, becoming the first company to be punished for a breach of privacy and communications procedures.

Nearly 2,000 people complained to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) and the Telephone Preference Service (TPS) about kitchen-fitting firm DM Design.

Christopher Graham, the information commissioner, said the company had “blighted the public” with its cold-calling, adding that the fine would not be the last and other organisations were under examination.

DM Design constantly failed to check whether individuals had opted out from receiving marketing calls – a clear breach of the law – and only answered to a handful of the complaints it received.

In one instance an employee refused to remove a complainant’s details from the company’s system and instead threatened to “continue to call at more inconvenient times like Sunday lunchtime”.

The fine is the first the ICO has handed out for a “serious breach” of the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations relating to live marketing calls. The ICO said it is poised to set “significant penalties” on two other organisations and is investigating another 10 for cold-calling and sending spam text messages.

Graham said: “DM Design showed a clear disregard for the law and a lamentable attitude toward the people whose day they were disturbing. This is not good enough.

“We know other companies are showing a similar disregard for the law and we’ve every intention of taking further enforcement action against companies that continue to bombard people with unlawful marketing texts and calls.”

If companies do not adhere to the legal and regulatory measures relating to marketing calls and texts, the ICO is able to issue fines of up to £500,000. In addittion, regulator Ofcom has the power to issue fines of up to £2m for breaches of rules associated with abandoned and silent calls.

Ofcom said that during a six-month period in 2012, 47 per cent of all adults with a landline experienced a silent call, up from 24 per cent in 2011. 71 per cent said they had received a live marketing call, while 63 per cent had received a recorded marketing message.

Last week, consumer rights group Which? called on the government to take instant action to control the spread of nuisance calls and texts, blaming claims management companies for hounding consumers with the majority of the UK’s unwanted communications.

The public can report unwanted marketing calls and texts using the ICO’s online reporting service, which has received almost 140,000 responses since it was established in March 2012.

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