The fight against nuisance marketing calls continues as the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) revealed that it had handed out a fine of £45,000 to a Manchester-based energy company that plagued consumers with nuisance calls.
The firm, Tameside Energy Services, was hit with the fine after numerous complaints that it continued to badger people despite being asked repeatedly for the calls to stop. In one instance the firm is said to have continued to call an 80-year-old woman despite her telling the company 20 times that she wanted to be removed from its lists.
In total, between 26 May 2011 and 31 January 2013 the company received over 1,000 complaints to the Telephone Preference Service (TPS) and the ICO itself. The company was found to have failed to remove people from its list and to find out if people had registered with the TPS, which is a legal requirement of the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations.
The fine would have been £90,000, but the ICO said the financial situation at the firm meant it was lowered to half that. Simon Entwisle, director of operations at the ICO, said the fine proved the watchdog was taking a hardline stance with firms that irritate consumers with unwanted calls.
“This is not the first and will not be the last monetary penalty issued by the ICO for unwanted marketing calls,” he said.
“These companies need to listen – bombarding the public with cold calls will not be tolerated. Were it not for the company’s poor financial position, this monetary penalty would have been £90,000.”
He repeated calls for the law to be improved in this area to make it easier for the ICO to hit firms with fines. “We would like to see the law changed to make it simpler for us to punish companies responsible for repeated and continuous breaches of the law,” he explained.
David Cook, associate at law firm Pannone which is representing Tameside Energy Services, said: “Tameside Energy Services has been informed that the ICO has imposed a monetary penalty notice and issued an enforcement notice. The company is taking advice with regard to appealing against the decision.”
The fine was welcomed by Mike Lordan, chief of operations at the Direct Marketing Association, who said it is important that such firms are targeted so those abiding by the rules are protected.
"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 follow the highest standards of best practice,” he said.
"We know there are more companies breaking the law, so we look forward to seeing further enforcement action to stamp out nuisance calls and protect the legitimate telemarketing industry."
The fine follows others handed out in recent months, including one of £225,000 for the two companies that star in the BBC TV show The Call Centre and another of £90,000 sent to a Glasgow-based design company.
The recent spate of fines underlines the need for companies handling customer information and involved in marketing projects to ensure they are adhering to the necessary data protection laws, or risk a fine themselves.
Cotton seedling freezes to death as Chang'e-4 shuts down for the Moon's 14-day lunar night
Fortnite easily out-earns PUBG, Assassin's Creed Odyssey and Red Dead Redemption 2 in 2018
Meteor showers as a service will be visible for about 100 kilometres in all directions
Saturn's rings only formed in the past 100 million years, suggests analysis of Cassini space probe data
New findings contradict conventional belief that Saturn's rings were formed along with the planet about 4.5 billion years ago