The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has fined three separate companies a total of £415,000 for sending nuisance marketing to people about car finance, solar panels and funeral plans.
Colour Car Sales Ltd (CCSL) of Stoke-on-Trent, is a credit intermediary for used car finance. They have been fined £170,000 for sending spam text messages directing people to a number of car finance websites.
The messages were sent by the company from October 2018 to January 2020. This evidence was gathered from complaints made by people who had received them.
Solarwave of Grays, Essex, has been fined £100,000 for making 73,217 unsolicited marketing calls about solar panel maintenance between January and October 2020. These were made to people who were registered with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS) list and who should not have received them.
The complaints received by both the Commissioner and the TPS suggest that Solarwave was seen to be rude and persistent when making calls, ignoring stop requests.
One person complained:
“….Asked them to stop calling before. Tried ignoring the frequent calls by not answering. Still ringing so picked up yesterday and told them again and that we are registered with you. Even more annoying now as we are now ex-directory. These companies are the bane of a lot of people's lives and need to be stopped. As if life isn't difficult enough at the moment!”
LTH Holdings, a telephone marketing company from Cardiff, have been fined £145,000 for making 1.4 million calls selling funeral plans to people who were also registered with the TPS for a year between May 2019 to May 2020. The ICO received 41 complaints. The ICO has online reports that LTH adopted aggressive, coercive, and persuasive methods in its direct marketing, which is concerning given the target audience could be vulnerable people.
In all cases, the companies did not have the valid consent required to send direct marketing and this is against the law (Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003 – PECR).
They were also issued with enforcement notices ordering them to stop marketing until consent had been obtained.
Andy Curry, ICO Head of Investigations, said:
“Companies that bombard people with messages and calls they haven’t asked for, to sell them products and services they don’t want, are not only a nuisance but can also cause huge distress, particularly to the more vulnerable. That’s why we’ve taken the robust action set out here today.
“Organisations are responsible for making sure the people they send marketing to have given their permission. They must also make sure they do not contact people who are registered with the Telephone Preference Service list.”
When fines are issued, the ICO works to make sure they are recovered to bring companies to account on behalf of the public.
Mr Curry added:
“Company directors who disregard the law should be in no doubt that we will pursue them - other businesses should take note.”
You can read more about the ICO’s work to recover fines.
Anyone who is receiving nuisance marketing can complain to us.
Notes to Editors
- The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) upholds information rights in the public interest, promoting openness by public bodies and data privacy for individuals.
- The ICO has specific responsibilities set out in the Data Protection Act 2018, the UK General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the Freedom of Information Act 2000, Environmental Information Regulations 2004 and Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003.
- The Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR) give people specific privacy rights in relation to electronic communications. There are specific rules on:
- marketing calls, emails, texts and faxes;
- cookies (and similar technologies);
- keeping communications services secure; and
- customer privacy as regards traffic and location data, itemised billing, line identification, and directory listings.
- The ICO has the power under PECR to impose a monetary penalty on a data controller of up to £500,000.
- Civil Monetary Penalties (CMPs) are subject to a right of appeal to the (First-tier Tribunal) General Regulatory Chamber against the imposition of the monetary penalty and/or the amount of the penalty specified in the monetary penalty notice.
- Any monetary penalty is paid into the Treasury’s Consolidated Fund and is not kept by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).
- To report a concern to the ICO telephone our helpline 0303 123 1113 or go to ico.org.uk/concerns.