A new contender for the most ironic PECR fine yet has entered the ring:
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), in the United Kingdom, has fined Yes Consumer Solutions Limited (YCSL) £170,000 for making 188,493 unsolicited direct marketing calls to customers registered with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS). The fine follows an assessment under the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR).
The TPS is a free service that allows people to register their number on a list, which tells telemarketers that they do not wish to receive marketing calls. Making marketing calls to numbers on this list who have not consented to the calls is a breach of PECR. The ICO can impose fines of up to £500,000 for flouting the PECR rules, a figure which depends on the level of non-compliance.
On their website, YCSL claims to have “helped 12,000 customers prevent unnecessary calls that can lead to concerns and worries within their own homes.”
The ICO reports that they began investigating YCSL after receiving 13 complaints from members of the public.
The ICO made a selection of these complaints available to the press:
“This company called my 87 year old father attempting him to sell him a package which blocks calls, ironic I know. He is registered with TPS.” (sic)
“They wanted me to pay £1.50 per week to stop nuisance calls, I told them I was registered on TPS, they said they would ring back.” (sic)
“They’ve called 5 to 6 times, twice today. We’ve said that we weren’t interested and not to call but they still do. When my wife said we’d report them they claimed they couldn’t be reported” (sic)
“People who register with the TPS do not expect to then receive nuisance calls, particularly not ones selling nuisance call blockers. Yes Consumer Solutions Limited should have known that they needed to check their marketing lists against the TPS. They had the means to do so. That is basic good practice. We hope this fine shows the importance of reporting nuisance calls, texts and emails to us. Every complaint matters, and we will continue take action to stop nuisance marketers.”Andy Curry, ICO Head of Investigations
This is arguably one of the most ironic PECR enforcement actions so far, considering that the company receiving the enforcement action was phoning the individuals on their list to sell nuisance call blocking devices.
PECR rules will apply to most businesses that send marketing communications to UK residents. If you are unaware of the rules, we suggest that you consider some PECR training and at the very least get familiar with the rules on the ICO’s website.
We recommend that you take the time to check your current compliance with PECR and consult with experts where necessary.