Tech News : UK Firm Hit By £130,000 Fine For Marketing Calls

The ICO has fined home improvements company ColourCoat Ltd £130,000 for making more than 900,000 nuisance marketing calls!

What?

ColourCoat Ltd of St Leonards on Sea, East Sussex, which provides a number of home improvement services, was fined for making almost a million nuisance calls over an eight-month period, between 1st August 2019 and 31st March 2020. This equated to an unbelievable average of 56,601 calls per month or 13,722 calls per week!

Repeatedly Calling

The company managed to clock-up the staggering total and incur the wrath of 50 complainants (and the ICO) by repeatedly calling people who had asked not to be called again and had withheld their phone numbers to prevent people from contacting them. This included a large number of people who had registered with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS) and its business version, the Corporate Telephone Preference Service (CTPS).

Gave False Company Names

The ICO reports that ColourCoat even resorted to providing false company names which included “Homes Advice Bureau” and on one occasion, even “Citizens’ Advice Bureau”.

“No Regard For The Law”

Natasha Longson, ICO Investigations Manager, is quoted as saying (on the ICO website) that “This company had no regard for the law or for the people they were calling”, and explained how the complainants described the calls received as ‘rude’, ‘aggressive’ and ‘abusive’, and made one complainant feel “threatened”.

The people who reported the calls to the ICO are also quoted as saying that the nature calls made them feel “annoyed” or “anxious”, and it was the manner of the calls as well as the “catalogue of contraventions” that led to ColourCoat Ltd receiving such a hefty fine and a legal notice.

Breaches

The breaches that resulted in the fine and legal notice relate to Regulations 21 and 24 of Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003 (PECR). These regulations give people specific privacy rights in relation to electronic communications, including marketing calls, emails, texts and faxes, cookies (and similar technologies), keeping communications services secure, and customer privacy (traffic and location data, itemised billing, line identification, and directory listings).

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

This story illustrates an extreme example of a company apparently having no regard for electronic communications laws/regulations of the rights and matters of consent of the victims. All businesses need to be aware that alongside (UK) GDPR sit The Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR) and the ICO has the power under PECR to impose monetary penalties of up to an eye-watering £500,000! As illustrated in this story, registering with the TPS and CTPS can help, but this doesn’t guarantee that you will stop receiving calls. GDPR (UK) gives a person the right to request that they no longer contacted by a company, and the ‘right to be forgotten’ i.e., the right to request that a company removes all relevant personal details from its database/data storage systems. You can also report any unsolicited calls (or spam texts) that you are particularly unhappy with directly to the ICO via their website here https://ico.org.uk/make-a-complaint/nuisance-calls-and-messages/spam-texts-and-nuisance-calls/.

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