It seems fines for abuse of the Corporate Telephone Preference Service are just like London buses, you wait ages for one and then loads come along at once, with the Information Commissioner’s Office dishing out two more fines – totalling £250,000 – following years of inaction.
Launched in 2004, the CTPS falls under the Privacy & Electronic Marketing Regulations (PECR) and requires firms making unsolicited outbound sales and marketing calls to check and suppress numbers that appear on the register.
Until last month there had only even been one fine for breaching the CTPS, a measly £2,000 against Energy Suite of Burnley for making 1,202 calls to consumer numbers registered with the TPS, and 44 calls to firms registered to the CTPS.
However, the ICO signalled a new chapter in enforcement in May when it issued a double fine of £180,000 to Ice Telecommunications of Crewe and UK Direct Business Solutions of Sunderland.
Now Maxen Power Supply, an energy supplier from Ilford, Essex, and Crown Glazing, a green energy firm based in Preston, Lancashire, have been well and truly fingered.
Both made unsolicited marketing calls to people and businesses while falsely claiming to represent other organisations – such as the National Grid, other energy suppliers or the UK Government.
As Decision Marketing readers are fully aware, it is against the law for organisations to make marketing calls to anyone signed up with the TPS and CTPS, unless the individual or business has explicitly consented to receive these calls.
The ICO has issued a £130,000 fine to Crown Glazing for making more than 500,000 direct marketing calls to people who had registered with the TPS at least 28 days prior, resulting in 37 complaints.
While the majority of calls were advertising double-glazing and a free energy test, some of the complaints also claimed that the firm misleadingly suggested they were representing the UK Government and working to improve energy savings.
Maxen Power Supply, meanwhile, has been fined £120,000 after the ICO and TPS received more than 100 complaints about unsolicited marketing calls to businesses and people registered with the TPS and CTPS.
Complaints indicated that people were receiving multiple calls on the same day, receiving repeated calls despite requests to opt-out, and were subject to “aggressive” marketing tactics causing potential financial damage.
The complaints also showed that Maxen Power Supply was making calls from overseas call centres that purported to be from National Grid or the recipient’s existing energy supplier.
The firm claimed that it could help people save money on their energy bills by switching contracts, while asking for information about their current supplier and meter readings. The company denied responsibility for the complaints raised, claiming these international call centres were “independent contractors” and “third party intermediaries”.
In addition to the fines, the ICO issued an enforcement notice to both companies ordering them to stop calling people and businesses registered with the TPS and CTPS, or who had previously objected to such calls.
ICO head of investigations Andy Curry said: “Nobody should be made to feel uncomfortable after simply answering the phone. People and businesses register with the TPS and CTPS for a clear reason; to stop unwanted marketing calls and protect their privacy. These companies have not only broken the law by failing to check the ‘do not call’ register, but also caused distress and potential financial damage to businesses on the receiving end of their deceptive sales tactics.
“In the case of Maxen Power Supply, there is no way of knowing just how many unlawful calls were made due to the use of false company names and ‘spoofed’ caller identities (CLIs). This fine should send a clear message that companies cannot avoid the law and avoid detection by the use of third-parties and overseas call centres. The ICO will continue to take action to ensure both the public and UK businesses are protected.”
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