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Scottish direct marketing firm becomes first company fined for unsolicited marketing calls

Date: (20 March 2013)    |    

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Unsolicited calls has taken its toll in a Scottish company having the dubious distinction of being the first company fined for blighting the public with thousands of unwanted marketing calls.

Kitchen-fitting firm DM Design has been ordered to pay £90,000 after it bombarded homeowners with telephone calls, even though they had signed up with a service blocking such unsolicited contact.
The Cumbernauld-based firm drew almost 2000 complaints to the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) and the Telephone Preference Service (TPS) after consistently failing to check if individuals had opted out of receiving marketing calls.
The ICO criticised DM Design’s deplorable attitude towards people it had disturbed and said it responded to just a handful of the complaints it received.
Legally direct marketing firms making live calls are barred from contacting people on the TPS register unless an individual has given their permission to be called.
Complaints levelled against the company included staff giving false statements about who they were and pretending the householder's spouse had already spoken to them.
Several calls were made to people who opted not to be contacted again. One person was so offended that he called the police and another person said they targeted her mother who suffered dementia.
Information Commissioner Christopher Graham said DM Design had shown a clear disregard for the law and action against the firm would send a clear message to the marketing industry that such menace was not going to be tolerated.
He added it was not an isolated case and there were other companies flouting the rule and who would be penalised for continuous disregard of law by bombarding people with unlawful marketing texts and calls.
Such cold callings have increased to 143% since 2010 in recent years. This year almost 10,000 complaints to TPS were made while consumers affairs magazine, Which? Found seven in 10 people having received unsolicited calls in the past three months. But until now no company has been fined for contacting people who made it clear they did not want calls from marketing companies.
John Mitchison, head of TPS, said such calls could be annoying and causes distress to people and it was the duty of the regulators to protect the consumer.
Which? executive director Richard Lloyd said though the action by the information commissioner was a welcome sign the small fine was far from the sort of deterrent needed to call time on the use of nuisance calls and texts.