Apple Group Holdings Ltd fined £36,000 by Trading Standards
Article added: 24/03/2014
A landmark fine for Trading Standards
The UK has recently seen yet more enforcement activity against companies breaching the Privacy Electronic Communication Regulations (PECR) with Trading Standards in Dorset taking enforcement action for what is thought to be the very first time against cold callers.
Traditionally, it’s the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) that takes action against companies breaching PECR and it’s a significant step forward that Trading Standards has now used its powers in this area for the first time.
In this case, Dorset County Council Trading Standards Service issued a £36,000 fine to Apple Group Holdings Ltd for breaching Telephone Preference Service (TPS) legislation.
Cooperation between the ICO and trading standards officers has formally been in place since May 2008.
Dorset County Council Trading Standards took the enforcement action against the company for breaches of the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 (“CPRs”).
The particular CPR provision in play in the action in respect of cold calls was the “always unfair“ practice #26 at Schedule 1 consisting of:
“Making persistent and unwanted solicitations by telephone, fax or email or other remote media except in circumstances and to the extent justified to enforce a contractual obligation”.
The prosecution followed complaints against the company dating back to 2012 which were investigated by Trading Standards officers. Advice had previously been given to the company about necessary changes and it took steps to put improvements in place but this evidently did not save it from this successful prosecution.
Why this is important?
These recent cases highlight that enforcement action against unsolicited marketing communications is becoming a priority. Marketers should also be alert to the fact there is now a risk of enforcement by two active regulators in this field if they don’t comply with the law.
The Trading Standards action is by all accounts important as it’s the first time the “persistent and unwanted marketing” provisions of the PECR have been used in such a way.
John Mitchison, head of the TPS, said:
“Companies breaching TPS laws are now facing a far greater risk of being prosecuted compared to this time last year, with over 200 Local Authority Trading Standards Services in the UK.
Businesses using telemarketing as a part of their marketing mix need to be cautious when conducting the right checks on the data they use or buy. Screening against the TPS is an essential part of data compliance and companies need to take all complaints seriously.”
Companies associated with Solartech North East Ltd
If your business purchases or sells data then you should read the latest Direct Marketing Guidance
issued by the ICO for a complete explanation of what the ICO expects from companies involved in or buying from the direct marketing industry.