DMC adjudications provide guidance to practitioners in the industry on how the Direct Marketing Association’s Code is interpreted and act as a record of DMC rulings and policy.
Those cases that the Secretariat consider should be ‘formally investigated’ (that is, to undergo a formal process of investigation and adjudication) are presented to the Commission for adjudication.
Any adjudication is based solely on compliance with the DMA Code and it does not, and cannot make comment on the lawfulness or not of the members’ actions.
‘Informally resolved’ complaints are investigated and resolved to the satisfaction of the Secretariat with no further action deemed necessary.
Complaints ‘informally resolved’ by the Secretariat may include:
a. minor customer service issues eg non-receipt of goods, unsolicited goods, faulty goods, poor quality goods, delivery or collection problems, poor advice/customer service; account errors.
b. consumer misinterpretation or misunderstanding of their own or the company’s obligation.
c. minor data issues eg unwanted emails, unwanted mail, incorrect personal details, technical problems – issues that are not regularly reported against one specific company or do not affect large numbers of consumers.
d. business to business cases where there is no easily identifiable breach (for example, contractual disputes) – alternative dispute resolution mechanisms may be advised.
If there is a minor breach of the Code then a ‘reminder of obligation’ may be issued which serves as a reminder to the company of their obligations under the code. These reminders are made in particular to those companies who do not appear sufficiently aware of the Code’s requirements or if it is not clear as to whether or not there has been a breach.
Complaints ‘formally investigated’ ie adjudicated by the Commission may include:
a. serious breaches of the Code which might result in damaging the public image of direct marketing: serious breaches of legislation; mis-selling of goods; misleading marketing material.
b. repeated complaints against one company which indicates a particular concern eg inefficient customer service, poor data processing, silent calls, difficulty unsubscribing from emails, unwanted mail. Or the company may simply be experiencing an increasing level of complaints. Not every ‘individual complaint’ that shows evidence of a Code breach is necessarily upheld; any number of complaints can be upheld at one time.
c. minor breaches of the Code which may affect large numbers of consumers eg wording used in marketing material which has been misconstrued. Even if there is only one complaint, many consumers who do not complain could be affected.
d. cases where the company fails to respond to the Secretariat.