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Direct Marketing Commission - Enforcing Higher Industry Standards

Intelligent Data Services – complaints about direct marketing

June 3rd, 2011

This complaint from a business related to an order of data for 10,000 records.  The data had been used to send out a letter to recipients asking if they wished to give up smoking.  There had been a large number of letters returned as ‘not based at this address’ and many complaints from people who had received the letter addressed to deceased individuals.   The Commission concluded that the member’s terms which stated that with third party lists it would replace all records with an inaccuracy above 10%, appeared to be in direct conflict with the provisions of the Code (clause 5.73) because if data suppliers anticipate that the percentage of goneaways exceeds 3% for a responder list or 6% for a compiled list, the data user must be informed, and if the percentage exceeds the limit without prior notification then members should have in place a policy of reimbursement.  The Commission concluded that the personal data held was not accurate and up to date (clause 5.37). Under the terms of the Code, the member was responsible for any failure of their supplier to comply with this clause.  Overall, the Commission thought that the sensitive issues relating to health should have prompted the member to take particular care to ensure its supplier had acted with care in relation to the deceased being included in the data provided.  It had been noted, however, that the member had now been offered a full refund.

There had also been a secondary complaint which related to a purchase of 2,000 records of hairdressers with websites. The complainant claimed that out of 140 samples taken from the initial delivery of 500 records, only 24.6% of the data was usable as websites either did not work or did not have any association with the record it connected to.  Additionally, the complainant claimed that the data was delivered late.  The Commission upheld a breach of clause 3.19 which asks that members act fairly and reasonably because of the delay in delivery and an initial refusal  to consider reimbursement.  In general however, the Commission was grateful for the way in which the member responded to its investigation and to the issues identified.  The company arranged for the necessary reimbursements and has undertaken to review its  customer service arrangements, its contractual terms and conditions and their compliance with the Code and the robustness of its arrangements for sourcing data from third parties.  The Commission has requested a report of the reviews and actions taken.

If you believe a DMA member is in breach of the Direct Marketing Code of Practice then contact the Direct Marketing Commission – you can alert us to an issue you see here.