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Direct Marketing Commission - Enforcing Higher Industry Standards

B2B Data Lists Group/Data Providers UK – complaints about direct marketing

August 12th, 2011

The complaints brought to attention of the Direct Marketing Commission in relation to B2B Data Lists Group/Data Providers UK involved breaches of fundamental Code provisions, and the Commission concluded that the appropriate sanction would be to recommend to the DMA, that the company were removed from DMA membership.  In the period from October 2010 the Direct Marketing Commission received ten complaints over data supplied by the company. Each complaint related to a different contract of supply with the company, ranging across a variety of data sectors. In two cases matters were closed informally.  The member was given reminders of its obligations under the DMA Direct Marketing Code of Practice clauses 9.26 (dealing promptly, efficiently and courteously) and 5.74 (supply of accurate information on data).

With the arrival of four subsequent and separate complaints the Commission initiated formal procedures. The first of these complaints related to an order of a list of IT Training Managers and the claim from B2B Data Lists Group/Data Providers UK that they had a list which corresponded with the exact requirements. The second complaint concerned a consumer who had received an unwanted email and had requested further information as to the origins of the list used so he could ascertain how his data was sourced. The third complaint related to an order of data which the complainant claimed was incorrect and the fourth complaint related to a claim that B2B Data Lists Group/Data Providers UK did not meet their specifications for a list of 35,000 decision makers in private equity owned companies.

Following investigation including contact with B2B Data Lists the Commission reached a conclusion that 1) the company had breached key provisions of the Code on a repeated basis; 2) data was sold without proper regard for whether it met client requirements, and that the company then sought through unacceptable terms and conditions to absolve itself of responsibility for this data; 3) refunds were being refused or offered as a last resort and 4) clients and complainants were treated poorly. All four complaints raised were upheld and related to clauses 5.74 which asks that information supplied about data is accurate and not misleading or incorrect; 9.33 which asks that members should settle complaints quickly, effectively and courteously; 3.13 which asks that members must accept that they are normally responsible for any action taken on behalf by their staff, their sales agents, their agencies, their direct marketing suppliers and others; and finally clause 3.19 which asks that members act decently, fairly and reasonable fulfilling their contractual obligations at all times.

In addition to the formal cases and the earlier cases that were resolved informally the Commission has received recently some other complaints over B2B Data Lists Group/Data Providers UK. While no assumptions can be made about these complaints it was a particular concern to the Commission that the issues described were clearly happening with regularity. The Commission was of the view that the complaints involved breaches of fundamental code provisions on fair and reasonable behaviour, the accuracy of information about data and the responsibility members must take for data they source elsewhere and the requirement to provide proper customer service. The Commission decided that the appropriate sanction would be to recommend to the DMA, that the company were removed from DMA membership. This proposal has now been implemented by the DMA – please see here for a link to details of the expulsion on the DMA website.

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.