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Direct Marketing Commission - Enforcing Higher Industry Standards

Rocket Marketing Group – complaints about direct marketing

24th February, 2012

This case related to complaints from two customers who were members of one of Rocket Marketing Group’s savings club schemes. Once they were established members, Rocket had sent them a letter offering an additional product.  The letter had stated that if the customers did not cancel within a specified time frame then monies would automatically be taken from their billing accounts for that product.  The Commission decided there had been a breach of Code clause 8.1 in relation to inertia selling because Rocket were making charges for participation in these additional services without an instruction from its customers. The Commission thought it was not sufficient to base charging on passive consent from customers who did not act to cancel a payment rather than having a mechanism for securing active consent.

The Commission concluded that the initial offering, at the point of sign-up to membership, did not give customers clear information as to the commercial and financial nature of future messages. As such it was thought to be in breach of Code clause 8.2b which states that members should make clear, either in the original advertisement or with the initial supply of goods sent on approval, the full terms of the contractual commitment in to which a respondent was being asked to enter.

Additionally, in the case of one complainant who had received an offer for a computer security and repair scheme, the Commission decided the commercial communication was misleading and therefore a breach of Code clause 6.6 in that it appeared to present the UK service as equivalent in all important regards to an established US version of the same service when the UK version had significant limitations in relation to helpline support.

The Commission met with Rocket as part of the adjudication process and understands Rocket aree willing to make changes to their processes to address the concerns raised. The Commission asked Rocket to provide a review of remedial actions being taken, together with a timeline for any other changes to be made in order to comply with the Code in future.