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Direct Marketing Commission - Enforcing Higher Industry Standards

Reactiv Media – complaints about direct marketing

October 2013

The Direct Marketing Commission had received several complaints against this company over the period from April to September.  Concerns had been raised in relation to calls received from Reactiv Media to TPS registrants. The calls were in relation to the possible mis-selling of PPI. The Commission concluded there had been breaches of DMA Code of Practice rules on TPS regulations (clause 21.20); supplier responsibility (clause 3.15); and the requirement not to mislead consumers (21.46).

Reactiv Media agreed that the Commission could access data recorded with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS) and the Commission welcomed this decision. It was found that around 100 complaints had been logged by TPS against Reactiv Media over the period of a year, and over 200 complaints had additionally been logged against one of their other trading names. The investigation highlighted issues around consumer consent and the ways in which failure to comply with the Code and related PECR regulations can result in complaints over unwanted calls from consumers registered with the TPS.

Based on information provided by Reactiv in relation to the call script used by the firm providing them with names to call and on the answers given by Reactiv, the Commissioners concluded, on a balance of probability, that Reactiv was not named by its data supplier in its call script and should not be calling TPS registrants as they did not have express permission to make these calls.

There were similar issues with the calls made by the firm supplying the data used by Reactiv. The company made “lifestyle survey”calls but the Commissioners were not shown any evidence to explain what permission the company had from the people called for making “lead generation” calls of this nature. Under the DMA Code of Practice Reactiv were under a duty not to breach TPS rules and a parallel duty to ensure their suppliers were doing the same. Finally, there were additionally concerns over Reactiv’s own telephone script with the company identifying itself on calls as a “consumer helpline”. The Commission decided this was misleading as to the identity of the people and the intent of the call.

This decision highlighted permission issues over extended value-chains over the supply of data, and failures to understand the regulations that apply. The Commission thought this particularly unfortunate given that data processing and tele-marketing are core elements of the company’s business.

The Commission formally reprimanded Reactiv Media and reminded them of their obligations under the DMA Code of Practice. The Commission sought agreement that Reactiv would provide a full Report and Review of Actions taken as a result of the investigation, together with information on their handling of any future TPS complaints.  This report is expected in three months.  The Commission asked that the DMA’s compliance and legal team meet with the company to help ensure future compliance.