We want to flag adjudications involving companies who had their DMA membership terminated or are no longer in membership of the DMA. These companies may still trade and some continue to generate public complaints. We think it right in such situations to highlight the actions we have taken and sign-post the statutory bodies to whom consumers should now take complaints.
The DMC investigates complaints against companies who belong to the Direct Marketing Association (UK).
As the regulatory partner to the Association we aim to ensure the standards and rules in their Code are followed by members. We are here to support an industry that has taken responsibility itself for ensuring its members operate in direct marketing to a high standard as well as obey the laws of the land.
In a small number of cases the DMC has felt it necessary to ask the DMA to take the strongest action available and terminate a company’s membership. This happens when we have seen serious and possibly repeated breaches of the Code and widespread or potentially serious consumer harm.
Two companies which have been the subject of adjudications of this nature and are no longer in membership continue to elicit complaints to the Commission. These are:
- adjudication at http://www.dmcommission.com/adjudications/2011/02/phruit-ltd/
- complaints can be referred to the ICO at www.ico.org.uk
The Commission decided that Phruit had been involved in a high volume of marketing telephone calls in the guise of research. There had been a high volume of complaints to the DMC and Telephone Preference Service from people registered with the Telephone Preference Service about calls by Phruit and also about calls by will-writers and other businesses who had bought contact numbers from Phruit.
Reactiv Media (www.reactiv.co.uk)
- adjudications at http://www.dmcommission.com/adjudications/2014/04/complaints-against-direct-marketing-reactiv-media-consumer-helpline/
- complaints can be referred to the ICO at www.ico.org.uk.
Reactiv Media was also in the tele-marketing business. They used leads generated by a so-called lifestyles survey partner to identify people to call with offers relating to Payment Protection Insurance claim-backs. Reactiv presented themselves in a misleading way as a “consumer helpline” and their calls and the calls made by their partner business were found to be in breach of rules prohibiting calls to TPS registrants, except in clearly defined circumstances. The Commission gave Reactiv time in which to demonstrate reforms but no such assurances were received.
Given the severity of the issues seen the DMC brings these decisions to the attention of the relevant statutory body, generally the Information Commissioner’s Office or a Trading Standards Department. It is for these bodies to decide whether there is a need for legal enforcement action.
Other companies which have not been subject to the sanction of termination of membership but are no longer in membership of the DMA but continue to elicit complaints are:
Rocket Marketing (www.rocketmarketinggroup.com)
- adjudications at http://www.dmcommission.com/adjudications/2012/02/rocket-marketing-complaints-about-direct-marketing/http://www.dmcommission.com/adjudications/2011/12/rocket-marketing-group-complaints-about-direct-marketing/
- complaints referred to Brighton Trading Standards http://www.tradingstandards.gov.uk/advice/consumer-advice.cfm.
- complaints about repeated and unwanted calls can be made to the ICO at www.ico.org.uk.
Rocket was cross-selling voucher packs/ discount offers on an annual subscription to people calling tv shopping channels to make other purchases. The company’s offer was thought to be misleading and unclear and there were concerns over inertia-selling with consumers sent and charged for offers they had not ordered, simply because they had not actively refused the offer and content.
The Marketing Data Consultancy (www.marketingdataconsultancy.com) a former registrant of the List Warranty Scheme run by the DMA.
- adjudication at http://www.dmcommission.com/adjudications/2013/01/the-marketing-data-consultancy-complaint-about-direct-marketing/judication;
- complaints can be referred to Trading Standards http://www.tradingstandards.gov.uk/advice/consumer-advice.cfm
We found this company repeatedly offering marketing lists to UK businesses where the lists were inaccurate or out of date. Complainants were continually complaining about not being able to get in touch with them.
If you make complaints about these companies, we would be grateful if you could copy us in so that we can keep a track of the type of complaints they continue to receive. You can do this at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you wish to complain about the behaviour of any companies which lie outside DMA membership there are various bodies to which you can complain. We have provide links here to the organisations’ consumer sections most likely to be of use.
If you wish to make a complaint about unwanted communications via telephone, email, text or post, then contact the Information Commissioners Office – you can report your concerns at www.ico.org.uk/concerns.
If you believe a company is trading unfairly then contact Trading Standards. You can find your local trading standards office here at www.tradingstandards.gov.uk/advice/consumer-advice.cfm.
If you believe that a company have misrepresented their services through false claims in advertising then you can complain to the Advertising Standards Authority. You can do this here at www.asa.org.uk/Consumers/How-to-complain.aspx.
Note: The ICO and Trading Standards Department have legal enforcement powers. The ASA is a self-regulatory body who can itself refer matters to Consumer Protection agencies if it is faced with non-cooperation.