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Direct Marketing Commission - Enforcing Higher Industry Standards

Case Studies

Case Studies

The following case studies are examples of complaints that the DMC has investigated in the past:


Consumer complaints:

Case Study 1

A lady in Hampstead received insurance quotations from nine insurance brokers at her home, addressed to someone who had never lived there. She reported this to the police because she was both distressed and concerned that she was a victim of identity fraud or money laundering. Following the Commission’s investigation, it was discovered that this was part of a ‘mystery shopping’ exercise by a DMA member. The Commission concluded that the member’s behaviour was unacceptable and that mystery shopping exercises that were conducted without proper disclosure to those involved and without permission was likely to bring the industry into disrepute.

Case Study 2

This centred on a female counsellor who had previously worked in a secure prison unit with psychiatric patients. She had booked advertising space online with a DMA member, and had specifically requested that her personal address should not to be published. However, not only was her address published along with a map of how to locate her, she was also listed as a used car salesman. The Board concluded that the member should in future comply with relevant legislation, have adequate administrative procedures to avoid a repetition of such a situation, and must not damage the public image of direct marketing.

Case Study 3

This case related to a letter received by a consumer from the new owners of a major DMA client company. She was asked to complete a form to opt out of receiving marketing material. She had previously opted out, but realised that if she failed to, or chose not to, complete the form then she would automatically be opted back in. This, she alleged, was both unfair and illegal. The Commission upheld the complaint on the grounds that the Data Protection Act had been breached which made the practice a breach of the Direct Marketing Association’s (DMA) Code.


B2B complaints

Case Study 1

A small landlord in London wanted to promote his business through the use of doordrops in South West London and the DMA member concerned agreed to deliver over 11,000 leaflets. The delivery was for a newspaper shared distribution.

The landlord however, did not believe that any of the leaflets was delivered because he did not receive any customer calls from the postcode area concerned and there was no delivery of the newspaper with the leaflet to his own home. The Commission concluded that poor response rates were not an exclusive indicator that the distribution was not completed to industry standards, and other factors might have played a part in the low response. As there was no firm evidence to show that the Direct Marketing Association’s (DMA) Code had been breached, the complaint was not upheld.

Case Study 2

A small fashion outlet was in dispute with a DMA member company over a database sold to them for just over £1,000. The campaign, which cost them over £8,000 in total, had a poor response and nearly 10 per cent of mailings were returned. The Commission expressed concern about the quality of data supplied to the company and concluded that there was a Code breach in relation to personal data, which is required to be accurate and kept up to date. The complaint was therefore upheld.

Case Study 3

A small electrical contracting company had booked a shared mailing distribution over a six week period. They claimed that no deliveries had been made in their requested areas and that they received responses from some areas in which they had booked no deliveries. They also received three separate complaints made by members of the public about dumped mailings. The Commission expressed concern about the forms that had been used for backchecking (where a check is made to establish that delivery has taken place) which were not worded accurately; the unauthorized substitution of delivery from one area to another; and the dumping of leaflets. The company was found to be in breach of the Code and the complaint was upheld.