Minutes 10th February 2014
DIRECT MARKETING COMMISSION
Monday 10th February
DMA, 70 Margaret Street, London W1W 8SS
George Kidd, Chief Commissioner
David Coupe, Industry Commissioner
Rosaleen Hubbard, Independent Commissioner
Danny Meadows-Klue, Industry Commissioner
Suzi Higman, Secretary, DMC
John Mitchison, Head of Preference Services & Legal and Compliance, DMA
1. WELCOME AND APOLOGIES
Martyn Percy gave his apologies for absence.
2. APPROVAL OF MINUTES OF 26th November 2013
The Commissioners had confirmed that the Minutes were an accurate account of their last meeting. These had now been published on-line.
3. MATTERS ARISING
GK reported on a recent meeting with a prospective replacement Commissioner.
4. CHIEF COMMISSIONER’S REPORT
GK discussed with Commissioners the case for ‘mediation’ and how this type of intervention could be usefully applied to investigative work which could help bring about a positive conclusion to cases. This ‘soft power’ approach would encourage companies to reflect on changes and actions that they may need to take in order to achieve compliance. The Commissioners agreed that this may be helpful but could be termed differently, as mediation involves a third party – Commissioners agreed that we should look at alternative terms such as ‘remedial support’. It was agreed that the Secretariat would examine how this type of intervention could be fitted into our complaints process.
JM updated Commissioners on actions the DMA is taking to address problems in the data industry, particularly concerning the buying and selling of data across the supply chain. He reported on a taskforce to be set up by Which? on consent and lead generation in the industry.
GK said that the DMA was planning a data workshop, and reported on a proposition from DM-K on an educational programme for buyers of data which would require funding.
Action Point – Secretariat to produce a flow chart showing where and how a ‘mediation’ style approach could be applied to the DMC’s investigative work.
5. COMPLAINTS UNDER THE DMA CODE OF PRACTICE
Breakdown of complaints – November to January 2013
SH had presented Commissioners with a breakdown of complaints between November 2013 and January 2014.
Update on previous adjudication 1
SH updated Commissioners on a recent adjudication which had culminated in a sanction to remove a member from DMA membership. The DMA Board had agreed with the sanction, and it was now in the hands of the DMA to write to the member and remove them from the DMA listings directory on its website.
Action Point – JM to ensure that this is actioned.
Update on previous adjudication 2
SH reported on a previous adjudication which had culminated in a sanction for the company to produce a report and review of actions taken and agreement to meet with the DMA compliance team. Further complaints had since been received and despite regular reminders, the Secretariat had not received any assurances or agreement to comply with the sanction. It was agreed that a letter would be sent to the company in question raising a breach of the Code which asks that members must comply with any conclusion reached by the Commission. The company would be given 7 days to respond. Failure to do so would result in a recommendation to the DMA that membership is terminated.
Action Point – Secretariat to write to company informing them of the decision.
Informally Resolved case
SH reported on an informal investigation which centered on complaints against a company offering membership to a discount & offers club for consumers. Consumers were able to sign up online. The online sign up material had appeared clear but further investigation into the complaints had highlighted failures in the company’s customer service processes and this was of concern to Commissioners. The company had provided the DMC with a full report of their current process and changes to be made and was undertaking remedial action to address the issues in their customer interaction process. The company were also to liaise with the DMA compliance department to make improvements to a telephone script for another discounts club that they operated. It was agreed that the Secretariat should write to the company concerned, in robust terms, expressing the Commissioner’s concerns about their customer services process, and to strongly recommend that any issues are fully addressed.
Action Point – Secretariat to write to company informing them of the Commissioner’s decision.
Ongoing Formal Investigation
SH reported on an ongoing formal investigation into the practices of a member company which had received a high volume of TPS complaints. This was progressing, a meeting prior to adjudication was to be arranged with the member together with the Chief Commissioner, and papers for adjudication would be circulated in due course.
DM-K said it would be helpful for the DMC or DMA to be more proactive, particularly on online forums, to help consumers know where and how to complain.
6. ANNUAL REPORT 2012-13
SH updated Commissioners on the DMC’s 2012-13 Annual Report and the accompanying press release which had achieved good coverage in the marketing press.
7. FUTURE OF DMA CODE
GK updated Commissioners on the latest Code developments.
8. GENERAL MATTERS
JM had reported to Commissioners earlier in the meeting.
b. Governance: Compliance, Preference Services & Accreditation Report
A report had been circulated to the Commissioners.
9. ANY OTHER BUSINESS
SH updated Commissioners on plans to raise the DMC’s profile amongst the DMA membership and reported that a monthly bulletin, produced by the DMA and sent to the DMA membership, would in future cover a report by the DMC. DM-K suggested that each Commissioner chooses a topic which can be placed in the bulletin. SH said that they would be informed when the deadline was each month so that they could prepare copy.
The meeting in May was likely to be cancelled and re-scheduled.
10. FUTURE DATES 2014
These had now been circulated. Dates for 2014 are:
Thursday 22nd May, 12.15pm – this may be re-scheduled.
Tuesday 30th September, 10.30am
Thursday 27th November, 10.30am