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Direct Marketing Commission - Enforcing Higher Industry Standards

Minutes – 13th May 2013

Minutes – 13th May 2013

 

MINUTES

 of the

 DIRECT MARKETING COMMISSION  

on 

Monday 13th May 2013

at

DMA House, 70 Margaret Street, London, W1W 8SS

 

Present:                                

George Kidd, Chief Commissioner

David Coupe, Industry Commissioner

Rosaleen Hubbard, Independent Commissioner

In Attendance:

Suzi Higman, Secretary, DMC

Mike Lordan, Chief of Operations, DMA (in part)

1.         WELCOME AND APOLOGIES                    

There were apologies for absence from Danny Meadows-Klue and Martyn Percy.   

2.         APPROVAL OF MINUTES OF 21st FEBRUARY 

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 updated the Commissioners on DMA Code revisions. 

SH reported on complaints against a company which had been the subject of an adjudication a year previously. The company had now resigned its membership of the DMA.  Following two referral letters from the DMC to Trading Standards and the OFT, we had now received confirmation from trading standards that they were investigating the company in question and we were seeking agreement from recent complainants for Trading Standards to contact them directly with a view to gathering further information for their investigation. 

SH also reported on an LWR registrant who had recently been expelled, by LWR management, from LWR registration as a result of stating on their marketing material that they were registered with the DMA and ICO. They were not members of the DMA, and nor had evidence been found that they had notified with the ICO. The DMC had received three recent complaints against the company and they had also been the subject of a recent adjudication by the DMC. ML updated the Commissioners on the latest developments in relation to the restructuring of the LWR which was in progress. 

ACTION POINT – SH to circulate the latest draft Code revisions to Commissioners for comment. 

4.         CHIEF COMMISSIONER’S REPORT           

This report was covered under other agenda items. 

5.         COMPLAINTS UNDER THE DMA CODE OF PRACTICE 

a. Breakdown of complaints – March/April 2013 

SH reported on the breakdown of complaints for the months of March and April 2013.  Complaints had included:  a company which had not offered its account members the opportunity to unsubscribe during night time hours when it was updating its content and account statuses, and a member which had not offered an unsubscribe mechanism on a service email which had included marketing content.  Five complaints had been received against a member which was tele-marketing TPS registrants and this was to be progressed to a formal stage and details of an adjudication date would be sent to Commissioners in due course.  Finally, a company which was in provisional membership of the DMA had offered to meet with the DMC to discuss its direct mail activities. 

b. Formal complaint

Commissioners discussed three formal complaints raised against a member of the List Warranty Register.  The complaints had centred around the accuracy and source of data, as well as allegations of poor customer service and suppressions not actioned.  The Commissioners concluded that the LWR registrant had demonstrably shown a lack of structure and organisation to such a degree that he was not able to provide evidence that the data was kept accurate and up to date, and as such, could not act fairly or reasonably.  Two complaints were upheld under clauses 5.37 which asks that personal data held by members must be accurate and, where necessary, kept up to date and 3.21 which asks that members must act decently, fairly and reasonably fulfilling their contractual obligations at all times.  All parties would be informed of the adjudication and the DMC would also write to the LWR to inform them of the outcome.  Details of the adjudication would be published on the DMC website. 

ACTION POINT – SH to write to LWR registrant, complainants and LWR informing them of the outcome. 

6.                FUTURE OF THE DMA CODE – Guiding Principles 

GK reported on the latest developments in relation to the progress of the new outcomes based Code.  The latest draft would be circulated to Commissioners.  RH stressed the importance of the new Code being issued alongside new guidance as members could seek to reference current guidance in their response to any investigation.  Additionally, RH said that there would be a need to be clear during any transition as to the Code applicable at the time/date of any incidence that resulted in a complaint and investigation at a later date. 

ACTION POINT – SH to circulate latest draft Code. 

 7.                THINK-TANK SESSION – Follow up 

GK reported on items for discussion following the DMC’s Think Tank session in February.  This looked at access to TPS data, and liaising with other regulators and any role the DMC could play alongside TPS to deal with the large numbers of complaints in relation to unwanted marketing calls.  This debate led to a further discussion on a possible application to the Direct Marketing Foundation for funding as detailed in agenda item 8 below. 

GK also reported that the DMA Governance Committee had agreed changes should be made to the Code or to membership conditions to remove any barrier to sharing of complaint data between TPS and the DMC.

8.                DIRECT MARKETING FOUNDATION – possible application 

Commissioners discussed a possible proposal for funding from the Direct Marketing Foundation.  This would ask for funding to research the telemarketing landscape across other organisations and regulators.  ML updated Commissioners on known current developments at other regulatory bodies in relation to nuisance calls.  It was agreed that any research should focus particularly on unwanted calls from a ‘marketing’ perspective.  GK had been contacted by the ICO and OFCOM and would join any meetings that are arranged on this issue. 

ACTION POINT – GK to refine proposal for Direct Marketing Foundation funding and consider external parties for undertaking the research. 

 9.                PROPOSAL: INFORMAL CASES – publication on DMC website 

SH reported on a proposal to publish on-line the names of members whose complaints had highlighted a breach of the Code but where the cases had been informally resolved.  It was agreed that this was a good idea, but that there needed to be a robust structure in order to carry this out which is fair to both members and transparent.  It was agreed further research would be required into other associations and the terms under which they carry this out, and it would require a re-drafting of Section 4 of the Code on the Commission’s informal process.  All agree that it was important to achieve the right ‘language’ so that members are fully aware that informally resolved complaints against them may be published on the DMC site. 

ACTION POINT – RH agreed to look at other associations which may publish informally resolved cases online.  SH/GK to look at the process and Code wording. 

10.       GENERAL MATTERS

DMA activities

ML reported on DMA activities under other agenda items

Governance: Compliance, Preference Services & Accreditation Report

A report had been circulated to the Commissioners.

11.       ANY OTHER BUSINESS 

No other business was raised.

12.       FUTURE DATES 2013 

Wednesday 2nd October

Tuesday 26th November 

All 10.30am at the DMA offices