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Direct Marketing Commission - Enforcing Higher Industry Standards

Minutes 17th May 2012

Minutes 17th May 2012

 

 

MINUTES

of the

DIRECT MARKETING COMMISSION

on

Thursday 17th May 2012
at
DMA House, 70 Margaret Street, London, W1W 8SS

Present:   

George Kidd, Chief Commissioner
Danny Meadows-Klue
David Coupe
Martyn Percy

In Attendance:

Suzi Higman, Secretary, DMC
Jessica Tyrell, DMA Legal & Compliance
Mike Lordan, DMA Chief of Operations
Julia Porter, DMA Board Executive

    
1.  WELCOME AND APOLOGIES 
 
Michelle Peters had sent apologies for her absence.
      

2.  CODE AND STRENGTH OF SELF-REGULATION

Julia Porter, DMA Board Executive introduced herself to the Commissioners.  She briefed the Board on her marketing background and her current position on the DMA Board – leading a strategic review to examine how the DMA Board, DMC and Governance Committee can work cohesively with a view to strengthening self-regulation. This included a review of the form and content of the DMA Code and a look at ways DMA and DMC can collaborate and communicate both internally and externally. 

DM-K and DC agreed on the importance of ‘consumer centric’ communication.  DC supported the ideas raised and emphasised his interest in non-member referrals and how the DMC can follow through its involvement where, for example, a company has been expelled from membership, but they remain active in the industry and we continue to receive complaints. 

GK questioned whether the Appeals section in the Code should more accurately reflect the DMA Board’s position when ratifying DMC recommendations/decisions following adjudication.  It
had been agreed that the DMC is responsible for making final decisions on cases and that it is for the Board to ratify sanctions.  The relevant provision in the Code was discussed and it was agreed that the wording should be re-drafted to reflect the DMA position when ratifying recommended sanctions.

SH reported that re-drafting of Code wording was in progress to allow for specific timescales for the Appeals Commissioner to conduct an appeal.

Julia Porter confirmed that were meetings planned for the near future in order to progress the strategic review.

ACTION POINT – GK/SH to redraft Code wording in relation to DMA position when ratifying recommended sanctions.
3.  APPROVAL OF MINUTES OF 9th FEBRUARY 2012

The Board had confirmed that the Minutes were an accurate account of their last meeting.  These had now been published on-line.
4.  MATTER ARISING

Any matters arising would be raised later in the meeting.
5.  CHIEF COMMISSIONER REPORT

GK also reported on an approach from the Chair of the OFCOM Consumer Forum over concerns over a growth in nuisance calls. A DMC/DMA meeting had been held with the forum and data shared. DMC and DMA welcomed forum support for a more proactive approach to this problem and to efforts to stimulate OFCOM and ICO.

GK reported on a draft letter to be sent to the Information Commissioner in relation to a former member of the DMA suspended from membership and for which we are still receiving complaints.  This letter would be circulated to Commissioners for comment.

DM-K questioned what feedback the Secretariat received for complaints against non-members referred to other organisations.  It was agreed that the Secretariat would ask the ASA to provide feedback on complaints which we had referred on to them.  This would be requested on a quarterly basis.

GK reported that work for the Annual Report 2011-12 would commence in due course.  Proposals as to the design and format of the report would be circulated to Commissioners.

GK reported he would be investigating possible successors for Commissioners whose term of office was completed.
ACTION POINTS: 

GK to investigate possible successors for Commissioners

GK/SH to circulate proposals for Annual Report

SH to circulate letter to ICO for comment
6.      COMPLAINTS UNDER THE DMA CODE OF PRACTICE

a) Breakdown of complaints – February/March/April 2012
SH reported on complaints received over the last three months.  There was some discussion around a company which had received two complaints in a business to business capacity. In each case the complainant had withdrawn their complaint.  For one complainant, it appeared to be a technical misunderstanding and there did not appear to be a cause for concern.  For the other complainant, before details had been received, there was a request for withdrawal of the complaint entirely.  SH explained that there are occasions when a complainant does not wish us to pursue the matter with the member. The Commissioners agreed, however, that there were times when the alleged misconduct might be of sufficient concern to prompt an investigation even if the original complaint had been withdrawn.
b) Formal adjudication – update
SH reported on two complaints received following a recent adjudication against a former member company.  The company had emailed the Commission details with remedial actions to be taken following the adjudication.

A letter – circulated to Commissioners – had been sent to the company in April confirming receipt of their recent correspondence about actions to be taken and detailing our concerns about the more recent complaints.

A letter had been sent to the DMA in March setting out the lessons the Commission thought could be taken from this case.

ACTION POINT:  SH would circulate a letter sent to the DMA of lessons learned following the adjudication.
c) Formal adjudication – adjudication letter
SH had attached with the papers a letter detailing the Commission’s recent adjudication on a member company which was buying from data providers and selling data onto organisations which were marketing direct to the public.  The Commission Secretariat had received a number of complaints, and two recent complaints led to a formal investigation. The type of data involved in the cases was potentially of a sensitive nature as it related to PPI and personal injury claims.  A breach of Clause 3.19 had been upheld – this provision asks that members act fairly and reasonably and fulfill their contractual obligations at all times.  The Commissioners had also upheld a breach of clause 14.6 which asks that members do not send unsolicited direct marketing email communications to individuals without consent. 

SH reported that the Commissioners had welcomed the company’s co-operation and advice on steps already taken to address concerns and the recognition of the need for changes in process.

There were also lessons from this case which the DMC would share with DMA.  A copy of this letter would be circulated to the Commissioners for comment.

ACTION POINT: SH would circulate a letter to be sent to the DMA of lessons learned following the adjudication.
d) Ongoing Formal Investigation
SH had circulated a letter detailing the Commission’s progression to a formal investigation against a member company.  .  This matter was ongoing and the Secretariat would report back with findings and an adjudication date in due course.  SH reported that the company had shown willingness to co-operate with enquiries and the Secretariat and Chief Commissioner were to have an initial meeting with them as soon as possible. 

   
7.     GENERAL MATTERS

a) DMA Activities
ML reported on DMA activities.  The Door to Door Preference Service had not yet been launched but there were plans to do so in the next few months.  Registrations had increased for TPS.

b) Governance,: Preference Services, Compliance & Accreditation Report
A Compliance and Accreditation report had been circulated to all Commissioners. 
8.   ANY OTHER BUSINESS

DM-K suggested that a small group of Commissioners should meet to discuss how evidence, such as ‘crowd data’ for a case currently under formal investigation, could be sourced effectively. 

ACTION POINT:  GK/SH to discuss further.
9. FUTURE DATES

All 10.30am at the DMA offices

Thursday 4th October
Wednesday 28th November