Minutes 21st February 2013
DIRECT MARKETING COMMISSION
Thursday 21st February 2013
DMA House, 70 Margaret Street, London, W1W 8SS
George Kidd, Chief Commissioner
Suzi Higman, Secretary, DMC
Chris Combemale, Executive Director, DMA (in part)
1. WELCOME AND APOLOGIES
There were no apologies for absence from the Commissioners. Mike Lordan, DMA Chief of Operations would not be able to attend the Commission meeting but would attend the afternoon ‘Think Tank’ session.
2. APPROVAL OF MINUTES OF 28th NOVEMBER 2012
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 raised the matter of non-disclosure agreements – NDAs. It had previously been agreed that it would be a barrier to effective market regulation and consumer protection were members to seek to limit the information shared with the Commission on the basis of some form of NDA. At the last meeting it was agreed that GK would address this matter in feedback to the DMA. GK reported that he had raised the matter with the DMA who had agreed to bring the issue to the attention of the DMA Governance committee.
4. CHIEF COMMISSIONER’S REPORT
Letters had been sent to consumer groups briefing them about the work and role of the DMC, offering an opportunity to meet with them and exploring whether the right links exist between them and the DMC.
GK emphasised the importance of links between the DMC and the DMA, in terms of its membership and the DMA Board and how it can re-engage fully with councils. GK will write to the Board on this issue.
The issue of complaint sourcing was discussed. This had been raised at the DMA Governance meeting in relation to a Best Practice Council document that gave good advice on how members should deal with complainants, but which failed to make any reference to the DMC and a customer or client’s right to be told of the Commission as the body set up to deal with unresolved complaints and activity that might pose a threat to public trust in direct marketing. GK said there must be many complaints which don’t reach the DMC and questioned how complainants could be made more aware of our existence.
Commissioners discussed how DMA members could direct complainants to the DMC. DMK suggested a DMC ‘badge’ could be offered to DMA members with the DMC logo as a web link to the Commission and the new outcomes-based Code.
GK expressed concern that other regulators may not be taking adequate action against companies whose behaviour is repeatedly raised as a concern, in particular those complaints related to unwanted emails and unwanted calls which are the issues most people would think of as ‘direct marketing’. DC said complainants may be falling into a ‘black hole’ when they are referred from DMC to other bodies. DM-K said the DMC really needed to take a ‘position’ on the issue of unwanted emails in particular. It was agreed that the afternoon ‘think-tank’ session would look at this more closely.
SH circulated a list of DMA provisional members, and there was discussion about this issue, where the DMC stands in relation to these members, how they are dealt with by the DMA compliance division and what prevents them moving into full membership. This was also addressed during Chris Combemale’s presentation on the future of the DMA.
ACTION POINT – GK to write to the DMA Board to address links with DMC and DMA membership/councils.
5. COMPLAINTS UNDER THE DMA CODE OF PRACTICE
a. Breakdown of complaints – November/December 2012 – January 2013
SH reported on the breakdown of complaints for the months of November and December 2012 and January 2013. It was noted that there were a number of complaints about unwanted emails, in particularly, consumers who were unable to unsubscribe. There were also a number of business to business complaints which centred around members not meeting client expectations.
One complaint against a DMA member related to a business to business email which did not contain an unsubscribe option. The company had argued that it was a personal email and not part of a mass marketing campaign. However, the Commissioners raised their concern that as it was an unwanted email informing the recipient about a service it may need further investigation. It was agreed that the Secretariat would contact the member and ask for further details. Advice would also be sought from the DMA legal department.
Further complaints had been received against a former DMA member. These had been passed to the relevant trading standards office and the OFT. SH reported that some of the complaints were now of a different nature to those originally received and adjudicated against when the company was in membership. It was agreed that the Secretariat would inform trading standards.
ACTION POINT: SH to write to Trading Standards with information on new complaints received.
b. Formal complaints
SH reported on a recent business to business complaint. The client had ordered business to business records with specific job titles and the data had not been provided as per their specifications. Though the member had admitted fault, the complaint was progressing to a formal adjudication. SH was to contact commissioners with dates for the adjudication.
SH also reported on the latest complaint against a member of the List Warranty Register. The complaint had been received by the Secretariat at a similar time to the recent adjudication and the nature of the complaint was very similar. It had been decided that the case would be informally resolved but it was for the LWR management to decide on any further action. SH reported on the DMC’s role when taking future complaints against LWR registrants, given the nature of the current processes and the fact that LWR was going through a process of restructure.
ACTION POINT – SH to arrange date for adjudication meeting.
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 and papers were circulated.
7. DMC GOVERNANCE
GK reported on a draft letter to DMA Chairman, Scott Logie. The new draft Terms of Reference had been approved by the Commissioners, and the letter was to go to the DMA soonest.
8. FUTURE OF THE DMA
Chris Combemale gave a presentation on Reinventing the DMA, this looked at the history of direct marketing, why it is evolving and the DMA’s vision, putting the customer at its heart, and moving to the establishment of a principles-based Code.
Discussion on this presentation followed. It was agreed that a copy of the presentation would be circulated to Commissioners. If there were any comments, then Commissioners were to inform the Secretariat.
ACTION POINT – SH to circulate soft-copy of presentation to Commissioners.
9. GENERAL MATTERS
Governance: Compliance, Preference Services & Accreditation Report
A report had been circulated to the Commissioners
10. ANY OTHER BUSINESS
No other business was raised.
11. FUTURE DATES 2013
Tuesday 14th May
Thursday 26th September
Tuesday 26th November
All 10.30am at the DMA offices