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Direct Marketing Commission - Enforcing Higher Industry Standards

Minutes 26th November 2013

Minutes 26th November 2013

MINUTES

 

of the

 

DIRECT MARKETING COMMISSION

 

on

 

Tuesday 26th November

at

DMA, 70 Margaret Street, London W1W 8SS

 

 

Present:                                

 

George Kidd, Chief Commissioner

David Coupe, Industry Commissioner

Rosaleen Hubbard, Independent Commissioner

Danny Meadows-Klue, Industry Commissioner

Martyn Percy, Independent Commissioner

 

In Attendance:

 

Suzi Higman, Secretary, DMC

Mike Lordan, Chief of Operations, DMA

Jessica Tyrrell, DMA Legal Advisor (in part)

           

   

 

                                               

1.         WELCOME AND APOLOGIES       

           

            There were no apologies for absence.

 

                                                                       

2.         APPROVAL OF MINUTES OF 2nd October 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

 

SH reported on the latest annual report.  Copy had now been approved and was in the process of preparation by the DMA communications department.  It was due completion by the end of November.

 

 

4.         CHIEF COMMISSIONER’S REPORT

           

GK reported on a recent report from the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG).  The DMC had made a submission to the APPG’s recent inquiry into the unsolicited marketing industry and had suggested the formation of a co-regulatory body to be established for nuisance calls.  The APPG’s report had now been published and one of the recommendations was that a co-regulatory body is established to deal with unwanted calls and texts.  An extract and summary from the report had been circulated to Commissioners. 

 

GK also reported on recent meetings with the ICO and OFCOM, as well as the Department of Culture, Media and Sports (DCMS) to discuss the issue of nuisance calls.  The minister concerned at DCMS had confirmed that policy officials would be working with the DMC to develop the DMC’s proposals. ML said that the recommendations from the Select Committee were due to be published before Xmas.

 

The Commissioners discussed a previously suggested research project into SME buyers of DM services as a possible application for funding from the Direct Marketing Foundation.  Commissioners thought that this project should be driven by the DMA not the DMC, but it was agreed the DMC should produce an outline proposal setting out the elements and benefits of SME training.

 

 

5.         COMPLAINTS UNDER THE DMA CODE OF PRACTICE

 

a. Breakdown of complaints – September/October 2013

 

SH reported on the breakdown of complaints for September and October 2013.  In particular, a case against a charity was noted.  The charity had sent out a mailing about car insurance renewal and instead of following their usual process to select renewal data which was only one year old, they had incorrectly selected data outside this timescale. The company had provided the DMC with assurance as to the remedial actions taken and confirmation that this error was the result of a ‘one-off’ human error.  However, it had affected 8,000 individuals and Commissioners expressed their concern at these numbers.  The company had been issued with a formal reminder of their obligations under the Code which asks that data held must be accurate and up to date and informed that we would closely monitor any future complaints.

 

SH reported on three complaints against a member which offered a discount scheme and cashback reward to individuals signing up through partner companies.  One of the complainants said they had unwittingly signed up to the service, another had not received a promised refund and the third had not received the cashback card.  SH reported that these cases were still under investigation.  RH agreed to examine the company’s terms & conditions.  It was also agreed that SH would check with the company’s local trading standards office to see if there were any ‘live’ investigations.

 

ACTION POINT – RH to look at company’s terms & conditions and report back to Secretariat.  SH to liaise with Trading Standards.

 

b. Update on previous adjudication 1

SH reported on an adjudication against a member company which concerned a high volume of complaints to the TPS.  The company in question had now provided the DMC with a letter and report of actions together with a table showing the reduction in TPS complaints over the last three months.  This was deemed satisfactory and a letter was to be sent to the company acknowledging the progress made, though bringing to their attention the residual complaints which appeared to relate to historic data.  SH reported that the DMA had met with the member and highlighted any remaining compliance issues.

 

ACTION POINT – Secretariat to write to member acknowledging the reduction in complaints.

 

c. Update on previous adjudication 2

SH reported on a recent adjudication against a member company which had culminated in a request that the member comply with the DMC’s sanction for a full review in three months and agreement to meet with the DMA compliance department.  SH reported that there had been no response to the DMC’s letter and subsequent emails and nor had the DMA received a response to its request for a meeting.  Further complaints had been received and we were still awaiting a response on these complaints.  It was agreed that the Secretariat would pursue the matter with the member company with urgency.

 

In addition, the DMC would inform the DMA about the adjudication and the member’s subsequent lack of response.

 

ACTION POINT – Secretariat to write to member and DMA.

 

d. Formal case and adjudication

A business to business case was brought to the Commissioner’s attention.  The case was in relation to a complaint from a business who had bought data.  The data received was not matched adequately to the client’s requirements and the client argued that the data was inaccurate.  There had been previous complaints made against this company, and furthermore, they had not responded to the DMC’s requests for information.  In the absence of any response or evidence from the member, the complaint was upheld on all the clauses raised in relation to breaches of fair and reasonable behavior; information on data; accurate and up to date data and responsibility for suppliers.  It was also upheld under clause 4.20 in the Code which states that where a member fails to respond to any request for information from the Secretariat, this will in itself be considered a clear breach of the Code and may result in disciplinary action or a more serious sanction should any additional breach be found.  Commissioners agreed on a sanction to recommend to the DMA that membership is terminated.  Letters would be sent to the member informing them of the decision and also to the DMA.

 

ACTION POINT – Secretariat to write to member informing them of the decision and will also write to DMA

 

  1. FUTURE OF DMA CODE

 

Update on Code

GK reported on latest developments on the new DMA Code.

 

DMC Provisions for Code annex

SH had circulated the latest draft annex of DMC Provisions for the new Direct Marketing Code.  The copy was now finalised and the annex had also been circulated to the DMA Governance Committee.

 

 

 

 

 

8.         GENERAL MATTERS

 

  1. DMA activitiesML reported on the DMA’s concerns about some aspects of the new ICO Direct Marketing Guidance for Direct Marketing.  SH had circulated copies of the latest DMA summary on the new Guidance as well as the DMA legal department’s response to the ICO.  ML had also responded to the ICO and would circulate a copy of his response to the Commission.  GK said that the DMC would need guidance as to how to adjudicate on companies where they may be differences of opinion between the ICO and DMA.  ML said that the ICO had agreed to meet with the DMA early in the new year. ML then hoped that the DMA could publish their own guidance with the ICO’s support.

     

    ML reported on a possible successor to the List Warranty Register scheme.

     

    ML reported on the launch of the TPS Assured scheme.  GK queried whether the DMC should ask companies under investigation/adjudication to sign up to the scheme.  It was agreed that the DMC could suggest and recommend that a company should sign up to the scheme but that this should not be a sanction.  A handbook on TPS Assured was available at the meeting for Commissioners. ML also reported that TPS registrations still remained high but that they are largely made up of landline numbers and not mobiles.

     

    ML said that DMA Board elections to take place early December.  A new Chair and Vice-Chair would be appointed.

     

     

    ACTION POINT:

     

    ML to circulate DMA response to ICO and link to the full ICO guidance.

     

     

    b.   Governance: Compliance, Preference Services & Accreditation Report

    A report had been circulated to the Commissioners

     

     

    9.         ANY OTHER BUSINESS

     

    SH raised the matter of a suggestion from a previous Commissioner for a replacement for Martyn Percy who was due to retire from the Commission in July 2014.  It was agreed that the Secretariat would set up a meeting with GK and the possible replacement.

     

    ACTION POINT – Secretariat to set up a meeting with candidate

     

     

    10.       FUTURE DATES 2014

     

    These had now been circulated.  Dates for 2014 are:

     

    Monday 10th February, 10.30am

    Thursday 22nd May, 12.15pm

    Tuesday 30th September,10.30am

    Thursday 27th November, 10.30am