Minutes 9th February 2012
DIRECT MARKETING COMMISSION
Thursday 9th February 2012
DMA House, 70 Margaret Street, London, W1W 8SS
Present: George Kidd, Chief Commissioner; David Coupe; Martyn Percy; Michelle Peters; Danny Meadows-Klue
In Attendance: Richard Evans, DMA Compliance & Legal Services Manager; Suzi Higman, DMC Secretariat; Mike Lordan, DMA Chief of Operations; Scott Logie, DMA Chairman (in part); DMA member representative (in part)
1. WELCOME AND APOLOGIES
No absences recorded. Welcome to Scott Logie, DMA Chairman who was attending the meeting in part.
2. APPROVAL OF MINUTES OF 30th NOVEMBER 2011
The Board had confirmed that the Minutes were an accurate account of their last meeting. These had now been published on-line.
3. MATTERS ARISING/ANY OTHER BUSINESS
ML updated Commissioners on developments in relation to the List Warranty Register and any future accreditation scheme with the goal of driving up standards in the list industry. He is to meet with a List & Inserts Forum representative to look at the issues of member and non-member compliance and self-accreditation. Scott Logie also updated Commissioners on the background to the formation of the Forum.
GK raised the issue of ‘natural justice’ following a recent meeting with the Appeals Commissioner and questioned the precise role of the DMA Board when presented with a DMC adjudication that could involve suspension or termination of a membership of DMA. . Scott Logie confirmed the Board’s understanding that the DMC is responsible for making final decisions on cases and that it is for the Board to ratify sanctions (where applicable. Commissioners discussed whether a failure to deliver ‘natural justice’ could itself be grounds for appeal and whether appeals should be limited to the findings as regards breaches or could be made based on the sanction applied rather than on the outcome of a case.
RE confirmed that following a recent Governance Committee meeting, further clarity was required from GK on the Code wording around timescales to hear an appeal. This would be clarified and reported back to the Governance Committee.
* GK to clarify Code wording on timescale for appeal hearings and revert to Governance Committee.
* GK/DMA Governance to review the Code wording and the format used for correspondence between DMC and DMA as regards the roles of the Commisison and DMA Board.
4. CHIEF COMMISSIONER/DMA CHAIRMAN REPORT
GK introduced Scott Logie, DMA Chairman and invited him to update the DMC board on DMA developments. Scott reported on his year to date as DMA Chairman. He reported on the internal changes made and how the DMA is perceived externally. He reported that roles and communication between DMC and DMA was now much improved. He viewed two current issues, being data lists and the revised Data Directive as two areas that the DMC and DMA could work on together. Scott had been advised by an MP that the greater number of complaints he receives in relation to direct marketing are on unwanted marketing calls (not silent calls) and this is an issue which could also be jointly addressed. This led to discussion on with MP about TPS and enforcement.
GK reported on the newly formed DMC Strategic Review which is to be conducted with DMA Board member, Julia Porter. RE pointed out that there was to be an Away Day for the DMA Compliance department – Julia Porter would be attending and one of the areas they would be looking at was compliance procedures for new members. DM-K suggested alternative ways to ensure SME’s met compliance requirements.
GK pointed out that a recurring issue raised in complaints to the DMC was around data orders and client expectations, and the importance of educating buyers to ask the right questions before committing to a purchase of data. GK said this issue could be helpfully addressed through research and partnership with other bodies.
5. COMPLAINTS UNDER THE DMA CODE OF PRACTICE
A DMA member was invited to the meeting in order to present its position and stance on a formal case. Minutes of this are separately recorded.
a) Formal investigation – DMA member
The two cases which related to this investigation were discussed. There had been a previous adjudication in which the complaints had not been upheld but the company had been reminded of specific obligations under the Code relating to responsibility for suppliers and the vulnerability of consumers. The more recent complaints had led to concerns about inertia selling, misleading advertising and unclear terms of contract. The complaints were upheld, but Commissioners emphasised that as the company appeared to be willing to make changes, it would be helpful to encourage and guide their future compliance.
b) Breakdown of complaints
SH reported on the breakdown of complaints for December 2011 and January 2012. In particular, SH noted recent complaints about a telemarketing company and the reasons given by the company following claims of silent calls. DM-K suggested ways in which the Secretariat could find out, more precisely, and in order to avoid dispute, how many times a complainant had been called by a company – this, he suggested, could be done by the complainant contacting their service provider, as well as ensuring the Secretariat requested call logs from the member company.
SH reported on a recent B-B case – the member in question had had complaints upheld last year. A full response from the member had not yet been received but it was noted that one of the issues was around hard bounce rates, and the varying views from either party on this point and also the fact that a percentage of the data ordered had constituted generic email addresses and the complainant company had asked for named contacts. DM-K suggested that it is not clear as to what a ‘named email address’ means and that either party to the complaint may have opposing views on this. It was agreed that this could be an issue raised with the DMA. RE suggested this could be raised with the Data Council.
Commissioners noted the frequency with which the DMC was getting complaints against a non-DMA member, over barriers to unsubscribing from email messages. There was a concern this may be a deliberate policy designed to maximize the presumed client-base. It was agreed there was a case exceptionally for the Commission to raise this with the non-member.
* Secretariat to ascertain whether telephone service providers were likely to release logs of incoming calls to consumers.
* Secretariat to raise issue of ‘named email addresses’ with the DMA’s Data Council.
* GK/SH to agree a text for letter to non-member.
6. DIRECT MARKETING FOUNDATION
DC updated the Commissioners on the latest developments. There is to be a meeting in April/May when they would be looking at further applications for funding. There was some discussion about potential DMC projects – RE reported on the DMA’s views on the draft proposal for two projects proposed by GK – the second proposal was of particular interest. RE said he would discuss the proposal further with ML.
7. APPEALS PROCESS
This was discussed earlier in the meeting.
8. GENERAL MATTERS
a) DMA Activities
ML had reported earlier in the meeting on TPS and enforcement issues.
b) Governance,: Preference Services, Compliance & Accreditation Report
A Compliance and Accreditation report had been circulated. RE reported on the likely re-launching of a consolidated door drop preference scheme.
9. FUTURE DATES
All 10.30am at the DMA offices
Thursday 17th May
Thursday 4th October
Wednesday 28th November