Minutes 8th October 2010
DIRECT MARKETING COMMISSION
Friday 8th October 2010
DMA House, 70 Margaret Street, London, W1W 8SS
Present: In Attendance:
George Kidd Mike Lordan, Chief of Operations
David Coupe Richard Evans, Compliance & Legal Services Manager
Danny Meadows-Klue Suzi Higman, DMC Secretariat
1. WELCOME AND APOLOGIES
The Chairman welcomed members to the meeting. There were no apologies.
GK gave his thanks on behalf of the Board for the help Matti Alderson, James Middlehurst and Susan Singleton had given to the Commission over the last few years.
2. APPROVAL OF MINUTES OF 15TH JUNE 2010
The Board confirmed that the Minutes were an accurate account of their last meeting and the Chairman signed them.
It was agreed that the Minutes going forward would be a collective record of the main points of the meeting.
3. MATTERS ARISING/ANY OTHER BUSINESS
The Commission discussed the importance of ‘affordability’, ‘scalability’ and ‘credibility’ as key tests to apply to the planning and work of the new Commission and how it engages with the industry and the public with these points in mind. Transparency was thought a key aspect of credibility and the Commission agreed more should be done to inform industry of our findings and the lessons that might be drawn from them, to work in partnership with the DMA and to report publicly on our meetings, work plans and adjudications.
There were discussions about how we could formalise our association with the DMA. GK regularly attended Governance meetings and he had made a presentation at a recent DMA Board meeting in September.
It was agreed that the DMC should be talking to the Board on a quarterly basis and that it was equally important for commissioners to know of the key issues before the DMA on a regular basis.
Action Point: It was agreed that the Secretariat would consider how minutes of future meetings could be structured so they can be shared while maintaining the confidentiality associated with discussions on complaints and possible adjudications.
4. REVIEW OF COMPLAINTS PROCESS
RE and SH reported on their review of the revised complaints process. In particular, the Secretariat outlined the requirements of the Commissioner’s commitment to formal cases. It was agreed that all five commissioners would be invited to partake in each formal case, but it would be necessary to identify three commissioners to see a case to closure. All other points in the review paper were agreed. Commissioners discussed the value in recording complaints and outcomes using a number of standard categories. This would allow the DMC to better study and respond to trends within the broad DM market.
The Commission noted that arrangements for handling appeals under the new regime needed to be confirmed. This was an important aspect of the arrangement and it was agreed the Chief Commissioner and senior DMA officers should liaise to ensure continuity within the DMA’s changed financial circumstances.
5. CHIEF COMMISSIONER’S REPORT
GK reported on a presentation given to the DMA board. This has focused on the proposed new ways of working, the scope for partnership, particularly in strategic reviews and the planned performance indicators.
Action Point: SH agreed to circulate GK’s September 2010 presentation to the Board.
DMA and the Concept of Reviews
The Commissioners agreed with the suggestion that the DMC should carry out 1-2 strategic reviews annually looking at key parts of the market where there was evidence of compliance issues from DMC and DMA data, or where new technology raised issues over consumer understanding or risk. The Commission agreed reviews should be collective exercises, that they should be on a partnership basis with the DMA and, accordingly, that issues should be selected in tandem with the DMA. It was agreed that a review of Door to Door issues would be an appropriate sector for the first one.
Commissioners agreed the collection of email databases and issues with email “unsubscribes” could be a useful subject for a future review.
Action Point: A proposal for a Door to Door review would be prepared by the Secretariat.
Criteria and Basis for Action for Non-members:
The Commissioners agreed that its work should be focused on compliance by members of the DMA and recognised the limited scope for taking a case involving a non-member company to a formal adjudication. Commissioners agreed, however, that there were potential circumstances in which it would be right for the Commission to investigate and comment on or seek action by others on direct marketing activities that pose a wide and serious threat to the public and/or to the health of direct marketing.
The Future Use of DMC meetings:
Commissioners agreed that meetings should focus on market developments, trends in the volume and nature of complaints, performance against DMC performance indicators and progress with review exercises. The Commission might also deal with live cases, but was more likely to work on the basis that cases should be completed to agreed targets and this work should not be delayed or truncated to accommodate meeting dates.
The Commission discussed the value in setting and reporting publicly on a small number of performance measures. It was agreed these should deal with operational activity and regulatory outcomes.
Action Point: The Commission agreed work should proceed to finalise a set of measures for agreement by correspondence, covering receipt and recording or complaints, a universal target time for bringing formal cases to adjudication, measuring the robustness of decisions and public satisfaction with our action and the time taken. The Secretariat were also asked to consider ways of measuring awareness of the DMC or/and regulation in this field as a benchmark.
6. REMIT ISSUES
Commissioners were keen to be as clear as possible collectively and publicly on what is inside and outside the scope of its work. They noted a definition of direct marketing used by the Information Commissioner’s Office and considered how it would apply to mass distribution catalogues or newspapers and to new media forms of distribution.
While the issue was not seen an a barrier to current work the Commission thought this to be an issue worth reflection with the DMA, possibly with a view to updating the definition on the Commission web-site.
7. COMPLAINTS UNDER THE DMA CODE OF PRACTICE
SH provided reports for complaints in August and September 2010.
There were two formal cases. One was not upheld. The other is an ongoing formal investigation and all commissioners agreed to partake in comments on this case going forward to closure. Full details of these cases and Commissioner’s views from this meeting would be reported in the Formal Casework report summaries.
8. GENERAL MATTERS
Preference Services, Compliance & Accreditation – Commissioners were presented with the latest report. ML reported on latest Board and Governance issues at the DMA.
Code of Practice: Copies were handed out of the fourth edition of the Code of Practice. This was enforced from the 1st September and the third edition would still apply to complaints prior to this time.
Finance: Commissioners were briefed on the Professional Indemnity insurance covering their work. They asked for further advice from the Secretariat to give them comfort this was in line with arrangements elsewhere and thought adequate to their role and decisions they might take.
Action Point: Secretariat to give further advice on Profession Indemnity insurance.
Declaration of Interests: The Secretariat had now received all the Director’s forms.
9. FUTURE DATES
A meeting would be arranged for the week of 13th December.
Action Point: The Secretariat would send an email to Commissioners to obtain availability.
Future dates for 2011 would be arranged at the next meeting.