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Direct Marketing Commission - Enforcing Higher Industry Standards

Minutes 26th May 2011

Minutes 26th May 2011

MINUTES

of the

DIRECT MARKETING COMMISSION

on
Thursday 26th May 2011
at
DMA House, 70 Margaret Street, London, W1W 8SS

 

Present:   George Kidd, David Coupe, Martyn Percy, Michelle Peters   

In Attendance:   Mike Lordan, Chief of Operations; Richard Evans, Compliance & Legal Services Manager; Suzi Higman, DMC Secretariat

1.  WELCOME AND APOLOGIES 
 
Apologies were received from Danny Meadows-Klue.  DMA Chairman Scott Logie also sent his apologies – he will now attend the next DMC meeting on 26th September.
      
2.  APPROVAL OF MINUTES OF 11TH FEBRUARY 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

GK discussed matters raised at the last meeting – all actions to be taken had been progressed.

It had also been agreed at the last meeting that the matter of member representations at both the evidence gathering stage of an investigation and just prior to adjudication would be discussed further amongst the Secretariat.  Following discussion it was agreed that members would be given the opportunity to make representations, if relevant, during formal investigations. Details of this part of the complaints process would be published on the DMC website.

Action Point:  Secretariat to publish details on the DMC website.

4. CHIEF COMMISSIONER REPORT

GK reported on conversations with MPeters and MPercy over their continuing service as Commissioners. Both were prepared to serve for a further year. The Commission discussed the practicalities over appointing a lay Chief Commissioner or lay Commissioners without any potential future conflict of interest. The Commission saw a distinction between playing an occasional or active role in the market and individuals who might be involved in the law, business development or a portfolio career which could on occasion just conceivably involve those who market. It was agreed that the Commission could not and should not disbar possible lay Commissioners on these grounds. It was thought essential, however, that possible conflicts were automatically declared and considered by the Commission and matters be managed accordingly. On this basis and based on an assurance the DMA supported the approach Commissioners agreed
MPeters and MPercy be appointed for a further year.

5. COMPLAINTS UNDER THE DMA CODE OF PRACTICE

a)  Breakdown of complaints

SH reported on the breakdown of complaints for March and April 2011.  RE updated the Commissioners on the recent member suspension and the wish on behalf of the member to return to DMA membership.  An initial meeting had been arranged with the member. The Commissioners were of the view that full compliance would need to be ascertained and achieved should the member be allowed back into membership.  DC offered to attend the meeting with RE and this was accepted.

SH reported on recent complaints against a DMA member company (sole trader) relating to orders of data.  It appeared that the company were offering refunds to clients once they knew they had complained to the Commission.  When the Commission then requested evidence from the complainant this was not forthcoming.  A recent case in May would be formally investigated and brought to the Commissioners for adjudication in due course, together with details of past complaints.  In relation to this complaint, RE pointed out the Customer Service section in the Code which could be relevant to complaints of this nature.

DC queried a case which was informally resolved but related to a customer who signed up to a credit check service.  He expressed concern that the company in question may not be using a recognized provider as there were only three major players in this field.

Action Point:  SH to find out the provider of the credit check service.

b)  Formal investigation

This related to two recent business to business complaints received against a DMA member company.  The complaints centered around the issue of unclean data, data which did not fit the criteria ordered and other contractual issues specifically in relation to the provisions of the terms & conditions across all parties involved.

Both complaints were upheld though a final decision on one specific breach of the Code would be made after further discussion.

Full details of these cases and Commissioners’ views from this meeting would be reported in the Formal Casework report summaries along with details of a conference call with the member company which took place prior to the Commission meeting.

Action Point:  Secretariat to circulate assessment of clauses breached for Commissioner input.

6.       REVIEWS

a)  Door to Door Review

GK reported on the Door to Door Review.  ML updated the Commissioners on the new structure of the Door to Door Council and circulated a document on the average recall of door to door items.  MPeters reported on a meeting with Jim Dinsey, Chair Door Drop Councils MLA Committee, and their discussions around the use of new technologies in tracking delivery.  Jim Dinsey had requested percentages of door to door complaints in relation to total complaint numbers received at the Commission.  These would be included in the final report. MPeters pointed out the importance of educating new users to door drop marketing as to realistic expectations in terms of response and delivery rates and noted the Council’s top ten tips for door drop users.  The Commission agreed to bring the review to closure with a report to the DMA focused on the particular issues with smaller providers and SME clients with potentially high and excessive expectations.

b) Future reviews

These would be discussed at a future date.

7.       ETHICS AND ENFORCEMENT IN SELF REGULATED INDUSTRIES
 
MPercy reported on his paper on Ethics and Enforcement in Self Regulation which   discussed the ethical framework in which we operate and in particular, in the way we differentiate between different types of power, aka ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ power.  GK pointed out the importance of this paper in every aspect of the Commission’s dealings with consumers, businesses and the industry.

Action Point:  GK/SH to draw up possible ‘standing’ questions to be used in investigations and at adjudications to ensure the Commission remains conscious of the scope for exerting ‘soft’ influence.

8.     CORE CODE PRINCIPLES/VISUALS – UPDATE/COMMUNICATIONS

SH reported on the Core Code Principles visuals agreed by Commissioners and the DMA.            It was agreed that there may need to be some alteration to the image’s colour scheme.

Action Point:  SH to liaise with DMA Communications.

9.     ANNUAL REPORT/PLAN

SH circulated copy for the DMC Annual Report.  Commissioners were asked to pass any      comments back to the Secretariat by Friday of the following week.

It was also agreed that the Annual Report may feature photos of the Commissioners. 
MPercy and MPeters would send up to date photos to the Secretariat.

10.     GENERAL MATTERS

a) DMA Activities

ML reported on the latest developments at the DMA including the new DMA Communications Strategy and the new DMA logo.  ML also updated the Commissioners on the new Council structure, in particular, the Data Council, and the ICO’s new powers to serve monetary penalties of up to £500,000 for unwanted marketing calls and emails to consumers.

b) Preference Services, Compliance & Accreditation Report

A Compliance and Accreditation report had been circulated.

c) Finance

There was nothing to report.

11. FUTURE DATES

These dates were confirmed as being:

Monday 26th September
Wednesday 30th November

All 10.30am at the DMA offices.