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Direct Marketing Commission - Enforcing Higher Industry Standards

PDV Ltd – complaints about direct marketing

July 2018

This investigation related to a complaint regarding a consumer who, despite being registered on the Telephone Preference Service, was contacted by a legal services company seeking to sell its services.  This call was made after the person called had been identified as someone who had consented to a marketing call as part of a lifestyle survey call made by an offshore call centre as part of a lead generation call. The call centre was acting on behalf of various clients. In this case the legal services lead generation was commissioned by PDV (part of Data Locator Group), a broker of data and marketing leads.

In the survey call there was a specific question related to legal services. The call script did not then go on to ask the person called if she or he wanted a follow up call from the legal services business who sponsored the call and question. The offshore suppliers’ call script listed the legal services client name in a recorded message at the end of the call along with other entities who had sponsored the survey and the questions in it. It did so in a way that did not make any link between a question on legal services and which would have allowed the consumer to make an informed choice as to whether or not a future call was welcome.  The Commission took the view that recordings at the end of a call give listeners no assured or straightforward mechanism for deciding who the call recipient does or does not want to hear from.

The Commission did not think the process described, by virtue of the structure of the call, the speed with which ways of opting out of marketing as a result of the survey call or the actual processes for opting-out, could be thought to have secured specific and informed consent for the legal company to over-ride the TPS registration in place and call the consumer.  In conclusion, the Commission did not think that PDV, as the broker between the off-shore supplier and the end client, had satisfied itself adequately as to mechanics for securing informed consent.

For these reasons we upheld breaches of:

3.11 When buying or renting personal data, members must satisfy themselves that the data has been properly sourced, permissioned and cleaned.

4.3 Members must accept that in the context of this Code they are normally responsible for any action (including the content of commercial communications) taken on their behalf by their staff, sales agents, agencies, one-to-one marketing suppliers and others.

The Commission also noted that the off-shore supplier used a number of different trading names when making survey calls to generate marketing leads.  It was concerned that there was no evident  link between trading names introduced at the start of the call in question and trading names that were used previously or subsequently during other ‘surveys’ .  This could only serve to confuse a consumer and might invalidate any consents given to follow-up calls.   The Commission has encouraged PDV to seek advice on this point.

The Commission fully recognises that the industry has now moved into a new era under GDPR rules which require a higher standard and the Commission was told that PDV were embracing this and making necessary amendments to its processes, including the provision of named opt-ins at the point of sponsored questions rather than relying on a list in an end of call recording.

The Commission strongly reminded PDV of its obligations under the DMA Code.

The case is subject to any appeal.