Direct Marketing Commission - Enforcing Higher Industry Standards

Data & Marketing Commission

Minutes 4th October 2012

Minutes 4th October 2012



of the



Thursday 4th October 2012
DMA House, 70 Margaret Street, London, W1W 8SS


George Kidd, Chief Commissioner
David Coupe
Martyn Percy

In Attendance:

Suzi Higman, Secretary, DMC
Mike Lordan, DMA Chief of Operations
Michelle Peters and Danny Meadows-Klue had sent apologies for absence.  John Mitchison, the new Head of Preference Services, Compliance and Legal was also unable to attend.

The Board had confirmed that the Minutes were an accurate account of their last meeting.  These had now been published on-line.  The issue of ‘crowd-sourcing’ internet data was still to be discussed with DM-K.

Any matters arising would be raised later in the meeting.
The issue of complaints and how the DMC can become more involved in dealing with/sharing complaints about DMA members with TPS and regulators such as ICO/MOJ was discussed.  ML reported that the ICO are planning to report the top 20 complaints from TPS registrants on their website and that it appeared action in relation to unwanted calls was starting to be taken more seriously.

GK reported on his report for the last DMA Board meeting – he had informed them about the latest DMC statistics to be reported in the DMC’s latest Annual Report.  He had also reported the DMC frustrations at being unable to access TPS data, in particular for PPI firms.  ML informed the Commissioners that TPS data on DMA members in the PPI industry (licensed with MOJ) can now be accessed due to changes in terms & conditions of membership. 

GK questioned whether it would be appropriate for the DMC to take complaints against non-member companies who may have breached the Code in relation to PPI claims.  ML said the MOJ have greater powers and can remove companies ‘licence to trade’.  The DMA now works closely with the MOJ and when appropriate, will attend compliance visits and audits on DMA member companies.

GK reported on a recent meeting with Guy Parker, Chief Executive at the ASA.

ACTION POINT – GK/SH to identify the possibility of a Memorandum of Understanding or similar between DMC and other regulators to aid sharing of complaints about DMA members.

a) Breakdown of complaints – August/September 2012
SH reported on the breakdown of complaints for the months of August and September.  It was noted that September was a particularly quiet month in terms of complaint numbers – it was believed that this may have been as a result of a large number of people taking vacations following the Olympic Games.

SH reported on two complaints against a member company whose client had been calling consumers on behalf of the member company.  The client had not actioned suppression requests.  It was noted that this company was also the subject of an MOJ audit and DMA compliance would be updating the Secretariat in due course.  A further concern had been raised about this company from the owner of a DMA member company whose data had been passed to a number of different suppliers – some suppliers in the chain had ceased to trade and the trail followed four years of passing data.  Commissioners felt this was a good example of the trail of consumer data and how it can go wrong, and it was suggested that the Secretariat should inform the relevant DMA council as an example of this type of complaint – the company and complainant would be kept anonymous.

SH reported on a business to business complaint received against a company who was not a member of the DMA, but was a member of the List Warranty Register. ML updated the Commissioners on possible changes to the List Warranty Register, but said he would not have confirmation of any new procedures for a few weeks.  It was agreed that the Secretariat would continue to investigate the company in question – this may or may not lead to a formal investigation as we were still awaiting a response. 

ACTION POINT – SH to inform the relevant DMA Council about the data complaint.

b) Member adjudication – update on web summary
SH reported on a recent adjudication against a DMA member and the discussions, following adjudication, which related to detail of the web summary and the member’s requests to remove specific information.  This had now been resolved.

c) Informal cases – process update
MPercy had requested more information about the informal investigations process, and Commissioners were provided with details of our procedures.  It had been agreed that the Secretariat would in future ensure that monthly case summaries would include a section which showed the reasons for informally resolving a case.  MPercy encouraged the Secretariat to make contact with any Commissioner if a second opinion was required in order to decide whether to proceed to a formal stage.

d) ASA referral outcomes
SH reported on feedback from the ASA, which would be provided quarterly, which showed the outcomes of referring cases from the DMC to the ASA.  This was useful information and it led to discussion about other regulators and the usefulness of any feedback they could provide to DMA/DMC.
GK presented his paper on the Future of the Code and informed Commissioners about conversations he had recently had with the DMA.  All agreed GK’s recommendations outlined in the paper.  MPercy reiterated the importance and context of the Core Code Principles, being the three “R’s” – reliable, responsible and respectful.
– DMC Terms of Reference
– DMA Memorandum of Articles/re-wording

Gk reported on his paper which looked at the architecture of DMC Governance and the process of managing cases when suspending or terminating membership as a sanction.  All agreed with GK’s paper.  It was suggested that it could be reduced to a smaller document if possible which included the new Terms of Reference and DMC Charter.

ACTION POINT – GK to re-draft and circulate.
SH updated Commissioners on their terms of tenure.  All agreed the succession plan. ML is to meet, with DC, the new possible successor to Michelle Peters.  A discussion also took place on the possibility of providing an ‘observer’ to the DMC Board. This led to discussion over the mechanism of reviewing performance as a group. 

Away Day
Commissioners also discussed the possibility of an Away Day to discuss issues important to the DMC’s future.  It was agreed that a date would be arranged, prior to Xmas if possible, and to include ML, to discuss the DMC’s effectiveness with particular regard to a specific subject – unwanted calls as a topic was suggested.  DC asked that ML update the Commissioners at the next Board meeting on 28th November on other regulators’ enforcement powers and processes so that there is a full understanding of what actions other organisations are taking.

ACTION POINT – date to be arranged for ‘Away Day’. 
SH updated Commissioners on the latest Annual Report.  This is near to completion and in soft-copy format and would be circulated as soon as possible to the Board.  It would then be sent to DMA members, journalists and other relevant regulators/organisations.

ACTION POINT – SH to circulate Annual Report to Board.

a) DMA Activities
ML reported on DMA activities.  He also reported on the appointment of John Mitchison as Head of Preference Services, Compliance and Legal.  He would also be managing the Secretariat for the Commission.

b) Governance,: Preference Services, Compliance & Accreditation Report
A Compliance and Accreditation report had been circulated to all Commissioners. 

SH reported that possible future dates for 2013 had been circulated to the Commissioners.  These would be finalised as soon as possible.

Wednesday 28th November, 10.30am at the DMA offices.