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Direct Marketing Commission - Enforcing Higher Industry Standards

Information Tribunal gives Reactiv Media increased fine

17th April, 2015 at 11:38am

 

The Information Tribunal has awarded Reactiv Media an fine of £75,000, increased from £50,000 during an appeal hearing held in York last week. Reactiv had consistently called consumers registered with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS).

 

The story begins last year, when Reactiv Media, then a DMA member, was investigated by the Direct Marketing Commission (DMC) for making nuisance calls about spurious PPI claims to consumers registered with the TPS.

 

The DMC concluded that Reactiv should be expelled from the DMA in April 2014.

 

George Kidd, chief commissioner of the DMC said, “Other telemarketing companies have worked with us and turned past problems around. Those who use companies like Reactiv Media to generate leads share a responsibility. They should not be encouraging firms to bend or break rules that are there to make sure the public’s wishes are respected when it comes to telemarketing.”

 

Reactiv Media then came under the scrutiny of the Information Commissioner.

 

Between 13 November 2012 and 31 December 2013, the TPS received 481 complaints about Reactiv Media, and referred those complaints to the Information Commissioner. The Information Commissioner received a further 120 complaints.

 

In July 2014, the Information Commissioner issued a fine of £50,000 to Reactiv Media for ‘bombarding people’ with nuisance calls. The full notice is here.

 

Reactiv Media then appealed this decision.

 

In the appeal decision, which reported its findings on 13 April, the tribunal concluded that Reactiv Media displayed, “A culture of denial and minimisation of the breach, weak governance of the company and a tendency to blame others rather than accept responsibility. There is little evidence of robust policies and procedures coupled with a culture which properly respects telephone subscribers and their right to privacy.”

 

In addition, when the Information Commissioner awarded the initial fine, it had limited access to Reactiv Media’s financial records, and was “Hampered in its consideration by the lack of co-operation from the company.”

 

The appeal hearing gave greater access to the company’s finances, and concluded that not only should the sanction stand, but the fine should be increased by 50% to £75,000.

 

Assistant manager of the TPS, Arthur Cummins, was a key witness. “Mr Cummings, Assistant Manager of TPS demonstrated the robustness of the procedures used by the TPS to ensure that only eligible complaints were processed. He confirmed that Reactiv had been in the top 20 most complained list for five months in 2013, most recently in October 2013 but had not figured subsequently. He gave clear and convincing evidence which the tribunal accepted.”

By Ed Hall, DMA PR & Content Manager