Who: UK Information Commissioners Office (“ICO”), Kwik Fix Plumbers Ltd
When: 22 December 2014
Law as stated at: 29 January 2015
ICO issued a penalty notice of £90,000 against Kwik Fix Plumbers Ltd (“Kwik”) for making unsolicited marketing calls. In this case, ICO had received a number of complaints from and on behalf of older and vulnerable individuals. It was claimed that the marketing calls led to these vulnerable groups paying for unnecessary boiler insurance. Worryingly, a number of the recipients of these calls were suffering from dementia and Alzheimer’s. ICO’s Head of Enforcement stated that,
“The actions of this company are truly despicable. Contacting anyone registered with the TPS without their consent involves breaking the law, but harassing vulnerable people is a disgrace. We had no choice but to take action.”
The Telephone Preference Service (“TPS”) which administers the UK’s “do not call” list by delegated authority from Ofcom, received 184 complaints about Kwik between 1 July 2013 and 31 March 2014, whilst ICO received 30 complaints. The recipients of the calls were registered with the TPS and had not given any overriding consent to being contacted by Kwik.
ICO found that Kwik did not have a process in place to prevent calls being made to those registered on the TPS and had no record of these recipients having consented to receiving marketing calls. In addition their employees had not been adequately trained on compliance with the regulation in this area.
Kwik had previously been prosecuted by the ICO for failure to register under the Data Protection Act.
Why this matters:
This penalty notice comes within the context of increased public and regulatory scrutiny in the area. This is only going to increase with the looming removal of the requirement under s.55A of the Data Protection Act 1998 to prove that there has been “substantial damage or substantial distress” for a monetary penalty notice of up to £500,000 to be served.