The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) has announced fines totalling £495,000 to well-known companies that between them sent more than 354 million nuisance messages.
We Buy Any Car, Saga Services Ltd, Saga Personal Finance and Sports Direct were the companies fined. None of them had permission from people to send them marketing emails or texts. The investigations into the companies were sparked by complaints from the public.
Andy Curry, ICO Head of Investigations, said: ”Getting a ping on your phone or constant unwanted messages on your laptop from a company you don’t want to hear from is frustrating and intrusive.
“These companies should have known better. Today’s fines show the ICO will tackle unsolicited marketing, irrespective of whether the messages have been orchestrated by a small business or organisation, or a leading household name. The law remains the same and we hope today’s action sends out a deterrent message that members of the public must have their choices and privacy respected.
“Companies that want to send direct marketing messages must first have people’s consent. And people must understand what they are consenting to when they hand over their personal information. The same rules apply even when companies use third parties to send messages on their behalf.”
What did each company get fined?
We Buy Any Car sent emails to people who had requested an online valuation of their vehicles. The Information Commissioner found that the initial emails sent after a valuation request were made within the law, but that subsequent emails which also promoted the We Buy Any Car service was unlawful because they contained marketing as well as being sent without consent. The company sent more than 191 million emails between April 2019 and April 2020, plus 3.6 million text messages. It has been fined £200,000.
Both Saga Services Ltd (SSL) and Saga Personal Finance (SPF) instigated emails using partner companies and their affiliates. These companies used data lists of people who had not given the companies permission to contact them. SSL instigated more than 128 million emails between November 2018 and May 2019 and SPF more than 28 million over the same period. SSL has been fined £150,000 and SPF £75,000.
Sports Direct sent 2.5 million emails as part of a re-engagement campaign between December 2019 and February 2020 with people they had not contacted for some time. They were unable to show any evidence of consent to contact the recipients. The company has been fined £70,000.