The Information Commissioners’ Office (ICO) has imposed fines totaling £180,000 on two businesses that engaged in illegal marketing calls, targeting businesses registered with the UK’s “Do not call” register. The ICO has also introduced a collection of short video resources designed to assist small businesses and sole traders in ensuring their marketing practices comply with the law.

According to the ICO’s investigation, Ice Telecommunications Ltd, located in Crewe, and UK Direct Business Solutions Limited, based in Sunderland, persistently made calls to businesses, with some calls being described as rude and argumentative. The ICO received over 120 complaints about these companies, which continued their calling activities despite repeated warnings from the Telephone Preference Service (TPS).

Under the law, it is prohibited for organizations to make live marketing calls to individuals who have registered their numbers with the Corporate Telephone Preference Service (CTPS) or TPS “Do not call” register, unless they have given their consent.

Here are the details of the fines and some examples of the complaints received:

  • Ice Telecommunications Ltd (Ice) from Crewe, Cheshire, conducted 72,682 unsolicited marketing calls to businesses registered with the CTPS or TPS between September 13, 2021, and January 31, 2022. The ICO received 30 complaints about Ice, and despite the TPS sending the company 19 letters detailing the complaints, Ice failed to respond. During the investigation, the ICO found that Ice was unable to provide contracts with third-party suppliers of marketing lists that showed CTPS and TPS numbers being suppressed. Furthermore, Ice continued to make illegal calls while under investigation. Consequently, Ice has been fined £80,000, and the company has been issued an enforcement notice, mandating them to cease making calls to CTPS and TPS registered numbers.
  • UK Direct Business Solutions Limited (UKDBS), located in Sunderland, conducted 410,369 unsolicited marketing calls to businesses registered with the CTPS or TPS between March 1, 2020, and October 31, 2021. The ICO received 96 complaints, and the TPS sent the company 17 letters detailing the complaints. During the ICO’s investigation, UKDBS was unable to provide evidence of screening the details obtained from the internet against the TPS register or any mention of electronic marketing laws or the TPS/CTPS register in their training materials. As a result, UKDBS has been fined £100,000.

Commenting on the cases a spokesman for the ICO said:

“We are here to protect UK businesses, as well as the public, from unwanted marketing communications. It’s not acceptable that people in their place of work were made to feel uncomfortable all because they simply answered their phone.

“The fact that a number is in the public domain does not give free rein to marketers to make calls to businesses. The law is clear. Before any marketing calls are made, numbers must be screened against the do not call register.

“These fines are another clear message to companies flouting the law – we will take action to ensure the public and UK businesses are protected, and legitimate businesses complying with the law do not lose out”.

Andy Curry, ICO Head of Investigations

 

The ICO has advised companies to check out it’s resources including  information on B2B marketing that can be found here: Business-to-business marketing.

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