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Home improvement firms fined for making 820,000 ‘aggressively pestering’ cold calls

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Written by: Rebecca Goodman
03/10/2022
Four companies have been fined a total of £370,000 for making 'predatory' marketing calls to those registered with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS).

The companies, offering a range of energy efficiency products, made more than 820,000 cold calls to those signed up to the TPS, a free service for those who don’t want to receive marketing calls.

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) said the firms were found to be deliberately or negligently flouting electronic marketing laws, known as the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulation, to make a profit.

These rules state that marketing calls should not be made to anyone registered with the TPS. It said some also used different trading names which is illegal.

Andy Curry, ICO head of investigations, said: “The complaints we received showed that people were distressed, upset, worried and inconvenienced by the calls. For people to feel this way, in their own homes where they should feel safe, is unacceptable.

Fines of up to £150,000 issued

The largest fine went to Posh Windows UK Limited based in Stoke-on-Trent. It made 461,062 calls between August 2020 and April 2021 using details sourced from a data marketing company. It has been fined £150,000.

The ICO said the firm made various claims regarding its compliance with electronic marketing laws but was unable to provide any evidence in support of this. It also said the company’s responses were vague, evasive and contradictory.

Eco Spray Insulations Limited based in Eastleigh, Hampshire, was fined £100,000 after it made 178,190 calls to TPS-registered people.

The ICO said it used data from two brokers but failed to carry out any due diligence checks or screen against the TPS register.

Euroseal Windows Limited, based in Newcastle-under-Lyme, made 169,830 calls to TPS-registered people in 2020 and has been fined £80,000. It has also been issued with an enforcement notice.

The ICO said it sourced data from door-to-door canvassers and four brokers and deliberately made the calls to generate income while failing to keep a record of people who did not want to receive calls.

The fourth company fined was Green Logic UK Ltd, based in Derby. It made 11,825 calls in 2020 using data sourced from a number of companies and has been fined £40,000 and issued with an enforcement notice.

The company assumed the data was compliant with the law but did not check and used three different names when making calls, the ICO said.

The ICO also said Green Logic’s calls were misleading and persistent, and all were made for financial gain.

YourMoney.com has contacted the firms for a response.

A spokesperson for Green Logic said: “We believe we operated within the confines of the law and have repeatedly expressed this.

“We proved with purchase invoices showing we bought TPS-screened data from reputable data companies in good faith. The companies we bought data from were ICO-registered members and have been trading a long time and are still trading now with current ICO membership.

“We closed our call centre down two years ago when Covid struck and have not reopened it since. We would never intentionally break any laws and would like to apologise to anyone who received a call from us that was on the TPS register.”

‘Unacceptable for people to feel this way’

The fines come after the ICO started an investigation into predatory marketing calls within the home improvement sector in 2020.

It was conducted in 2020 when vouchers of up to £5,000 were offered to homeowners to improve the energy efficiency of their homes.

The launch of these vouchers saw a rise in the number of complaints it received from consumers who were contacting regarding loft, window, and wall insulation.

Many people registered with the TPS are vulnerable, elderly, or have ongoing health conditions.

One person who complained about the calls said: “I have terminal cancer and am currently having chemotherapy treatment. I told them this the first time they called…our number is also registered with the TPS.”

Another said: “They knew my name, my address and my telephone number. This is my recently deceased mother’s house that I have just inherited in the last few months. It was extremely upsetting to have someone deliberately cold-call me.”

Andy Curry, ICO head of investigations, added: “We will continue to take strong action to protect the public by investigating and taking enforcement measures against companies where we find that they have flouted the law.”

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