The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has fined a home improvement firm £200,000 for making more than half a million unsolicited marketing calls.
Home2Sense Ltd of Lampeter, Wales made 675,478 nuisance calls between June 2020 and March 2021, offering insulation services to people registered with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS).
It is against the law to make marketing calls to phone numbers that have been registered with the TPS for more than 28 days, unless the recipient has notified the company that they do not object to receiving such calls.
Home2Sense Ltd told ICO investigators that customer data was acquired from an “unknown source” and blamed its staff for not screening the phone numbers in their database against the TPS.
Following more than 60 complaints from the public, the ICO’s investigation found that the company identified itself with different trading names when calling customers, including ‘Cozy Loft’, ‘Warmer Homes’ and ‘Comfier Homes’. This is also illegal.
Ken Macdonald, Head of ICO Regions, said:
“Home2Sense’s dismissive attitude, coupled with its attempts to deflect responsibility for compliance with the law onto its staff, shows a complete disregard for people’s privacy rights.
“Some of the complainants described the calls received as ‘aggressive’, and the company caused two complainants to feel distressed and upset when they asked to speak to a relative that had passed away.”
“Business owners operating in this field have a duty to have robust procedures and training in place so the law is followed. Attempts to rely on ignorance of the law, or trying to pass the buck onto members of staff or external suppliers, will not be tolerated.”
- “Asked to speak to Mrs [Redacted] who happens to be my late mother who passed away over 10 years ago as the loft insulation needs to be surveyed as it may cause problems. They called 3 times. This was distressing as they were asking to speak to my late mother. Surely being on the TPS register should stop these calls and they need to be prosecuted.” (sic)
- “Said they were a local surveyor and said I'd had loft insulation replaced a long time ago. Also said I might be eligible for a free grant to replace it again. 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. They said it was not illegal to phone someone on the TPS list and they couldn't be fined for doing this.” (sic)
- “They were in our area asking about our loft insulation. Wouldn't take no for an answer so I hung up and blocked their number.” (sic)
- “A cold call offering a free survey of our roof insulation. Hard sell and harassing. We have been registered with TPS for many years but, although the number of nuisance calls has reduced, there are still too many unsolicited sales calls.” (sic)
The ICO has also issued the company with an enforcement notice ordering them to stop making unsolicited marketing calls.
Notes to Editors
- The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) upholds information rights in the public interest, promoting openness by public bodies and data privacy for individuals.
- The ICO has specific responsibilities set out in the Data Protection Act 2018, the UK General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the Freedom of Information Act 2000, Environmental Information Regulations 2004 and Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003.
- The Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR) give people specific privacy rights in relation to electronic communications. There are specific rules on:
- marketing calls, emails, texts and faxes;
- cookies (and similar technologies);
- keeping communications services secure; and
- customer privacy as regards traffic and location data, itemised billing, line identification, and directory listings.
- The ICO has the power under PECR to impose a monetary penalty on a data controller of up to £500,000.
- Civil Monetary Penalties (CMPs) are subject to a right of appeal to the (First-tier Tribunal) General Regulatory Chamber against the imposition of the monetary penalty and/or the amount of the penalty specified in the monetary penalty notice.
- Any monetary penalty is paid into the Treasury’s Consolidated Fund and is not kept by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).
- To report a concern to the ICO telephone our helpline 0303 123 1113 or go to ico.org.uk/concerns.