ICO fines We Buy Any Car, Sports Direct and Saga
Sports Direct, We Buy Any Car, and Saga and have been fined a total of £495,000 by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) for sending more than 354 million “nuisance messages”.
We Buy Any Car was fined £200,000 for sending 191m emails and 3.6m texts. People who requested online car valuations were bombarded with follow-up marketing emails without consent.
Saga Services Ltd and Saga Personal Finance were fined £150,000 and £75,000 respectively for sending more than 157m emails between them, using data lists of people who had not given marketing consent.
Finally, Sports Direct was fined £70,000 for sending 2.5m emails. It embarked on a re-engagement campaign between December 2019 and February 2020 and could not provide evidence of consent.
The ICO said that none of these companies had permission to send the communications to customers, with each investigation sparked by a complaint from a member of 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.
“This action sends out a deterrent message that members of the public must have their choices and privacy respected,” Curry said.
The ICO’s investigations into the companies were sparked by complaints from the public. It is against the law for companies to send consumers messages without their permission. The companies say they relied on indirect consent, however the laws around electronic messages are stricter, said the ICO, as they are more intrusive and this form of consent is not adequate.
The ICO has issued 17 fines totalling more than £1.7 million so far this year for breaches of direct marketing laws.
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