Data concerns dominated consumer complaints in 2017, says DM Commission Annual Report

Melanie May | 29 January 2018 | News

The DM Commission’s Annual Report, out today, has revealed that issues around data and privacy were the biggest concerns for consumers last year.
The DM Commission’s 2016/17 report recorded nearly 200 complaints against businesses in the direct marketing sector between 1 July 2016 and 30 June 2017 – 10% fewer than the previous year – and investigated 39 cases involving existing members of the DMA. Overall, 69% related to data, privacy and quality and 82% came from consumers.
Cases often related to complex supply chains where insufficient due diligence led to original consent or lack of consent being overlooked. This was in breach of the DMA Code. The remaining complaints were split between contractual (21%) and customer service (10%) issues.
Over the course of the year, the Commissioners conducted a full formal investigation into two businesses, finding one in breach of the DMA Code. One case related to complaints received from two individuals registered on the Telephone Preference Service, who had been contacted by a lead generation business for a lifestyle survey. The DMA member could not provide evidence that they had satisfied themselves that their call-centre partners had the consents necessary to be calling people registered with the TPS.
A further consent issue was also highlighted in that the offshore suppliers’ call scripts listed sponsor names at the end of the calls, which in one case was within a pre-recorded message. This gave listeners no assured or straightforward mechanism for deciding who the call-recipient did or did not want to hear from. The Commission thought the consent mechanism for the DMA business to then make subsequent calls was therefore inadequate.
George Kidd, Chief Commissioner of the DM Commission, said:

“While the volume of complaints remains low the challenges with data and consents across lengthy value-chains are a cause for concern. Here, as with other issues, we seek to balance our responsibility for dealing with the behaviours with individual businesses with the need to look at where and why there is an issue, and to work with the DMA on policy responses across the board, and not just the individual complaint and member company.”

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