The ICO has fined Cold Call Elimination Ltd £75,000 for making unsolicited marketing calls to sell cold call blocking devices.
Vince Costa-Barnett, Director of TPS Services said:
The total number of TPS complaints received against the company between the 14 June 2013 and 31st March 2015 was 382. That's the equivalent to £196 per complaint or around £3,500 per month. Judging by the last set of accounts filed at Companies House, it would seem that the fine is such a high price to pay that the company may not be able to afford it. Whatever business they thought they were trying to build, this fine probably just ended it. Stark reality for companies breaching TPS regulations.
The company, based in Chichester, was telephoning people to sell a call-blocking service and device to stop unsolicited calls. Ironically, the same type of calls the company itself was making.
Call Elimination Ltd Monetary Penalty Notice as issued by the ICO(Key areas highlighted for easy reading)
Cold Call Elimination Ltd is run by Leah Masters, who also ran a company by the name of Cash 4 Clothes (UK) Ltd and is a currently running GetWork2Day Ltd. The company clearly thought it could call numbers registered on the Telephone Preference Service (TPS) and get away with it or that it was 'worth the gamble', but clearly that did not prove to be the case.
Complaints were received from elderly and vulnerable customers who claimed aggressive cold callers pressured them into taking subscriptions to a service that seemed to be the equivalent of the free Telephone Preference Service (TPS). One complainant said the sales person implied they were calling from the statutory TPS. Another said money was taken from their account despite turning down the service and a bank account had to be cancelled to stop the contract.
Companies are not allowed by law to call anyone registered on the Telephone Preference Service unless they have specific consent.
Cold Call Elimination Ltd was monitored by the ICO, giving the company a time period in which to improve, but the company ignored the warnings and continued with the calls.
Last set of Accounts available from Companies House(as at 19/09/15)
Steve Eckersley, ICO’s Head of Enforcement said:
“This company clearly knew the law, but continued to break it by calling people on the TPS. It’s clear some of the people called by this company were very distressed by the calls and as some of the people receiving the calls were elderly or vulnerable this was an aggravating factor. This monetary penalty has been issued to make sure that Cold Call Elimination realise that it is unacceptable to operate in this way.It should also be a warning to other companies that we will act if companies are found to be breaking the law."
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