Moneysupermarket.com, a price-comparison website, sent 7.1 million emails to people who had opted out of direct marketing. And it is now paying the price: A £80,000 fine imposed by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), according to UK media reports.
The company acknowledges its responsibility. "We apologise unreservedly to the customers affected by this isolated incident and we have put measures in place to ensure it doesn’t happen again,” it states, according to Daily Post.
The messages, which were sent during a ten-day period last year, updated customers on terms and conditions, and included a section called Preference Centre Update, according to the Independent.
“We hold an e-mail address for you which means we could be sending you personalised news, products and promotions,” the emails said. “You’ve told us in the past you prefer not to receive these. If you’d like to reconsider, simply click the following link to start receiving our e-mails.”
This email blast violated UK privacy regulations.
“When people opt out of direct marketing, organisations must stop sending it, no questions asked, until such time as the consumer gives their consent,” states Steve Eckersley, the ICO’s head of enforcement. “They don’t get a chance to persuade people to change their minds.”
Eckersley adds: "Emails sent by companies to consumers under the guise of 'customer service', checking or seeking their consent, is a circumvention of the rules and is unacceptable. We will continue to take action against companies that choose to ignore the rules."
Of the 7.1 million messages sent, almost 6.8 million were successfully received.
Moneymarket.com offers bargains on a variety of merchandise and services. According to copy on the site, the firm makes its money as follows:
In January, the Advertising Standard Authority reported that Moneysupermarket.com had drawn 2,500 complaints over its advertising, thus dominating “the overall list,” Daily Post reports.