Moneysupermarket fined £80,000 for spamming seven million customers

Go compare the original opt-out request, firm told

Pennies in a jar. Photo via Shutterstock

Price-comparison darling Moneysupermarket.com has been fined £80,000 for sending 7.1 million emails to customers who had opted out of receiving direct marketing emails.

The UK’s data protection watchdog stepped in to compare the firm’s behaviour with the law – and found that it had attempted to circumvent rules on direct marketing. Between 30 November and 10 December 2016, Moneysupermarket.com sent out a batch of emails to people who had asked not to be contacted, with 6.8 million successfully received.

The message was audaciously dressed up as an invitation asking people to accept promo material. Folks who had previously insisted they'd rather not be receiving end of marketing bumf were asked if if they’d like to reconsider. The missive read:

We hold an e-mail address for you which means we could be sending you personalised news, products and promotions. 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.

In a move that anyone – apart from, it seems, Moneysupermarket – should have predicted, customers weren’t pleased, and one reported it to the Information Commissioner’s Office.

On investigation, the ICO said that Moneysupermarket.com had broken Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations, and slapped it with an £80,000 fine. Head of enforcement Steve Eckersley said in a statement:

“Organisations can’t get around the law by sending direct marketing dressed up as legitimate updates.

“When people opt out of direct marketing, organisations must stop sending it, no questions asked, until such time as the consumer gives their consent. They don’t get a chance to persuade people to change their minds.”

He added that emails sent by companies “under the guise of ‘customer service’, checking or seeking their consent, is a circumvention of the rules and is unacceptable,” and that the ICO would continue to take action against them.

The watchdog last month gave Morrisons supermarket a £10,500 fine for a similar breach, in which the chain sent more than 200,000 emails to people who had previously opted out. ®


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