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UK watchdog fines biz £130k for 900,000+ direct marketing calls to folk who had opted out

Colour Coat accused of lying, being rude and aggressive, and hanging up on cold-call victims

A home improvement biz based in East Sussex is facing a fine of £130,000 for making upwards of 900,000 unsolicited marketing calls to individuals and businesses that had enrolled on the Telephone Preference Service (TPS).

Colour Coat of St Leonards-on-Sea made almost 970,000 connected calls between 1 August 2019 and 31 March last year, the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) found, of which more than 452,000 were to folk or entities registered with TPS or the corporate equivalent.

The ICO said it was tipped off to the company's practices when it received more than 50 complaints from unsuspecting cold-call casualties. This included repeated calls to people that told the company not to contact them again.

The matter was complicated by the fact that Colour Coat – which provides roof and wall coating, roof cleaning, spray insulation, and flat roofing services – withheld its telephone numbers to prevent people from contacting them, in contravention of Regulation 21 (A1) of the Privacy and Electronics Communications Regulations (PECR).

Colour Coat, incorporated in 2016 by Callum Henry Jones, also used a variety of false company names, including the Homes Advice Bureau, EcoSolve UK, Citizens Advice, and sometimes failed to confirm its identity entirely, flouting Regulation 24 of PECR.

Examples of the call content provided to the ICO by the complainants ranged from them lying, being rude and aggressive, to just hanging up when challenged. Listed examples are here [PDF].

In addition to the fine of £130,000 – which is significant considering Colour Coat filed net assets of £35,997 in abbreviated profit and loss accounts filed for its year ended 31 October 2019 – the ICO issued the company with an Enforcement Notice, meaning it must cease and desist the things that got it in trouble.

"This company had no regard for the law or for the people they were calling," said Natasha Longson, ICO investigation manager. "Businesses employing these tactics are very likely to come to our attention. The catalogue of contraventions we uncovered, as well as the manner in which calls were made in this case, resulted in a fine and a legal notice to stop."

Longson said that some of the people that complained reported that the cold calls made them feel "annoyed" or "anxious". ®

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