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Brit data watchdog fines sleazy sales ops £250K for 'bombarding' folk with calls

Crown Glazing and Maxen Power Supply fall foul of PECR

Britain's data watchdog has slapped a financial penalty on two energy companies it claims were posing as third parties, including the National Grid and UK government, when making unsolicited marketing calls.

Maxen Power Supply (MPS), from Ilford, Essex, and Crown Glazing Ltd, from Preston, Lancashire, were collectively fined £250,000 ($314,000) for "bombarding" people and businesses that had registered with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS) and Corporate Telephone Preference Service.

It is illegal to make unsolicited marketing calls to such individuals or organization unless they have expressly consented.

Both were deemed by the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) to have contravened the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations Act (PECR) – Section 21 in the case of Crown Glazing, and Section 21 and 24 by MPS.

The ICO found that between January and November 2021, Crown Glazing made more than 500,000 direct marketing calls to people on the TPS, and this generated 37 complaints. It was peddling double glazing or a free energy test.

"While the majority of calls were advertising double-glazing and a free energy test, some of the complaints also claimed that the firm misleadingly suggested they were representing the UK Government and working to improve energy savings," the ICO says on it website.

Crown Glazing was handed a £130,000 fine for breaking PECR and the ICO took into account the firm's actions in misleadingly claiming to represent the UK government. It has until June 20 to pay the penalty.

In the case of MPS, the ICO received 100 complaints that the business was making calls from overseas "while purporting to be from National Grid or the customer’s current energy supplier," the regulator said.

The calls were to sell energy supplies, mainly to businesses, and made between February 2019 and March 2021. Research by the ICO found Aims Tech, a call center in Pakistan, was making the sales calls into the UK on behalf of MPS. MPS told the ICO it used a number of sub-contractors.

"Complaints indicated that people were receiving multiple calls on the same day, receiving repeated calls despite requests to opt-out, and were subject to 'aggressive' marketing tactics causing potential financial damage," the ICO said.

"The firm claimed that it could help people save money on their energy bills by switching contracts, while asking for information about their current supplier and meter readings. The company denied responsibility for the complaints raised, claiming these international call centres were 'independent contractors' and 'third party intermediaries'."

MPS is facing a fine of £120,000.

Not a month goes by without the ICO slapping the wrist of some business owner for breaking PECR. Expect more new faces in the hall of shame in July. ®

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