Published: 10:44, 22 June 2017
A Maidstone firm which hit the headlines after being exposed for pressure-selling to the elderly has been fined £50,000 for nuisance calls.
MyHome Installations Ltd, based at the 20/20 Business Park, was investigated by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), after 169 complaints about the firm pursuing people who had opted out of telephone marketing.
Unwanted calls were made to phone numbers listed on the Telephone Preference Service (TPS), the UK’s official opt-out of telephone marketing register, trying to sell electrical surveys and home security services.
An ICO investigation discovered that MyHome Installations bought data over 18 months from third party companies. These companies told the security business that the personal details had been screened against the ‘no call’ register.
But MyHome Installations claimed it was unable to provide any evidence of consent as its former marketing manager had bought the data and added it to company call lists, without any reference to its source.
Steve Eckersley, ICO Head of Enforcement said: "The Telephone Preference Service exists to protect the public from the scourge of unwanted, nuisance calls.
“This company blatantly ignored its responsibilities. It did not carry out the proper due diligence checks on its suppliers to make sure they were operating within the law and despite initial warnings from us, still didn’t resolve the problem.”
The Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR) set out the rules around telephone marketing and clearly state it’s against the law to call people who have registered their phone number on the TPS list unless they state otherwise.
Mr Eckersley added: “We think the complaints we received were just the tip of the iceberg.”
“We think the complaints we received were just the tip of the iceberg” - ICO head, Steve Eckersley
People said they felt "pestered" by the company and pointed out to call operators they had no wish to receive the calls because their phone numbers were on the TPS.
One complainant told the ICO: “Callers asking about my home security are of concern to me, as they may be sounding out the property prior to crime.”
Another said: “They wanted to carry out an electrical survey of my home and propose changes. I said no, I didn’t want to participate and then another girl phoned back half an hour later to pester me into getting a quote and insisted that I would be putting my home at risk if I didn’t.”
Responding to the fine, managing director of MyHome, Liam Walsh said: "The ICO in their correspondence to us accepted that we did not deliberately contravene the Regulations.
"However, we understand that in 2015 and early 2016 our system of screening data against the TPS was flawed.
"As soon as we were made aware of this by the ICO in May 2016 we looked at our systems and improved them to ensure we are only contacting people who are not on the TPS.
"We have not had one single complaint since."
MyHome Installations Ltd was featured on BBC consumer rights show Watchdog last October, after an undercover reporter accused them of conning elderly customers out of thousands of pounds.
Employees would convince vulnerable people they needed unnecessary work done and quote them hugely inflated prices.
MyHome, previously Landmark Securities, were exposed by the show for similar practices in 2012.
Speaking to the Kent Messenger after the show aired, Mr Walsh said a review would take place in to the way customers were spoken about and into some of the sales techniques demonstrated.
However, he denied there was anything wrong with the costing of quotes, and denied the firm had were made up faults at customers' homes.