Pestered by Unsolicited Marketing? Your Complaints Will be Heard

Members of the public who are pestered by aggressive and unsolicited marketing will be interested to hear that the Government has wide powers to protect consumers against those responsible for the irritating flood of cold calls and junk mail.

A company provided an ostensible service to the public by promising to save them from unwanted phone calls and mail shots. However, perhaps ironically, it sold its service by cold calling potential customers, whom it charged £4 per month if they agreed to sign up to the deal.

What the company’s sales staff did not tell the public was that the same service it provided could be obtained free of charge from the Telephone and Mail Preference Services, the government agencies which publish lists of those who do not wish to receive unsolicited marketing communications and which have power to impose sanctions on those who fail to abide by the rules.

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills took the view that the company was engaged in ‘a form of scam’ and petitioned under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 to compulsorily wind it up in the public interest.

Following a preliminary hearing, a judge ruled that the company was obliged to tell potential clients that the service it offered could be obtained elsewhere for free. In overturning that decision, however, the Court of Appeal found that the issue depended on a detailed analysis of the company’s overall commercial practices. That was a matter which should be considered at the full hearing of the department’s winding up petition, which would take place at a later date.