EE Limited fined £100,000 for sending over 2.5 million direct marketing messages to its customers, without consent.

The UK’s Information Commissioners Officer (ICO) has fined telecoms company EE Limited £100,000 for sending over 2.5 million direct marketing messages to its customers, without consent.

EE sent the messages in 2018, encouraging customers to access and use the ‘My EE’ app to manage their account.  They also encouraged customers to upgrade their phone.  Some customers received a second message if they didn’t engage with the first.

During the investigation, EE said the texts were sent as service messages and were therefore not covered by electronic marketing rules, but the ICO found that the messages contained direct marketing.  It was clear that EE sent them deliberately, although the ICO acknowledged that they did not deliberately set out to breach electronic marketing laws.

Andy White, ICO Director of Investigations said:

”These were marketing messages which promoted the company’s products and services. The direct marketing guidance is clear: if a message that contains customer service information also includes promotional material to buy extra products for services, it is no longer a service message and electronic marketing rules apply.

“EE Limited were aware of the law and should have known that they needed customers’ consent to send them in line with the direct marketing rules.”

“Companies should be aware that texts and emails providing service information which also include a marketing or promotional element must comply with the relevant legislation or could face a fine up to £500,000.”

The ICO’s guidance on electronic marketing is clear.  It says that marketing messages can be only sent to existing customers if they have given their consent and if they are given a simple way to opt out of marketing when their details are first collected and in every message sent.

People have a right to opt out of receiving marketing at any time, at which point it’s the organisation’s responsibility to stop sending them.

If you’re not sure what you can and can’t send, we’re here to help you.  See www.tdwico.com for details of our data protection officer packages.