Price comparison website Moneysupermarket.com has been fined £80,000 for sending millions of unwanted emails to customers.
The Ewloe-based company sent 7.1 million emails over 10 days updating customers with its terms and conditions but the correspondence also included a marketing element.
However, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), who took action against the firm, says all recipients had previously opted out of direct marketing.
Moneysupermarket’s email included a section entitled ‘Preference Centre Update’, which read: “We hold an e-mail address for you which means we could be sending you personalised news, products and promotions. You’ve told us in the past you prefer not to receive these. If you’d like to reconsider, simply click the following link to start receiving our e-mails.”
Asking people to consent to future marketing messages when they have already opted out is against the law.
ICO head of enforcement Steve Eckersley said: “Organisations can’t get around the law by sending direct marketing dressed up as legitimate updates.
“When people opt out of direct marketing, organisations must stop sending it, no questions asked, until such time as the consumer gives their consent. They don’t get a chance to persuade people to change their minds.”
Moneysupermarket sent the messages between November 30 and December 10, 2016. The ICO’s investigation found that 6,788,496 were successfully received.
Mr Eckersley added: “Emails sent by companies to consumers under the guise of ‘customer service’, checking or seeking their consent, is a circumvention of the rules and is unacceptable. We will continue to take action against companies that choose to ignore the rules.”
A spokeswoman for Moneysupermarket said: “At MoneySuperMarket, we take the protection of our customers’ data and privacy very seriously. We apologise unreservedly to the customers affected by this isolated incident and we have put measures in place to ensure it doesn’t happen again.”
Meanwhile, shares in Moneysupermarket collapsed on Thursday morning (July 20) after the company warned profits would come in at the lower end of expectations following a slowdown in energy switching.
The firm said revenues in its home services division, which includes gas and electricity, fell by a third in the six months to June to £16.9 million.
It blamed the fall on fewer consumers switching providers, which was down to a ‘lack of blockbuster energy deals’.