back to article UK data watchdog swots automated marketing call pest with £260k fine

Blighty's Information Commissioner's Office is claiming another big win after fining marketing firm Easyleads Ltd £260,000 for being a royal pain in the ass – or, more specifically, for making 16.7 million automated marketing calls. Illegally, the Coventry-based professional pesterers did not have the consent of unsuspecting …

  1. Lee D Silver badge

    1.5p per call.

    I bet they paid BT more.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      1.5p per call. I bet they paid BT more.

      Not if they're on a half-decent tariff. We're not a massive user of the phones, but we're still paying less than 0.5ppm peak for UK calls over ISDN. We're moving to SIP which is giving us free calls and lower line rental.

  2. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

    Can they target the...

    "National Windows Replacement Scheme" scammers next?

    Then the

    "Lifestyle Surveys" data slurp.

    I'm sure that the PPI scammers will reach a peak in spring 2019.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Can they target the...

      and "Clean your oven"

  3. Tigra 07 Silver badge
    WTF?

    That's not a deterrent...This is a deterrent...

    These fines are clearly too low and are not deterring this tards. Double them each time and eventually we'll find the amount that acts as a proper deterrent.

    1. katrinab Silver badge

      Re: That's not a deterrent...This is a deterrent...

      The fines are not a deterrent because paying them is voluntary, and nobody volunteers to pay them.

      I think they should tie them up to a lamp post, and get local supermarkets to leave their out of date food nearby.

      1. Scroticus Canis
        Unhappy

        Re: "get local supermarkets to leave their out of date food nearby"

        ...get local builders to leave their out of date bricks nearby... would work better.

  4. Alan Brown Silver badge

    Limited liability

    Only protects the shareholders.

    The DIRECTORS can and many times _have been_ be held fully liable for a company's illegal activities when the business has been knowingly illegal.

    The ICO isn't trying hard enough.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Limited liability

      The ICO isn't trying hard enough.

      I'd agree. And in this case, the shyster Harkin concerned has had two previous companies compulsorily struck off the register of Companies House. Immediately after that happened the turd formed this latest outfit, who were within a whisker of compulsory strike off a few days ago, but now he's keen to wind it up to dodge the fine.

      Word has got round the crooks, that they can dodge ICO fines in this way, and until the ICO start chasing the directors this charade of issuing fines that will never be paid, to companies that get wound up and restarted under another name will continue.

      1. Aqua Marina

        Re: Limited liability

        In this instance the ICO could lodge an appeal to block the voluntary winding up on the basis that money is owed. At that point if this is successful then the only thing that Harkin could do is call in the receivers, wheich essentially puts him under investigation, and forbids him from starting up another company. Hopefully he's left it to late to try to get his company struck off and the ICO can get it blocked.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Limited liability

          Harkin could do is call in the receivers, wheich essentially puts him under investigation, and forbids him from starting up another company.

          I don't think it does stop him. He would be unable to start a company with a similar name and/or address for five years, but that sets the bar so low they might as well not bother. Having a company struck off or liquidated doesn't stop him starting another company unless Companies House, the receivers, find something that causes them to report him to the Insolvency Service, and the Insolvency Service choose to investigate and then bar him. That'll take at least a year. Last time Harkin's companies were compulsorily struck off by Companies House he started this one halfway through the process of the other two being struck off, so clearly there aren't many rules to stop this activity.

          Your suggestion of the ICO blocking the striking off and liquidation is a good one, but as Easyleads Ltd has a paid up share capital of four quid, I don't think there will be any assets to pay the fine. A big part of the problem is that the ICO don't work in a joined up way with Companies House and the Insolvency Service. Harkin has managed a company that broke the law; He is probably going to try and liquidate the firm to avoid this (at the moment note that Easyleads Ltd isn't showing as having a voluntary strike off request or voluntary winding up, so it isn't yet proven that he will do that - we just fully expect it). The first should qualify as unfit conduct and get him barred, if the does the second that should as well. I'd argue that Companies House should also get him barred for getting hios two previous companies compulsorily struck off - if he can't comply with the rules, he shouldn't be allowed to start new companies.

          It isn't clearly part of the ICO's remit to chase the payment of penalties, but there's clearly a problem here that the ICO should form a task group to address with Companies House, the Insolvency Service, and any other interested regulators.

  5. Graham Cunningham

    Swots

    Swats

    1. PeterM42
      Pirate

      Re: Swots

      Scum, actually.

  6. davidp231

    Rinse and repeat

    "Hello, we are calling on behalf of Easyleads UK Ltd (in no way related to the dissolved Easyleads)......."

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Interim solution.

    Make the fine payable within 7 days then send in the bailiffs. At least that might stop them setting up a new company as easily.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Lock them in a room with a phone which only accepts incoming calls and which number has been publicly broadcast to every telemarketeer in the world. They are only allowed food and rest after answering a minimum of 30 calls, 5 of which must be answered immediately before dinner so it's cold by the time they get it.

      Recidivists will be made to redo all this, but now with auto-answer whilst in a straightjacket so they cannot terminate a call, and 10 extra calls are added which have menu choices they can't make because of the straightjacket.

      Yes, best not make me dictator :)

      1. Tigra 07 Silver badge

        RE: AC

        A better solution might be to have them call each person they robodialled and personally apologise and beg forgiveness.

        1. JassMan Silver badge
          Flame

          Re: RE: AC

          With an old style dial phone so their index finger really knows they have made some phone calls.

    2. g7rpo

      or make the registered directors directly responsible for the fines

      If people are in danger of losing their own stuff, they might think twice, shouldn't be able to go bankrupt and walk away

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Jihad awaits

    This news again... What's that say Regulators, that regulation is working? Solution: Wage a holy a war on their asses! Round up the Mum's and Kids of the company owners and subject them to automated calls 24-hours a day, in a dark and dingy cell. Now, that's punishment! If this isn't funny, sorry. I just finished watching 'The State', so my reality may be a little warped right now...

  9. Jtom

    Oh, come on. Just make the phone carriers jointly liable for the fine for turning a blind eye to the misuse of their network. If the commissioner's office fielded hundreds of complaints, then you know the service provider got thousands, and ignored them all. And the fine needs to be several times larger than any revenue the service provider received.

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