Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Another win

As I've mentioned before, spam email has become a serious problem for people - the vast majority of email traffic is spam, and unlike some of the other forms of direct marketing, the costs for the sender are minimal and are outweighed by the costs to the recipients who are having to deal with the junk emails.

What many people don't seem to be aware of is that, within the EU, spamming is unlawful.  You should be able to appeal to the Information Commissioner's Office, asking them to take action, but in reality the most they will do is write a letter to the  company in question, and most of the time not even that.  From the start of the year I've been sending legal notices to spammers asking them to pay me damages for their law breaking.  If they ignore the notice, I'm allowed to file a court claim against them (I'll write a guide on how this all works at some point soon).

I've now had several successes and this is the latest: To my knowledge, I have never been a customer of De Vere Venues, but they have been spamming me for well over 4 years - between 2011 and 2014 I received around 200 unsolicited emails from them.  They were asked on several occasions to stop, and these requests were ignored, as were subject access requests made under the Data Protection Act asking them what information they held about me.

Eventually I complained to the Information Commissioner's Office, who instructed De Vere to stop spamming me and to answer the subject access request.  De Vere admitted that they had no idea where they had acquired my details from, which tells you something about their data protection policies - even if I had been a customer, there would have been no way for them to provide evidence to support that claim since they didn't keep track of any of that information.

De Vere Venues then sold their brand and my details to VUR Village Hotels & Leisure Limited, who started spamming me using the details De Vere had been instructed to suppress.  And surprise, just like De Vere, they also ignored the two legal notices I sent them by email and the legal notice and subject access request I sent them by post.

Serving Village Hotels with court documents got their attention and they have now settled in full, out of court.  If they hadn't ignored the original emails I sent they would have saved the £25 court costs and would have had a much stronger negotiating position.

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