Royal Mail has been fined £12,000 by a watchdog for sending more than 300,000 nuisance emails.
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) said that on two days in July 2017, the company sent emails to 327,014 people who had already opted out of receiving direct marketing.
The emails outlined a price drop for parcels, but the company did not have the recipients’ consent to send them and so broke the law.
Royal Mail has apologised for the nuisance emails and said that it has tightened its processes.
The ICO launched an investigation after receiving a complaint from someone who was sent a marketing email from Royal Mail despite having opted out.
During the investigation, Royal Mail claimed the emails informing customers of a price drop were a service rather than marketing.
But the ICO found that the emails that were sent constituted marketing and were a service message, therefore Royal Mail was breaching the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR).
How a company uses your data
When you sign up to buy something online, join a mailing list, donate to a charity or enter a competition, you are giving the organisation involved your personal data.
The Data Protection Act also gives you rights that you can use to manage your data and how companies can use it.
A Section 11 Data Protection Notice gives you the right to make a request to an organisation to stop processing your data for the purposes of direct marketing.
If you send this notice to an organisation, it must stop, or not begin, sending you marketing material or contacting you for marketing purposes.
If you’re receiving communications that you no longer want, you can use your rights to manage how companies use your data.
Royal Mail didn’t follow the rules
ICO head of enforcement, Steve Eckersley, said: ‘Royal Mail did not follow the law on direct marketing when it sent such a huge volume of emails, because the recipients had already clearly expressed they did not want to receive them.
‘These rules are there for a reason – to protect people from the irritation and, on occasions, distress nuisance emails cause. I hope this sends the message that we will take action against companies who flout them.’
A Royal Mail spokeswoman said: ‘We take the privacy of our customers extremely seriously. We are very sorry that we let some of our customers down on this occasion.
‘Following this incident, we have tightened up our processes and governance measures still further. We are also launching additional training for colleagues.’
How to report nuisance calls, texts and emails
Nuisance calls and spam texts and emails can be reported via the ICO’s website or by calling 0303 123 1113.
- If you’re getting silent calls, you should report them to Ofcom – which is the relevant regulator.
- If you’re getting unwanted marketing calls, you can also register with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS).
Spam texts can be reported by forwarding the message to 7726.
If you’re receiving nuisance phone calls, we can help you report it to the regulators with our free guide.