Four companies, including a beauty salon and three telecommunications companies, have been fined in the Dublin District Court for sending unsolicited marketing messages to customers.
The companies pleaded guilty at Dublin District Court on Monday 3 December following investigations by the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner (the “ODPC”).
The Court heard that in 2012 Therapie had sent marketing text messages to a customer with no option to opt out even though the customer had asked the company to remove the number from its database in 2010. The customer had been assured that action had been taken by Therapie and that she would no longer receive unsolicited messages.
The Court heard that the customer’s number had originally been given to a company called Optilase when a quotation for laser eye surgery was sought in 2008. It was kept on file and then shared with Therapie, a sister company of Optilase.
Therapie said it took full responsibility for the issue and that comprehensive measures had been put in place to deal with the concerns raised by the customer.
Judge John O’Neill convicted the company on two charges relating to sending unsolicited messages and fined it €2,000 on each count. He took two other charges into account in his decision.
Carphone Warehouse was fined €2,500 on two charges relating to the sending of unsolicited email marketing messages. The court heard the company had previously been warned in relation to similar breaches, although it had no previous convictions.
Meteor was also prosecuted over the sending of an unsolicited marketing text. Despite the fact that only one customer complained, the ODPC explained that the message was sent to between 11,000 and 18,500 people who should not have received it.
The Court stated that if Meteor paid €5,000 to Temple Street children's hospital by December 17 the charge would be struck out. If the money was not paid by that date the Court would convict and impose a fine of €5,000.
Another mobile phone company was also prosecuted in relation to three separate counts. The counts related to an unsolicited email, an unsolicited phone call and an unsolicited marketing text message.
The Court asked the company to pay €2,500 to Crumlin children's hospital by December 17. Judge O’Neill said if this payment was made the charge would be struck out. He took two of the three charges into account.
In all cases the companies pleaded guilty and the Court heard they had covered the ODPC's costs.
In a statement afterwards, the ODPC said it was satisfied with the outcome. However, the ODPC said it was particularly concerned that telecommunications companies were again involved in unsolicited marketing and warned that prosecution and fines of up to €250,000 will be used against companies that persist in sending unsolicited marketing messages by text and email.