We Buy Any Car, Saga, and Sports Direct fined £495k for sending 354 million nuisance messages

15 September 2021, 11:30 | Updated: 15 September 2021, 13:45

Three household names in the UK have been fined a combined £495,000 for sending hundreds of millions of nuisance messages to consumers.

The fines follow complaints from members of the public who received marketing emails and texts that the companies sent illegally without their permission.

We Buy Any Car was fined £200,000 for sending more than 191 million emails and 3.6m nuisance texts to people who had requested an online valuation of their vehicles.

Saga was fined a combined total of £225,000 for instigating 157m emails between its services and personal finance arms that were sent using partner companies and affiliates.

Both Saga Services (£150,000) and Saga Personal Finance (£75,000) were issued with Enforcement Notices ordering them to stop any illegal direct marketing within 30 days or face court action.

Sports Direct was fined £70,000 by the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) for illegally sending 2.5m emails without consumers having provided their permission to receive marketing emails or texts.

Andy Curry, head of investigations at the ICO, said: "Getting a ping on your phone or constant unwanted messages on your laptop from a company you don't want to hear from is frustrating and intrusive.

"These companies should have known better. Today's fines show the ICO will tackle unsolicited marketing, irrespective of whether the messages have been orchestrated by a small business or organisation, or a leading household name.

"The law remains the same and we hope today's action sends out a deterrent message that members of the public must have their choices and privacy respected.

"Companies that want to send direct marketing messages must first have people's consent. And people must understand what they are consenting to when they hand over their personal information.

"The same rules apply even when companies use third parties to send messages on their behalf."