The Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) has fined Dutch energy company Essent for violating the telemarketing rules. Essent Retail Energie B.V. called large numbers of consumers to make them a commercial offer. Essent failed to remove the telephone numbers of consumers that were registered in the Do-not-call-me Register from their calling lists. Anita Vegter, Member of the Board of ACM, says: ‘Many consumers choose to register in the Do-no-call-me Register, because they do not want to receive unsolicited calls. However, if they continue to be called, the whole purpose of the register is undermined: decreasing the consumers’ annoyance with unsolicited telemarketing.’ That is why ACM has imposed fines on Essent totaling EUR 47,500.
Complaints filed with ConsuWijzer
The investigation was launched following complaints filed with consumer information desk ConsuWijzer, operated by ACM. Consumers complained that they were called despite the fact that they were registered in the Do-not-call-me Register.
ACM’s investigation revealed that Essent called large numbers of consumers in the investigated time period (in 2010 and 2011), including consumers who were registered in the Do-not-call-me Register. For its customer recruitment, Essent used, among other things, telephone numbers of consumers who had given their contact details through surveys on websites. Consumers who participated in these surveys and entered their contact details could win a prize. Essent is only allowed to use these telephone numbers for customer recruitment purposes by telephone if these consumers have indicated, expressly and unequivocally, that they wish to be contacted by Essent. It was found that this has not always been the case. That is why Essent should have compared these telephone numbers with the Do-not-call-me Register before using them. ACM has fined Essent for these violations.
Since October 1, 2009, the Do-not-call-me Register has become effective. This means that companies that recruit customers through telemarketing are not allowed to call consumers who are listed in this register, unless these consumers had been a customer with the company before. Currently, about 8 million consumers are listed in the Do-not-call-me Register.