Direct mail / database complaints on the rise

There has been a marked rise in complaints about direct mail and against database companies, according to DM watchdog the Direct Marketing Commission. The home shopping sector was the biggest offender, the DMC said.

The DMC's quarterly complaints index between December 2008 and March 2009, a report and analysis of complaints received, reveals that direct mail is the second biggest cause of grievance (14%) after financial accounts/invoicing issues (15%), and that complaints against database companies have risen from 6% to 9% of the total.

However the DMC said that the report also showed a continued trend for high industry compliance with self-regulatory rules. Of the 88 complaints received by the DMC in this period the majority (54) were investigated and resolved swiftly and informally.

The next most commonly complained about group of companies were those in the DM industry itself with mailing, telemarketing, survey and data companies making up 15% of the total.

The biggest rise in this instance was the number of complaints against database companies.

Matti Alderson, chairman of the DMC, said: "Although we've seen an increase in data-related complaints this quarter, we haven't concluded that they're the result of deliberate malpractice.

"They've resulted from technical issues or consumer misunderstanding in relation to the opt-in or unsubscribe processes. Direct marketers need to be diligent about following the industry's best practice guidelines on the transparent gathering of data."

After payment issues the second most common area of complaint fell under the heading of "unwanted mail", which rose 4% on the last quarter to 14%.

Complaints related to issues of "unwanted emails" also rose 4% on the last quarter to 13%.

Poor telephone service was the fourth most common subject of complaints (6%), and typically involved incidents where the telephone manner of the company representative was unhelpful or rude or when customers were kept on hold for an unreasonable period of time.

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