Firm fined for hard sell calls including to 82-year-old St Albans man

The elderly are often targets for cold-callers and visits by sales people

The elderly are often targets for cold-callers and visits by sales people - Credit: Archant

A HARD-selling interior design company that was claimed to have “hounded” an elderly man with its intrusive tactics has become the first business to be fined a hefty sum by a cold-calling watchdog.

DM Design was ordered to pay £90,000 to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) as they “blighted the public with thousands of unwanted marketing calls”, including one to the 82-year-old from St Albans.

The Herts Advertiser reported on the Glasgow-based business cold-calling the former draughtsman in February, after his daughter Fiona Lund got in touch and claimed they took advantage of him.

He handed over just shy of £10,000 for a new bathroom and kitchen after various calls and visits from DM Designs, during which Fiona said they “talked fast, used clever words, and picked up on what he responded to.”

She then had to fight to get his cheques back from the company, as “he didn’t really understand what he was signing”.

The ICO and the Telephone Preference Service (TPS) received around 2,000 complaints concerning the company, which consistently failed to check whether individuals had opted out of receiving marketing calls and therefore breached the law. DM Design, in Cumbernauld, reportedly only responded to just a handful of the complaints received.

On one occasion an employee reportedly refused to remove a complainant’s details from the system and threatened to “continue to call at more inconvenient times like Sunday lunchtime”.

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Information commissioner, Christopher Graham, said the penalty issued sent out a clear message to the marketing industry that “this menace will not be tolerated”.

He added: “This company showed a clear disregard for the law and a lamentable attitude toward the people whose day they were disturbing. This is not good enough. All of this work has been made possible thanks to the information we are receiving from the public, which has assisted our investigation team in identifying the companies making these calls.”

Managing director and founder of DM Design, Donald Macleod, said the company have always put customer service first since it opened 29 years ago.

He added they had invested in new software to handle customers calls and “further enhance” their service, which failed the company and its customers. They have now removed the software and taken action against the provider, and reverted to a “tried and tested service”.

Mr McCloud said he would personally oversee to ensure the company complied with “every guideline available in regards to customer contact”.

He added: “Whilst the software was to blame for our problems, ultimately the buck stops with me so I sincerely apologise for any inconvenience caused by this issue.”