Papa John's fined for sending customers ‘unlawful' nuisance marketing messages

The Information Commissioner's Office said the pizza chain wrongly used a marketing exemption for people who placed an order over the phone.

Takeaway pizza chain Papa John’s has been fined by the data and privacy protection regulator for sending more than 160,000 nuisance messages to customers.

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has ordered the company to pay £10,000 for distributing a series of unwanted marketing texts and emails without the valid consent required by law.

Among the 15 complaints made to the watchdog, one claimed they had received almost 100 messages within two months, describing it as the “textbook definition of harassment”.

An investigation by the ICO found that the firm had sent more than 210,000 marketing messages, with 168,022 confirmed as received, between October 1 2019 and April 30 2020.

The ICO ruled that Papa John’s wrongly used a “soft opt-in” marketing exemption for people who placed an order over the phone.

“The law is clear and simple,” said Andy Curry, the ICO head of investigations.

“When relying on the ‘soft opt in’ exemption, companies must give customers a clear chance to opt out of their marketing when they collect the customers details.

“Papa John’s telephone customers were not given the opportunity to refuse marketing at the point of contact, which has led to this fine.

“We will continue to take action against companies who may be gaining unfair advantage over those companies that adhere to the law and comply with electronic marketing law.”

A spokesperson for Papa John’s said: “Clearly, our intention was to reach only those potentially interested in our offers and we apologise unreservedly to any customers who were inconvenienced.

“Since this happened, we have performed a thorough review to ensure that we have got the correct permission from those we contact.”

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