The ICO ruled the messages were not complying with marketing legislations
EE has been fined £100,000 by The Information Commissioner (ICO) for sending text messages to customers without their consent.
The ICO stated today (June 24) more than 2.5 million messaged were sent in 2018 to spur EE customers to upgrade their handsets via the EE app.
EE defended itself saying the messages were service update messages not direct marketing.
However, the ICO ruled that if a message includes promotional material then electronic marketing rules apply, and the fine for not complying with this legislation can be up to £500,000.
ICO director of investigations Andy White said:”These were marketing messages which promoted the company’s products and services”.
“The direct marketing guidance is clear: if a message that contains customer service information also includes promotional material to buy extra products for services, it is no longer a service message and electronic marketing rules apply.”
EE said in a statement that it accepted the ICO’s findings and will improve its internal processes: “We’re committed to ensuring our customers are fully aware of their options throughout the life of their contract, and we apologise to the customers who received these messages”.
Comparemymobile.co.uk mobile comms exert Rob Baillie said there is little sympathy to be had for EE, as the messages could have made customers upgrade earlier than needed: “It would seem that the mobile network thought they were being clever by trying to entice their current customers into potentially paying more to upgrade earlier than expected, however this tactic has backfired dramatically due to the promotional nature of the unwanted messages.
“It’s hard to have sympathy for the EE team as the Information Commissioner hands out its hefty fine; they really should have known better and they could have potentially harmed their own customer relations.
uSwitch mobiles expert Ru Bikha added: “It is an extremely competitive marketplace at the best of times and with the arrival of 5G, all networks, including EE, are trying to convince customers to come on board with them for this new stage of the journey.
“But there is a fine line in how this messaging is worded, and with consumers enjoying both great choice and great freedom to explore alternatives, networks will need to be more careful than ever in striking the right balance.
“End-of-contract notifications, from early next year, will make customers more aware that they can shop around for new deals, while the arrival of Text to Switch on Monday will make the process of leaving a network even easier.”