Boiler firm FEP Heatcare fined £180,000 over nuisance calls
A Glasgow-based boiler replacement firm that bombarded the public with more than two million unwanted marketing calls has been fined £180,000.
FEP Heatcare Ltd broke rules on phone messages by playing householders a recorded message promoting its products and services without their consent.
The fine was imposed by the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO).
A lawyer advising FEP said the firm would lodge an appeal, arguing that the fine seemed "grossly disproportionate".
ICO officers had traced the calls to FEP Heatcare even though the messages did not identify the caller.
Ken Macdonald, ICO assistant commissioner for Scotland, said: "This company was already on our hit list.
"FEP Heatcare thought they could avoid detection by hiding their identity, but we tracked them down and have taken action."
The company came to the attention of ICO in February last year when it appeared on a list compiled by the Telephone Preference Service (TPS) of the top 20 most complained about nuisance call companies.
Despite a warning, it broke the rules again - this time by playing a recorded message.
These types of calls should only be made to people who have given the organisation their permission to receive them.
ICO found that FEP instigated 2,692,217 unwanted automated calls between April and July 2015.
Mr Macdonald said: "We know people hate nuisance calls and what this company did made people angry enough to complain.
"The kind of calls FEP Heatcare was making - recorded and about energy services - generated the most complaints to the ICO in February this year.
"Combined with automated calls about PPI, they made up 66% of our recorded complaints."
One complainer to the ICO, who is disabled, said: "I don't very often get calls on my landline, so it means I have to get up and walk to the phone, which causes me inconvenience and pain - frustrating when it's a nuisance advertising call that I didn't want anyway."
As well as imposing a fine, ICO has issued a notice to the firm demanding it does not make any further nuisance automated marketing calls.
Court action could follow if it fails to comply, it said.
A lawyer advising FEP said the company was "surprised and disappointed" at the level of fine imposed by ICO.
Peter Watson of legal firm PBW Law said: "This fine seems grossly disproportionate in light of the representations made to the Information Commissioner.
"FEP Heatcare Limited co-operated fully with the ICO investigation and had already stopped using automated marketing calls prior to the ICO contacting the company on 25 August 2015 regarding their marketing.
"We will now prepare an appeal to be lodged in due course."
Last September, a Glasgow-based firm was handed a record fine for nuisance calls after making more than six million automated calls in a solar panel marketing campaign.
Home Energy & Lifestyle Management Ltd was fined £200,000 by the Information Commissioner.