- HelloFresh sent 79 million spam emails and 1 million spam texts in seven months
- Customers were not fully aware of what they were opting into, marking a “clear breach of trust”
- ICO: “We will take clear and decisive action where we find the law has not been followed.”
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has fined food delivery company HelloFresh £140,000 for a campaign of 79 million spam emails and 1 million spam texts over a seven-month period.
The marketing messages were sent based on an opt-in statement which did not make any reference to the sending of marketing via text. Whilst there was a reference to marketing via email, this was included in an age confirmation statement which was likely to unfairly incentivise customers to agree.
Customers were also not given sufficient information that their data would continue to be used for marketing purposes for up to 24 months after cancelling their subscriptions.
An investigation by the ICO began in March 2022 following complaints made directly to the regulator, as well as to the 7726 spam message reporting service. As part of this investigation, it was also discovered that the company continued to contact some individuals even after they had requested this to stop.
Following the investigation, we found that the company (Grocery Delivery E-Services UK Limited) contravened regulation 22 of the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003 and it has now been served with a fine of £140,000.
Andy Curry, Head of Investigations at the Information Commissioner’s Office, said:
“This marked a clear breach of trust of the public by HelloFresh. Customers weren’t told exactly what they’d be opting into, nor was it clear how to opt out. From there, they were hit with a barrage of marketing texts they didn’t want or expect, and in some cases, even when they told HelloFresh to stop, the deluge continued.
“In issuing this fine, we are showing that we will take clear and decisive action where we find the law has not been followed. We will always protect the right of customers to choose how their data is used.
“The investigation that led to this fine began following complaints filed by the public, both to the ICO and to the 7726 service. This shows just how important it is that if you are being contacted with nuisance calls, texts or emails, that you report it straight away.”
Further details of contraventions
- Between 23 August 2021 and 23 February 2022 there were 80,893,013 direct marketing messages comprised of 79,779,279 emails and 1,113,734 SMS messages received by subscribers. The Commissioner found that HelloFresh transmitted those messages contrary to Regulation 22 of PECR.
- The consent statement for these messages did not meet the requirement that it be “specific” and “informed”, as it did not mention SMS, was unclear and bundled with other aspects, and did not highlight that customers would receive messages for 24 months after they cancelled their HelloFresh subscription.
- This therefore meant that 80,893,013 direct marketing messages were sent by HelloFresh that lacked proper consent.
- 8,729 complaints were logged with the 7726 service in relation to messages from HelloFresh. Additionally, the ICO received 14 complaints about unauthorised SMS messages from HelloFresh and three complaints about marketing emails.