The company behind a taxi booking app has been fined £45,000 by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) for breaking the law on sending unsolicited text messages.
Cab Guru Limited was set up by a consortium of licensed taxi and private hire firms to create an app allowing customers to compare fares and pickup times and then book their selected cab.
The Cambridge-based company promoted the service by sending unlawful direct marketing texts inviting customers from some of the cab firms which had invested in the new venture to download the app.
Between 27 May and 5 June 2016, 165 complaints were made to the spam text reporting service run by mobile phone industry body the GSMA concerning unsolicited marketing texts sent by Cab Guru. A further complaint was made direct to the ICO using the Online Reporting Tool.
Cab Guru said it had carried out a one-day text marketing campaign using numbers provided by five of its shareholder firms. A total of 706,650 messages were sent, of which 360,373 were received.
The company couldn’t provide any evidence that the customers had consented to being contacted by Cab Guru in this way.
Andy Curry, ICO Enforcement Group Manager, said:
“Just because an organisation might have a person’s mobile phone number in its records, that doesn’t mean it can call or send them marketing messages without their consent. This also applies to any associated companies.
“It also doesn’t matter whether you do this for a single day or every day for a year – most mobile users hate receiving unsolicited spam texts and the ICO will continue to take action against firms which send them.”
The GSMA is an organisation which represents the interests of mobile operators worldwide. People can report unsolicited marketing texts to it by forwarding the message to 7726 (spelling out “SPAM”) and the ICO is given access to the GSMA’s complaints data.