We Buy Any Car, Saga and Sports Direct have been fined for sending “frustrating” nuisance messages, the UK data watchdog has said.
The three firms were fined a total of £495,000 for sending hundreds of millions of emails and texts.
None of the firms had obtained permission to send the marketing, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) said.
The nuisance messages were all sent out before April 2020, the watchdog added.
“Getting a ping on your phone or constant unwanted messages on your laptop from a company you don’t want to hear from is frustrating and intrusive,” said Andy Curry, ICO head of investigations.
“These companies should have known better.”
We Buy Any Car was fined £200,000 for sending more than 191 million emails in the year from April 2019 to people who had asked for an online valuation of their car.
The first emails that We Buy Any Car sent were within the law, the ICO said, but follow-up marketing emails were sent without consent. The firm also sent 3.6 million nuisance texts.
Two Saga firms which focus on services including insurance and holidays for people over 50 were fined a total of £225,000. The firms commissioned third-party firms between November 2018 and May 2019 to send more than 156 million emails.
The third-party firms used lists of people who had not given the companies permission to contact them.
“This was a historic contravention of email marketing regulations in relation to activity undertaken with two third-party providers of Saga Personal Finance and Saga Services,” a spokesperson for the firm said.
“In light of this, we took the decision to stop using third parties for email marketing purposes and we have worked closely with the ICO throughout their investigation. We have confidence in the strength of our privacy and marketing protocols.”
Sports Direct was fined £70,000 after it sent 2.5 million emails to people whom it had not contacted for some time. The firm could not show that it had consent to do this.
We Buy Any Car and Sports Direct were approached for comment.
The ICO has been charged with a post-Brexit shake up of data rules, including getting rid of cookie pop-ups.
Digital Secretary Oliver Dowden has said he favours “light touch” data regulation.