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£12k fine slapped on Postman Pat and his 300,000 spam emails

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The language got them busted?

What has this got to do with BT? The article is about the Post Office - its been a long long time since BT was spun out of the GPO!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The language got them busted?

Lest we never forgot the day of BTs fine and the headline of Phonecaller Pat.

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Re: The language got them busted?

The language got them busted?

So next time your marketingdroids want to hype up a straightforward customer communication in the usual exaggerated buzzword b******x, tell them to remember the Post Office's fine and b*****r off.

I have a very limited sympathy for the mailmen, in that they were apparently trying to avoid being accused of putting their price cut notification in the usual beware of the leopard branded filing cabinet, but I have little doubt from the report that the marketing morons said, "Yipee, here's our chance to send a marketing message to the opt outs", and seized on it with glee.

[there you are pedants, yes I carelessly typed BT instead of Post Office. Bite me.]

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Coat

Re: The language got them busted?

> [there you are pedants, yes I carelessly typed BT instead of Post Office. Bite me.]

Can I at least get a photo first? Buying dinner too as per the usual social conventions....

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So 3.5p per message, still a lot less than a 2nd class stamp.

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They should have called them instead, far cheaper per person fine.

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They could have (gasp) sent them a postal mail leaflet instead,

No fine for that.

The Royal Mail's own unaddressed mail opt out "service" expires after 18 months. The ICO is looking into that (I suspect it's not legal to do that anymore), and the fact that posties frequently ignore it anyway (which is illegal, but enforcement is virtually impossible)

There's probably an IT angle on why they lose the optouts (maybe even a story for El Reg)

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Anonymous Coward

Amazing, will this be the first fine the ICO get to collect? I mean I don't to tempt fate here or anything.

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Joke

Don't be daft

The cheque will get lost in the post!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Don't be daft

Knew I was tempting fate...

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Anonymous Coward

Yawn

The spam I get mostly comes from the US where there is no such thing, it's all marketing and you have no choice if I want to publicise my product at you.

Each MP who suggests a national solution to any internet problem is a dick.

The ICO are a joke, they have no impact of anything. My data was still breached no matter how small the fine for the company.

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Despite having 'opted out' of RM's door to door advertising 'service' - the stuff that gets rammed through the letterbox with the legitimate letters, I wonder if the ICO would be interested if I sent it on to them every time the postie 'forgets' we've opted out - along with the numerous emails promising a full investigation and the postie getting a 'hats on interview' with the delivery office manager...

Thought not.

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Flame

I've tried to take that up with the post office.

Their reply was that they are required by law to deliver the spam. Failure to do so would be a criminal offence: something along the lines of tampering with the mail.

I gave up.

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I could live with the junk mail (it goes unread straight into the recycling bin anyway) but it would be nice if they delivered letters to the correct address. At least once every week we get someone else's mail or a random neighbour up the road gets our mail. I suppose on the plus side we get to meet the neighbours if only to exchange the wrongly delivered mail amongst us. Why are Royal Mail so incompetent nowadays?

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Their reply was that they are required by law to deliver the spam

Not true, they are required by law to deliver addressed mail - they are required by contract to deliver the door to door leaflets except where householders have 'opted out' - except that they tell posties to ignore the 'no junk mail' notices and threaten disciplinary action if they don't deliver the leaflets, it's easier to ignore the 'No D2D' markers on the sorting frames than risk having a pile of leaflets left at the end of the week.

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Re: Their reply was that they are required by law to deliver the spam

@Andy: Why are Royal Mail so incompetent nowadays?

'twas ever so. Try living somewhere with a similar name to a town big enough for the posties to have heard of it. Back in the 1970s my family lived in a place called Horam, and most of our (correctly addressed and postcoded) mail arrived redirected from Horsham.

@10forcash: Not true, they are required by law to deliver addressed mail

Hmmm, now that you mention it, that figures. I think I may have been particularly concerned with vast volumes of mail addressed to a previous occupant of my address, who appeared to have been running some kind of postal business from home.

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Devil

Junk confusions

There is also the Junk Mail that the Post Office are paid to dump in my letter box. Every week or so there is the heap of flyers that get dropped through my letterbox along with the post. Mainly local discount shops, and takeaways.

If you want to stop this it is like some Hitch Hiker's Guide joke. IF you persevere you can find a page buried on the PO website that allows you to opt out of getting these leaflets. BUT the catch is it takes "up to 28 days" to opt-out. And then the opt-out is only valid for three months... and then the just ignore you and start they junk drops again.

ARGH!!!

My favourite trick with junk mail is to take each junk leaflet, find an address, then get an envelope and fill it with random rubbish - ideally heavy like the Yellow Pages \ Phone Book. Address it to the sender of the junk mail... and forget to add any stamps. This leads the spammer to get a parcel delivered... but lack of stamps means he has to pay extra. I call it recycling.

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Re: Junk confusions

Are you, perhaps, confusing the Post Office and Royal Mail?

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> it goes unread straight into the recycling bin anyway

So do they recycle envelopes where you are? Here envelopes aren’t allowed in the paper recycling, so junk mail has to go to landfill.

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Boffin

Re: Junk confusions

Mark, I'm afraid you're the one who is confused, although it's hardly surprising given how devious the Royal Mail are in making it awkward and difficult to opt out !

The Royal Mail's opt out actually lasts two years (left click on the link way down at the bottom of the page), although you might want to re-register six weeks early because it seems that they are very leisurely in implementing requests.

However, I fully agree it should last as long as you reside at the relevant address. There's no need to re-register for the MPS, so the Royal Mail should follow suit.

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"it goes unread straight into the recycling bin anyway"

If everyone posted letter box litter back marked "return to sender" I wonder how long it would take for the message to get through that we don't like it.

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"So do they recycle envelopes where you are? Here envelopes aren’t allowed in the paper recycling, so junk mail has to go to landfill."

Really? Are you sure it's not just certain types, like window envelopes with the plastic window still attached?

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" I wonder if the ICO would be interested if I sent it on to them every time the postie 'forgets' we've opted out - along with the numerous emails promising a full investigation and the postie getting a 'hats on interview' with the delivery office manager..."

Actually, they would - The case officer investigating is Aimee Smith.

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"Their reply was that they are required by law to deliver the spam."

Not if you've opted out. Again, talk to Aimee Smith at the ICO.

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Re: Their reply was that they are required by law to deliver the spam

"Except that they tell posties to ignore the 'no junk mail' notices and threaten disciplinary action if they don't deliver the leaflets,"

If you have proof of that, the ICO would love to hear from you.

That kind of evidence is what turns small fines for breaches into VERY LARGE ones.

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Re: Junk confusions

"There's no need to re-register for the MPS"

There used to be, but the requirement to renew was made illegal in 2004.

"so the Royal Mail should follow suit."

That should have happened in 2004 too, but Royal Mail claim they found a loophole.

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Optional

"Royal Mail argued the email in question was a service because it was telling customers there was a price drop for second-class parcels – but the ICO disagreed."

Pretty much the same excuse I received from a genealogy website back in 2011 when they sent out a marketing email claiming to be a "service update" - the ICO disagreed with that, as well.

Back then, their practice was to (get permission from the victim and then) pass the email address to the perpetrator and say "don't spam this person again" - so while the fines now are woefully inadequate as a deterrent, they're an improvement on what used to be done.

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Law

Now who's able to fine them for posting other junk through my real-world letter box?

Despite being on the MPS (and TPS) the postie still pushes about 15 leaflets a week through my letter box, he'll go out of his way to get a bundle through the door, even when I have no other mail.

It's infuriating!!

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Alert

Simply being on the MPS list won't stop Royal Mail pushing unaddressed leaflets into your letterbox, and they instruct postmen to ignore No Junk Mail stickers.

Instead, you need to opt out from their Door to Door junk every 98 weeks. It's a chore, but it usually works quite well.

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Silver badge

"Instead, you need to opt out from their Door to Door junk every 98 weeks. It's a chore, but it usually works quite well."

(Parrot mode)

If you disagree with the fact that you have to keep optiong out of the Royal Mail's unaddressed mail "service" (ie, their junkmail leaflets), or that finding the optout on their website is akin to stumbling on a filing cabinet in an unlit disused lavatory with a "beware of the leopard sign" out front., then you should be rattling the ICO's cage about it.

The more people who complain about this, the more likely it is that the ICO will actully DO something to force the issue

And the more people who complain about posties ignoring the optouts and delivering leaflets anyway, the more likely it is that the ICO will start snapping on rubber gloves (yeah right).

One or two complaints they can ignore, but when they start getting dozens it's a lot harder.

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@ Alan Brown

>"If you disagree with the fact that you have to keep opting out of the Royal Mail's unaddressed mail "service" (ie, their junkmail leaflets), or that finding the optout on their website is akin to stumbling on a filing cabinet in an unlit disused lavatory with a "beware of the leopard sign" out front., then you should be rattling the ICO's cage about it."

Unfortunately I can't see what the ICO can do about unaddressed junk mail delivered by RM. There's no breach of privacy or misuse of stored data just because RM push the same unwanted rubbish into your letterbox as they do for everyone else.

I suspect that the only legal remedy would be to withdraw RM's Implied Right of Access to one's property, but that would be something of an own goal because you'd then have to make endless trips to the sorting office to collect your own addressed mail !

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"Unfortunately I can't see what the ICO can do about unaddressed junk mail delivered by RM. "

It's the opt out database they maintain that's the issue - the fact that it expires after two years and the fact that having opted out, your wishes are being ignored.

the ICO subsumed Postwatch some years ago. They also handle postal regulation roles (which make make this somewhat easier than when the delivery side was handled by Postwatch)

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The solution is to ensure that all your important things are done online. Then, instead of a mailbox, put a mail slot on your garbage bin. La voila!

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Royal Mail trusted - pull the other one! They lose loads of stuff posted.

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Silver badge

I prefer to get even...

The junk mailers want to shove shit into my mailbox, I'll return the favor. At night. Soaked in skunk scent. On fire.

If I'm lucky enough to catch the marketer in the act of stuffing my mailbox full of shit, I've got a catapult, Duct Tape, & pressurized bottles of skunk stink to strap to their chests. It makes a lovely explosion when they crash through the CEO's penthouse apartment in that uber rich suite.

*Cackle*

I'll go refill my frog pills now...

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