One company, three subcontractors and a fine: this is how annoying advertising calls reach you

The Robinson List is a service that allows you to reject the sending of advertising from companies with which you do not have a commercial relationship. Skipping it enables the citizen to report to the Spanish Agency for Data Protection (AEPD) the companies that they contact. The last resolution of the agency for this reason not only includes an economic fine, but also gives details of how the telephone marketing business works, with multiple sales of personal information of users and companies that call on behalf of others.

The process unleashed a series of attempts to deflect responsibility over who should have removed the complainant from the database and who should bear the privacy penalty. The process has ended up involving up to four companies. At the end of the journey there is a company that cannot be contacted and that does not clearly explain where it has obtained the data that it sells to third parties so that they can carry out their advertising campaigns.

In this case, the complaint was filed by a person registered on the Robinson List against Naturgy after receiving five commercial calls in one week. The Data Protection investigation and the response from the energy company revealed that it was not the company that had called the citizen, but a subcontractor.

That subcontractor is Instalaciones Térmicas Renovables (ITR), which is dedicated to the sale and assembly of boilers and air conditioners. It is “a company that provides Naturgy with advisory services and commercial and technical support to attract customers”, the energy company has declared. She was the one who launched the telephone advertising campaign that led to the five calls received by the person registered on the Robinson List and the AEPD has imposed a fine of 10,000 euros.

During the process, ITR tried to do the same thing that Naturgy did with it: point to its subcontractors and try to get them to pay. The AEPD has rejected her argument this Monday, since the energy company has sent her contract with her to the Agency, which makes it clear that it was her duty “to exclude all those people who are registered on the Robinson List from their databases”.

ITR legal sources explain to this medium that they do not agree with the Agency’s criteria and that they are considering filing an appeal against the resolution before the National High Court. “We understand that our client does not have any type of responsibility and that the Agency has not valued certain contractual ties that exempted ITR from responsibility”, they detail.

In the initial resolution of the AEPD that sanctions ITR, the company indicated two others that participated in the process of the advertising campaign. “To carry out the provision of services to Naturgy, ITR signs a contract with the company Marasapa Ad Consulting for the development of marketing actions through electronic means,” it reflected before the AEPD.

Marasapa specializes in the “outsourcing of online and offline sales processes,” it explains on its website. It can be hired to send SMS and emails, as well as to carry out telephone marketing campaigns. “Currently our databases have more than 30,000,000 international registrations for different channels,” she boasts.

The reality is that ITR was not the one that made the contacts itself, but rather subcontracted Marasapa for it. However, this company was not the origin of the database that did not eliminate the person registered on the Robinson List and led to the complaint against Naturgy. There is one more step in the chain.

“The database used by Marasapa comes from AD735 Data Media Advertising, the latter being responsible for collecting the data. The claimant’s data was included in the database that Marasapa provided to ITR by the entity AD735”, argued to the AEPD.

Marasapa’s sole administrator is Raúl Manuel Alonso Gutiérrez, who is also a joint administrator of AD735, according to information collected by InsightView.

AD735, based in Madrid, is the last link in the chain of liability deviations that has emerged after the person who received the calls from Naturgy filed a complaint with the AEPD.

elDiario.es has tried to contact those responsible for AD735, but the company does not make it easy: when calling its official telephone number, the operator reports that “the number dialed does not exist”. Sending an email to the address you provide on your website, it is returned with the message that “the address was not found or it cannot receive mail”.

One possibility is that your inbox is overwhelmed with citizen complaints. The company’s page on Google has 30 reviews, all are one star (the minimum) and all have been written in the last year to denounce the company’s practices.

“I don’t know where they got my data from, but they have sold it to companies that now don’t stop calling me”; “They call me from other companies saying they have my AD735 data. They are pirates!”; “They sell the data without permission and they don’t stop calling you at all hours”; “There is no telephone number that appears in their privacy policy, you cannot contact them by mail. They sell your data and it is also not known how they have obtained it. Complainable”, are some of them.

The company’s website has a form to unsubscribe from its databases. However, several users report that it is useless. “I have filled out the unsubscribe forms many times already, and also sent emails in the unsubscribe section, and from the same website of this company putting all my information and they still do not unsubscribe me. They are scoundrels and I will proceed to report them by means legal”; “I find it criminal that they sell my data to third parties without my consent and without giving me an option to unsubscribe.” Others assure that they have already denounced the company.

The only feasible way to contact AD735 is the email from its data protection officer, which returns an automatic response that ensures that the company is handling the request. The one of this means has not had answer to the closing of this information.

There is only one clue on AD735’s website that reveals how it gets personal data and how it treats it. It is in its privacy policy, where it is said that it collects the information to “manage” the “registration as a participant in contests, promotions and/or raffles organized by AD735” or “by third parties”.

The company uses online sweepstakes and offers in which personal information is requested and a box is added that must be checked if you wish to participate. That is the box that gives rise to everything.

“We inform you that through the data collection form we obtain your consent to send you commercial communications. By giving your express consent through the boxes that will appear on the data collection form, we could contact you by ordinary mail, called telephone, email, SMS, instant messaging applications, social networks, push notifications, or any other equivalent means of electronic communication, to send you information about those products and/or services that we believe may be of interest to you”, collect their legal terms .

The privacy policy also states that AD735 can “share your personal data with third-party companies so that third-party advertisers in the indicated sectors can contact you to send you information of interest to you.” The company includes a list of “assignees” who have accessed its databases, which does not include Naturgy.

Despite ITR’s complaints, the Data Protection Agency on Monday dismissed its complaints to refer the fine to the companies it subcontracted for this customer acquisition campaign. However, the fine that has been imposed for skipping the Robinson List is actually an exception in the agency’s decisions. The most common is that citizens denounce the company that has supposedly made the calls and these, like Naturgy, claim that these phones do not belong to them.

The difference in this case has been that the energy company has targeted the responsible subcontractor. If this is not the case, the AEPD usually has much more problems identifying who is behind the calls to the members of the Robinson List and is forced to file the cases. This is how it happened this Monday with three other resolutions (I, II, III) as well as in seven of the last ten complaints of this type that it has analyzed.

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