Mobile provider EE has been hit with a £100,000 fine from the data regulator for sending more than 2.5m spam text messages to customers without their consent.
The direct marketing messages, sent in early 2018, encouraged customers to access and use the EE app to manage their account and to upgrade their phone.
A second batch of messages was sent to customers who had not engaged with the first.
During the investigation, carried out by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), EE argued the texts were sent as service messages and were therefore not covered by electronic marketing rules.
But the ICO found the messages contained direct marketing and were sent deliberately, although it acknowledged EE had not set out to breach electronic marketing laws.
“These were marketing messages which promoted the company’s products and services,” said Andy White, ICO director of investigations.
“The direct marketing guidance is clear: if a message that contains customer service information also includes promotional material to buy extra products for services, it is no longer a service message and electronic marketing rules apply.”
ICO rules state marketing messages can only be sent to existing customers if they have given their consent and if there is an easy opt-out process.
Companies face a fine of up to £500,000 if they do not comply with the relevant legislation.
A spokesperson for EE said: “We accept the ICO’s findings, and we’re working to improve our internal processes.
“We’re committed to ensuring our customers are fully aware of their options throughout the life of their contract, and we apologise to the customers who received these messages.”