Cross marketing of a credit card by a travel agent  IEDPC 6 (31 December 2005)
I received a number of complaints against S about the marketing of an S credit card. It transpired that S had provided all the relevant contact data of its customers to X.
When my staff enquired about this, S were of the opinion that they were compliant with the Data Protection Acts in conducting their campaign. On their booking form under the heading for Data Protection it is stated that 'The information that we use is for fulfilling our contract as a tour operator/holiday provider. We may from time to time, make your information available to companies within our group.'
As the credit card provider was not a company within the group and as marketing a credit card is not the same as marketing a holiday, it was held that consent from customers should have been obtained prior to the marketing of the S credit card. When this was brought to S's attention, they initiated an immediate cessation to the campaign and undertook to review their entire procedures relating to storing and processing data and their marketing practices where promotional partners are involved.
My staff also contacted the credit card provider who stated that they had assumed that the necessary consents had been given by S customers to receiving calls about the credit card. I accepted this and that the credit card provider had acted in good faith.
In this case, I was satisfied that S acted promptly to revise their procedures and I was happy that they were now aware of their responsibilities under the Acts.
The case illustrates the importance of being clear about marketing practices - a credit card, even a co-branded one, is not considered by me to be a product or service similar to the principal business. In these circumstances, the onus is on the travel agent to ensure that consent is given for this type of direct marketing.