London Electricity risks data protection showdown

London Electricity risks flouting data protection rules by promoting a new Free Energy Mortgage from Alliance & Leicester in its customer magazine.

Mortgage provider A&L will pay customers’ gas and electricity bills for the first three years, but only if they switch to London Electricity.

A&L will conduct most of the marketing activity for the mortgage, which launches with a regional press, radio and poster campaign next week. London Electricity will inform customers of the affinity partnership through editorial in London Lights, its customer magazine, which is mailed out quarterly with bills.

However, the energy company risks flouting data protection rules which were clarified at a Tribunal hearing involving British Gas six months ago. Utility companies are not permitted to promote non-energy related products, including financial services, to their customer databases unless special permission has been obtained.

Data Protection Registrar compliance manager for utilities, Lorraine Godkin, says: “If London Electricity mentions its connection with the A&L mortgage in editorial it is still promoting third party services and offers not related to supply.”

London Electricity already has an outstanding preliminary notice served on it by the DPR last year. It relates to a number of non-energy related offers, including vouchers for Chessington Zoo and discounts for Nokia phones.

A spokesman for the energy company says: “We don’t think this will be an issue with the DPR because most of the promotion will be done through A&L.”

The Free Energy Mortgage will be available in the London region initially, although a national roll-out is expected when the electricity market deregulates next year.

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