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Halfords fined for sending 500,000 unwanted Fix Your Bike scheme marketing emails

"Halfords is a household name and we expect companies like them to know and act better": Information Commissioner's Office concluded, fining retailer £30,000...

The UK's largest retailer of cycling products and services, Halfords, has been slapped with a £30,000 fine after an investigation found nearly half a million unwanted marketing emails had been sent promoting the Fix Your Bike scheme.

The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) found that Halfords had used the scheme to promote free bike assessments in-store, sending hundreds of thousands of unwanted marketing emails advertising its services, a breach of electronic marketing rules.

> Mechanic tells how Fix Your Bike scheme has slowed his workload as people wait for next wave of vouchers

"It is against the law to send marketing emails or texts to people without their permission," Andy Curry, head of investigations at the ICO, said.

"Not only this, it is a violation of their privacy rights as well as being frustrating and downright annoying. Halfords is a household name and we expect companies like them to know and act better.

halfords fix your bike 3.PNG

"This incident does not reflect well on the internal advice or processes and therefore a fine was warranted in this case. This also sends a message to similar organisations to review their electronic marketing operations, and that we will take necessary action if they break the law."

People who received Halfords' Fix Your Bike scheme emails had not 'opted in' to marketing from the retailer, meaning Halfords could not offer a way to opt out of the marketing emails, the ICO said.

> "Considerable softening of the cycling market": Halfords sales slow as supply chain disruption and inflation bite

The £30,000 fine falls well short of the ICO's maximum financial penalty of £500,000 for companies who send unwanted marketing emails.

Halfords Fix Your Bike

A Halfords spokesperson said the retailer was "surprised" at the decision as it was sent "in collaboration" with the Department for Transport.

We are very surprised at this decision. The email was sent as part of a collaboration with the Department for Transport (DfT) and the Energy Saving Trust. Its principal purpose was to alert people to DfT's Fix Your Bike voucher scheme and inform them on how to redeem the vouchers.

This was an important part of the government's strategy for dealing with the profound and urgent transport issues caused by the pandemic.

We understand that only one individual complained. We believed at the time – and continue to believe – that the email complied with the rules.

In any event, it is disappointing that the ICO has not taken into account the unique circumstances in which the email was sent.

 The government announced the Fix Your Bike scheme, eventually opening in late July 2020, in response to the pandemic, offering users a voucher worth £50 to help restore neglected bicycles to a usable standard.

However, come the summer of 2021, the scheme was reported to have closed with just 4 in 5 of the vouchers being released

During its time in operation, which saw further batches of 150,000 vouchers released to the public in the first half of 2021, mechanics and bike shops reported problems in being refunded for work they carried out.

One bike shop owner branded the scheme a "nightmare", with delayed payments from the The Energy Saving Trust and customers cancelling bookings.

Dan is the news editor and has spent the past four years writing stories and features, as well as (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. Having previously written about nearly every other sport under the sun for the Express, and the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for the Non-League Paper, Dan joined in 2020. Come the weekend you'll find him labouring up a hill, probably with a mouth full of jelly babies, or making a bonk-induced trip to a south of England petrol station... in search of more jelly babies.

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EddyBerckx | 1 year ago

Kinda basic, almost certainly delibrate fail from Halfords there.

Wonder how much they made from that 500K mailout? The fine should reflect that figure if it's to be a deterent 

Adam Sutton | 1 year ago

Ironically Road.CC shoved a pop up at me while reading this asking me to supply my email address.

I have always been suspicious of the fact that even in store when at the till Halfords always ask for an email address for an electronic receipt.

janusz0 replied to Adam Sutton | 1 year ago

I buy cycle related stuff online and in person from Halfords.  I give them an email address for receipts, yet I haven't had any spam.  Could it be that they just bought a list of email addresses?

Adam Sutton replied to janusz0 | 1 year ago
1 like

And many of those lists come from databases with shocking security, the like of which Halfords will bung your email in. Hence I won't give my email unless really necessary these days.

Rik Mayals unde... replied to Adam Sutton | 1 year ago

Yeah it continues to happen to me, even though I am logged in. Getting tired of it, to be honest.

Sriracha | 1 year ago

A bit ironic, given that they can't actually fix bikes. They should have been prosecuted for redeeming the vouchers.

OldRidgeback replied to Sriracha | 1 year ago

Very good at fixing forks on backwards when assembling new bikes tho....

Capt Sisko | 1 year ago
1 like

And so they should be, as should many others that seem to think it's okay to add you to their email list just because you bought something from them once.

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