During my time in the direct marketing and data industry I’ve heard first hand from several companies who (in some cases proudly) claim to knowingly mail households where the customer has died or gone away. For some this is simply a matter of not wanting to spend budget on cleaning up their act, whilst for others their justification is based on response rates.

If response rates truly are that good one has to wonder why? Is it a factor of using inaccurate suppression data or (as some of the mailers claim) simply that the current occupier of the property will probably be a similar profile to the (now departed) customer and buy their products anyway?

Whatever the “justification” is it morally right to knowingly mail these records? The FCA, British Bankers Association and the ICO would not support or endorse these practices. It’s especially wrong when the communication contains sensitive personal information which can be used by those who are minded to commit fraud or other devious acts. This aside, the distress caused by continually mailing the relatives of a deceased loved one is something any marketing manager should be extremely wary of. The Daily Mail awaits it’s next victim ……..

For us the act of mailing deceased or gone away customers / prospects is inexcusable given the tools available to any company who wants to do the right thing. By carefully selecting the right suppression files (those with a proven accuracy , not just the same old files you might be familiar with), we can help businesses to de-risk their marketing activities and save them money. We’ve all seen for ourselves what happens when an industry turns a blind eye to best practice and compliance and leaves the decision making process to external 3rd parties – I’m sure all those in the charity sector would love to be able to turn the clock back and have another go at recruiting new donors – if they could. The same could yet happen to those businesses who still won’t do the right thing – it’s probably only a matter of time before they get their knuckles rapped.

So, for anyone who still isn’t convinced that suppressing deceased and gone away records is a good thing – please get in touch – I’d really love to have that debate with you.

Martin Jaggard
Managing Director