Compensation culture – my story

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Earlier this year I received a series of uninvited text messages from Paddy Power bookmakers saying things such as ‘Paddy’s giving MONEY BACK as a free bet on all losers if your player loses in the fifth set. T&C’s. Opt out: Txt PADDYSTOP to 50100’ (I imagine this was related to Wimbledon). Or ‘Paddy’s giving MONEY BACK as a free bet on all losers in the 14.30 Ascot if Lope Y Fernandez wins! Max Free Bet €20! T&C’s. Opt out: Txt PADDYSTOP to 50100’.

Now I have no moral aversion to gambling, and play the Lotto on occasion, but I have never been inside the front door of a bookie’s office. As advised, I texted ‘PADDYSTOP’ to 50100 as I didn’t want these messages. I had never signed up for them.

The messages continued. ‘Paddy’s giving MONEY BACK as a free bet on all losers in the 15.40 Ascot if Magical wins! Max Free Bet €20! T&C’s. Opt out: Txt PADDYSTOP to 50100’. They arrived about once a week, but tended to arrive at 3am which was rather disruptive to my beauty sleep regimen. My entire career rests on me looking fresh-faced for my job in the wastelands. How did this company have my telephone number, and why were they spamming me?

Feeling cantankerous at work (over an entirely different issue) I decided that I’d had enough. I googled the Advertising Standards Authority asking them to have a word with Mr. Power about the spam. The response was rapid – this didn’t fall under the ASA’s remit. Instead they advised I get in touch with Data Protection Ireland. I fired off another email to that group. They replied by asking me for screenshots of the texts. Which I sent.  That was that.

The texts stopped. All was peaceful in the world of my telephone. Messages I received were from people I knew. I forgot about the issue. .

Some months later, I opened an email from Data Protection Ireland. It told me that that the findings of my claim for compensation were finalised. Say what? Compensation? My name is not Maria Bailey. I am not a Fine Gael politician from Dun Laoghaire who fell off a swing while holding a bottle of booze in each hand trying to scam a fraudulent pay out from an innocent business. I had not sought legal advice from the legal firm of Fine Gael politician Josepha Madigan on how to extort money from a hotel. I wasn’t aware that I had made a claim. I guess I had.

The letter stated that the results of the findings showed that Paddy Power had gained access to my telephone number when I had logged on to their free Wi-Fi at some point. I have no recollection of doing so, but I clearly had – while waiting at a bus stop perhaps? I had given them permission to contact me. However they were legally bound to cease spamming me upon my request.  Due to an IT glitch my message asking them to halt communication had not been received.

As a token of goodwill would I be happy to accept €250 compensation to settle the claim?

 Say what?

 Never in the field of human communication has the word ‘YES’ been typed so fast.

To prevent any further emotional distress to me I would receive this compensation through Data Protection as it was understood that further contact with Paddy Power might be distressing for me.

The cheque arrived in the post yesterday. I lodged it to my account through an ATM machine yesterday. I have never done this before. This has been a learning experience from beginning to end.

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