Money For Nothing?

Back in 1987 I bought my first ‘grown up’ music system, a JVC midi hi-fi complete with turntable, FM radio, cassette recorder, bass and treble amplifiers and the latest gadget, a CD player. There was only problem, I had a stack of vinyl, boxes and boxes of cassettes and a grand total of one CD (before you ask…it wasn’t ‘Brothers in Arms’), which seemed a waste of my brand new toy.

The difficulty was CDs were expensive £12-£15 each compared with a fiver for a vinyl album and I wasn’t particularly well off. So here is my confession, I fell for the tempting introductory offer of three CDs for £1 each from Britannia Music Club.

This post isn’t going to be a piece about the pitfalls of signing up to something without reading the small print. Yes, I did end up with CDs I would never have bought otherwise. No, I didn’t always get round to sending them back. Yes, I did have problems cancelling my membership. No, I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone.

Coincidence? The universe is rarely so lazy

So what has prompted this trip down Memory Lane? Well, spending the last few weeks completing Churches’ Mutual’s GDPR audit reminded me that, probably due to my atrocious handwriting, for the whole time I was with them Britannia Music Club thought my first name was Milary.

For years afterwards I regularly received offers from book clubs, collectable figurines, home shopping catalogues, handmade rugs, credit cards, loans, life insurance schemes, you name it, all addressed to me with the very same typo. Coincidence?

The universe is rarely so lazy. It was quite apparent that the now defunct Britannia Music Club were happily selling my details, complete with typo, to all and sundry.

Greater Data Protection

This all predates the 1998 Data Protection Act which curtailed the activity of unscrupulous companies who regarded their customers’ personal information as fair game. Things are about to tighten up again with the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which comes into effect from Friday, 25 May 2018.

I am sure that over the past few weeks, like mine, your inbox has been filled with increasingly desperate emails from businesses who don’t want to lose you from their mailing lists. You may also, like me, be taking advantage of the change in legislation to drop off the radar of all the companies whose services you possibly expressed an interest in years ago that have been sending you an email every three days ever since.

At Churches Mutual we very rarely contact our members without being contacted by them first. But as a regulated financial institution and a Mutual Society we have a legal obligation to send some kinds of information to you. We have to let all our shareholders (members) know when we are holding a general meeting, even if it is not likely that they will all attend. We do this by sending a newsletter with the agenda and information about items of business. If there is room we may include some news and details of the services and products we offer.

We also have to send a statement of your account to you at least once a year, provide information about the Financial Services Compensation Scheme, and let you know about any changes to the Terms and Conditions of your account. As part of our governance we occasionally send a survey to members to ensure we are offering a good level of service.

At Churches’ Mutual we take great care in the way we handle your personal information. In advance of the changes to the law we have updated our privacy policy.

We’re not about to change what we send to you or how often we contact you but we are encouraging all our members to register for access to the Members’ Area and to opt in to receiving statements and newsletters through this secure portal. This is not essential under GDPR but it does give additional peace of mind in respect of your data. And if there is a typo in your personal details, you can also use the Members’ Area to let us know.