Case details for Darren HODES

Name: Darren HODES


Date of Birth: 13 / 2 / 1984

Date Order Starts: 11 / 11 / 2022

Disqualification Length: 8 Years 0 Month(s)

CRO Number: 10933605

Last Known Address: 109 Balmore Drive,, , , , HAMILTON,, ML3 8DE

Conduct: Mr Darren Hodes (Mr Hodes) failed to ensure TCS COMBINED SOLUTIONS LIMITED (TCS) complied with the Codes of Practice of the Phone-Paid Services Authority (PSA), resulting in TSC being unable to trade and subsequent liquidation of the Company. In that: • TCS was a Level 2 provider of DiscountMeDirect (‘the Service’), a premium rate subscription service that offered alerts to consumers regarding discount offers and competitions. • Between 3 April 2018 and 07 January 2020, the PSA received 100 complaints from members of the public, alleging that they had received chargeable messages from the Service without having opted-in to it. • TCS was first made aware of the PSA’s concerns on 20 August 2018 when PSA wrote to TCS to indicate that it was making preliminary enquiries into the Service. At this time, the PSA made an informal request for information regarding the Service and its promotion and operation. • TCS was notified on 15 November 2018 the case was allocated for a formal Track 2 investigation. Following allocation, the PSA issued a Warning Notice for interim measures to be imposed on 12 December 2018. • On 14 December 2018, the Code Adjudication Tribunal (“CAT”) imposed interim measures to withhold up to £160,000 in funds. • On the application of TCS, the interim measures were subject to a review on 18 January 2019. On this occasion, the CAT rejected TCS’s application and increased the total amount to be withheld to £510,000. On 27 June 2019, TCS requested a second review of the interim measures. This application was rejected. • On 28 February 2020, the PSA sent a Warning Notice to TCS, and on 23 March 2020, TCS submitted a Notice of Requirement for an Oral Hearing. • Following an oral hearing between 09 December 2020 and 11 December 2020, on 18 December 2020, the Tribunal reached a decision on the breaches. The Tribunal upheld 8 breaches being that TCS had: - 1. Charged customers without their consent and/or failed to provide evidence which established that consent 2. Failed in the course of promoting its Premium Rate Service ('PRS') to ensure that the cost/pricing information was prominent, clearly legible, visible and proximate to the premium rate telephone number, shortcode or other means of access to the Service, before any purchase was made, 3. Failed to issue subscription reminder messages to customers, specifically spend reminders as required by the PSA Guidance on Subscription Services 4. Knowingly or recklessly omitted to disclose information to the PSA, 5. Knowingly or recklessly provided false or misleading information to the PSA, 6. Failed to disclose to the PSA, when requested, information that was reasonably likely to have a regulatory benefit in an investigation, when a direction had been made. 7. Failed to renew registration annually or at intervals determined by the PSA 8. Failed to register the Service numbers on the PSA Registration Scheme within two working days of the Service becoming accessible to consumers on those numbers • Having regard to all the circumstances of the case, the Tribunal decided to impose various sanctions including a ban on TCS trading in the same trade. TCS made an application for a review of the Tribunal’s decision on 21 January 2021. The review hearing took place using the paper-based procedure before a freshly constituted Tribunal on 14 June 2021 • Following the review, the Tribunal upheld the original decision but following representations from TCS, decided that the final sanctions should be revised to as follows: • a formal reprimand • a requirement that the TCS sought compliance advice regarding the Service and its promotion, and that compliance advice was implemented to the satisfaction of the PSA • a prohibition on TCS from providing, or having any involvement in, any premium rate service for a period of three years, starting from the date of the publication of the original Tribunal decision, or until payment of the fine and administrative charges in conjunction with the implementation of the compliance advice to the satisfaction of the PSA whichever was the earlier • a requirement that TCS must refund all consumers who claimed a refund, for the full amount spent by them on the Service, within 28 days of their claim, save where there was good cause to believe that such claims were not valid, and provide evidence to the PSA that such refunds have been made • a fine of £750,000 • TCS was unable to trade or pay it’s liabilities because of the sanctions imposed by the Tribunal as a direct result of TCS breaching the PSA codes of practice. • At 20 December 2021, the date of Liquidation, TSC’s owed it’s creditors £1,650,547 

This information is correct as at 25 / 10 / 2022

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