Telegraph serves writ on database business

The Telegraph group has served a writ on its database marketing services company, Harte-Hanks, in a dispute that highlights the potential strength of database management companies’ hold over their clients.

The Telegraph group has served a writ on its database marketing

services company, Harte-Hanks, in a dispute that highlights the

potential strength of database management companies’ hold over their

clients.



The Telegraph’s action, which came on Wednesday, is the latest in its

bid to regain access to its central database, which has been held by

Harte-Hanks since its contract started in March 1996.



Tony Coad, development director of the Telegraph, alleged that when the

contract came up for renewal on 17 April, Harte-Hanks held on to the

data and would not give copies in order to leverage its bargaining

position.



Coad said: ’The issue for us and the industry as a whole is whether it

is good practice for a company to hold back the repatriation of data in

order to enhance its negotiating position.’



According to Coad, the Telegraph has been trying to get copies of its

data, which includes information used for its cut-price subscription

scheme and Telegraph Business Enterprises, since 13 March. He added:

’There will be serious interruptions to some of the initiatives we are

taking and some of our clients will be affected negatively.’



Don McIntosh, divisional director of Harte-Hanks, denied that the

company was abusing its power. ’As a company, we are very ethical and

would always want to be fair and reasonable.



We understand the Telegraph is deciding what to do and we would

strenuously resist any legal action.’



The Telegraph will apply to the High Court chancery division for an

injunction seeking the release of its data and hopes to gain a hearing

on Monday.



The Telegraph’s managing director, Jeremy Deedes, said: ’This is a

powerful tool containing 5.5 million names. It is one of our most

valuable weapons.’



Coad said the Telegraph gave Harte-Hanks six months’ notice last month

to terminate its contract.



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