No means no: Why you need to take unsubscribes seriously

15 Nov 2017

  • Privacy and Compliance

We all know how annoying unwanted emails and other electronic messages can be. Heeding the warning from Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) to respect customers’ opt-out wishes not only makes sense from a legal and regulatory perspective, but also from a business point of view. Sending unwanted marketing communications is a waste of your marketing budget (because every call/text costs money) and it can do serious damage to a brand’s reputation.

The ACMA announced earlier this year that consent-based marketing practices (marketing you can opt in or out of) are in its sights. True to its word, it recently issued TPG with an infringement notice for failure to unsubscribe recipients.

TPG was forced to pay $360,000 for breaching the Spam Act by sending SMS messages to consumers who had opted out from such communications. As TPG was co-operative and willing to address the issues, the Authority decided to issue an infringement notice rather than commence court proceedings.

ACMA begun its investigation following numerous complaints from consumers who were still receiving marketing messages after unsubscribing from them. The investigation found that TPG’s systems were not properly processing unsubscribe requests.

Lessons learned

Brands need to keep in mind that commercial electronic messages such as marketing emails and SMS’ must not be sent without the consent of the recipient. Consent can be express (e.g. signing up to a mailing list), or inferred (e.g. where the recipient is a customer ).

Businesses and brands need to respect customers’ right to withdraw consent at any time by ensuring the unsubscribe or opt-out request is accurately recorded in their marketing lists so that the customer will no longer receive marketing communications.

Related resources

Consent: Inferred vs express

Collecting Data: Email marketing and consent

Related courses

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