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The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has fined supermarket giant Woolworths just over $1 million for unlawfully spamming customers. The fine is the largest in ACMA’s history, surpassing the fine issued to Optus by more than double in January 2020 for similar breaches.

what did Woolworths do wrong?

Woolworths was found to have spammed more than 1.2 million customers, between October 2018 and July 2019, after they had opted out of marketing emails. In particular, after individual rewards members opted-out of marketing emails, Woolworths continued to spam different members who shared the same email address. ACMA found that this amounted to 5 million breaches of the Spam Act 2003.

Under Australian law, Spam is defined as unsolicited commercial electronic messaging, and individuals have the right to unsubscribe/opt-out from receiving communications of this type. Businesses must not only stop emailing individuals who opt-out, but also the email address they’re opting out from, regardless if this email address is used by multiple people.

ACMA had previously warned Woolworths that it had received an influx of customer complaints regarding Woolworths’ failure to respond to opt-out requests. Given the spam rules have been in place for 17 years, ACMA noted that this prolonged nature of non-compliance was inexcusable.

what does this mean for businesses?

ACMA is cracking down on companies breaking spam and telemarketing laws, with more than $1.7 million worth of fines issued over the past year. Woolworths serves as a cautionary example that continuing to unlawfully disseminate emails may result in serious penalties.

Given the recent fines and non-compliance, it is important for your company to consider the following:

  • Does your online platform easily enable customers to unsubscribe from marketing and promotional material?
  • Do you maintain a database of unsubscribed customers?
  • Do you have a system in place to ensure these customers aren’t receiving emails?
  • Are you conducting regular audits of your systems to maintain compliance with the law?

Macpherson Kelley is well placed to conduct a thorough review of your current practices and ensure that your company is complying with its legal obligations under the Spam Act 2003.

Should you require any assistance or would like to find out how the Spam Act 2003 applies to your business, please contact our commercial (trade) team.

stay up to date with our news & insights

woolworths receives record fine for spamming customers

09 July 2020
josh burland jason kaye

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has fined supermarket giant Woolworths just over $1 million for unlawfully spamming customers. The fine is the largest in ACMA’s history, surpassing the fine issued to Optus by more than double in January 2020 for similar breaches.

what did Woolworths do wrong?

Woolworths was found to have spammed more than 1.2 million customers, between October 2018 and July 2019, after they had opted out of marketing emails. In particular, after individual rewards members opted-out of marketing emails, Woolworths continued to spam different members who shared the same email address. ACMA found that this amounted to 5 million breaches of the Spam Act 2003.

Under Australian law, Spam is defined as unsolicited commercial electronic messaging, and individuals have the right to unsubscribe/opt-out from receiving communications of this type. Businesses must not only stop emailing individuals who opt-out, but also the email address they’re opting out from, regardless if this email address is used by multiple people.

ACMA had previously warned Woolworths that it had received an influx of customer complaints regarding Woolworths’ failure to respond to opt-out requests. Given the spam rules have been in place for 17 years, ACMA noted that this prolonged nature of non-compliance was inexcusable.

what does this mean for businesses?

ACMA is cracking down on companies breaking spam and telemarketing laws, with more than $1.7 million worth of fines issued over the past year. Woolworths serves as a cautionary example that continuing to unlawfully disseminate emails may result in serious penalties.

Given the recent fines and non-compliance, it is important for your company to consider the following:

  • Does your online platform easily enable customers to unsubscribe from marketing and promotional material?
  • Do you maintain a database of unsubscribed customers?
  • Do you have a system in place to ensure these customers aren’t receiving emails?
  • Are you conducting regular audits of your systems to maintain compliance with the law?

Macpherson Kelley is well placed to conduct a thorough review of your current practices and ensure that your company is complying with its legal obligations under the Spam Act 2003.

Should you require any assistance or would like to find out how the Spam Act 2003 applies to your business, please contact our commercial (trade) team.