Uber fined under spam law

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By Published On: October 26, 20230 Comments

Email marketers beware, Uber Australia has been fined $412,500 for breaching spam laws following an ACMA investigation into a January email campaign.

An investigation by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has found that Uber sent out an email that reached 2,035,640 people without a functional unsubscribe facility. The email, sent out in January, was promoting their alcohol delivery in a “Bar in a Car” activation campaign. More than 500,000 of the messages were sent to customers who had previously unsubscribed.

According to the investigation Uber mischaracterised the emails as non-commercial, which was found to be wrong. Under the Spam Act, CEMs which have an Australian link must contain a functional unsubscribe facility, and an unsubscribe link / function in a CEM must be capable of receiving a recipient’s unsubscribe message which is where Uber failed to comply. 

As a result, Uber has been fined $412,500 for the misdemeanor.

“In this case, an avoidable error has led to more than 2 million messages being sent without a way for people to unsubscribe,” said ACMA Chair Nerida O’Loughlin, who found the error “unacceptable.” “This error was compounded by the fact that half a million of those messages were sent to people who had previously opted out.”

“Consumers are fed up with their wishes not being respected. People rightly expect to have choice over who contacts them for marketing purposes,” O’Loughlin said. 

“We are actively monitoring Uber’s compliance and will not hesitate to take stronger action if it doesn’t comply in the future,” Ms O’Loughlin said.

“This is a warning to all businesses conducting e-marketing that they should be actively and regularly reviewing their marketing to ensure it is compliant.”

“We are particularly concerned about direct marketing that involves gambling, alcohol and ‘buy-now, pay-later’ products and services that may lead to significant harm for people in vulnerable circumstances.”

About the Author: Rosalea Catterson

Rosalea is the Editor of Power Retail. With a keen interest in consumer behaviour and tech, she covers everything ecommerce and hosts the Power Retail Power Talks Podcast.

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