Group buying giant Groupon has been smacked with a formal warning by the media watchdog for sending email newsletters to consumers without their consent.
The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) said Groupon had made how to unsubscribe “unclear”.
The online retailer was also found to have failed to action unsubscribe requests within the five days required under the Spam Act.
ACMA received complaints from disgruntled consumers who attempted to unsubscribe from the newsletters but were only removed from either the daily or weekly list.
As a result people continued to “receive other Group newsletters regularly every day or week”, ACMA said.
“In the ACMA’s view, it was reasonable for individuals to expect they would be unsubscribed from all newsletters unless they were advised otherwise.”
Groupon has now made wording around unsubscribing clearer and has implemented an account management system so individuals can choose which emails they want to receive.
Consent to receive marketing emails is not “informed consent” if it is unclear what individuals are signing up for, ACMA added.
Daily Deal sites have been accused of damaging email marketing’s image.
Adrian Saunders, senior vice president and general manager APAC of email marketing software company Lyris, told B&T late last year: “Naturally there’s the poor image that spam gives but there are also 92 daily deal sites in Australia – most of whom don’t do any segmentation and don’t consider relevance or timeliness…And that doesn’t do a good job for our industry.”
However this is a position that group buying sites fervently protest.
When LivingSocial’s vice president of marketing for Australia and New Zealand, Anu Mohan, was asked if group buying has damaged email marketing he said: “I think it’s the other way around.”
For more on this see B&T’s feature: ‘What’s in your inbox?’