Uber Australia Hit With Huge Fine For Spammy Email Marketing

August 21, 2019 San Francisco / CA / USA - UBER headquarters in SOMA district; Uber Technologies, Inc. is an American multinational transportation network company (TNC)

Uber has been fined $412,500 Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) following an investigation that found the rideshare company had sent more than two million marketing emails to customers without an unsubscribe facility.

Adding to Uber’s email marketing problems, it sent more than half a million emails to customers who had previously unsubscribed. The company has paid the fine.

In a remarkable act of fat-fingeredness, all of the emails were sent on a single day in January as part of an advertising campaign for an alcohol home delivery service.

ACMA Chair Nerida O’Loughlin said it was unacceptable for a company such as Uber with its high-volume marketing to not have a robust system in place to consistently and accurately categorise consumer messages.

“In this case, an avoidable error has led to more than 2 million messages being sent without a way for people to unsubscribe. 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.

Uber’s email blast contravened the Spam Act which requires businesses to have consent before they can send direct electronic marketing messages to consumers. Businesses must also provide recipients with the option to unsubscribe within messages.

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

“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.”

Uber told B&T that the whole incident was an accident.

“Simply put, we made a mistake in sending out these marketing emails, and we worked collaboratively with ACMA to address and resolve it. We apologise to everyone who was impacted by this oversight. We take seriously our obligations under the Spam Act, and we have introduced additional measures to prevent this from happening again,” a spokesperson said.




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