Online electrical retailer slammed by ACMA

By Patrick Avenell

SYDNEY, NSW: An online retailer of electrical goods, including TVs, computers, digital cameras and AV equipment, has been slammed by the Australia Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) for sending unsolicited messages to potential consumers.

The retailer, Topbuy, was investigated by ACMA after the watchdog learned the group was sending emails to individuals who had unsubscribed from the service. In its defence, Topbuy said that it had gained consent through a friends and family referral campaign.

“Many businesses try to acquire clients through referrals from family and friends, but this is simply not allowed under the specific opt-in marketing provisions of the Spam Act,’ said ACMA chairman Chris Chapman.

“Consent to receive commercial electronic messages can only be given by the relevant electronic account-holder—the person responsible for that account—and not by another person. It’s just not acceptable.”

Penalties under the Spam Act are stiff: up to $1.1 million per day may be imposed for repeat offenders. Chapman sent out a message to Topbuy and other online retailers that these penalties will be enforced.

“Online retailers rely on email marketing, but time and time again the ACMA receives complaints about sloppy or cavalier consent practices. Topbuy and the online retailing industry more generally should consider themselves to be on notice.”

Under the Spam Act, commercial emails must contain the following features: consent from the recipient, clear identification of the sender and a functional unsubscribe option.

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