An online retailer has copped a whopping fine for spamming customers, some of whom suffered “significant stress” as a result.
An online wine retailer has copped a $200,000 fine for breaching spam and telemarketing laws, with the regulator finding the company’s actions had potential to put vulnerable people at risk.
The Wine Group, trading under the names Oak Road Estate and Top Drop, sent unsolicited text messages to consumers who had tried to unsubscribe, made telemarketing calls to phone numbers on the Do Not Call Register after consumers withdrew consent to receive those calls and failed to terminate telemarketing calls when requested.
The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) ordered The Wine Group to pay $204,240 in infringement notices for breaching multiple spam and telemarketing laws.
ACMA chair Nerida O’Loughlin said beyond the intrusion on privacy, The Wine Group’s actions had potential to put people in vulnerable circumstances at risk.
“We received a number of complaints from people who stated The Wine Group’s unwanted marketing caused them significant stress and frustration due to their personal circumstances,” Ms O’Loughlin said.
“People choose to opt out from receiving marketing SMS and calls, sometimes for deeply personal reasons. Industry must respect those consumer choices.”
Ms O’Loughlin said the ACMA gave The Wine Group opportunities to fix its compliance issues before launching a formal investigation.
She said the company was contacted several times and told the authority had received consumer complaints about its marketing, but it failed to adequately address the issues.
In addition to the penalties, which have been paid, the ACMA has accepted a comprehensive three-year court-enforceable undertaking from The Wine Group, requiring it to appoint an independent consultant to review its compliance with spam and telemarketing rules and make improvements where needed.
The ACMA would also actively monitor The Wine Group’s review and implementation of improvements, Ms O’Loughlin said.
Over the past 18 months, businesses have shelled out more than $3.5m in penalties for breaching spam and telemarketing laws.
The ACMA has also accepted 15 court-enforceable undertakings and given six formal warnings to businesses.
“All businesses are on notice that they must take their marketing compliance very seriously or we will take action,” Ms O’Loughlin added.
Originally published as The Wine Group fined more than $200k for spamming customers with texts, calls