Groupon uses newsletters to advertise or promote its deals of the day. By providing an email address to Groupon, individuals were typically subscribed to multiple newsletters which were sent to them either daily or weekly.
Complaints to ACMA (the Australian Communications and Media Authority) indicated that individuals who attempted to unsubscribe from the newsletters were only unsubscribed from one of them, and continued to receive other Groupon newsletters regularly.
ACMA considered information provided by Groupon left it unclear what individuals were unsubscribing from. In ACMA’s view, it was reasonable for individuals to expect they would be unsubscribed from all newsletters unless they were advised otherwise.
ACMA also found that some unsubscribe requests made to Groupon were not actioned within the five business days required by the Spam Act.
In response to the investigation, ACMA says Groupon has made the wording clearer on its website and in emails about unsubscribing from its newsletters. It has also implemented an account management system so that individuals can choose which email newsletters they wish to receive.
Consent to receive marketing emails is not "informed consent" if it is unclear what individuals are signing up to. The ACMA’s most recent e-marketing blog deals with the importance of gaining informed consent to receive e-marketing messages from potential customers.
The Spam Act 2003 regulates commercial electronic messaging in Australia. Commercial electronic messages can be emails, SMS messages, MMS messages, instant messaging messages or any other similar messages.
The Act sets outs that a commercial electronic message must have the following features:
- Consent – it must be sent with the recipient's consent. A recipient may give express consent, or consent may be inferred from their conduct and existing business or other relationships
- Identify – it must contain accurate information about the person or organisation that authorised the sending of the message
- Unsubscribe – it must contain a functional "unsubscribe" facility to allow the recipient to opt-out from receiving messages from that source in the future.