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  • A barrage of spam emails has netted Woolworths Group (WOW) over $1 million in fines
  • Between October 2018 and July 2019, its supermarket division sent over 1.2 million customers emails that contravened the Spam Act of 2003
  • The fine is a record sum from the Australian Communications and Media Authority
  • Reportedly, email recipients that opted to ‘unsubscribe’ could not stop the emails from being delivered
  • Woolworths has since apologised for the breach, and has complied to a three-year independent review of its systems
  • Shares in Woolworths Group gained 0.76 per cent on Thursday to close at $37.18 each

Woolworths Group (WOW) has been fined $1 million after breaching email ‘spam’ laws.

According to the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), Woolworths spammed over 1.2 million customers through email between October 2018 and July 2019.

Reportedly, more than five million emails were sent to warrant the $1,003,800 sum. This is the largest fine ever awarded by the ACMA.

The marketing emails sent by Woolworths to customers were relentless, even after recipients opted to ‘unsubscribe’.

“Woolworths failed to act even after the ACMA had warned it of potential compliance issues after receiving consumer complaints,” ACMA Chair Nerida O’Loughlin said.

“In this case, consumers claimed that they had tried to unsubscribe on multiple occasions or for highly personal reasons, but their requests were not actioned by Woolworths because of its systems, processes and practices,” Nerida continued.

This contravention of the ‘Spam Act’ of 2003 netted the supermarket giant the fine.

“The spam rules have been in place for 17 years and Woolworths is a large and sophisticated organisation,” Nerida added. “The Spam Act is in place to protect consumers, and we expect companies to comply with the law”.

Woolworths will also now have to appoint an independent expert to review internal services at the corporation in compliance with the ACMA. This appointment can last up to three years.

Woolworths has since apologised for the breach, saying technical issues were to blame.

“We respect the right of our rewards members to choose how and when we communicate with them and apologise for failing to act on all unsubscribe requests as required under the law,” WooliesX Managing Director, Amanda Bardwell, said.

“Subsequent breaches occurred because we continued sending communications to email addresses shared by multiple rewards members, where only one member had made an unsubscribe request,” she continued.

“We accept this position and have unsubscribed all members who share an email address where at least one of those members has told us they want to unsubscribe,” Amanda stated.

WooliesX is the supermarket’s digital commerce sector, which has recently undergone executive growth.

Repeat corporate offenders of the Spam Act law can face up to $2.22 million in fines per day.

Shares in Woolworths grew 0.76 per cent over Thursday trade, closing at $37.18 each.

WOW by the numbers
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