ACMA found over five million breaches of the Act by Woolworths in marketing emails to consumers between October 2018 and July 2019 after those people had unsubscribed from previous messages.
ACMA states its investigation found Woolworths’ systems, processes and practices were inadequate to comply with spam rules, with ACMA executive Nerida O’Loughlin commenting
The spam rules have been in place for seventeen years and Woolworths is a large and sophisticated organisation. The scale and prolonged nature of the non-compliance is inexcusable. Woolworths failed to act even after the ACMA had warned it of potential compliance issues after receiving consumer complaints.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.
In its court-enforceable undertaking Woolworths has committed to appoint an independent consultant to review its systems, processes, and procedures, to implement improvements, and to report to ACMA. Woolworths has also committed to undertake training, and to report all non-compliance it identifies to ACMA for the term of the undertaking.
Our enforcement action, a substantial infringement notice and a comprehensive three-year court-enforceable undertaking, is commensurate to the nature of the conduct, number of consumers impacted and the lack of early and effective action by Woolworths. CMA’s actions should serve as a reminder to others not to disregard customers’ wishes when it comes to unsubscribing from marketing material.