Feeds

Groupon deal spam slapped by Australian regulator

When 'unsubscribe' means 'we'll still send you email'

The Power of One Brief: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

Groupon's troubles just got a little deeper and more widespread, after Australia's Communications and Media Authority (which likes to be called 'the ACMA') issued a “formal warning” that the floundering group buying outfit needs to get its email house in order.

The ACMA issues formal warnings as a prelude to unholstering its legal arsenal, which allows it to impose fines of up to $AUD$1.1m a day.

Groupon earned the warning because of its practice of signing customers to multiple newsletters, but only offering the chance to unsubscribe one by one.

“Complaints to the ACMA 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 every day or week,” the Authority's notice about the warning says.

“The ACMA considered information provided by Groupon left it unclear what individuals were unsubscribing from,” the notice says. But “In the ACMA’s view, it was reasonable for individuals to expect they would be unsubscribed from all newsletters unless they were advised otherwise.”

Tardy action on unsusbcribe requests was another issue, as Groupon failed to strike punters off its lists within the five days required by Australia's Spam Act.

Groupon will doubtless be pleased to have avoided a fine, but in Australia, as elsewhere, things aren't looking up for the company. Local group buying rivals may have floundered, but among those still alive are outfits backed by Australia's outposts for Yahoo! and MSN. Those operations have access to substantial lists of punters. Groupon, by contrast, now makes it all-but-impossible to visit its Australian site without handing over an email address, as the pop-up requesting one has no obvious way to cancel it and proceed to the main page.

That popup does at least now have clearer wording explaining just what Groupon Australia will do with your email address, a change made at the ACMA's behest.

That change does not mean Groupon is out of the woods. Australia's consumer regulator has also circled the group buying sector after consumer complains about dishonoured deals. Merchants have also cooled on the concept, often finding that group buying may bring new customers through the door, but mostly bargain-hunters looking for a cheap experience rather than a longer-term relationship. ®

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications

More from The Register

next story
Arrr: Freetard-bothering Digital Economy Act tied up, thrown in the hold
Ministry of Fun confirms: Yes, we're busy doing nothing
ONE EMAIL costs mining company $300 MEEELION
Environmental activist walks free after hoax sent share price over a cliff
'Blow it up': Plods pop round for chat with Commonwealth Games tweeter
You'd better not be talking about the council's housing plans
Help yourself to anyone's photos FOR FREE, suggests UK.gov
Copyright law reforms will keep m'learned friends busy
Apple smacked with privacy sueball over Location Services
Class action launched on behalf of 100 million iPhone owners
UK government officially adopts Open Document Format
Microsoft insurgency fails, earns snarky remark from UK digital services head
You! Pirate! Stop pirating, or we shall admonish you politely. Repeatedly, if necessary
And we shall go about telling people you smell. No, not really
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable
Learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.