Harvey Norman apologises for $5 credit email

Customers were mistakenly sent a message thanking them for signing up to a VIP newsletter

Retailer Harvey Norman has issued an apologetic email after it accidently sent out customers a $5 credit offer for signing up to its VIP email, even though they had not opted in to receive it.

A reader contacted Computerworld Australia after he received one of the emails on Friday, February 22 which read: “Here's $5.00 as a thanks for signing up!”

Harvey Norman then sent out a subsequent email which apologised for the $5 welcome credit.

“We realise that you haven’t subscribed yet and want to reassure you that we will not continue to email you in the future unless you opt-in,” read the message.

“We take email opt-in requirements very seriously and are sorry for our mistake.”

In the apology, the retailer included the email it had meant to send out which invited existing Harvey Norman customers to sign up online to receive “exclusive member benefits” and a $5 voucher.

An Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) spokesman said it could not disclose whether it had received any complaints about the Harvey Norman emails.

“The key message is that consumers can complain to us and we will assess and take compliance action as appropriate in the circumstances but we do not comment on specific businesses unless they relate to the outcome of an investigation,” the spokesman said.

“Industries need to be mindful of the Spam Act in their marketing activities.”

Under the Act, it is illegal for unsolicited commercial electronic messages that have an Australian link to be sent, or cause to be sent. The legislation sets out penalties of up to $1.1 million a day for repeat corporate offenders.

In December 2012, ACMA issued a formal warning to McDonald’s Australia for sending emails which did not meet the requirements of the Act.

An ACMA investigation found that emails sent via the McDonald’s Happy Meal website using the ‘send to friends’ option were sent without ensuring friend’s consent. The emails had no unsubscribe option either, which is required under the Spam Act.

Harvey Norman was contacted for comment by Computerworld Australia but did not respond at the time of writing.

Follow Hamish Barwick on Twitter: @HamishBarwick

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU, or take part in the Computerworld conversation on LinkedIn: Computerworld Australia

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