Online retailer The Wine Group Pty Ltd has paid $204,240 in infringement notices after the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) found it breached multiple spam and telemarketing laws.
The ACMA found The Wine Group, which operates under the names Oak Road Estate and Top Drop, sent unsolicited SMS to consumers who had tried to unsubscribe, made telemarketing calls to phone numbers on the Do Not Call Register after the consumers withdrew their consent to receive those calls, and failed to terminate telemarketing calls when requested.
ACMA Chair Nerida O’Loughlin said that beyond the intrusion on privacy, The Wine Group’s actions had the potential to put people in vulnerable circumstances at risk.
“People choose to opt out from receiving marketing SMS and calls, sometimes for deeply personal reasons. Industry must respect those consumer choices,” Ms O’Loughlin said.
“We received a number of complaints from people who stated The Wine Group’s unwanted marketing caused them significant stress and frustration due to their personal circumstances.
“All businesses are on notice that they must take their marketing compliance very seriously or we will take action.”
Ms O’Loughlin said the ACMA gave The Wine Group opportunities to fix its compliance issues prior to launching a formal investigation.
“We contacted The Wine Group on several occasions letting them know we had received consumer complaints about its marketing,” she said.
“This contact by the regulator wasn’t taken as an opportunity to address the issues, as a result, we have taken this action against The Wine Group.”
The ACMA’s investigations found The Wine Group breached the Spam Act 2003, the Do Not Call Register Act 2006 and the Telecommunications (Telemarketing and Research Calls) Industry Standard 2017.
The ACMA has also accepted a comprehensive three-year court-enforceable undertaking from The Wine Group requiring it to appoint an independent consultant to review its compliance with spam and telemarketing rules, and to make improvements where needed.
The ACMA will be actively monitoring The Wine Group’s review and implementation of improvements.
Over the past 18 months, businesses have paid $3,549,400 in penalties for breaching spam and telemarketing laws. The ACMA has also accepted 15 court-enforceable undertakings and given six formal warnings to businesses.
To make a complaint about unwanted phone calls, visit www.acma.gov.au/protect-yourself-unwanted-calls-and-faxes.
To make a complaint about unwanted spam (SMS, email and instant messages), visit www.acma.gov.au/stop-getting-spam.
For information about how to reduce unwanted communications, visit the ACMA website.