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Spam - no laughing matter for SMEs

By Matt O'Neale - 1 Apr 2016

A Monty Python sketch once described the canned meat product Spam as ubiquitous, inescapable and tasting horrible. Years later, this portrayal has meant that 'spam' now dually refers to all manner of unsolicited, undesired, or illegal email messages.

Monty Python may be funny, but infringements of anti-spam legislation are no laughing matter. In New Zealand, a non-complying business can be fined up to $500,000 and ordered to compensate spam victims for their loss. An approach of naming and shaming offenders can also be a PR headache you don't need.

The Department of Internal Affairs reports investigating around 40 complaints per month, with Auckland-based SMEs being leading offenders. Some of the business types named by the DIA as among the worst offenders include general retailers, gyms, beauticians, hairdressers, grocers, online alcohol businesses and real estate agents. The DIA claims many SMEs either don't know about the law, or are interpreting it incorrectly.

Obtaining an email recipient's consent to receive your emails or other electronic messages is not enough. While consent is a requirement, the Unsolicited Electronic Messages Act goes further. For example, commercial electronic messages must only be sent if they contain a functional unsubscribe facility and if the sender is clearly identified.

If you are emailing or messaging customers or potential customers and you are not sure if you are complying with the law, please contact our team for help.


Matt O'Neale

Craig Nelson


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