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Kmart Pays $1.3 Million Fine For Sending Unwanted Emails Despite Unsubscriptions

Australian retailer Kmart has paid a hefty fine of $1,303,500 for violating Australian spam laws by sending over 200,000 marketing emails to customers who had previously unsubscribed.

Following consumer complaints, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) initiated an investigation that discovered Kmart dispatched 212,471 messages to customers between July 2022 and May 2023, despite their earlier requests to opt-out. 

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The investigation attributed these breaches to technological, systemic, and procedural failings within Kmart.

Nerida O’Loughlin, ACMA Chair, expressed people’s frustration regarding prominent brands invading their privacy by disregarding their requests to unsubscribe. 

The ACMA had previously alerted Kmart to potential issues with its consumer marketing before launching the formal investigation. 

“Kmart’s case is particularly concerning as it went on for such a significant period,” Ms O’Loughlin said.

She said the company was given “more than enough” notice regarding the compliance issue.

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Ms O’Loughlin said that when a customer opts out of a marketing list, businesses are obligated to respect that decision, a rule in place for nearly two decades.

According to O’Loughlin, Kmart’s extended non-compliance was a particular concern, and the company was provided ample notice before the investigation.

“The rules have been in place for nearly 20 years and there is simply no excuse.”

In line with the spam rules necessitating consumer consent for e-marketing and compliance with unsubscribe requests, Kmart has accepted a two-year court-enforceable undertaking. 

A spokesman for Kmart said the company regretted that customers received emails when they had opted out.

“These issues should not have occurred and we are actively working to strengthen our system.”

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