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Having an email mailing list for your business is a fantastic way of keeping in touch with your clients or customers. You can use your email list to share your latest blog articles, promote your products or services, announce a sale or share a special event which is coming up.
The down side is you need to be very careful about when you can add a person’s email address to your mailing list because of the Unsolicited Electronic Messages Act 2007 in New Zealand. This act was made to prevent people like you being sent unwanted emails or spam from anyone including businesses sending messages within, to or from a NZ based email address. If you or your business sends unsolicited emails, you can face a fine of up to $500,000 which makes it really vital that you totally understand when you can add someone to your mailing list.
Spam is like junk mail in your letterbox. Businesses want to sell you something and assume that you want to know about it, so hire the local paperboy to fill your letterbox up with glossy papers or brochures to convince you to buy it. This got very annoying for many people and they started sticking signs on their letterboxes saying that if it was not directly addressed to them or asked for; please don’t put it in it. The same thing goes for emails. Businesses started thinking that sending out information which you did not ask for was a great way of boosting their business and getting your money. Even better was that it did not cost them any money to send an email, so they sent them out by the thousands. This is called unsolicited commercial electronic messages. Needless to say this became incredibly annoying for those whose email addresses were being targeted, which is why the government stepped in and created the act.
So how do you know when you are allowed to add an email address to your mailing list or database? There are three main things you need to be aware of:
You need to have their permission either expressed, inferred or deemed. Understanding when it is given or expressed is a lot simpler – they could have agreed verbally, ticked a box on a website or filled in a paper form to say they wanted your business to email them.
However implied and deemed consent is where people get mixed up. Implied consent means that they have not asked you directly to send them an email, but that there is a strong expectation that you will. It’s like when somebody buys something from your website and includes their email address. It would be okay to send them an email sending shipping details and asking them if they would like to opt in to your regular mailing list, but it’s not okay to add them to your mailing list just because they bought something from you.
Deemed consent is when their business email address is purposely displayed on a website or brochure, meaning they expect people to be able to contact them about their business. The key point is though, the email contents must be strongly related to their business.
2. Include your business details
Any emails you send must have the contact details of the business and the name of the business sending them those emails clearly defined. This is also true when you use another company to help you send your emails in bulk. It is taken that you will be able to be easily contactable for up to 30 days after you have sent your email by using the contact details you provided in your email, such as your email address, postal address and/or phone number.
3. Include a way to unsubscribe
All commercial emails you send to your mailing list must have a working unsubscribe feature which lets them tell you they do not want to receive any emails from you in the future which they have not asked for. This could be a link they click on which will automatically unsubscribe them to your mailing list, but it could also be a sentence in your message asking them to reply to your email with ‘unsubscribe’ in the subject line. Once they have announced they want to unsubscribe, you have five working days in which to ensure their contact details are removed from your mailing list. You also need to make sure that the way you have allowed them to unsubscribe will also be usable for up to the next 30 days.
So yes, you can add people’s email address to your mailing list, but you really need to make sure that they have given you consent or you will be in the running to pay a hefty fine. So remember, if in doubt, leave it out!
Disclaimer: The information on this page is general information only and must not be relied on as legal advice. Legal Beagle is not a law firm or a substitute for a law firm. We are unable to provide any kind of advice, explanation, opinion, or recommendation about possible legal rights, remedies, defences, options, selection of legal documents or strategies.
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