As some of you may or may not know, in my non-spare time, I work as a solicitor in the UK dealing with, amongst other things, IT and e-commerce matters. The overlap is a good thing to me because it allows me to indulge my love of all things tech and mix in a little […]
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Beware Shy Traders…

Beware Shy TradersAs some of you may or may not know, in my non-spare time, I work as a solicitor in the UK dealing with, amongst other things, IT and e-commerce matters. The overlap is a good thing to me because it allows me to indulge my love of all things tech and mix in a little law for good measure.

Now, it was never my intention to use this space to write about legal issues but, sometimes, you feel compelled to veer off down an unplanned path – this is one of those times. It all comes down to an email I received the other day about a study that had been carried out by Dotmailer into email marketing compliance (click here). But don’t click away just yet, this might get interesting!

Let me give you some background. There is a whole raft of rules and regulations on email marketing. They are designed to prevent spam emails (which clearly is less than effective) and also to protect consumers when trading online. The protective measures ensure that you are given a certain amount of information about the company that is sending you the email so that you can have some idea about who they are, where they are based, where they are registered* and so on. This is really basic information and should not be difficult for any company to provide.

Dotmailer sampled marketing emails from 46 companies and found that 21 were breaking the rules. And they weren’t tiny little one-man bands – amongst them were some massive household names such as Game, CD-WOW and Waterstone’s.

The consequences of breaching the rules are a fine of up to £1000 plus a further £300 per day that the contravention continues. But who is protecting you, the consumer, by enforcing the rules? Well, it seems like nobody is.

The fines are potentially small beer to the companies involved but more important to them will be the potential loss of customer confidence. I act for a number of companies, drawing up their terms of use, email footers and privacy policies and a good company will have these in place, giving you plenty of information that will protect you and them.

I am sure that the vast majority of companies mentioned in the report are doing great things for their customers but they should not be allowed to ignore rules that are designed to protect their customers. At the end of the day, it really does benefit both sides to have everything clearly set out.In the meantime, while waiting for someone to do something – anything – about this, my message to UK consumers wanting to buy things online is that you could do worse than go to the Trading Standards website here where you will find some useful information on your rights.

From the company’s side, I would ask that you consider what message you are sending out to your customers if you are not going to give this most basic information. There are thousands of companies out there that are willing to go that extra mile for their customers. If you are not happy to do the same, don’t be surprised if they go elsewhere – however big you are.

James Barisic

* I’m not going to give too many clues as to how this might be relevant to this site but one company we all know seems a little forgetful about putting company registration details on its UK marketing emails…

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