Virgin Blue rectifies 'spam' campaign

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Virgin Blue rectifies 'spam' campaign

Airline fined $110,000.

Virgin Blue has agreed to overhaul its email marketing practices following allegations that the company ignored recipients' attempts to unsubscribe from its mailing list.

The airline last month entered into an enforceable undertaking with the Australian Communications and Media Authority, following a year-long investigation by the regulator.

Under the agreement (pdf), Virgin Blue would engage an independent third party to assess its email marketing processes and implement any recommended changes within two months of the recommendations being made.

Virgin Blue also promised to pay ACMA $110,000 "in full and final settlement for all alleged breaches of the Spam Act which were [the] subject of the ACMA investigation".

ACMA began investigating "alleged breaches of the Spam Act" by Virgin Blue on 19 November 2009 after receiving complaints from members of the public.

The Act requires companies to comply with a consumer's request to be unsubscribed from commercial emails within five working days.

Virgin Blue believed that "a number of [commercial electronic messages] that were the subject of the ACMA's investigation were sent by mistake", thus complying with Section 16(4) of the Act.

But ACMA's anti-spam team manager Julia Cornwall McKean found the oversight to have been an "ongoing issue" during the investigation.

"We don't think that Virgin Blue was reactive enough," she told iTnews today, describing the airline as "one of the most prolific e-marketers in Australia".

Prior to ACMA's acceptance of the enforceable undertaking, it had identified 10,000 commercial electronic messages that Virgin Blue had sent to consumers who had previously unsubscribed from its mailing list.

Virgin Blue reported that it had conducted spam compliance training last August for personnel involved in sending the offending messages.

It promised to develop a training program to be approved by ACMA within three months, and establish and maintain a policy for handling spam-related complaints.

The company agreed to conduct monthly audits of 10 percent of its email marketing campaigns for 12 months, commencing this month, to monitor its compliance with the Spam Act.

Last March, the airline's sister company Virgin Mobile was fined $22,000 for sending messages to customers who had 'opted out' of its mailing lists.

Cornwall McKean said that Virgin Blue and Virgin Mobile were two separate legal entities and the ACMA investigations were unrelated.

She encouraged businesses and consumers with spam-related concerns to visit

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