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Hi all,

We are in Australia and are struggling to come to terms with new legislation that was recently passed requiring "commercial" email to carry an unsubscribe option or risk causing our company a $220,000 fine.

Our issue is which of our emails should have this unsubscribe option on them? Some of us here think we should add it to our companies footer which is added at the exchange server to EVERY single email, others think it should only go on the emails the sales dept sends for a marketing campaign etc.

The issues with putting it on every single mail means for example tech support emails would carry it and somebody theoretically could bar themselves from tech support and we wouldn't be able to contact them to turn it back on because that would violate the legislation.

Of course we are contacting a lawyer, but in the meantime are there any other Australian businesses who have this issue? Or other countries with similar legislation? How do you handle it?

And how do you handle it once somebody has unsubscribed? Its not like we are Microsoft with all our customers tracked with Passport, we only use Act! and Outlook and Exchange. Is it possible to put something in exchange to prevent us accidentally sending the people emails or would that be too much of a maintenance nightmare.

Chris Ormerod
Tuesday, April 13, 2004

I really don't understand why you would ask this type of question on JOS. It's a very important question and if you can't read or work it out for yourselves, a web forum isn't going to do it.

echidna
Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Come on, you could say the same thing about half the posts on this board.

I noted we are also consulting lawyers, but posted the question to gain others opinions based on the fact that quite a few of the people on this board are involved in running (or at least working in) a software company and this issue is quite relevant to most of them.

Chris Ormerod
Tuesday, April 13, 2004

I would say that any email that is sent in response to some form of contact by the customer (whether it was by phone, email or whatever) should not have the unsubscribe.

but _any_ email that is sent as a unilateral action by the company _should_ have the unsubscribe.

FullNameRequired
Tuesday, April 13, 2004

All I can say as a person that gets deluged with things that never seem to unsubscribe properly: Bravo for Australia.

I'm not sorry that this creates an inconvenience for your company.  So often I get email from something I once thought was interesting - but can never get out of it.

I seriously doubt that tech support email, if solicited by a custumer would fall in this category.  If the customer initiates contact, then its a point to point exchange - not a mass mailing.  Certainly if audited, you can demonstrate that the customer initiated the conversation.

I rarely read the mass mailings I receive.  Even though some are interesting - there are not enough hours in the day.  And they are lengthy.  Too little information of use and mostly someone trying to sell something.  It gets filed and rarely looked at.  Don't think you're losing something by having customers reject your mailings.

hoser
Tuesday, April 13, 2004

> I ... posted the question to gain others opinions based on the fact that quite a few of the people on this board are involved in running (or at least working in) a software company and this issue is quite relevant to most of them.

No, it's not. It's specific to the situation facing Australian companies, covered by the new Australian legislation, and it's not a matter of geting people's opinions. It's a serious technical issue you have to get right. That is, technical in the legal sense.

echidan
Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Thanks for the others comments.

But echidna, should I post stuff after all the other messages asking about US legislation because it doesn't apply to us? Im sorry for asking a question that you don't approve of, please feel free to not read it (i don't read all the stuff about H1B and all the other junk the US people go on about - although I do read the posts such as the ones from a little while back about collecting international sales tax because it may apply to me in the future).

Ignoring that, what about the issues of managing this sort of thing that I asked in my first post? The technical "in the technical sense" issues, what are some of the other smaller companies who don't have huge mailing list managment departments doing to keep track of the unsubscribes?

Chris Ormerod
Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Maybe you could start asking how to fill out your BAS statements too?

And, by the way, the concepts behind H1B most definitely apply in Australia. Here it's 457 visas. You're probably losing $5,000 to $10,000 per year, at least, because of Howard.

echidna
Tuesday, April 13, 2004

How about a simple rule:

Only unsolicited contacts contain the unsubscribe.  In other words, all emails that are not a response to an original email.  It is simple and probably works for the majority if not all of the scenarios.

Seeker
Tuesday, April 13, 2004

I think its a bit absurd to limit discussion.  If you don't like it, don't read it.  It will scroll off into oblivion inside of 2 weeks.

hoser
Tuesday, April 13, 2004

echidna/echidan:

To me this seems to be a very appropriate question.  I'm sure that knowledge of how spam laws are being implemented in other jurisdictions will help us understand if the laws in our jurisdiction make sense.  If the Aussie law work well, you can bet your ass that similar laws will be introduced (if they don't already exist) in many other states/countries.

In general, you cannot decide what the rest of us will think is appropriate to discuss.  If you have nothing of value to add to the conversation, then don't participate.

O Canader
Tuesday, April 13, 2004

"The technical "in the technical sense" issues, what are some of the other smaller companies who don't have huge mailing list managment departments doing to keep track of the unsubscribes?"

We use Mercury32

http://www.pmail.com/whatsnew/m32401.htm

for our little lists.  We  just set them up as per the docs and let the unsuscribers take care of themselves.  Fire and forget by and large.

We've had the odd glitch but nothing worth writing home about - our customers by and large understand it's all a good faith effort.  Any technical/administrative issues generally get sorted like any other support issue - someone gets in there and fixes it.

We've only got  ~400 on our lists BTW.

Motown (AU)
Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Thanks for that Motown, I will look into that.

Chris Ormerod
Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Maybe this is obvious.

Unsubscribe only that which is subscribed-to. That is, any unsolicited stuff should require a subscription (otherwise, it's spam).

njkayaker
Wednesday, April 14, 2004

You don't need an unsubscribe if it isn't subscribed to in the first place, or you are sending out the same info to more than one customer.

Make sure you don't mix marketing with Tech support (so many companies now see Tech Support as nothing more than an excuse for marketing that this is not as obvious as it seems). So if you find a bug in your product and need to inform everybody you can send out a mail to tell them that, and only that.

Don't have the "send us info about new products and third party offers" checked by default on the registration form.

Have the "a new update is available" emails separate with an unsubscribe option to them.

Stephen Jones
Friday, April 16, 2004

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