Uber Australia has been fined $412,500 by regulator the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) after the rideshare and food delivery company sent more than 2 million emails in breach of Australian spam laws.
An ACMA ivestigation concluded that Uber sent marketing emails to customers without an unsubscribe option, and on top of that, more than 500,000 were sent to customers who had previously unsubscribed.
All the emails were sent on one day in January 2023 advertising alcohol home delivery service. While they were flogging grog, Uber mischaracterised them as non-commercial.
Rival delivery service DoorDash did a similar thing and was fined earlier this year. In comparison Uber appears to have got off lightly, compared to the $2 million fine DoorDash copped for sending more than one million texts and emails in breach of Australian spam rules.
ACMA Chair Nerida O’Loughlin said it was unacceptable that Uber made an “an avoidable error” sending more 2 million messages without an unsubscribe option.
“This error was compounded by the fact that half a million of those messages were sent to people who had previously opted out,” she said.
“Consumers are fed up with their wishes not being respected. People rightly expect to have choice over who contacts them for marketing purposes.
The Spam Act requires businesses to have consent before they can send direct electronic marketing messages to consumers. Businesses must also provide recipients with the option to unsubscribe within messages.
“We are actively monitoring Uber’s compliance and will not hesitate to take stronger action if it doesn’t comply in the future,” O’Loughlin said.
“This is a warning to all businesses conducting e-marketing that they should be actively and regularly reviewing their marketing to ensure it is compliant.”
The regulator is keeping a close eye on direct marketing that involves gambling, alcohol and ‘buy-now, pay-later’ services on the potential for significant harm for people in vulnerable circumstances.
In a statement an Uber spokesperson said they “made a mistake” and introduced new measures to prevent it re-occurring.
“We apologise to everyone who was impacted by this oversight,” they said.
ACMA’s compliance priorities have now seen it hand out $11 million in spam and telemarketing breach penalties over the last 18 months, with Ticketek, DoorDash and CommBank among those who also fell foul of the legislation.
People can make a complaint about spam here.