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Honoring a request to unsubscribe – from when?

A blog visitor raised an interesting question that I thought would be of enough interest to contact the DIA about. I remember that in the Act it does provide the answer but I wanted a more basic guideline from the legal English contained within the NZ Anti-SPAM Act.

The question is around the term “honoring a request to unsubscribe within five working days” – from when?

Below is the email I sent DIA and below that is the response. I must say I am very impressed with the DIA – they provide clear and very detailed responses.

I have a question for you regarding the 5 day business unsubscribe rule.

I have read the DIA business guide and it states on page 6 “..and you must honour a request to unsubscribe within five working days…”

My question is when does the five working business days commence? From receipt of the request? From when the subscriber sent the request?

This is important as even with email sometimes the message does not get through or it is sent to a person who went on holiday for a month and other staff members within the company are still sending the subscriber emails since they have not been made aware of the unsubscribe request.

Another important consideration is when a subscriber sends a unsubscribe request via the post (snail mail) which may take more than 2-3 days to be delivered within NZ (the postal system has failed before).

DIA Reponse (the same day!)

Section 9(2) states that “the recipients consent to receiving a commercial electronic message from the sender is deemed to have been withdrawn with effect from the day that is 5 working days after the day on which the unsubscribe facility was used”.

In effect, the clock starts the day after the recipient used the unsubscribe facility. There is no reference in the Act to the sender receiving the notice of the unsubscribe facility. In fact, section 11(a) directly refers to the principal message including a functional unsubscribe facility that the recipient may use to instruct the person who authorised the sending of the principal message (the sender) that no further commercial electronic messages from or authorised by the sender should be sent.

Therefore, multiple users from one company (sender) would need to ensure that they have a system whereby all unsubscribe requests are actioned within the 5 working day period.

Section 11(c) advises that the unsubscribe facility should allow the recipient to respond to the sender using the same method of communication that was used to send the principal message. If the recipient used a means of communication other than the same method of communication of the original commercial electronic message, and decided to use NZ Post (for example), the five working days would commence from the day the recipient could have expected the unsubscribe notice to have reasonably been delivered. For example, within the same city, 1 day for delivery, rest of the country 2-3 days (I haven’t checked with NZ Post as to expected delivery times, these are just suggestions).

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