Didn't know about need for opt-out - can I use these customer emails?

by Susan
(South Queensferry)

Our hotel has a database of just over 3000 email addresses, and they all belong to customers. I now understand about the soft opt-in, but it's made me realise we didn't give these customers the chance to opt-OUT when we recorded their email addresses. We want to start sending an occasional email campaign to them. Is that ok? Or will we break an anti spam law?


Susan, this is a judgement call on your part. The frustrating reality for you is that technically you would be in breach of the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations.

This is because even though you did acquire the email addresses as a result of a sale, you didn't provide the opportunity to opt-out of marketing (and therefore you didn't get the soft opt-in).

Would you be prosecuted? Well, here's what the Information Commissioner's Office advised us in early 2011 about these very circumstances:

"In respect of the likelihood of enforcement action, this would depend on whether we receive any complaints about the marketing, and whether our Enforcement department believes regulatory action is appropriate"

That's why I say it's a judgement call. You might decide to go ahead and may well get away with it. Then again, you may not...

Be sure to change your data collection methods, though, and include the opt-out from now on!

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