John Lewis Pays Damages for 'Opt Out' Spam Email Strategy

Tim Maytom

john-lewisThe department store chain John Lewis is to pay damages after a court found against it in a case regarding the dissemination of unsolicited spam email. The ruling regarding customer privacy could lead to thousands of consumers seeking similar compensation, and potentially change the way companies send out mass marketing emails.

The case was brought against the retailer by Roddy Mansfield, a Sky news reporter. He had registered his details with John Lewis' website, a process which includes a pre-ticked box consenting to marketing emails. However, an EU law from 2003 makes it an offence to send unsolicited emails if a recipient is unaware they have been opted in and isn't a customer. The John Lewis website has already been updated, making those registering on the site explicitly opt in to marketing emails.

John Lewis' official statement on the case reads: "We listen carefully to what our customers tell us about how and when we communicate with them and endeavour to do so in a manner that is convenient to them. Mr Mansfield voluntarily gave us his email address, set up an account online and chose not to opt out of marketing communications when that option was available to him.

"This case was a very specific set of circumstances and in this instance while we do not agree with the decision, we will abide by it. We apologise to Mr Mansfield that he was inconvenienced by our emails."