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Collecting information: Legal issues

“Direct to consumer” marketing is a vital element of the business for most successful cellar door businesses.  This will usually involve the collection and maintenance of a database of customer information (whether simply from sales information, or from cellar door club memberships and the like).

Any business which collects and uses information about customers should give careful consideration to obligations under both the Privacy Act 1988 and the Spam Act 2003.

Very broadly speaking, you are obliged to maintain and use any customer information in such a way as to protect the privacy of the information, and ensure it is used only for the purpose for which it was provided.  Depending on the size and exact nature of your business, you may have additional, specific obligations in respect of (for example) “Australian Privacy Principles” under the Privacy Act.

Businesses which collect and use customer information in any way should give careful consideration to preparing and implementing a well drafted privacy policy, to ensure compliance with their Privacy Act obligations.

If you use email to communicate with your customer list, you will need to comply with the Spam Act, which regulates commercial email use.  This Act includes requirements that you may not send unsolicited commercial e-mails, that any commercial e-mails must clearly identify the individual or organisation who authorised the message, and that any commercial electronic messages sent must have a “functional unsubscribe facility” (for example, clear, easy instructions about what steps a recipient can take to prevent them receiving any similar “bulk” emails from you in the future). 

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