The question continued:

Can this also be done for addresses conveyed by the customer in written form or via telephone?
Such an email would, like a double optin mail, contain the mere confirmation text and no ads or other advertising notes.

Yes, you can submit such mails to customers, but the word „customer“ should be carefully defined. A valid contractual relationship needs to exist before and during submission of such an email (unless permission to receive emails from you has already been given). A customer is, for instance, a business partner or a person who has ordered a product from your online shop – but only if this relationship hasn’t expired for years. Someone showing an interest in your services or products is not a customer yet. All preconditions provided in Section 7, Paragraph (2) UWG (= Act Against Unfair Practices) must be met.

The question aims at the common situation that persons signalize in a counseling interview that they would like to receive further information via email, and convey their contact data in the form of a business card. This can be considered an agreement to obtain advertising emails, but the problem of traceability may arise. Furthermore the contact data (especially the email address) may be someone else’s. This can be excluded by submitting the email under discussion here.

Basically you should avoid such email verifications „into the blue“ wherever possible since the mails will automatically have an advertising character, even when no direct product ads are placed. If the email address does indeed belong to a third person, this person can obtain a rejection involving cost and trouble.

Our Advice: Point out to your customers on the phone that they are welcome to use the subscription form on your website to initiate a normal double optin process providing security for both sides. Do not enter addresses for others (no matter whether this is done directly into the database, the system GUI or into your subscription form).

If you still want to go for a confirmation by email, please refrain from sending any further mails after the first attempt has failed (no response). One email only aiming at confirming correct possessorship of an email address will most likely considered acceptable by most judges – repeated attempts, however, will most likely be considered an intolerable nuisance.

Posted in: Legal issues

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