The Smell of Bullshit, part 43: more more data protection issues

As already discussed here, here and here, many people have concerns about Lush’s attitude to their legal obligations relating to data protection. Recently I had an email from a Lush customer (as always, all emails relating to this blog should go to southside socialist at hotmail dot co dot uk). The customer had signed up to receive emails from Lush retail, but suddenly started receiving emails from a Lush/Vivienne Westwood “climate revolution” campaign. (Perhaps they could start their climate revolution by closing the damn doors).

The first email was from “Climate Revolution” and it said

…A Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. We would like to thank you for signing up to Climate Revolution and supporting us in 2013 and we hope you continue to support us to fight for a healthy planet; financially, environmentally and socially.

It has taken us a year but we have launched our website and you can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Thank you,
Vivienne Westwood & Climate Revolution.

and at the bottom it says

You are receiving this email because you opted to sign up to Vivienne Westwood’s Climate Revolution.

The customer is adamant she did not opt to sign up to the Climate Revolution campaign. She contacted Lush, saying

Hi,

I have received the below email to an address that I set up specifically for use on your website. I did not opt in to email from the Climate Revolution at any time.

Your website’s privacy policy says

We may share your information on a confidential basis with our third party providers and group companies. However, don’t worry, your data is not publicly available and we will never pass it on to anyone who will plague you with non-Lush marketing stuff. We treat your data as strictly confidential!

Can you please explain why and how Vivienne Westwood Ltd have been given my email address?

Regards,

Lush responded with

Hello

Thank you for getting in touch, please do excuse the delay in our reply. I’m so sorry to learn of your concerns regarding a recent Climate Revolution Newsletter. Please do accept our apologies.

During our joint venture between Climate Revolution and Vivnene Westwood we created www.climaterevolution.org to provide our customers with further information about the current campaign. We sent out a newsletter to our customers informing them about Climate Revolution and the new website.

I would like to reassure you that our customers privacy is of the up most importance to us and we would never share your personal information to any third parties. If you no longer wish to receive any further information from the Climate Revolution Campaign you can click on the unsubcribe button at the end of the Newsletter, which will remove you from the mailing list.

I do hope this has been of help and please do accept our sincere apologies for inconvenience this has caused you. If you were to have any further questions or concerns please do let us know.

Kind regards,

Customer Care
Lush Retail Ltd
Tel: 01202 641006
Email: customercare@lush.co.uk

But this customer did not opt in to receive Climate Revolution information – Lush opted her into that without asking, even though they say they do not pass details onto agencies who would use them to send out marketing emails. Note that the person responding thinks “utmost” is “up most.” Oh, and at the bottom of the email from customer care, it says

To resolve this, we need to tell the customer:

·         What Climate Revolution is and apologise for any confusion caused.

·         Assure the customer that we have not shared any data with anyone.

·         Provide them with simple instructions on how to unsubscribe (click the link in the email provided).

Thanks all,

which looks to me as if the customer care people have forwarded the customer’s email on for advice about how to deal with it, and haven’t fully deleted the advice they got before replying. Note that in while discussing how to resolve it, they don’t say “we should stop sending out emails to people who didn’t opt in to them.”

Lush took the email addresses from people who used the retail website, passed them to the Climate Revolution campaign, and then suggested that it was the customers’ responsibility to unsubscribe if they don’t want to receive emails they never opted into. I trust the Information Commissioner will be following this up.

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One thought on “The Smell of Bullshit, part 43: more more data protection issues

  1. I could post something witty and erudite but nothing sums it up as well as: what a load of bollocks.

    In all my (many) dealings with Lush I have found they have a complete inability to admit they do anything wrong. A few examples:

    1) Remember how they played the victim card when they were hacked? Many customers seriously out of pocket due to their stupidity and arrogance, yet they went on and on about how they were ‘victims’ too. Boo hoo hoo poor little Lush got hurt by the hackers because they were too lazy, stupid and arrogant to have a secure website. My heart bleeds.

    2) When people complained to Constantine himself (on the forum, I think) about products without scent or effect he simply retorted ‘fresh is best’. Whilst – with Lush – fresh is undeniably best (if it is actually coming to the shops fresh is another matter), not all customers live near a shop. What do they do – make a 50 mile round trip to buy a bath bomb? Yeah, right… of course it’s not their product, ingredient, or their manufacturing or storage issues. It’s the fault of the customer.

    3) Mark Constantine himself said on the forum that when employees go it’s basically everyone’s fault but the company’s. I quote:

    “Let me be clear about when I say “it didn’t work out”? … it could be the chemistry in that part of the company at that time, it could be that our combined ambition is greater than the ability at that time. It could be that something domestic is a major distraction for the employee, their may be physical or mental health issues, it could be that the effort becomes too much. What it is not, in my opinion, is that the person is a failure. Purely at that time in that job at that stage of their lives it did or did not work out. I understand how this can hurt especially when there hasn’t been honest feedback and we are working on that. It shouldn’t be a shock. In Ruby-red’s case she made the decision that it hadn’t worked out. But after forty years working like this I still believe in giving people the opportunity to fulfil their dreams and ambitions”

    Audacious, isn’t it? And whilst he states it’s not that the person is a failure, he doesn’t point out that the company fails its employees time and time again. Through lack of support, lack of training, lack of guidance, lack of encouragement. I could go on (my list is long). In short, they are absolute cunts to work for. Long hours, shitty pay, all bowing down to the Lord & Masters, their gelatinous offspring and the Merry band of arse licking ladder climbers. And The Fear. Let’s not forget that. There is the constant fear that You Could Be Next. But you know, there is nothing you can do to protect yourself because if the master puppeteer decides it just ‘didn’t work out’ or perhaps that you’re not happy, or maybe he has diagnosed you with a mental illness and thinks it’s a kindness to let you go (as he seems to suggest above) then that’s it, you’re out. And it will be your fault.

    So yes. If Lush cock up, it’s always somebody else’s fault. If they have given your details to an affiliate, it will be your fault; If you suddenly find yourself in a room being told your job no longer exists although you are not under disciplinary procedure and have an excellent record, it will be your fault (as suggested by Constantine in quote above); if their bath products don’t work or don’t smell, it’s your fault; if the website gets hacked, well, it’s not your fault but they hurt far far more.

    I hate the fuckers. I hope Amazon wins that case. I hope Amazon win and start to sell skid-marked giant grey underpants on their website that will pop up if you do an amazon search for ‘Lush cosmetics’.

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