Why Promising To Never Sell Customer Email Addresses Is A Mistake

I hate spam. You hate spam. We all hate spam! Given this, isn’t it a smart move to promise customers and people signing up for your newsletter that you will never sell or rent their email addresses to third parties? Making suchWhy Promising To Never Sell Customer Email Addresses Is A Mistake a well-intentioned promise can cause you a host of problems down the line.

The Problem

Okay, so what is the problem with making such a promise? The answer is simple. What if you sell the site? The buying party is going to want your customer information and mailing list. It is as simple as that, and they most likely will pull their offer if you don’t include the list.

Hidden Problem

Many sites already face this conundrum and do not realize it. The problem is they have created terms of use and privacy policies containing language prohibiting the sale of the information and email addresses related to their customers.

Why is this a problem? Well, what are terms of use and privacy policies? They are CONTRACTS. You’ve made a legally binding agreement not to do something. If you take steps contradicting the terms of the contract, you are in breach of it and your members can use you.

Let’s use a real-world example. I own a forum that covers Apple offerings. My terms of use and privacy policy contain statements to the effect that I will not rent, share or sell the personal information and email addresses of my members with third parties.

Apple tries to shut me down, but cannot. The CEO of the company ultimately decides to just by me out. Can I sell my site to Apple for a handsome profit? The answer is no unless they are willing to take it without the information on the members.

The Difficult Solution

The ultimate solution to this scenario would be to amend the terms of use and privacy policy. One would then need to seek approval from the forum members regarding the changes and hope most stuck around. If they did, their information could then be transferred to the buying party, in this case, Apple.

In Closing

It is vital to remember your terms of use and privacy policy is a legally binding agreement with clients. Don’t make the mistake of violating it by taking steps contradicting the language in it. Doing so invites lawsuits.

Site documents should always be customized and put together very carefully. Contact me today for a free consultation.

Richard A. Chapo, Esq.