NEWS21 June 2011

Professor accuses New Zealand Post of breaching MR codes

Asia Pacific Features

NEW ZEALAND— A university professor has accused the New Zealand postal service of breaching the country’s market research code of practice by renting out the names and addresses of people who have taken part in its lifestyle survey.

The questionnaire, which is sent to 800,000 respondents by post and 125,000 by email, asks 56 questions about householders’ preferences, ranging from their favourite fast foods to what car they drive, in order to build up marketing profiles. After collecting the surveys NZ Post then “rents out” names and addresses of respondents – but not the information they provided in the survey – to companies on the condition that they mail consumers once and then erase the data.

Massey University’s head of communications, journalism and marketing Malcolm Wright (pictured) told media website TVNZ: “They shouldn’t call it a survey, they should call it an opportunity to join a direct mail database. It is market research, but it is also creating a direct mail database to be used for selling and that’s against the code of practice to mix the two up. There’s definitely scope for confusion, no doubt.”

NZ Post’s communications manager John Tulloch told the same site that the company was acting lawfully and that it was engaged in a common and legitimate business practice.

The organisation last ran the survey in 2009. Public complaints, however, prompted an investigation by the country’s privacy commissioner, Marie Schroff.

Schroff’s office published the findings of its report this week, accusing the 2009 survey of a “systematic, large-scale breach of the information privacy principles” – though it was unsure whether NZ Post’s action “attracts any liability” under the country’s privacy act.

In a separate report, Schroff’s department concluded that the survey had breached MR industry codes, including those of the Market Research Society of New Zealand and Esomar, for reasons such as not providing “adequate, non-misleading information about the survey’s (primary) nature and/or purpose” and asking respondents to answer questions about their partners.

Comments have been sought from both the NZ Post and the Market Research Society of New Zealand.


1 Comment

13 years ago

where do people get this information mine went straight in the bin!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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