Spa apologises over Brexit email sent to members

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A screenshot of the email Nirvana sent to its members

A LOCAL spa has apologised to its members after sending out an email backing Brexit.

On Monday, people who had signed up to messages from Sindlesham Nirvana Spa received an email inviting them to read the views of John Barley, its owner and chairman.

The short message said that he had been recently invited to share his views on the European referendum, which takes place on Thursday. It added: “We would like to offer you the opportunity to read his article”. People who then clicked on the link where taken to a webpage which reprinted his article.

He argued: “Far from being intimidated by financial scaremongering I am confident that Britain can prosper as an independent country.

“My vision is for a Britain with strong growth and development, I firmly believe that our constitutional framework underpins this. The UK must regain its democracy and be in control of setting laws which allow businesses to be agile and forward thinking.

“A vote for leave is a vote for freedom and opportunity, I am confident that leave will provide the climate to further grow my company which in turn will bring jobs and prosperity to the local area.”

However, sharing this message has not been popular with all of its recipients.

A reader who contacted The Wokingham Paper but did not wish to be named, said: “This is completely inappropriate and an abuse of the mailing list.

“This is NOT[a]  legitimate use under the Data Protection Act (a UK law not an EU one!!) and I will be filing a complaint with the Information Commissioner’s Office.

“Send anything like this again and I will cancel my membership.”

While people on Facebook have also been expressing their concerns, calling it disappointing and appalling and also pointing out that it breaches sections of the Data Protection Act.

Another member, Emma Cairns, said she was ‘appalled’ to receive the email from the spa, calling the move ‘wholly inappropriate’. She said: “I have a membership at Nirvana Spa and visit once a month or so to enjoy some relaxation. I have a serious medical condition that means lots of visits to the hospital so any break from that is very welcome.

“I was appalled to receive an invitation from the owner of the spa to read his article on Brexit. It’s seems to me to be wholly inappropriate for the spa to be using my personal e mail address to send me propaganda about the current EU debate. I feel it’s a real infringement on my privacy and a cheap shot to be using the contacts he has from his business to circulate his opinions.

“I also heard on a local Facebook group that there were posters up in the spa for the Vote Leave campaign. If I had been attending the spa and seen that I would have left immediately. It is totally unacceptable to be bombarded with these debates in a spa!! This is where we go to escape from all the rhetoric that we are being subjected to at the moment.”

Editor’s note: there were no such posters on display when we visited the spa on Tuesday, June 21.

Daniel Green added: “Such a contentious issue is not the place of a gym to, in my opinion, abuse their mailing list. I think it was a reputational risk sending the email, especially as the views in the email/post were a sketchy interpretation of facts or actual misinterpretation of facts.

“Not sure if I’m just clearly biased as I don’t agree, but I believe they could have claimed a position in the paper but not in my inbox!”

Danny Crossland, operations director of Nirvana Spa, said: “We would like to point out that members were invited to click on a link which clearly stated what the article was about.”

He also included the text of an email being sent to customers who contacted the spa to express their concerns over the email.

It reads:

“Thank you for your feedback, we apologise that you did not appreciate receiving our email.

“It is of interest to some members that our Chairman, who is a well-known business owner, is asked for his considered opinion.  We have had feedback that some members feel this is a misuse of their data and we do take this matter very seriously, we will consider adding different levels of opt-in for future communications.

“You are currently opted in to club communications and this includes the newsletter. The link to this article was due to go in the newsletter on Friday 17th but this was rearranged after the sad events of last week. We recognised that some members would not want to read this article and we took care to ensure that members were invited to click the link to read further.

“The article was not written to provide advice or instruction on how to vote but to share the opinion of the Chairman. We understand that club members and staff have a full range of opinions on this issue, which the Chairman respects and we apologise that our article caused upset.”  

What do you think? You can read the email message here.

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16 Comments on "Spa apologises over Brexit email sent to members"

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Used to be a member but it went downhill and now it is just like a downmarket leisure centre crammed with every tom dick and harry type noisy people who think they are specials because they drive a Bentley or a Porsche but proving money never can buy class.

Ha Ha. Looks like the old man needs to worry about getting involved with losing £1.1m cons rather than Brexit. # Prosecuting, Peter Barr said: “He does so by exploiting what can only be described as the naivety, and maybe greed, in some people and offering them the chance to invest in what can best be called a get rich quick scheme. ““Needless to say the investors never see a return on their investment and invariably lose their initial investment as well. “We say there was no business opportunity or deal, there were no sewing machines, Sean Barley never saw… Read more »

I used to occasionally play Golf with John Barley but his views on everything under the sun and constant boasting about Nirvana and his property in Barbados and his boat made it a tiresome so I stopped playing. Its a real shame this happened but hardly surprising. Makes me think of the old adage “2 ears, one mouth and both should be used in proportion”

His wife Diana Barley isn’t much better going on about her big house and dressage horses and how wonderful she is all the time. Typical snobbery and a good reason to give them both a wide berth where possible.

A truly arrogant woman and a bad loser #moremoneythantalent

This is the chairman that when an employee messages him to tell him about a problem he sacks them by text message saying: There is no place at Nirvana for you. You are not very bright and could not organise a piss up in a brewery. You have failed! remain overlooked because you are not Manager material. It’s just bullshit and no one likes you. You use other people because you do not have any creative talent yourself. Leave now and save being sacked and save the publicity (JB) Loads of staff have seen the text he sent when people… Read more »

That is disgusting!! Only a moron would send a text like that to a member of staff. Not only is it a stupid thing to do but look at the language “no one likes you”. How old is this bloke? 6? That is what I expect children to say not a business owner – Shamefull.

The subject matter, whether it is about the referendum or anything else for that matter, is irrelevant. This is a clear breach of the Data Protection Act and should be referred immediately to the Commissioners. Nirvana should consult their legal representatives as a matter of urgency.

Hmmm ‘lacky’ try to stay classy. Not convinced that insults really put your comments in the best light.

This whole thing is a bit of a non story on a slow news day.
Clearly it was such an invasion of privacy that the lady above felt she had to go to the papers and be quoted.

I will be glad when things get back to normal on Friday

What his lacky Danny Crossland sent to the employees of Nirvana regarding vote leave wasn’t clever either. He asked them to familiarise themselves with the vote leave campaign, as though they should be talking politics around the spa (regardless of their own feelings).

Didn’t realise the spa was a place to discuss politics, especially as sensitive as this is to some people.

This is even being mentioned on Nirvana Spa Trip Advisor review yet there is no apology from John Barley himself, just a standard reply to complaints from Danny Crossland. Telling employees how to vote and hoping to influence clients votes is beyond belief. So much for ‘time to relax’ in a Spa environment. Better off going to the Houses of Parliament instead 🙁

Anonymous (not the group)
I expect they were mostly angered because they did not agree with him. I read the full article above and it sounds like it was club news and was meant to be slipped in the news letter. Actually quite relevant that customers know what the owner thinks. How they choose to use that information is up to them. I wonder in the complainers realise the oxygen of publicity they have given the piece. I would not have seen this otherwise and I have to say it makes a change from just hearing about economic doom in a crystal ball and… Read more »

Pathetic really. Stupid people offend me! You have a choice, read or dont read. Personally I would have read it, and listened to the argument for Brexit. Any help to decide would be appreciated from me, especially a smaller business rather than the conglomerates. I think it’s good of businesses to show their colours!

I was not offended at all. John Barley was sharing his opinion, and how the EU effects the small business owner, I found the email informative, and does not change my decision. I do not understand what all the fuss is about.

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