Have you ever joined Plenty of Fish? (Don’t worry, this isn’t a survey.) If you’ve been a member of this online dating website, you probably recall the mass of daily emails with subject lines like: “Person43785 Viewed Your Profile” or “CreepyGuy546 Sent You a Message.” Let’s just assume you didn’t appreciate these emails or agree to let this spam fill up your inbox. Fear not: CASL (Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation) is onto POF and plenty of other spamming companies.
CASL is concerned with whether or not companies verify that the people on their email lists wish to subscribe to their company email newsletters. If a company such as POF does not offer the option to “Unsubscribe” on each promotional or commercial email they send, they are not following CASL regulations. POF received a penalty of $48,000 and an order to restructure their email system to follow these guidelines in March 2015.
At first, the idea of enforcing the CASL regulations looked like a challenging endeavour for the CRTC (Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission) and the Competition Bureau from outsider perspectives. Critics wondered how possible it would be to actually trace these things. But as we’ve seen with Plenty of Fish, the CRTC and Bureau are cracking down. So, how are they tracing these issues? People are complaining – the CRTC receives about 1000 complaints a day (CBC).
Did you know: Canada houses five of the top 100 companies in the world that send out spam? (Geist).
While POF took a hit for their illegal email practices, Compu-Finder – a training company located in Quebec – was fined $1.1 Million for sending mass emails to people. When people clicked ‘unsubscribe’ from Compu-Finder’s list, they still continued to receive emails from Compu-Finder! The company was quickly found out when CASL was first enforced because a quarter of the complaints received by the CRTC were regarding Compu-Finder’s malpractice.
The largest case was filed by the Competition Bureau against the car rental companies, Avis and Budget. These companies employed false advertising in their commercial emails, detailing larger and inaccurate deals and discounts without disclosing additional costs in these promotions. Due to a lack of honesty and increased fees, the Bureau is charging a penalty of $30 Million plus customer refunds on all mis-advertised services.
While the CRTC and the Bureau continue to enforce the CASL regulations, it is important for small business owners to ensure their email communications are in compliance. Make sure you follow these rules when sending out email newsletters and promotions:
- Ensure that your email subscribers have agreed to subscribe.
- Keep detailed records of who has subscribed and when.
- Provide the option to “Unsubscribe” from every email you send.
- Provide all details about your pricing, promotions and any additional fees in every promotional email you send.
- Ignorance of the law isn’t a defense. Make sure you understand CASL. The first place to start is at www.fightspam.gc.ca
C & W Web Developers can help you to make sure your email list is CASL Compliant. Reach out to us to discuss or call us at Toll Free: 1.844.428.1671
M Geist. (2015, Mar). Plenty of Fish, Avis fines show anti-spam law has teeth: Geist. Retrieved from http://www.thestar.com/business/2015/03/27/plenty-of-fish-avis-fines-show-anti-spam-law-has-teeth-geist.html
The Canadian Press (2015, Mar). Compu-Finder Fined $1.1M Under Anti-Spam Law. Retrieved from http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/compu-finder-fined-1-1m-under-anti-spam-law-1.2983171