The Cost Of CASL Non-Compliance

The Cost Of CASL Non-Compliance

Why sending e-cards to your clients is not worth the risk, and it’s better to send a real greeting card…


Why send an e-card when a greeting card is more meaningful to your clients, and there’s no legal risk in sending them?


Every e-card carries with it the risk of penalty due to Canada’s anti-spam legislation. Even if you’ve double opted-in those in your electronic database, there’s a still a risk of a suit because, let’s face it, people can forget they signed up to your receive electronic messages, and that includes e-cards. It only takes a few complaints to prompt the CRTC to investigate.


On the upside, thanks to CASL, the onslaught of unsolicited email that we all get is slowing down, and that’s something we can all get behind.  But does that mean your e-cards are safe? Hardly.


Let’s take a look at CASL and what it means to Canadian businesses.


It went into effect in July 1, 2014 and less than a year later, the CRTC (Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission) issued its first fine: $1.1 million dollars to Compu-Finder, a Quebec company that was pulling addresses off the internet and emailing businesses to sell them computer training courses.


While this first fine was far less than the $10 million dollar max that the law allows, it certainly made clear that businesses need to be careful!


Even smaller businesses can be noticed: the CRTC imposed a $15,000 penalty on a small business that sent unsolicited emails about their flyer printing business. 58 complaints was all it took for the CRTC to notice them and investigate.


A Little Background On CASL


There are two ways you can legally email your business-related information in Canada:


  1. If the person receiving email has opted-in to receive the messages. Otherwise known as ‘express consent’, a person would have to clearly stipulate that they wished to receive emails from the business.


  1. If there is a pre-existing business relationship, within a period of not more than 2 years, you can email that business. The prior relationship creates a situation of implied consent. You can get more details on this from the CRTC website.


So yes, technically you’re allowed to communicate by email with businesses that you’ve been doing business with in the last two years, but you also need to provide them with a way to opt out / unsubscribe with everymessage.


Ultimately, whether you’re allowed to send email or not, there remains the question of whether they’re worth it?


Are E-Cards Worth The Risk?


While the intention behind a greeting card is not to solicit business, it is still a digital communication from your business that falls under CASL.


Even if the intention of your e-card is to show appreciation for the business relationship you’ve worked hard to build, there are some real downsides to e-cards that warrant consideration:


  • You risk irritating a client at best with an e-card, and you could even create problems for them by inadvertently sending them a virus along with it (law firms in particular have learned to steer clear of opening unsolicited pdfs and clicking on innocuous looking links)


  • E-cards reflect a lack of effort, leaving your client feeling underappreciated. After all, isn’t their business valuable enough to you that you would want to show it in a tangible way? For this reason, the majority of users delete an e-card before even looking at it.


  • E-cards say: we like you enough to send you this e-card, but not enough to spend a little budget on really showing you our appreciation. There are times when it’s best to push back when the CFO advises on e-cards.


Between CASL compliance and the reality that e-cards will make your clients roll their eyes, it’s best to stick to real greeting cards, to convey your intentions and appreciation.



Greeting cards reflect the real relationship you want to have with your clients, rather than some slap dash digital mention of it.


  • Greeting cards are elegant and attractive. They can carry your message more gracefully than an email ever could.


  • Cards say to a client that you really appreciate them: you took the time to pick out a card that suits them, to write a personalized message and to address that card and mail it off.


  • Best of all, a greeting card is 100% CASL compliant, every time!


Charity Cardscan make clients feel valued and purchases help make sick kids’ wishes come true by supporting the Children’s Wish Foundation. Which will you send to your client this holiday season?



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