A negotiated fine
Enterprise Rent-A-Car Canada Company, which manages the Enterprise, National, and Alamo car rental companies, has recently agreed to pay, to the Competition Bureau, a $1,25 million fine for sending emails containing misleading promotions, a practice covered by the Canadian Anti-Spam Law (CASL).
The entire industry is targeted
In its press release, the Bureau states as a reminder to companies, that already $5.25 million has been fined to and paid by three other major companies in this industry: $3M paid by Avis Budget following an investigation concluded in March 2015; and Hertz Canada, which also manages Thrifty, was fined $1,25 million in the spring of 2017.
This reminder clearly shows that the Competition Bureau will continue investigating car rental companies, as misleading promotions seems to be a systemic practice. This targeting, of a specific industry, is reminiscent of the CRTC’s investigation with vocational training companies.
Again, consent is not enough
While most companies continue to believe that having consent with regards to their promotional messages is enough be compliant with the Canadian Anti-Spam Law, this fine, once again demonstrates that CASL is much more complex and demanding. In fact, there are around one hundred risks that must be analyzed to ensure that a company is in compliance with CASL. Not only because this law has many articles, but also because CASL touches upon certain articles of the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) and the Competition Act.
Moreover, while the fines imposed by the CRTC for issues of “consent” or “unsubscribe” are of the order of a few tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars per company, the fines given by the Competition Bureau due to “message content” is consistently greater than $ 1 million.
The importance of a compliance program
In the Tribunal agreement, Enterprise was required to implement a compliance program under the supervision of the Competition Bureau. While waiting to be investigated to implement its compliance program, Enterprise not only had to pay a hefty fine, but it also had to incur significant legal fees in collaboration with the investigation and to negotiate a settlement, satisfactory to the CRTC.
If your company is not the subject of such an investigation, there is still time to set up your compliance program and protect your business before it’s too late.