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CASL’s First Fine: QC SMB Compu-Finder $1,1M!

According to a press release issued by the CRTC, it’s Morin-Heights’ SMB 3510395 Canada Inc. a.k.a Compu-Finder who received CASL’s very first notice of violation. And appropriately, this notice came with a fine of no less than $ 1,100,000!

For those covering and concerned with Canada’s Anti-Spam Law, many weren’t expecting this first penalty to be issued so soon. Many also suspected that the CRTC would choose a large, robust business as its first target. So when the CRTC announced that its first fine was to be issued to a Quebec SMB, for $1,1 million, everyone was caught by surprise.

Compu-Finder, operating under several business names including Academie de Gestion and ACF Management, is a company of about fifteen employees offering training courses for businesses and individuals. Their methods to recruit clients has always been controversial, so this first fine sets an excellent example.

Never-ending harassment

Compu-Finder’s never-ending harassment to executives across the country used methods similar to that of the most sophisticated Russian spammers. Even Certimail’s CEO suffered their endless flurry of emails and tried unsuccessfully several times to unsubscribe himself from their lists. He:

  • Used their unsubscribe form,
  • Sent emails asking for the removal of his address from their lists,
  • Even called on their 800 line.

The promises that his address would be removed from their list were only lies as he continued to receive their spam, like the tens of thousands of other SMB executives.

The CRTC mentioned that Compu-Finder was the subject of 26% of the 245,000 complaints they received from across Canada since CASL came into effect.

The fact that a Quebec SMB was able to generate more than 63,000 complaints in only a few months is indicative of the level of harassment they inflicted on the community.

Compu-Finder’s bad practices were common knowledge

For years now, the media has denounced Compu-Finder’s malicious practices. In 2008, Nelson Dumais, columnist of La Presse wrote an article on their underhanded methods, then in 2010 interviewed a former employee confirming the company’s culture of unethical practices.

In 2011, in their monthly magazine, consumer protection organisation Protégez-vous used Compu-Finder as an example to illustrate the relevancy of CASL.

The company was also known in the late 1990s for bad marketing practices, by saturating corporate fax machines with spam.

A lesson for all

When going through PIPEDA Report of Findings of the Investigation into the personal information handling practices of “Compu-Finder”, it’s quite clear that company owners, Sylvie Pagé and Alain Guyot were reckless in their marketing practices.

As a matter of fact, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada used the Compu-Finder case as an example of “how not to collect and use e-mail addresses”.

Let this be a good lesson and an example for all.