Canadians Speak Out: We Don’t Want Your Spam

Canada (1)Considering what a pain in the posterior this thing called spam truly is, it doesn’t seem particularly newsworthy to write an article reporting that a group of people admit to hating the stuff. That’s like writing an article entitled “Rob Ford, We Want You to Go Far, Far, Away,” or “Justin Bieber, Defect to Russia Already.” True, such platitudinous stories might have some entertainment value, but they don’t really tell us anything we don’t already know. So why bother, you ask. Why write a story ‘revealing’ that Canadians hate spam?

For starters, because less than 60 days ago, the CASL, the Canadian Anti Spam Legislation, went into effect, thus making spam a bit harder for the world to promote, if that spam has a destination address located in Canada. The much-ballyhooed law, which emerged in 2010 and then sat on a shelf for nearly four years, finally became a big boy on July 1st, and the lead-up to the event was nothing short of maniacal. Businesses, political organizations, and not for profits scrambled to figure out what their responsibilities were. They blasted out emails to their mailing lists, asking for implicit permission to continue bothering people. The CRTC, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, did its best to educate people while simultaneously warning them not to expect miracles when the new law became active. The industry watchdog is tasked with enforcing the law, but as was predicted, complaints came in fast and furious after July 1st, and the CRTC has been inundated since with more than 50,000 new complaints in a month.

But while Canadian spammers– many of them ‘legitimate’ businesses that use email as one of many marketing mechanisms – scramble to avoid being dinged with some pretty stiff fines, the email spam continues to flow like a babbling brook of insanity. As was also predicted, enforcing the law outside the borders of Canada was a next-to-impossible proposition. The ‘real’ source of spam, that 70 or 75 percent that we hear about all the time, continues practically unabated.

So, who’s really suffering under the law? Well, it could have and should have been predicted, but it’s businesses inside Canadian borders who are being hit the hardest. According to the Financial Post, “Canadian companies are awaking to a new reality: People don’t want to receive their email newsletters.”

Shocking stuff, huh? Not. But as the FP points out, “The fallout of Canada’s new anti-spam legislation, enacted July 1, has been substantial. After conducting a short survey of small and mid-sized Canadian companies in early July, I can report company email lists have seen a dramatic decline.” One partner at a large Canadian accounting firm, who spoke under condition of anonymity, said that his or her company “lost 90% of our list. One in 10 people wanted to receive all those emails we were sending.”

Chalk one up for CASL, then. If 90% of a group votes no, then that’s not just a clear majority; it’s a sheer landslide. It suggests that what we thought was true. While companies would have you believe that THEIR email is desired – nay, needed – by their customer base, it’s all hogwash. Email marketing agencies talk about all the ways in which you can circumvent spam filters, in a ludicrous suggestion that your sales-y email has more value than any other unwanted digital communication.

None of this is news. The fact is, marketing spam has been a blight on modern telecommunications, regardless of the delivery mechanism. Complaints lodged against email marketers alone have skyrocketed to 70% according to some reports. And now we’re seeing it in Canada, thanks to CASL. “Customers are making it clear,” says the FP. “’Don’t send unsolicited email.’ They don’t want newsletters, articles, promotions or updates. If they didn’t subscribe to your content, they don’t want to hear from you.”

So if it’s not a shocker, is it newsworthy? Of course, for more reasons than you might suspect. You see, if you stop and think about it – really think about it – how insanely dumb is unwanted marketing effluvia? Marketers – and they’re a stubborn bunch – would have their clients believe that theirs is the only information clients need to make informed purchasing decisions. And in a game of smoke and mirrors, they make everyone forget that while they’re trying to sell you something, the worst thing you can do to someone who has the wherewithal and inclination to purchase is to dump a pile of garbage in their lap and assume that the stench of the garbage will make them take a closer look at it.

As it turned out, CASL has exposed the garbage.

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