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Business today relies on email to get our messages across, but what are our limits as pet sitters in contacting prospective new customers? Anti-spam legislation is in place in most countries around the world and it’s an important part of your business to understand them.

Know Your Country’s Anti-Spam Legislation

Every country has it’s own laws, and I’d like to first direct you to Wikipedia.org to search their “Email Spam Legislation by Country” article, or look for specific articles there or through the government of your home country.

Canada and the United States

To give you an example of the laws, Canada and the United States have legislation in place that is similar…but not the same.

Here is a quick look at what you need to know as a pet sitter should you decide to email your clients…or prospective ones:

  • The United States uses an opt-out model in their law (CAN_SPAM). This means businesses can assume an individual has given consent to be emailed.
  • Canada’s new law (CASL), as of July 2014, has taken the opposite view, it has acquired an opt-in approach. This is good for individuals who don’t want to be pestered by companies…but not so good for businesses.

Opt-out – Opt-in…What’s the Difference?

  • In the American’s opt-out format, if you happen to be on a company’s list…you will be contacted at their discretion. You might end up there just because you bought something online and couldn’t cash-out until you left an email address. Or your address was on a purchased email list.

By law, they must put an Unsubscribe mechanism in all business emails that you can click to say you want no further emails from them. They have 10 days to comply.

  • In Canada’s opt-in format, businesses can no longer create an email list without the consent of everyone ahead of time. Under this law, Canadian companies must ask if they can send an email. This might come as a mailed request or, if the company/person has been a client within the past two years, the company is allowed to make contact and ask at that time if emailing is allowed.
  • Canadian businesses must also include opt-out forms at the bottom of their emails in case you change your mind. They also have 10 days to remove your name if you ask.
  • Additionally, US companies must follow Canadian legislation when doing business dealings with Canadians. This most likely won’t have an impact on a pet sitter’s business unless you also do cross-border shipping of products.

Business Contact Information

In both countries a physical address of the sender must be present on the email. A PO Box is acceptable, thankfully. This can create a potential cost to a pet sitter, though. For your current clients, it doesn’t matter if you have your home address on invoices and such, but if you decide to put an auto responder to collect email address on your website, for sending out newsletters for example, you will need to put your address on them.

Canadians additionally must include either a phone number with active voicemail, email address, or web address.

You’re Small…Who’s Going to Bother Fining You?

Do you want to take a chance?

  • In the US penalties for non-compliance of their (fairly easy to accommodate) laws is between $1000 and $2000.
  • In Canada…you can face up to $10,000 in fines and jail time! This is even if an employee mistakenly sends an email to someone who hasn’t opted-in.

According to the sites I visited, Australia, the European Union and many others have their own Anti-Spam Legislation in place. Take some time during your office hours to see what you need to do to update your systems and comply with your country’s laws.

It’s the last day of January, 2015 and for today’s pet sitting we had two last minute dog visits and our two visiting Golden Retrievers.

Beginning tomorrow – the 1st of February, we’ll be bringing our 365 Days of Pet Sitting to our social media sites to devote more time to them individually instead of at the bottom of blog posts.

Until next time…have fun out there!