PlentyOfFish fined $48,000 for allegedly spamming users

POF may have cast its net a little too wide when emailing users last year

Photo: PlentyOfFish

PlentyOfFish (POF) may have cast its net a little too wide when emailing users last year — so much so Ottawa is serving the online dating service with a $48,000 fine.

The Vancouver-based company has agreed to pay the five-figure penalty following allegations it violated Canada's Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) between July and October of 2014.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) said it began investigating POF following complaints the dating service was sending commercial emails to users without a clearly visible unsubscribe option.

CASL went into effect July 1, 2014, but the CRTC said the violations continued until October 8. Once POF was made aware of the investigation, the CRTC said the company updated the unsubscribe option in emails sent to users.

“This case is an important reminder to businesses that they need to review their unsubscribe mechanisms to ensure they are clearly and prominently set out and can be readily performed,” CRTC chief compliance and enforcement officer Manon Bombardier said in a March 25 statement.

“We appreciate that Plentyoffish Media changed its practices once it became aware of the problem.”

POF has since implemented a compliance program to ensure it follows CASL regulations, according to the CRTC.

The online dating service announced last week it has reached 100 million users worldwide and its annual run rate for 2015 was pegged at $100 milllion. It’s the first time the private company has officially released financial information to the public.

Founder and CEO Markus Frind told Business In Vancouver revenue has doubled since 2012. Most of that revenue, he said, is coming from subscription services as opposed to ads now that 80-85% of its users have migrated from desktop computers to mobile devices.

The CRTC said the emails that were under investigation notified users of services available on POF.

POF did not respond to multiple interview requests from Business In Vancouver.

Earlier this month, the CRTC levied its first major CASL-related fine ($1.1 million) against Compu.finder. The commission said the Quebec-based company sent emails promoting business-training programs without the consent of recipients and without a properly functioning unsubscribe option.