A New York City bar and grill called Calico Jacks is currently facing a lawsuit brought by a plaintiff that alleges the restaurant sent unwanted text messages which advertised various promotions. The plaintiff also alleges that the restaurant continued to send her text messages despite repeated attempts to opt out of receiving them. Both of these allegations violate the Telephone Consumer protection Act (or TCPA) and the company could face hefty fines if found guilty.
The TCPA was passed by congress in 1991 and it placed regulations on businesses regarding how they could use phone number data to contact consumers. The TCPA was expanded to include regulations on text messaging as well. If you’re a business owner with an SMS marketing campaign or plans to launch an SMS campaign, it’s important to be familiar with TCPA regulations as they relate to text message marketing so that you are compliant and don’t have to face fines or a lawsuit with costly legal fees.
Know the rules
There are many finer points to the TCPA regulations but the two that are most important for business owners to understand are regarding prior written consent and opting out.
Prior written consent means that consumers must explicitly give permission (not imply) to a business before that business can send even one text message. There are also rules about what businesses must make clear to consumers at the time of opting-in. For instance, it must be explained to consumers that they are agreeing to receive future text messages and that charges may apply depending on their mobile phone service plan.
Consumers must also be given the right to opt out at any time. And once a consumer has opted out, businesses must stop sending that consumer messages of any kind effective immediately.
A bulk SMS platform can help your company stay compliant
SMS campaigns are difficult to manage alone. Phone numbers are constantly being added and removed from a business’s texting list and a single honest mistake could potentially result in a lawsuit. If you miss an opt-out and continue to text that person, it could mean a fine. Some companies have even faced class action lawsuits when any customer who was texted before opting in or after opting out can receive compensation.
This is where a bulk SMS service provider comes in. Bulk SMS platforms help you to stay compliant by automating the opt-in and opt-out process. There’s no chance of accidentally texting a customer who hasn’t given permission if you go through a bulk SMS provider because the only way for that customer to get on the list is to text a predetermined keyword to a shortcode registered in the business’s name. Customers who do this receive an auto-generated text which will include the legal jargon that TCPA requires and it informs them that they have opted in and given consent to receive future texts. Each successive text includes instructions for opting out which usually entails texting the word “stop” or “end” to the same shortcode. When a customer does this, they get an auto-generated text informing them that they have been removed from the texting list and will no longer receive texts. Because of automation, it’s possible for your company’s SMS campaign to be perfectly compliant and avoid lawsuits like the one Calico Jacks is currently facing in New York City.
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