Text Messages: Concussions Aren’t the Only Problem for NFL Teams

Most organizations reaching out to their customers’ cell phones via text message or phone call with an ATDS are not immune to the TCPA. This includes one of the most successful and profitable businesses on this planet, professional football teams.

In 2014, the Buffalo Bills were served with a lawsuit claiming they sent more texts to their fans than promised in the opt-in agreement. The Bills outlined that, by signing up for text alerts and news about the team, the organization would only deliver a maximum of 5 messages per week to the subscriber. The lawsuit alleged that the team violated the terms of its texting program by delivering more than 5 text messages per week. Specifically, the class representative received 13 text messages in two weeks, not 10 as promised.

While this seems nitpicky, the Bills ended up settling and agreed to pay $2.5 million in gift cards to its fans who signed up for the texting program as well as pay for counsel and administration fees which totaled over $500,000. The Bills also paid the class representative $5,000. The three text messages in question cost the Bills just over $1 million each when all was said and done.

Some things to keep in mind for organizations that are reaching their consumers and fans via text message:

  • Always send text messages with the proper permission level, which varies depending on technology utilized and the content of the message;
  • If you make a promise to send a maximum number of text messages in a time period, ensure you have safe guards in place to honor that promise;
  • Provide consumers with a method to revoke their consent;
  • Document your compliance with the federal and state rules through guidelines; and
  • Monitor for compliance and fix any issues you discover through the monitoring program.

This settlement serves as a firm reminder that even organizations that do not typically associate themselves with needing to comply with the mobile marketing and telemarketing rules and regulations can be caught in a class action lawsuit under the TCPA. The FCC’s broad brush approach to the TCPA ensures that the majority of organizations texting and calling cell phones with an ATDS are subject to the regulation.

If you have any questions regarding text message compliance or other compliance matters, please reach out to us at consulting@compliancepoint.com.

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