Texting – An Effective, But Potentially Risky, Form of Communication

As discussed in a previous blog post, more than 90% of adult Americans own a wireless phone.  Americans are more likely to have their cell phone within arms-reach than they are their computer, and on average a consumer’s text messages are viewed more quickly than emails. Combine these facts with the sheer number of cell phone users and texting becomes a very attractive channel for sending marketing and informational messages.

However, due to the level of enforcement activity surrounding texting campaigns, this marketing strategy could cause a company to fall under liability for hefty penalties. Because text messages fall under the TCPA consent requirements as calls to wireless numbers, the level of risk associated is quite high.  See our blog post “Wireless Consent: Specific Preference Requirements Must be Met” discussing the consent necessary to market to consumers via text messages.

Some cases related to text messaging campaigns:

  • Life Time Fitness recently agreed to pay $15 million to end a TCPA suit, based on texts received by consumers during a four month period.  The complaint alleged that Life Time used computer software in order to blast text messages to thousands of cell phones, offering incentives ranging from deals on enrollment fees to personal training packages.  Although Life Time chose to settle, the company acknowledged that paying $15 million was more prudent than litigating the case.
  • Facebook was recently presented with a $5 million proposed class action suit accusing them of sending informational messages without the consumer’s consent.  The text messages were not solicitous in nature, informing individuals that their Facebook account had been accessed from a new device.  Many of the class members however, claimed they never provided their phone numbers to Facebook and some who had no Facebook account at all.

These two cases are significant in that they illustrate the magnitude of consequences related to a relatively short campaign along with the importance of the quality of the company’s consumer data.  Texts sent without consent or to the wrong party can generate complaints.  In today’s environment surrounding class action lawsuits for TCPA violations, they can be costly.

Therefore, it’s important to understand the rules and regulations and considering the risk of fines and penalties before conducting blast or personalized texting campaigns. Please feel free to reach out to consulting@compliancepoint.com for more information on the requirements related to text message campaigns.

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