The Domino’s Pizza chain has agreed to pay $9.75 million to settle claims that it sent unsolicited phone calls and text messages to people’s cell phones.
The messages promoted the pizza chain and offered coupons. Consumers in three states filed a lawsuit claiming that the calls were made without their consent, and therefore violated a federal law concerning telephone privacy.
The federal law generally prohibits private companies from making calls to cell phones from a computer system that can automatically make the call without human intervention. Although the law doesn’t specifically mention text messages, some courts have ruled that it applies to texts as well.
At least one court has decided that calls made from a computer system violate the law even if a human being was involved, as long as the system could have made the call all by itself.
If you outsource telemarketing to a service provider, it’s a good idea to periodically review what methods it’s using – and also to specify in your contract that the company will indemnify you if it does something illegal and you end up getting sued for it.
In the Domino’s case, the company agreed as part of the deal to provide hundreds of thousands of people with a voucher for a free pizza. So ironically, the people who brought the lawsuit will soon be receiving information about how to save money on pizza, which is what they were complaining about in the first place.