If you employ text marketing (i.e., marketing with text messages), then it is vital that you follow the rules of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), unless you actually like being fined millions of dollars.
The possibility of being fined is not distant but very real. Case in point: Jiffy Lube.
Jiffy Lube failed to follow one of the TCPA’s cardinal rules: to send promotional text messages only if the recipients have knowingly agreed to receive such messages.
What Jiffy Lube did was pull 2.3 million mobile numbers off of their invoices, then blast those customers with a message asking them to join an ‘E-Club’ with a 45% discount on their next oil change if they joined.
Jiffy Lube was fined $47 million by the District Court, Southern District of California for this, because they had not obtained prior consent of the concerned customers for sending them that message. (In the image below, “Heartland” refers to a Jiffy Lube franchisee.)
Update: Papa John’s Pizza on the Block
Papa John’s Pizza, instead of serving soup, is now swimming in it.
In 2010 its franchisees sent 500,000 text messages offering discounts and other promos to existing customers, some customers receiving dozens of messages. Unfortunately for Papa’s, the Company did not get specific permission from customers to send them text messages. A class-action lawsuit was filed soon after, asking for $500 worth of damages for each sent text message.
On November 9, 2012, in Seattle, Wa., the lawsuit was certified by U.S. District Court Judge John C. Coughenour, which, if won, could result in a 500,000 x $500 = a $250 million fine for the pizza company.
1. Get subscribers to opt in explicitly. This in compliance with the TCPA text:
“The TCPA, however, prohibits companies from using automatic telephone dialing systems to make calls to cell phones unless the owners have consented.“
2. Include required information in your signup form. That information is:
- Possible Messaging Costs: Within one line above or below the call to action, print, “Message & Data Rates May Apply.”
- Proposed Messaging Frequency: Include a phrase like, “ Max. 6 mssgs/month.”
- Instructions to Opt-Out: This is typically, “Text STOP to 12345 to opt-out.” or
- Instructions to Get Help with the Messaging Program: This should be something like, “text HELP to 12345 for help.”
(For subscription-related programs, requirements a – d above must be repeated in the confirmation message you send the subscriber when he signs up.)
e. If your sign-up form is for a sweepstakes campaign, you should Include a URL to the rules of the sweepstakes.
Those are the simple rules you need to follow to make your text marketing campaign legally compliant.
Incidentally, if you would like us to manage your text managing campaign, merely send me a message from here for a same-business-day reply!
To your text marketing success,