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Papa John’s faces huge lawsuit for sending customers unwanted text messages


November 15, 2012

Papa John’s is fighting a $250 million class-action lawsuit for sending customers text messages without their consent, offering deals for pizza. As CNN MONEY reports, plaintiffs allege that franchises in the popular chain sent customers half a million unwanted messages in early 2010. Some customers said they were getting 15 or 16 texts in a row, even during the middle of the night, according to attorney Donald Heyrich.

“After I ordered from Papa John’s, my telephone started beeping with text messages advertising pizza specials,” one of the plaintiffs is quoted as saying in a statement. “Papa John’s never asked permission to send me text message advertisements.” The franchises reportedly sent the ads through a mass text-messaging service called OnTime4U, which is also a defendant in the case.

The Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 prohibits companies from sending advertisements via text message without a consumer first opting into the service, CNN MONEY reports. Plaintiffs could be awarded up to $1,500 for each message if a jury rules that Papa John’s willfully broke the law. The company says it does not agree with the lawsuit and will fight it aggressively. Caroline Oyler, head of legal affairs for Papa John’s, is quoted saying “We’ll continue to litigate the case and defend the lawsuit and move to have it dismissed.” — Greg Beaubien



Comments

Ann Dickerson says:

Punchh.com recently posted this on its blog. Why the old Rule #1 of Marketing is Still Relevant in the Age of Mobile and Social Media. On Nov. 14, a U.S. District Court judge in Seattle certified a class-action lawsuit against Papa John’s International Inc., calling for as much as $250 million in damages for the alleged transmission of 500,000 text messages to consumers who claim they did not consent to receive such texts. (Click here to read more.) As a restaurant marketer, if you want to make sure that your marketing technology vendors will help you define, monitor and comply with your opt-in strategy, here are what we view as Five Rules of Opt-In: 1. Opt-in is NOT optional: You cannot ignore this basic rule that every consumer expects you to follow. 2. Opt-in is for ALL channels: The Papa Johns’ lawsuit and the Telephone Consumer Protection Act focus on SMS text messages, automatic dialing systems, fax machines, and voice messaging systems. Regardless of the law however, most consumers have the same expectation for all channels that they use to interact with brands: email, mobile, and social channels. 3. Opt-in is channel-specific: Consumers expect that the permission they have given brands to communicate with them only applies to specific channels. For example, if a consumer has subscribed to an email newsletter, that doesn’t mean that they can automatically be sent an SMS message. Or a customer wanting a push notification sent to them via their mobile device does not automatically agree to receive an email. 4. Opt-in is brand-specific: If a consumer has subscribed to Starbucks’ email club, they haven’t automatically agreed to be spammed by competing coffee brands or other restaurant brands in their neighborhood. 5. Opt-in is time and context-specific: An opt-in is only valid until they opt-out. At any time, a consumer should be able easily to opt-out of marketing communication with the brand. Stay tuned. We will be publishing more articles on how to design an opt-in strategy, and how to ensure your marketing vendors will help you easily follow the five rules of opt-in.

November 15, 2012

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