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Text message marketing has proven to be a valuable tool for all types of businesses. The restaurant industry, for example, uses text message marketing for informational and promotional marketing purposes. However, SMS software platform providers and text message marketers may get themselves in trouble when collaborating to create and send messages to unsuspecting consumers.
The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) protects consumers from unwanted messages. Companies and SMS platform providers can face fines of $500 to $1,500 for each unsolicited message. In this blog post, we review the details of Meeks v. Buffalo Wild Wings and discuss how SMS platform providers and text message marketers can maintain compliance with TCPA rules and regulations.
Summary of Meeks v. Buffalo Wild Wings
Buffalo Wild Wings is a casual sports bar franchise with locations in all 50 states. March Meeks was a frequent patron who gave his phone number to the hostesses of two Buffalo Wild Wings locations on two separate occasions so the restaurant could text him when a table was available. Meeks alleged that he didn’t consent to Buffalo Wild Wings sending him messages that included links from Nowait and Yelp encouraging him to download their apps.
Meeks filed suit against Buffalo Wild Wings, Nowait, and Yelp. Yelp, however, filed a motion to dismiss because they didn’t send the message to Meeks. Yelp’s motion to dismiss was granted; thus, Buffalo Wild Wings would be solely responsible for proving their case.
The TCPA-required level of consumer consent varies; it depends on whether the message sent to consumers is a marketing message or an informational message. In this case, Meeks received a hybrid message that included information he requested from Buffalo Wild Wings along with a link advertising the services of Nowait and Yelp. When determining who’s responsible for possible TCPA violations, judges seek additional context by looking at the surrounding messages sent to consumers, who crafted the messages, who physically sent the messages, and who received the messages. When applying these TCPA standards, it was clear that Yelp didn’t initiate the messages Meeks received, leaving Buffalo Wild Wings responsible.
How SMS Marketers Can Stay TCPA Compliant
When Meeks gave the hostess his phone number each time, he consented to an informational text message alerting him when his table was ready. He neither consented to nor expected to receive the hybrid marketing message from two other companies. It’s safe to assume that the unforeseen ads from companies to which he didn’t give consent led him to sue.
As a text message marketer, you can reduce your risk of future litigation by ensuring you have written consent to text consumers promotional messages. Before launching any campaigns or enabling automatic messages, test user experience from end to end to ensure customers receive messages they’ve consented to.
Meet TCPA Requirements with Help from Tatango
Tatango has been an industry leader for more than 13 years. Our text message marketing platform offers tools to help you meet TCPA consent requirements to reduce your risk of litigation. Our team of experts is ready to help—contact us today to get started.