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Late last year, a 2.5 million dollar lawsuit was won against Lithia Motors Inc. for sending unwanted text messages to customers without giving them the option to opt out of the text messages. According to AutoNews.com, Lithia was hit with a class-action lawsuit for broadcasting to 57,800 consumer cell phones text messages that failed to adequately allow the recipients to opt out of future texts. A second Lithia broadcast text went to 48,000 of the previous recipients, 6,190 of whom said that they tried to opt out but were unable to.
The Lithia texting case sent an impulsive wave through dealerships' digital marketing departments late last year and was still a hot topic at the Digital Dealer 12 Conference in Orlando. To avoid lawsuits like these, automotive dealers need to understand the FCC Laws regarding this form of communication and do a little research when choosing mobile to mobile marketing strategies. Be sure to test out any services before signing a contract and ask to speak with current customer references.
Here is what I found on the FCC Website regarding mobile email and text messages:
Under the CAN-SPAM Act, the FCC prohibits sending unwanted text messages to a consumer’s wireless phone number if they are sent using an autodialer, or if the number has been placed on the national Do-Not-Call list.
Even if a consumer has placed their number on the national Do-Not-Call list, the TCPA (Telephone Consumer Protection Act) does not protect consumers from receiving commercial messages sent to that number if they have:
Under the FCC’s rules, commercial email messages may only be sent to a wireless device via the Internet if the consumer has “expressed prior authorization.” Email senders may request consumers to provide this authorization orally or in writing (email or letter).
The Federal Trade Commission also has four requirements that must be followed:
Before implementing any texting programs, be sure to have done your research. There are many new guidelines regarding SPAM, email marketing and text messaging so do some reading before moving forward. For those of you in the process of implementing a text strategy, make sure your guidelines include the following:
1. Have consent to send text messages to specific customers
2. Have an “opt out” option included in the text messages sent
3. Identify your dealership in the message by providing a valid return address and noting the postal address of your dealership.
4. Ensure all subject lines must accurately describe the content within the message.