Opt-in or opt out? And how do you tell someone who’s unsubscribed that this has been actioned? In the US, the FCC’s latest update on SMS marketing regulations makes it clear…
This week, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in the US officially made sending opt-out confirmation texts a best practice under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA).
The watchdogs ruling was in response to a petition filed in February by SoundBite Communications.
SoundBite clients Bank of America and GameStop became plaintiffs during the past two years and the company decided to make a stand.
“When the TCPA was passed, there was no SMS. The opt-out guidelines referred to faxes and phone calls,” says SoundBite president and CEO Jim Milton. “Meanwhile, every industry organization, the Chamber of Commerce, and the Better Business Bureau had listed opt-out confirmation messages among their best practices. Consumers want to receive them.”
The ruling handed down yesterday by FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai agreed with SoundBite that confirmatory messages fall within the intent of TCPA, but added the condition that consumers give prior express consent to receive them when they opt in.
Also, the FCC required that confirmatory messages may not contain any promotional copy or text that attempts to dissuade consumers from opting out.
“Our staff review shows that the Commission has not received a single complaint about this practice. To the contrary, several consumers complained that they did not receive a confirmation text,” said Commissioner Pai in a statement accompanying the ruling. “This state of affairs serves the interests of trial lawyers rather than consumers and the businesses trying to meet their needs.”
Since SMS texting became a standard marketing practice over the past decade, several class-action suits have been filed against marketers for returning a confirmatory text to consumers after they had opted out.
In March of this year Barclays group settled such a suit for more than $8 million. Similar suits have been filed against a list of companies including Taco Bell, American Express, Nascar, Citibank, Red Box, and NFL Enterprises.