Publix Supermarket Accused of Robocalls

Eric Snover, the lead plaintiff in the case against Publix Supermarket, claims that he never used a Publix pharmacy nor did he give consent to Publix to call his cell phone number. Within about nine months, Snover received allegedly 13 robocalls from Publix that all came from an automatic telephone dialing system using a prerecorded voice. Snover told Publix officials to stop calling his cellphone. He was told by a pharmacy employee that the calls would end, according to the lawsuit. However, two weeks after this conversation, the calls resumed about a prescription that was ready to be picked up. The calls occurred from February 28, 2014 to November 6, 2014.

Since this claim, a class action lawsuit has been stimulated, claiming that Publix violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), which was passed in 1991 and restricts telephone solicitations. The class action lawsuit filed in October for more than $5 million against Publix Super Markets Inc. claims that the supermarket chain made robocalls to customers’ cellphones without their consent. The lawsuit, which was filed in the U.S. District Court in Tampa, said Publix’s pharmacy made robocalls to customers to tell them their prescriptions were ready. But many of the people have never used the chain’s pharmacy and did not have a prescription to be picked up [1]. Continually, the TCPA class action lawsuit states that the prerecorded messages did not allow customers the opportunity of opting-out of receiving the robocalls.

Additionally, according to the TCPA lawsuit, about 80 percent of Publix’s 1,100 supermarkets have an in-store pharmacy which makes it a principle part of its business. Snover claims that the robocalls were made in an effort to “garner market share in the pharmacy services industry.”

To get these numbers, the Publix lawsuit states that instead of obtaining written expressed consent for the prescription service-related calls Publix “queried its database of cellphone numbers for consumers who may have previously filled prescriptions at its pharmacies and used an autodialer to call them.

If approved, the Publix class action lawsuit is requesting the proposed class receive $500 for each negligently placed call or $1,500 for each call placed in knowing violation of the TCPA.

Telephone Consumer Protection Act Explained

In 1991, Congress enacted the Telephone Consumer Protections Act (TCPA), which required the executive branch to create regulations governing solicitations and collection efforts via telephone. Over time those regulations were put into place, ultimately resulting in the creation of the federal “Do Not Call List”. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is empowered to issue rules and regulations implementing the TCPA.

Beginning October 16, 2013, prior express written consent was required for all autodialed calls, pre-recorded calls or texts sent or made to a wireless number and pre-recorded calls made to wired numbers for advertising or telemarketing purposes. The prior business relationship exemption was eliminated.

Some additional requirements for all artificial or prerecorded voice telephones messages include:

  • At the beginning of the message, it must state clearly the identity of the business, individual, or other entity that is responsible for initiating the call.
  • During or after the message, state clearly the telephone number (other than that of the autodialer or prerecorded message player that placed the call) of such business, other entity, or individual. The telephone number provided may not be a number for which charged exceed local or long distance charges.
  • Provide an automated, interactive voice- and/or key press-activated opt-out mechanism for the called person to make a do-not-call request [2].
  • No calls to homes before 8am or after 9pm local time.
  • No calls to consumers who specifically asked the company to not call them.
  • No calls placed to consumers who are registered on the National Do Not Call Registry.

Violation of these rules results in heavy fines that goes against each and every separate call made to an individual. In fact, being on the Do Not Call List is an indefinite measure. Any calls received by a telemarketer to those on the Do Not Call List, without the expressed consent or written consent are a violation of the stature and may result in actual and statutory damages for each call. This essentially means that telemarketers who are breaking the rules are subject to high statutory penalties if they proceed to call the victim.

Customers of all ages are often times victims of TCPA violations without realizing there are laws that will protect them. In fact hundreds of TCPA lawsuits have been filed throughout the U.S. are more individuals understand their rights and choose to hold companies accountable for TCPA violations. Due to the large volume of calls a company may send out, these firms that are found liable of TCPA violations are often required to pay millions of dollars to plaintiffs.

Dolman Law Group

While we all love Publix (especially their pub subs), participating in robocalls and autodialing is a practice that is punishable by law.  If you are receiving any calls that you want stopped, call Dolman Law Group today for a free case evaluation. Be proactive and start putting a stop to the harassment today. For more information on how you can use the TCPA to your benefit, call the experienced Florida consumer rights lawyers at Dolman Law Group. Call today at (727) 853-6275.

Dolman Law Group
5435 Main Street
New Port Richey, FL 34652
(727) 853-6275

https://www.dolmanlaw.com/legal-services/creditor-harassment-debt-collection-attorneys/

References:

[1] http://www.theledger.com/article/20151016/NEWS/151019621?p=1&tc=pg
[2] http://www.experian.com/regulatory-compliance/consumer-information/tcpa-telephone-consumer-protection-act.html

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