Machines are wonderful pieces of technology that have made many aspects of modern life faster and easier. For example, machines that automatically dial many numbers very quickly have made it incredibly easy for large companies with thousands of customers to quickly and easily reach all (or most) of their customers. Unfortunately, many customers are not as thrilled about receiving promotional phone calls from a machine, particularly when the customers are the ones footing the bill for these calls.
In the days of landlines, phone calls were paid for by the person or entity making the phone call. When cell phones came about, that was reversed, and now many people are paying for the calls that they receive, as well as the ones they make. This means that owners of cell phones who receive automated calls on those mobile phones are not only annoyed, but may be paying for the privilege of being annoyed. To protect the rights of consumers who are being made to pay for phone calls they do not want to receive and for the annoyance and wasted time of dealing with these in most cases unwanted calls, Congress passed the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), which makes it illegal for companies to auto-dial customers in a non-emergency situation without the express consent of the customers.
Despite the law, many companies continue to use auto-dialers to reach customers about sales and promotions. In some cases, the defendants argue that, by providing their cell phone numbers, customers are agreeing to be auto-dialed in non-emergency situations. Consumers frequently disagree with this assertion, claiming that the TCPA requires consumers to provide more explicit permission. The result is usually a lawsuit, such as the class action that was recently filed against AT&T that alleges the phone company violated the TCPA by calling customers using an auto-dialing system. Continue reading