Hidden Legal Pitfalls Of Text Messaging For Car Dealers
Text messaging isn’t the automotive marketing magic bullet. Like any other advertising that’s ‘broadcast’, it too comes with legal ramifications.
There have been multiple class action lawsuits to prove how dangerous text messaging as a marketing tool can be without the right plan and know-how. Twentieth Century Fox paid out $200 per phone number to the tune of $16 million, the publishing house Simon & Schuster paid out $10 million and even boot maker Timberland had a $7 million class action judgment leveled against them.
Why? Well, while each of the cases is slightly different, the overarching one is that the sender of the texts didn’t take into account the various (and often confusing) federal and state laws currently on the books relating to text messaging. From failing to honor an opt-out request to sending unwanted solicitations, text messaging as a marketing tool is a lot tougher to effectively utilize than it would seem at first blush.
First things first, it’s important to know the laws on the books in your state – not to mention the federal ones. Get in touch with your attorney and go over your text marketing plan with them before pressing ‘send’.
Second, run your list of target phone numbers against the national Do Not Call List. It’s illegal to send a commercial text (a solicitation) to any number on that list.
In some circumstances, a text message could be looked at as if it were an email, which puts it under the jurisdiction of yet another law – the CAN-SPAM Act. Consult with your lawyer or mobile marketing company to make sure you’ve got that covered as well.
Bottom line, don’t just assume that collecting customer (or prospective customer) cell numbers gives you carte blanche to text them with upcoming promotions and other sales-related communication. While most customers won’t complain, all it takes is one worthy lawsuit to break the bank.