Rolling Stone Publisher Sued in Text Message Spam Class Action
A class action lawsuit has been filed against Wenner Media, the publisher of Rolling Stone, US Weekly and Men's Journal. According to the complaint, Wenner Media and Consumer Benefit Services have been sending text message spam to consumers, offering free vouchers for magazine subscriptions. Karen Schrock filed suit because she found that the marketing was just a bit too aggressive.
Schrock specifically alleges that the actions of Wenner Media violate section 227 of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. The lawsuit, filed in Chicago, calls the unsolicited text message spam "an especially pernicious form of marketing." Under section 227, restrictions are placed upon automatic dialing systems for cell phones. Schrock filed suit in Illinois District Court, seeking a minimum of $500 per violation, which amounts to over $5 million.
Specifically under Telephone Consumer Protection Act 47 U.S.C. § 227 (b)(1)(A)(iii):
(b) RESTRICTIONS ON THE USE OF AUTOMATED TELEPHONE EQUIPMENT.— (1) PROHIBITIONS.—It shall be unlawful for any person within the United States, or any person outside the United States if the recipient is within the United States— (A) to make any call (other than a call made for emergency purposes or made with the prior express consent of the called party) using any automatic telephone dialing system or an artificial or prerecorded voice— (iii) to any telephone number assigned to a paging service, cellular telephone service, specialized mobile radio service, or other radio common carrier service, or any service for which the called party is charged for the call.
In other words, sending automated text messages to thousands of consumers' cell phones is a big no no.
This isn't the first time Wenner has found itself in the middle of a battle over aggressive marketing. Earlier this year Wenner faced a lawsuit from several bands after placing their magazine spread next to cigarette advertising. A federal court dismissed those cases. Wenner also faced another lawsuit over using magazine covers on company schwag, such as t-shirts and tote bags. They settled that lawsuit.
- Sec. 227 of Telephone Consumer Protection Act (PDF): (FCC)
- Telephone Consumer Protection Act Action, and Employment Matter (FindLaw's Second Circuit)
- Stewart v. Rolling Stone LLC, No. A122452 (FindLaw's California Case Law)