Class-action lawsuit against Publix seeks $5M for robocalls [telecom]

Class-action lawsuit against Publix seeks $5M for robocalls made to customers' cellphone

Associate Press

A Class-action lawsuit filed for more than $5 million against Publix Super Markets Inc. claims the supermarket chain made robocalls to customers' cellphones without their consent.

The Lakeland Ledger reports that the lawsuit was filed Thursday in federal court in Tampa.

It alleges Publix's pharmacy made robocalls to customers to tell them their prescriptions were ready for pickup.

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Reply to
Bill Horne
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I thought the law against robocalls does not apply to calling someone with whom you have an established business relationship.

Ahh, I just followed the link, and a critical piece was left out of the excerpt: "But many of the people said they never used Publix's prescription services and did not have a prescription to be picked up."

Why would Publix deliberately call people about prescriptions they don't actually have? Do they really think this bait-and-switch tactic will get customers in the door?

I'm inclined to suspect it's just a bug in the prescription notice software, not intentional phone spam. Which leaves me wondering if some of the customers with prescriptions didn't get notified, because calls went to wrong numbers instead. That seems more troubling than the unwanted calls.

Reply to
Barry Margolin

It sounds to me like either the customers gave wrong numbers because they didn't want to receive the calls, or they gave their numbers but the pharmacist copied them down badly. Or they have moved since, and the store is reminding them to refill their prescriptions.

When I moved to my present address, I got calls on a weekly basis from a local grade school reporting on upcoming events there, and from the kid's doctor's office reminding him to come in for checkups and shots. It was a hassle finding the school and the doc and getting them to take my new number off their lists. I suspect the problem here is similar.

I have no problem with companies making robocalls to their customers if their customers will put up with it -- but please, include an easy way for the call recipient to turn the calls off, or at least identify yourself and give a phone number we can call back for this purpose.

Reply to
John David Galt

I have been told by my local CVS pharmacy that they cannot stop calling me because they can't look up my phone number in their database. Clearly someone has my number attached to their account, but they don't know who, they can't find out, and in fact because of their system they can't tell which CVS store is calling me. So I'll just have to put up with the constant calls.

It would be nice if the caller ID was valid too.


Reply to
Scott Dorsey

No, you don't have to put up with it. You can get it fixed or, at worst, turn it into an income stream. See:

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The relevant parts include:

Callers are allowed to call a wrong number only once before updating their list. This most commonly comes up when one person consented to be called or texted but then they gave up that number and it was reassigned to someone else.

Urgent calls or texts specifically for health or fraud alerts may be allowed without prior consent. They must be free, and consumers can say "stop" at any time.

Congress gave consumers a private right of action against callers that violate the TCPA

I.e.: They're required to do whatever it takes to not robocall you without permission.

The statutory damages you can sue for are $500 for each violation and up to $1,500 for each willful violation. If you've given them written notice that you don't want to receive calls at that number, then, clearly, further calls are a willful violation.

I'd suggest a certified mail letter to both corporate and your local CVS. Once they're apprised of the fact that you know your rights and each call may cost them $500+, then you may find that suddenly they *can* fix the problem.

Reply to

How easy would it be, in the face of repeated violations after notifying CVS corporate and individual CVS stores in your area, to get a court order to end the repeated harassment by forcing CVS to cease *ALL* outgoing calls other than emergency calls from CVS stores? Nationwide? Or at least in your state? Human callers would have to be trained to check the phone number against yours before dialing. Robodialers would have to be shut down until they could be emptied of numbers and only checked ones were re-added. Perhaps the robocaller needs to be programmed to reject your number, permanently.

It is often much easier than it is claimed to shut off a malfunctioning piece of equipment. Putting an axe through the power cord, the telephone connection, and the ethernet cable usually works. Example: a certain city website in Dallas County, Texas was leaking personal information (of taxpayers, I think). My reaction: shut it off, NOW! Use explosives on the main building circuit-breaker box if necessary (and if city officials can't come up with a faster, less destructive way to shut it down, they need to be replaced. Now.) I really don't care that it will take 6 months to fix and during the downtime the city payroll will not be processed. (I do, however, care if that shuts off all the traffic lights or city water.)

I have a hard time believing that the call does not give some clue as to which store is doing the calling, and which account it is. The employees just don't want to deal with it. Each store has their own system with their own dialout, right? Does the phone message give a prescription number? (Kroger's system does that in text messages) That could be tied to the account with the wrong phone number attached to it. Does the phone number give a number to call for more information? (Kroger's system does that in text and voice messages). Call it and find out if it's associated with a specific store. That, at least, isolates it to a specific store. The timing of the calls also gives a clue. Perhaps the account with your phone number has 2 prescriptions that renew every 30 days from January

8, 2016 and January 15, 2016, which narrows it down to a small percentage of the accounts.

If there's one system that makes the calls for all the stores in multiple states, you've got a big problem.

There should be no reason for stores to mess with the caller-ID, unless it's to make it equal to the store voice number. It may have a separate number from the regular store number, but it's likely to have the same area code and possibly an exchange as the regular store.

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