Aren’t we all tired of unwanted telemarketing calls? Yet the complaint for this class action claims that yet another company is choosing to advertise itself that way. The complaint alleges that Empire Education Group, Inc., which does business as Empire Beauty School, tries to recruit students by placing calls to consumer cell phone numbers and to numbers on the National Do Not Call Registry.
The Do Not Call Class for this action is all individuals in the US who (1) received more than one call made by Empire or on Empire’s behalf within a twelve-month period (2) to a telephone number that had been registered with the National Do Not Call Registry for at least thirty days.
When Congress passed the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), it recognized that automated calls were more a nuisance and generated more consumer annoyance than calls made by a live human being. But by that year—1991—new technology had enabled advertisers to call thousands of numbers in a single day.
Among other things, the law established a National Do Not Call Registry so that consumers could request not to be contacted. Another concern was cell phones, since cell phone owners usually pay for incoming as well as outgoing calls.
The law has been amended since then, but in its current form, it forbids telemarketers from calling consumer cell phones through the use of an automated dialing system or an artificial or prerecorded voice unless the telemarketer has the consumers’ prior express written consent. It also forbids advertisers from calling numbers on the National Do Not Call Registry from calling more than once in a twelve-month period. Companies who make telemarketing calls must also maintain their own Do Not Call lists.
In this case, plaintiff Patricia Pettis went for double protection in 2008 and registered her cell phone number with the National Do Not Call Registry. However, the complaint says that in 2015, she began to receive calls “offering beauty school education opportunities.”
Pettis says she never gave her prior express written consent to receive such calls. She is a CPA, the complaint says, and never expressed an interest in beauty school or the cosmetics industry.
According to the complaint, Empire called her cell phone at least twenty-five times during a twelve-month period. Many of them resulted in live voicemails; some came in the middle of Pettis’s work day.
The complaint therefore asks for $500 in damages per call as well as attorneys’ fees and expenses plus interest.