“Robocalls and telemarketing calls are currently the number one source of
consumer complaints at the FCC.” You might think that this statement on the Federal Communications Commission website was made before the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) was passed, but it was actually made in 2016, when the TCPA had been in effect for twenty-five years. The complaint for this class action alleges that yet another company—LE Energy, LLC, doing business as Utility Gas & Power—has engaged in illegal telemarketing.
The Prerecorded Telemarketing Call to Residential Line Class is all persons in the US (1) to whose residential phone line (2) LE Energy or another party acting on its behalf made one or more non-emergency calls, (3) promoting LE Energy’s goods and services, (4) using an artificial or prerecorded voice, (4) at any time between April 9, 2015 and the trial of this case.
The document In Re Rules and Regulations Implementing the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 says, “The [Federal Trade Commission] receives more complaints about unwanted calls than all other complaints combined.”
Automatic dialing systems and prerecorded voices can reach hundreds of thousands or even millions of consumers in a single campaign, with very little effort or expense to the business involved. However, consumers find these calls a great annoyance.
Congress passed the TCPA in 1991. Under the law, it is unlawful “to initiate any telephone call to any residential telephone line using an artificial or prerecorded voice to deliver a message without the prior express consent of the called party.” This is because automated calls are regarded as greater nuisances and invasions of privacy than live calls.
And yet telemarketing continues.
LE Energy, or Utility Gas & Power, supplies electricity to consumers in Ohio and Michigan. Unfortunately, it tries to get new customers through prerecorded telemarketing messages.
The company called plaintiff Philip Charvat’s telephone on February 5, 2019. The call played a prerecorded message. It began, “This is an important message. If you have paid your recent bills on time you can now have a fixed rate to avoid expensive rate increases this season.”
The company did not identify itself in the message, a tactic sometimes used to make consumers think they are applying for a lower rate with their current service provider. However, Charvat took the call and waited to speak to a live individual so that it could get the name of the company at fault. The LE Energy representative who spoke to him tried to sell him LE Energy’s services, making this clearly a telemarketing call.