Florida resident James Poole is heading a class action lawsuit against Wal-Mart, alleging the mega-company has violated FCC telemarketing laws by contacting previous pharmacy users on their cell phones for non-emergency purposes. The calls were made using artificial or prerecorded voices related to prescription medications. The complaint contends that Wal-Mart did not have permission to call the cell phone numbers, in violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, which prohibits such calls without prior or written consent from the recipient.
Wal-Mart, the enormous discount retail conglomerate, in an effort to compete with other pharmacies, began utilizing automated calls to solicit their services to previous pharmacy users. Wal-Mart had retained access to the users cell phone numbers. The class action suit claims Wal-Mart acted in violation of the TCPA, which was enacted in an effort to prevent harassing sales calls to private citizens who did not consent to being contacted. The Act also states that when a telemarketer “willfully or knowingly” contacts a consumer after he or she notifies the company not to contact the person any further, damages rise substantially.
Poole asserts that several years after the last time he used a Wal-Mart pharmacy, he began receiving automated prerecorded messages on his cell phone regarding prescription medications. Poole did not have medications at any Wal-Mart pharmacy. He also never gave consent to Wal-Mart to receive artificial or prerecorded calls, a direct infringement of the TCPA. Poole voiced his objections to Wal-Mart, yet the calls continued. Poole was filling his prescriptions at one of Wal-Mart’s competitors, and the calls were a sales attempt to regain Poole’s patronage. The messages offered an automated way of opting out of future calls, which Poole did, but the calls did not stop. Instead, the sales message replayed when Poole pushed the opt-out button. Poole alleges that he contacted Wal-Mart’s corporate office, and was told they could not stop the calls.
The number of class members in this particular suit is estimated to be at least in the thousands. The suit asserts that Wal-Mart willfully violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act with each automated or prerecorded sales call made without the recipient’s consent.