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Photograph ©2017 by Brian Cohen.

Should This Lodging Chain Be Sued For Sending Sale Text Messages?

A law firm in Miami is currently seeking members to join a class action lawsuit against Meliá Hotels USA, which allegedly engaged in a telemarketing scheme that resulted in the distribution of automated text — or short message service — messages advertising Black Friday deals and Cyber Monday deals to consumers based in California, Arizona, Washington, and Oregon without their express consent.

Should This Lodging Chain Be Sued For Sending Sale Text Messages?

Explicit consent from a consumer must be granted to a commercial enterprise before any type of advertising message may be sent — whether it is delivered through an actual telephone call, voice mail message, fax, or text message as directed by the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of the Federal Communications Commission of the United States, which restricts the creation and dissemination of telemarketing calls and the use of automatic telephone dialing systems and artificial or prerecorded voice messages.

Thanks to advances in communications technology during the 1980s, telemarketers were able to contact hundreds of thousands of telephone subscribers at once for very little cost by using automatic telephone dialing systems to disrupt them at all hours of the day.

Under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act — which was enacted by members of the House of Representatives of the United States in 1991 in response to growing outrage by consumers across the country — telemarketers who send “spam” text messages or conduct sales calls without the permission of the recipient can face fines of up to $1,500.00 per violation.

Telemarketers are:

  1. Required to obtain prior express written consent from consumers before “robocalling” them;
  2. No longer allowed as of 2012 to use an “established business relationship” to avoid getting consent from consumers when their home telephones; and
  3. Required to provide an automated, interactive “opt-out” mechanism during each “robocall” — which is a prerecorded voice message delivered via an automated telephone dialing system — so consumers can immediately tell the telemarketer to stop calling.

Details of This Class Action Lawsuit Investigation

“Consumers are complaining that they received text messages promoting ‘Black Friday’ and ‘Cyber Monday’ deals that include hotel discounts and free lodging for children accompanied by their parents or guardians”, according to this article — which is actually a paid advertisement by the law firm in question — at Top Class Actions, which connects consumers to settlements, lawsuits, and attorneys. “Reportedly, these consumers signed up for the company’s loyalty program, known as MeliáRewards, which according to the corporate website, provides ‘exclusive benefits, upgrades and discounts’ and enables customers to “earn points . . . for professional bookings and personal stays.”

Regulations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act are very specific about what telemarketers and business entities can and cannot do when reaching out to potential customers, as companies are required by law to obtain written permission from consumers before contacting them about their products, services or special promotions. They are also prohibited from calling or contacting consumers who have registered their telephone numbers with the National Do Not Call Registry of the Federal Trade Commission of the United States.


This class action lawsuit investigation raises an interesting question: does a company have consent from consumers who simply sign up as members of a rewards program or frequent travel loyalty program to contact them for advertising and marketing purposes through text messages?

I agree that unwanted text messages are an unwelcome intrusion — especially for consumers who must pay for incoming text messages — and an invasion of privacy…

…but does that mean that they may be a violation of the aforementioned federal law?

For me, this is a tough call — pun intended. I have received some good deals via text message of which I had taken advantage — but then again, that was usually after I specifically opted in to them.

I suppose that during the Black Friday and Cyber Monday mania of 2019, consumers were bombarded with messages from a variety of companies which attempted to successfully complete sales — and I will admit that many of those Black Friday and Cyber Monday offers were not enticing enough to interest me…

…but if my mobile telephone was flooded with text messages pertaining to useless marketing to which I did not specifically opt in, I would likely be annoyed and consider that to be a flagrant violation of federal law.

Does Meliá Hotels USA deserve to be sued via class action lawsuit and lose over this particular action? What repercussions — if any — could occur if the class action lawsuit becomes successful?

Last but not least: exactly how would the consumer hope to benefit from a class action lawsuit such as this one?

Photograph ©2017 by Brian Cohen.

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