A Texas woman named Araceli King is richer thanks to a federal judge who slapped Time Warner with a $230,000 judgment stemming from Time Warner’s repeated “robocalls” to the woman. According to the judge, Time Warner committed “egregious” violations of theTelephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991.
The TCPA allows consumers to recover statutory damages of between $500 and $1500 for each violation. Violations include making calls using an “artificial” or prerecorded voice to a residential telephone line. From a consumer’s perspective, statutory damages are nice, because they do not require proof of actual harm. Once a violation is established, the damages are due.
In this case, Time Warner not only violated the act, it continued to do so – 153 times – after Ms. King informed Time Warner she was not the customer they were looking for. Time Warner made 74 calls even after Ms. King filed suit. While persistence typically is an admirable quality, in this case, maybe not so much.
The TCPA has an additional kicker – a court can triple the statutory damages if the violations are committed “willfully.” In this case, the court had an easy time making that find. And so, it not only applied the full $1500 for each violation, it tripled that number. And that’s how the total hit approached a quarter million dollars. Ouch.
The lesson is pretty simple for any business thinking about using automatic telemarketing services. Lesson one? Think again. But if you ignore lesson 1, at least make sure someone is supervising to ensure compliance with the TCPA! The damages can escalate pretty quickly.