Hitting the Brakes: Auto Dealership Text Messages to Consumers Result in Classwide TCPA Settlement

Car dealerships—like most businesses in America-are constantly looking for ways to better engage with consumers.

Consumers, by and large, just don’t pick up their phones anymore-I wonder why-leading to the need to deploy alternate contact strategies to stay engaged.

As dealerships shift to text messaging to engage with consumers on matters ranging from marketing messages to service reminders and pick up notifications they need to keep in mind the dangerous world of the TCPA. Sending a text message—even an informational message to an existing customer—without the proper level of consent might land you in hot water.

For instance, in King v. Classic Chevrolet, Case No.: 4:19-CV-0429-CVE-JFJ, 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 189783 (N.D. Ok.  October 14, 2020) a number of car dealerships were jointly sued in a putative nationwide class action arising out of the use of purported marketing text messages to existing customers. The case resulted in a nationwide settlement costing the dealerships $850,000.00 covering texts to about 118,000 unique numbers.

Notably the settlement was obtained by two lawyers who frequently target auto dealerships for TCPA suits–  Andrew J Shamis of Shamis & Gentile P.A. and Ignacio Javier Hiraldo, Ijh Law. Although they’ve been after this line of cases for a while this is the first class settlement in this space  I can think of. I wonder what happened.

Either way, King remains an important reminder for businesses looking to engage with consumers using text messages—even a relatively small pool of contacts can result in a high dollar settlement under the TCPA.


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