TechnoLogical: $500 a text message

Nov. 19, 2012, 7:39 p.m. | By Aanchal Johri | 10 years ago

TechnoLogical is a weekly blog focusing on new advances in science and technology and looking critically at how the technology we already use impacts our lives. Come back next Monday for the next edition of TechnoLogical.

We all know that students get in trouble for text messaging during class, but imagine having to pay a $250 million fine for texting. That is exactly what might happen to the popular American pizza chain Papa John's, after it sent 500,000 unwanted text messages to customers in 2010.

The text messages, sent through the marketing company OnTime4U, advertised deals for pizza and were regarded as spam by several customers who testified that they inconveniently received messages late at night and were not notified that their numbers were being used

Papa John's faces a $250 million lawsuit for texting customers. Photo courtesy of Papa John's.

for marketing. The lawsuit was filed with the US District Court for the Western District of Washington in Seattle, Wash. and was given class-action status on Nov. 9. Erin Chutich, a plaintiff in the court case, testified that Papa John's had unlawfully sent the messages. The plaintiffs are demanding $500 for each text message they received from Papa John's as an apology.

Regardless of all the "horrific damages" caused by the text messages, the issue is not as big of a deal as the plaintiffs are making it out to be. The messages were sent out over two years ago, meaning that those filing the case must have been outraged if they are still demanding repercussions now. On top of that, Papa John's realized its mistake long ago and resolved the situation almost immediately after finding out that the messaging might be considered illegal. Papa John's had OnTime4U stop the advertising and reclaimed their customers' phone numbers from the company.

Donald Heyrich, the attorney representing the class-action suit, said that he hopes the case will force other companies to think twice before marketing their products via text messages. Though this is a compelling idea, advertising via texting is something we could have all foreseen. We have gotten advertisement through snail mail and through email; now with the advent of cellular technology, it was only going to be a matter of time before we start getting advertisement via text messaging as well.

True, customers should be aware that they will receive notification of deals via their phones. They should also have the option to not receive such messages at all. However, just the idea of advertising through texts is innocuous enough, given the massive increase in cell phone use in the past few years. Some might even consider it helpful. The next time they want to use a coupon, they can simply hold out their phone at the cash register.

The situation has escalated much too high and it seems that plaintiffs must be bored out of their minds or short on cash if they are spending time pursuing a case that was resolved two years ago. CNN reported that Papa John's shares fell by one percent last week and dropped by almost two percent once the court judge announced that the plaintiffs in the case could work together. However, stocks fluctuate all the time and a two percent drop does not mean that customers are disappointed by Papa John's service.

The ruling is yet to be determined, but for now, it is much more worth your time to keep quiet and enjoy your pizza.

Tags: TechnoLogical advertising Class action law suit Papa John's Pizza spam Texting

Aanchal Johri. Aanchal Johri ('14) served as co-Editor-in-Chief of Silver Chips Online with Jack Estrin from 2013-2014. In January 2014, Johri represented Silver Chips Online at the White House as the only high school journalist to <a href="">cover</a> the White House State of Science, Technology, Engineering and … More »

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