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Popular Coffee Chain Allegedly Sends Unsolicited SMS Advertisements

By Elyse Desmarais on May 11, 2016

SMS Marketing Mishaps

TCPA violations are a popular news topic lately, with many companies and brands not complying with the strict guidelines these rules set for automated text message communications. Unfortunately, another company has been hit with allegations they violated these guidelines by sending unsolicited text message communications to customers.

This past Thursday, Caribou Coffee Company was accused of sending unsolicited text message advertisements to customers sometime in March 2016. The class action lawsuit claims Caribou sent messages without obtaining prior consent to text, something we’ve spoken about in-depth in previous blog posts.

In January 2014, Caribou launched the "Caribou Perks" loyalty program, which was created to “enhance the overall guest experience at Caribou coffeehouses nationwide and reward the brand’s passionate fans.” Caribou invited customers to join the rewards program by texting into the short code 65017 to sign-up to receive discounts on beverages and bakery items.

In specific, the complaint alleges,

“t]he source of each of the unsolicited SMS text messages sent by [Caribou] to the [plaintiff’s cellular telephone] number was ‘65017’, which is an SMS short code leased by [Caribou] or [Caribou’s] agent(s) or affiliate(s), and is used for operating [Caribou’s] text message marketing program…. necessarily used an automated telephone dialing system to send the unsolicited commercial text message advertisements because the texts ‘were sent from ‘65017’, which is a short code telephone number used to message consumers en masse.”

Since we have yet to hear Caribou’s side of the story, we can only speculate as to what went wrong. From the details of the complaint, they may have purchased a list from a panel provider that did not obtain consent to text from respondents. In order to avoid this, we always suggest our customers employ the proper recruiting methods to obtain consent to text from their audiences and never suggest the use of a purchased panel for automated text message communications.

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