After receiving a number of complaints, the FCC has cited Lyft for violating the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. The citation was handed down on Friday after an investigation determined that the company makes it very difficult to stop automatic messages and calls from the company.
Logging on to Lyft, the ride-sharing service that pairs customers with drivers, automatically makes you accept robocalls and automatic text messages. Prior to the citation, if you opted out of receiving them, you could not use the service. The chief of the FCC’s enforcement bureau, Travis LeBlanc, said in a statement:
We urge any company that unlawfully conditions its service on consent to unwanted marketing calls and texts to act swiftly to change its policies.
The citation is the first step that the FCC will take to rectify a problem. If the citation is ignored, or the issues not resolved in a timely fashion, the FCC can impose sanctions and fines on the violating company. A Lyft spokeswoman responded to the citation in a statement in which she indicated that the company is looking forward “working with the FCC to resolve this issue.”
This is the first we are seeing of the order and are in the process of reviewing it. We look forward to working with the FCC to resolve this issue.
Since the citation was filed, Lyft has updated their mechanism for opting out of robocalls and automated messages while allowing customers to continue to use their services. Lyft has not confirmed that the change was because of the citation.
Lyft, and its competitor Uber, have run into many legal difficulties with state and city governments. Usually, these legal problems have been because of the lack of regulation in the specific towns. The ride-sharing model competes directly against a well-regulated taxi industry. This is the first time, however, that the FCC has been involved.
As the sharing economy struggles to make itself a viable alternative to traditional and well-regulated industries, problems with the FCC and other regulatory institutions make the companies that are trying to get established have to work even harder to draw customers to them.