Walgreen Company settles a class action suit that alleged it violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) by calling customers via automated dialing system to remind them their prescriptions were due for refills. The mistake, it seems, is that Walgreen failed to get customer consent to receive these “robocalls,” thus forcing those who did not want to get them to opt out.
The TCPA is a federal law that prevents companies from making unwanted automated calls customers. Plaintiffs in the class state that: “Walgreens took no steps to obtain, and did not obtain, the prior express consent of these consumers to make such robocalls. Instead, [Walgreen Co.] simply mined through its database of phone numbers from consumers who had previously filled prescriptions at Walgreen pharmacies, and began robocalling these numbers with the aforementioned ‘reminders.’ In this fashion, Walgreens automatically opted all of the consumers in its database into the robocall program, and required them to affirmatively opt-out in order to avoid [Walgreens’] repeated robocalls.”
The suit was originally filed in June 2013 and a motion to dismiss on the part of Walgreens was denied last summer. The company insists it did nothing wrong and that the calls were medical alerts that didn’t violate the TCPA. Rather than continue to defend the suit however, Walgreens agreed to settle for $11M. Class members will get a pro rata share of the fund. Each member is expected to receive approximately $15. If there are too many members to make that happen, either Walgreens will pay the difference or the members may exclude themselves from the settlement.
The $11M settlement got preliminary approval on April 3, 2015. In addition, the company agreed that it would change the calling system to one that made sure customers gave their consent to the robocalls before calls were made.