In a victory for seriously annoyed people everywhere, Time Warner Cable has been ordered to pay a Texas woman who filed a lawsuit against the company $229,500 for 153 harassing, incessant robocalls.
That’s $1,500 each.
We’ve all experienced this at one point or another — you get a new cell phone number that used to belong to someone else. And that person signed up for a service, like cable, but stopped paying their bills.
So the company doesn’t dial that person’s new number, they call their old one — yours. That’s what Time Warner did to Araceli King — 153 times over the course of a year. They were intended for a woman named “Luiz Perez,” the Washington Post reported.
Even when she called customer service to declare she wasn’t Perez, and then filed the lawsuit, the robocalls kept coming.
“Companies are using computers to dial phone numbers,” her lawyer, Sergei Lemberg, told Reuters. “They benefit from efficiency, but there is a cost when they make people’s lives miserable. This was one such case.”
The federal judge who ruled against Time Warner, Alvin Hellerstein, said that the decision should warn companies that they need to start paying attention to people, and stop resorting to computers to do business, NBC Dallas-Fort Worth added.
Though not everyone is going to file a lawsuit for a little peace and quiet.
The calls began in the summer of 2013. By October, Araceli called TWC to tell them the robocalls had been made in error, and asked to be added to their Do Not Call list, the Consumerist reported. They said she never made this request, but Hellerstein didn’t believe them.
By March, 2014, King was so fed up she filed her lawsuit. Incredibly, the computer placed 74 more calls to her cell phone, because they “could not be bothered” to update her information, the judge ruled.
Time Warner has been ordered to pay $1,500 per dial because each violated the federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act, which is supposed to stop abuses from telemarketers and robocalls. TWC said that it had fallen victim to this law, which isn’t supposed to turn a harmless mistake into a huge payout. They are reviewing the judge’s decision.
But in grand legalese, the court expressed what many consumers have wanted to say, and in much more colorful language.
“A responsible business in TWC’s position might have dispatched a live agent to reach out to Luiz Perez after the IVR (interactive voice response) failed to reach him the first several times. The responsible company will reduce its exposure dramatically by taking proactive steps to mitigate damages, while its competitor, who unthinkingly robo-dials the same person hundreds of times over many months without pausing to wonder why it cannot reach him, cannot complain about much higher liability.”
[Photo Courtesy Justin Sullivan / Getty Images]