Lyft Cited By FCC For Robocalls, Text Messages

Lyft, the San Francisco-based competitor to popular ride-sharing service Uber, has been cited by the FCC for forcing their users to accept unwanted robocalls and text messages, according to a report from CNET. According to the FCC’s citation, Lyft, which works through a smartphone app, prevents users from using their service unless they accept marketing robocalls and text messages, a violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, as well as the rules and orders of the FCC.

The FCC investigation revealed that, while Lyft’s Terms of Service indicated users may opt out of marketing robocalls and text messages using “provided unsubscribe options,” Lyft didn’t actually provide any unsubscribe options. More to the point, while Lyft technically does provide an unsubscribe option on their website — and finding that option is no easy task — unsubscribing from Lyft’s automated marketing also means being unable to use Lyft’s service.

According to the TCPA, this is equivalent to not having an unsubscribe option at all.

This CITATION AND ORDER (Citation) notifies Lyft, Inc. (Lyft), that it violated the law by infringing consumers’ rights to be free from unauthorized marketing calls. Specifically, Lyft violated provisions of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended (Act), Federal Communications Commission (FCC or Commission) regulations, and the Commission’s rules (collectively, Rules) that regulate marketing and advertising calls that use autodialers or artificial or prerecorded messages to residential and wireless phones.

The full citation may be viewed here.

“We urge any company that unlawfully conditions its service on consent to unwanted marketing calls and texts to act swiftly to change its policies,” said Travis LeBlanc, chief of the FCC’s enforcement bureau.

As The Washington Post reports, First National Bank has also been cited under the same regulations.

This isn’t the first time that the FCC has cited companies for this type of offense. Earlier this year, PayPal rewrote its policies using legalese similar to Lyft’s current Terms of Service. Congress and the FCC stepped in, requiring them to amend their terms, indicating that the new terms would be harmful to consumers.

Meanwhile, Lyft has indicated in a statement that this citation is the first they’ve heard of the matter.

“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.”

Much like other “sharing” services enabled by modern technology, Lyft has had to fight an uphill battle with established government policies and corporations. This incident, however, seems to be a pretty clear-cut case of consumer-harming behavior.

[Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images]