Want some free money? A first-of-its-kind settlement over text message-based spam could give you $150 for filling out a simple form. Boot-maker Timberland has agreed to hand out the sum to everyone who received an unsolicited text from the company between January 1, 2003 and August 1 of this year -- or at least claims to have received one. (For what it's worth, there's no indication that the company will be checking any kind of database to see who it actually spammed. Not that you'd sign up if you didn't get a message. But maybe you think you got one. Or five.)
The whole thing is the result of a class-action lawsuit saying the company violated the U.S. Telephone Consumer Protection Act by sending the unsolicited messages. A court still has to approve the settlement, but if it goes through, everyone who signs up now will eventually see the cash. Timberland has set aside a total of $7 million for the payments. The settlement only affects U.S. customers.
Timberland, for its part, insists it's not to blame. The company says an independent contractor was charged with making sure everyone who got messages had given consent. (Sure. We believe that.)
All you have to do to get in on the handout is fill out a claim form -- currently available only in print-and-mail mode, but with online applications listed as "coming soon" -- any time before February 2 of next year. You have to indicate how many spam messages you received in each month during the five year period -- an odd request, as likely no one will remember exactly what month they received what junk three years ago. Outside of that, it's just basic personal information.
A judge is set to officially rule on the settlement on December 18.