Tags: papa-johns | spam | lawsuit | 250M

Spam Pizza: Papa John's Slapped with $250M Lawsuit Over Text Messages

Wednesday, 14 Nov 2012 10:34 AM

By Dale Eisinger

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The popular Papa John’s pizza franchise has been hit with a $250 million class-action lawsuit over allegations the company sent out half a million unauthorized spam text messages to its customers without authorization.

Erin Chutic, one of the plaintiffs named in the suit, released a statement that said, "After I ordered from Papa John's, my telephone started beeping with text messages advertising pizza specials. Papa John's never asked permission to send me text message advertisements."

The story goes that in 2010 Papa John’s hired a mass text messaging service called OnTime4U to send SMS ads to customers after they had ordered pizza by phone. OnTime4U is also named as a defendant in the case. This is also integral to Papa John’s defense. According to CNN Money, because OnTime4U is a third-party vendor, Papa John’s itself acted within the scope of the law.

The lawsuit, approved by U.S. District Court Judge John Coughenour, will be appealed by Papa Johns, according to Caroline Oyler, the chain’s head of legal affairs.

The company says it sees “no basis” for the size of the sum named in the suit.

While some see this lawsuit as specific to Papa John’s, others note the larger issue is to keep spam from spreading from email to cell phones.

Donald W. Heyrich, a lawyer in spam text message lawsuits, represents some plaintiffs in the case. He released a statement to Daily Finance: "Many customers complained to Papa John's that they wanted the text messages to stop, and yet thousands of spam text messages were sent week after week."

"This should be a wakeup call to advertisers,” Heyrich went on. “Consumers do not want spam on their cell phones. If you do not have permission from your customers, do not send them text messages. It's as simple as that."

Papa John's has been in the news lately. Its founder and CEO John Schnatter has been at the center of the Obamacare controversy, as both a lightning rod and a rallying cry. A new social media campaign is pushing a Papa John's appreciation day.

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