Uber has agreed to stop sending unsolicited text messages to consumers in Washington and will pay the state’s Attorney General’s Office $40,000 to cover investigation fees.
In 2014, the office first received complaints about people getting texts from Uber and having no way to opt-out of the messages. Some of the texts were about recruiting new drivers; others had information intended for Uber drivers.
“Receiving text messages you didn’t ask for — and not knowing how to stop them — frustrates consumers,” Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson said in a statement. “This agreement ensures that consumers control whether they receive messages from Uber.”
Companies are required to provide customers a way to opt out of messages and they cannot send messages without prior consent. Failure to do either are violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act and the Commercial Electronic Mail Act, in addition to Washington state’s Consumer Protection Act.
Uber cooperated with state attorneys after the initial inquiries and changed their practices as a result. Under the agreement, Uber must receive consumer consent before sending text messages. The company will also include opt-out instructions in the messages and its website, in addition to limiting the amount of recruiting referral messages its drivers can send.
Here’s a comment from Uber spokesman Nathan Hambley:
“We are pleased to have resolved the Washington Attorney General’s investigation relating to text messages. Uber fully cooperated with the investigation, and we are already in compliance with the provisions of the Assurance of Discontinuance, which primarily relates to internal controls that Uber has had in place for some time. Uber remains committed to complying with consumer protection laws as we continue to advance innovative solutions in technology and movement.”
Meanwhile, Uber is also battling the City of Seattle over a first-of-its-kind law that would allow Uber drivers in Seattle to organize as a union. It was temporarily blocked by a judge in Seattle last month.
Editor’s note: Story updated with comment from Uber.