Allen David’s cell phone number is inundated with robo-calls. He doesn’t know why; he uses his phone exclusively for business (and the occasional text message from his grown children) but he answers its ring up to 20 times a day, only to hear a “Please hold” computerized message, or a human voice that stumbles over even his easy to pronounce name. “That’s the first giveaway,” he says, confirming his disgust.
He notes that efforts to have his name and number removed from lists are ineffective; and even blocking call numbers has not reduced the number of bothersome calls. He routinely gets calls from travel companies, roofer, auto insurers and from other random marketers. He’s tired of it. His spirits were lifted, however, by a recent notice that he might be eligible to share in a multi-million-dollar settlement offered through a class action suit. The legal action against Resort Marketing Group, a third-party travel agency that placed robo-calls on behalf of various cruise lines from 2009 through 2014, promises eligible participants may receive up to $900 as compensation for calls that violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.
David is delighted. But he wonders how he can stop all the other random and annoying calls he receives.
It may be harder in the future to seek class action judgments, according to some legal analysts. An upcoming Supreme Court case is slated to rule on whether a company has the right to use arbitration clause “to force its employees to forego class-action lawsuits and the like.”
While the specific case is not related to consumers or to robo calls, it might have an impact on the viability of future class-action suits. Only time will tell; time, and the political climate perhaps. Individual consumers with complaints are not often a match for large corporations; a class-action lawsuit allows huge numbers of individuals to act as a single complainant, even if some of them aren’t even aware of the issue until after a settlement is announced.
Kevin Drum, a political blogger for Mother Jones, notes that “We have a lot of class action lawsuits because we don’t do a very good job protecting people from harm through actual laws.”
If that’s about to change, no one is predicting yet what the future will bring.