FCC Excepts Package Delivery Companies From Prior Consent Requirement

On March 27, 2014, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) ruled that package delivery companies may send unsolicited texts or make autodialed calls to cell phones to inform consumers about their packages’ arrival. This ruling constitutes an explicit exemption to the federal requirement that text messages and autodialed calls to cell phones can only be made if the intended recipient has provided prior express consent.

The consent requirement is contained in the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), but according to the FCC’s order, “Congress gave the Commission the authority to exclude from the TCPA’s prohibitions calls and texts that are not charged to the called party, with conditions to minimize any harm to consumer privacy . . . we use that authority to allow package delivery companies to alert wireless consumers about their packages, as long as consumers are not charged and may easily opt out of future messages if they wish.”

As a result of this ruling, package delivery companies may now send texts or autodialed calls to package recipients, without prior consent, under the following conditions: no charge to the recipient (including use of cell phone minutes); the message must identify the delivery company, include contact information and may not contain any advertising; must be no longer than 160 characters (for texts) or one minute (for calls); only one message can be sent, unless no one signs for the package, in which case the delivery company can send one more message for each of two follow-up delivery attempts; and all texts and calls must contain opt-out capabilities.

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