Think about some of the things you don’t look forward to on any given day. For some, maybe it’s getting out of bed or dealing with morning traffic. For others, it’s the same headache millions of other Americans deal with every single day: robocalls.
It’s bad for a lot of folks, who get hit with calls in the double-digits on a daily basis. And although this might come as a shock, it’s not always scammers on the other end.
Like this case, involving a furniture store’s over-the-top efforts to collect payment from one of its customers. Its motivation to get paid has backfired and now it’s been ordered to shell out nearly half a million dollars to a woman subjected to hundreds of robocalls.
Robocalls incessantly remind woman to pay her bill
It all started in the summer of 2015 when Veronica Davis bought a couple of couches from a Conn’s store in Memphis. It was nothing out of the ordinary; take the couches home and pay them off over monthly installments. According to the contract, payment was due on the fifth of the month, although there was a 10-day grace period where it wouldn’t be considered late. No problem, at least that’s what she thought.
According to Gizmodo, Conn’s started calling Davis about a month after the purchase. Using an automatic telephone dialing system (ATDS), they would call her the day payment was due each month and then again at the end of the grace period – even though she was paying.
It got so bad that according to court documents, she revoked permission and told Conn’s in March of 2017 to stop calling her. But instead of putting a stop to it like the law says, they reportedly called her 306 additional times – sometimes up to dozen calls in a single day.
Davis didn’t realize at first that they were breaking the law, she told Fox 13 in Memphis. She just tried to block all the different numbers they were using until her phone reached its limit.
The calls didn’t stop, so she eventually hired an attorney and sued Conn’s. Attorney Frank Kerney said the company’s continued calls after she told them to stop violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). Kerney said that according to that law, companies could be fined $500 to $1,500 per call if you take the matter to court.
If only Conn’s had listened. An arbitrator ruled in Davis’ favor last month, ordering Conn’s to pay Davis $459,000. Do the math, and that’s $1,500 for every call after she told them to stop. Conn’s was given a 30-day deadline to pay, but the company has filed a motion to have the award dismissed. There’s been no ruling on that just yet.
How to fight your own robocall woes
Look back at last year, and Americans received an absurd amount of robocalls: 25 billion. In fact, robocalls made up half the number of all calls made in 2018.
There are ways you can at least bring down the numbers of robocalls you get, either using services through your phone carrier or third-party apps. Learn more about stopping robocalls by tapping or clicking here.
If you have a company (a real one) hounding you with robocalls even after you’ve told them to stop, take a look at the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. What you need to keep in mind is that this only applies to robocalls and telemarketing. That means companies aren’t breaking the law if a real person calls you.
Finally, phone carriers and the government seem to be getting serious about dealing with the robocall epidemic. In late March, the Federal Trade Commission shut down and fined four major robocall operations in the U.S. responsible for billions of calls. Tap or click below to listen to the latest from Kim on the FCC’s fight with robocalls in just one minute.
As for Veronica Davis, her story goes to show that we’re definitely not helpless when it comes to at least some robocalls. Maybe other companies will take notice.