By Alexandra Burlacu | May 20, 2014 06:40 AM EDT
Sprint has violated customers' requests not to be contacted with telemarketing offers, and now it has to pay a record $7.5 million.
This fine is the largest ever for violating such requests and continuing to shove unwanted phone and text telemarketing down consumers' throats, although they had specifically opted out.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has announced on Monday, May 19, that Sprint has reached a record settlement with its Enforcement Bureau regarding the national "Do Not Call" list, and Sprint will have to pay big bucks for its mistake.
"We expect companies to respect the privacy of consumers who have opted out of telemarketing calls," Travis LeBlanc, the FCC's Enforcement Bureau acting chief, said in a statement announcing the agreement. "When a consumer tells a company to stop calling or texting with promotional pitches, that request must be honored. Today's settlement leaves no question that protecting consumer privacy is a top enforcement priority."
Sprint not only has to shell out $7.5 million for the largest-to-date settlement fee, but it has also agreed to implement a two-year compliance plan to make sure that it respects the FCC's Do Not Call rules.
This, however, is not the first time that Sprint goes under fire for this reason. Back in 2011, the carrier has settled other complaints related to the Do Not Call List, paying $400,000 to the FCC for unwanted telemarketing pitches thrown to users on the list, the Commission points out.
Now, the carrier said that the unwanted telemarketing pitches that occurred since 2011, again bothering Do Not Call users, were due to human error.
This consent decree relates to issues resulting from technical and inadvertent human errors, which Sprint reported to the FCC," a company spokesman explained in a statement to CNET. "The issues related only to Do Not Call Rules. We have conducted a thorough, top-to-bottom evaluation of our Do Not Call data management systems, and significant capital investments have been made to improve our Do Not Call/SMS Message architecture, oversight and compliance."
The Do Not Call list dates back to 2003 and aims to give consumers a choice to opt out of receiving telemarketing calls. People don't have to pay anything to get on this list, and will remain on this list until they specifically ask to be removed or they discontinue service, the FCC further explains.
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