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FCC Issues Warning To Lyft Over Advertising Violation

September 11, 2015 - Written By Debarshi Nayak

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has recently been cracking down on a lot of firms for robocalls, and the most recent victim to come under the scanner is the San Francisco-based American transportation network company, Lyft. In a strict order, the taxi-hailing startup has been accused of violation of rules about the use of autodialers and prerecorded messages in advertising. As the FCC states, the primary cause of the citation that Lyft received is the lack of an opt-out option from advertisements, even though Lyft claims to have included a choice to opt-out in its terms of service.

The investigation by FCC into Lyft’s compliance with FCC regulation reveals that in stark contrast to what is mentioned in the terms and conditions, Lyft does not provide unsubscribe options to customers. To opt out, Lyft users has to follow a lengthy process on Lyft’s website’s Help Centre, which is ironically the only place the instructions are available.  And even then, no opt-out instructions for calls are available, making it impossible to unsubscribe from calls. The only instructions provided are for opting out from text messages.

The opt-out options provided by taxi-hailing service are illusory at best, as Lyft effectively requires all customers to agree to receive marketing texts and calls in order to continue using the services. Blocking this service could prevent the user from receiving security confirmation and verification texts, actually stopping the service. This citation from FCC only serves as a warning to Lyft, as no fines have been imposed, and no legal action will be taken against the company as of now. Lyft’s behavior will be monitored, and if the violations are not rectified with immediate effect, fines will be imposed by the FCC.

Lyft is not the only company that has been served a citation by the FCC in recent times. Last month, FCC procured a fine of almost $3 million against a travel marketer for making unsolicited calls, and First National Bank was also charged today with similar accusations of having created compulsions for users to sign up to receive automated messages before being able to use online banking or Apple Pay. Neither company was charged with fine but is under scrutiny.