As you already know TextPower works diligently to ensure that the text messages sent over our network comply with all legal and cellular carrier requirements. A recent change to the Telecommunications Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) brought to light something particularly relevant to utilities. We have consulted with our Washington DC legal counsel who specialize in this area and after confirming this clarification with them wanted to update you about these compliance requirements.
The essence of this clarification is that requiring your existing customers to grant permission (i.e., “opting in”) before sending text messages of an informational nature to them is not necessary, unless you are advertising something. Power outages, storm alerts, status updates and conservation alerts all qualify as informational notifications; texts promoting goods, services, discounts or other marketing messages do not qualify as informational and thus will still require customers to opt-in with new specific language.
In short, if a customer previously gave you their cell phone number and you retained it in your records, you are permitted to send them informational or emergency messages without them opting in first.
Guidance for compliance requirements
As always, TextPower strongly encourages you to include instructions in each message describing how to stop these messages (e.g., “Reply STOP to quit”) and we guarantee that anyone who does opt-out will no longer receive them. That said, you can now keep your customers informed quickly, efficiently and legally by sending text alerts directly to their cell phone if you have it in your database without a separate opt-in first.
This is a significant change from our past guidance on compliance requirements and presents an excellent opportunity for you to keep your members updated about important information in the fastest, simplest and most cost-effective method available.
Please refer to this link for a full independent expert analysis from Arent Fox LLP: http://www.textpower.com/Documentation/TextPower-CustomerDocumentation-PDF/TCPA-and-Opt-ins-Clarification.pdf
Here’s a video of Mike Hazzard, an attorney at Arent Fox LLP explaining how TCPA applies to the Utility Industry: