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Lyft gets cited by the FCC over shady robocall practices (updated)


The FCC continues to wage war against spam calls and texts, most likely because it's being inundated with complaints related to one or both. In fact, it has recently cited a couple of companies due to their questionable robocall practices, including ride-sharing firm Lyft. According to its official citation and order document, Lyft doesn't actually have a viable "unsubscribe option" for marketing calls and texts like written in its terms of Service. The FCC's investigation revealed that in order to opt out of those messages, passengers have to go to the company's website, and then search the Help Center.

The key phrase "opt out" surfaces an entry that instructs passengers to reply "STOP" to one of its messages. Problem is, by doing so, customers will also stop receiving security texts needed to log into their Lyft accounts, preventing them from accessing the company's services. The FCC warned that if Lyft doesn't shape up and comply with the law, it may be "liable for significant penalties." We're not sure if the firm already fixed the issue, but its Help Center is showing us a significantly different response when we looked up how to opt out.

When the FCC last visited the page entitled "Stop Receiving Text Messages from Lyft" on September 10th, here's what its investigators saw:

If you no longer wish to receive text messages from us, all you have to do is reply "STOP" to the message, and you'll receive a final text confirming that you no longer want to receive texts from us.

Here's what we're seeing now (emphasis ours):

You may opt-out of receiving promotional or marketing texts and calls from Lyft at any time by texting the word END to 46080 from the mobile device receiving the messages.

You may also opt-out of receiving all texts or calls from Lyft (including informational or transactional messages) by texting the word STOPALL to 46080 from the mobile device receiving the messages, however you acknowledge that opting out of receiving all texts may impact your use of the Lyft Platform or the Services.

If you ever want to opt back in, just reply STARTALL (if you've opted out of all texts and calls) or STARTPROMOS (if you've opted out of promotional or marketing texts and calls only). These texts should be sent to the same number initially used to stop messages, 46080.

Update (09/14/15): A Lyft spokesperson told Engadget that "Lyft has not been using promotional texts to spam users with unwanted communications." She also said that "in order to be as transparent as possible with consumers, [they] have updated [their] Terms of Service to include detailed information for users who wish to opt-out of promotional or marketing communications, but still wish to receive other text messages from Lyft."

[Image credit: Janitors/Flickr]

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