“Regardless of the content of the call, hoteliers should be ensuring that they are using automatic disclosures—in order to obtain consumer consent—if using an automatic recording system. If an operator becomes the target of one of these consumer privacy class actions, taking an aggressive approach and attacking these claims as incongruent with the legislative purpose and intent behind the respective statute is a recommended.”
In the past few years, class action plaintiffs have recovered billions of dollars in punitive damages by exploiting strict liability laws that punish businesses for failing to properly notify customers when a phone call is being recorded.
Under the Federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act and similar state statutes, businesses including hotels are prohibited from using certain tactics when telemarketing or making calls to solicit potential guests or customers. Hotels and other businesses are precluded from making calls or using any kind of prerecorded message, unless the caller has obtained a recipient’s prior express consent in writing or electronically.
Additionally, hoteliers are prohibited from making calls to residences before 8 a.m. and after 9 p.m., and a future hotel guest calling to confirm a reservation also must be notified if the call is recorded. Hence, under these laws, if a hotel receptionist in Montana receives a call from a California resident to confirm a reservation but never notifies the recipient that the call is being recorded, it could result in damages ranging from $500 to $5,000 per call under federal and state laws.
This seemingly innocuous business practice of recording customer service calls without providing some variation of the oft-heard disclosure, “This call may be monitored or recorded for quality assurance purposes” has the potential to financially cripple a business.
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