Lyft Hit With SMS-Spam Lawsuit For 'Invite Friends' Program

Ride-sharing service Lyft was hit with a potential class-action lawsuit for allegedly running an “aggressive marketing campaign” that sends people unwanted SMS messages.

The complaint, filed late last month by Washington state resident Kenneth Wright, centers on Lyft's “invite friends” program. That feature allows Lyft users to send SMS messages to all of their contacts, inviting them to sign up for the service. Lyft promises to pay people up to $25 for each contact who accepts the invitation and uses the service, according to Wright.

Wright says that he received a message on March 21, stating that one of his friends had offered him $25 toward a Lyft ride; the message also had a link to a site where he could redeem the coupon.

“The SMS text message sent to plaintiff was typical of messages sent to numerous other consumers,” he alleges in his complaint, filed late last month in federal court Seattle. “The links in these messages were designed ... to connect plaintiff and consumers like him to Web sites through which defendants offered financial incentives calculated to cause consumers to download and install Lyft onto their cellular telephones and to use defendant’s services.”

Wright alleges that the marketing program violates the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, which prohibits the use of automated dialers to send SMS messages to people without their consent.

Lyft hasn't yet responded to Online Media Daily's request for comment. But another company, Path, which is facing a similar lawsuit in the Northern District of Illinois, has argued that its invite-a-friend program doesn't violate the law. Path says that its invite-a-friend feature doesn't use automated dialers for marketing purposes, because users themselves “initiate” the messages that are sent to their contacts.
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