Microsoft has been hit with a potential class-action lawsuit alleging that it inundates Web users with unwanted text messages as part of a "relentless effort to advertise its products."
Microsoft "solicits mobile phone numbers from potential customers using deceptive postings on social media websites," Los Angeles residents Edmund Pietzak and Erin Hudson allege in a lawsuit filed on Tuesday with the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. "Once obtained, Microsoft automatically enrolls these phone numbers in a text message-advertising program that repeatedly transmits unsolicited advertisements for Microsoft products to mobile phones of potential customers."
The complaint, filed on Wednesday in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, alleges that Microsoft "lures potential customers" with "misleading sweepstakes and discount promotions" that appear on sites including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.
Pietzak, an account manger with a literary agency, and Hudson, a former vice president at Morgan Creek Productions, allege that Microsoft and the agency Hello World violate the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, which requires companies to obtain consumers' explicit written consent before sending them ads via SMS.
"Pietzak is an executive in the entertainment industry whose time has substantial value," he alleges. "The unwanted ringing of his mobile device has caused Mr. Pietzak actual harm and embarrassment in his profession."
The complaint includes several examples of the promotions that the consumers say are misleading. For instance, one ad that allegedly appeared on Facebook in May directed users to text the word "Surprise" to a short code in order "to find out how to win great prizes."
"Microsoft never discloses to potential customers that sending a text message ... will automatically enroll potential customers’ cellphones in an advertising program that spams a user’s cellphone with up to ten advertisements a month," the complaint alleges.
The lawsuit seeks damages of up to $1,500 for each violation of the TCPA.