A Tennessee woman has been awarded nearly half a million dollars after a furniture company illegally hounded her with hundreds of robocalls, sometimes more than 10 times per day, even after she asked them to no longer contact her, per court records.
Furniture chain Conn’s began contacting Veronica Davis in September of 2015, according to a court filing, about a month after she purchased furniture from its Memphis store that she was to pay off in monthly installments. Per her contract, payments for the furniture were due on the fifth day of each month, though the contract and a Conn’s representative informed her there was a 10-day grace period during which payments would not be considered late.
Despite this grace period, the company repeatedly spammed Davis between the day her payment was due and the end of the extension using an automatic telephone dialing system (ATDS). According to court records, Davis revoked her consent for the company to contact her in March 2017. But the company called her 306 additional times after she asked them not to, sometimes contacting her up to a dozen times a day, her attorney Frank Kerney told Gizmodo by phone.
Kerney, who represented Davis alongside attorney Joshua Kersey, said that by continuing to call her using an ATDS even after she told the company not to, Conn’s violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA)—a law restricting robocalls and telemarketing—and therefore broke the law.
Arbitrator Michael Russell has given Conn’s 30 days from March 25 to cough up the hefty $459,000 award, which amounted to the maximum $1,500 per call to Davis’ phone after she revoked consent to be contacted. Conn’s has filed a motion to vacate the award in the Southern District of Texas, though Kerney said he feels “very confident” it will be dismissed.
The thing to recognize, Kerney noted, is that the company would not have violated the TCPA if it had used a human representative to manually contact her. It’s a good thing to keep in mind if you find that you too are being spammed with robocalls calls (and lord knows you probably are).
“If they had just picked up a desktop phone and called her by dialing her ten-digit telephone number, that wouldn’t have been a violation of the law,” Kerney said. “If a person says ‘don’t call me,’ you better stop calling them.”
Update 4/1/19 2:00 p.m. ET: A spokesperson for Conn’s gave Gizmodo the following statement by email:
“Conn’s HomePlus has helped over 5 million customers, providing a better payment option by lending to them directly. As a financial partner, we offer customers multiple ways to make it as simple as possible to purchase, helping to finance consumers who are unable to secure financing via traditional channels or institutions. As standard operating procedure, our team follows all applicable statutes and regulations, only calling customers that have an outstanding debt. We work with customers to assess their unique case with the goal of finding a payment plan that is customized to their particular circumstance. Once a payment is arranged, we discontinue customer calls. As this is an ongoing case, we are unable to comment further on this legal matter.”