San Francisco – The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced on Friday that the ride-hailing company Lyft has violated costumers’ rights by harassing them with calls and text messages from telemarketers.

The FCC Rules under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act  which states that any company who wants to make robocalls to costumers should obtain “prior express written consent”. Furthermore, costumers should not be obligated to receive or accept calls “as a condition of purchasing any property, goods, or services.”

However, these rules are not followed by some important companies like Lyft, which doesn’t allow customers to access the service if they do not agree to receive telemarketers’ calls and text messages. That is why the FCC has decided to send them a citation.

New York City Declares Lyft ‘Unauthorized’ Days Before Launch (2014). Credit: Jeff Chiu/AP

Lyft is a private American transportation network company based in San Francisco and famous for connecting passengers who need a ride with drivers who have a car.

Although in the company’s service terms it is stated that users have the option to answer or avoid marketing messages, Lyft’s mobile phone application blocks service to users that attempt to opt out the automatic messages.

First National Bank is also cited for the same reason. The FCC gave both companies 30 days to respond to the citation and if they do not fix their user agreements, they could face charges.

While Lyft has announced the company is currently reviewing the citation and looks forward to resolve the problem with the FCC, First National Bank has denied the allegations but promised to solve the issue.

“We generally allow all customers to opt out of marketing information,” Jennifer Reel, a spokeswoman for the Pittsburgh-based bank, told Bloomberg. “We will immediately investigate the issue and are fully committed to ensuring that we continue to comply with consumer rights and regulations.”

This is not the first time that the FCC has sent citations to other companies, nor it is the last one. Last June, the FCC sent a letter to PayPal’s general counsel to fix its User Agreement due to the fact that it seemed to require customers to accept surveys, offers and promotions.

The FCC has also sent a strong warning to other companies who send robotic messages. Travis LeBlanc, the chief of the FCC’s enforcement bureau, asked these and other companies who have similar marketing practices to make swift changes.

Source: FCC