FAQs About Commercial Texting
How does the TCPA apply to my business?
The TCPA is a federal law that limits when and how businesses can call or text customers about sales and promotions.
We can’t give you legal advice about that law, but we can tell you that the best practices in this Toolkit are meant to share best practices to help your business navigate any applicable requirements under the TCPA, “mini-TCPAs” in states such as Florida, as well as under the FCC’s Telemarketing Sales Rule.
What is the difference between a sales-related text and informational text?
A sales-related text is a text that provides, offers to provide, or arranges to provide goods or services to consumers in return for some type of payment. These are also called transactional texts. A sales-related text can be a text that shares information about a sale or promotion, invites someone to participate in a sale or promotion, or involves an actual purchase.
An informational text does not sell or promote and does not share information about a sale or promotion. Instead, an informational text offers non-sales related information such as appointment times, store hours, location changes, and product availability.
Can we text an appointment reminder to our customer after 9:00 p.m.?
Limits on when your business can send a text generally apply to sales-related texts. You can probably send a text reminding a customer of an appointment after 9:00 p.m., but consider whether it is good for your customer relationships to be sending any texts late at night or early in the morning. We recommend making it a rule of thumb that you don’t text about your business except during the federal and applicable state Texting Windows.
We don’t know where our customers are located when we text them. How do we figure out which time zone to use so that we don’t text them too early or too late?
You can base your customer’s location on the area code of their mobile phone number. Remember, if you are sending a blast text to customers in multiple states, follow the strictest texting window among those states.
What if my customer texts me using Textel Conversations tool outside of the TCPA texting window? Can I text the customer back late at night?
You can respond to a single customer who starts a text conversation with you outside of federal and state texting windows if necessary, but this should be rare and your response should be limited to answering their specific question.
It is a better practice to send any text related to your business during the permitted Texting Windows. Most customers will not expect you to text late at night or very early in the morning.
Do we have to get written consent from someone before sending any type of text?
No. However, it is a best practice and a requirement of some states to get prior written consent before sending sales-related texts.
It is also a best practice to get verbal consent before sending informational texts. This can happen at the point of sale, over the phone, on your webpage and in other ways. Remember to make a written record that you obtained consent to send a text when you get the customer’s mobile number and do not send a sales-related text unless you get prior written Consent.
What does Textel do to help get and keep a record of someone’s written consent?
In this Toolkit we share best practices for collecting written consent before sending a sales-related text to a mobile user. We provide some sample texts that you can consider and adapt to your business.
If you use the Textel Conversations or Textel Blast tools send text mobile users to ask for their consent to receive information about sales or promotions, we also keep those text messages and the mobile users’ text responses for you.
Does Textel track opt outs?
We can help you to track Opt Outs to help ensure that you don’t send sales-related texts to mobile users who have opted out of receiving them.
We do this in two ways. If a mobile user responds with a key word, such as “STOP”, “STP” or “CANCEL”, we will save that opt-out text from the customer and change the status of the mobile number to opt-out so that future texts using our tools cannot be sent to that number.
If someone opts out of your texting program in some way other than a text (such as a phone call or email), you should still honor the opt-out request right away. In that case, just submit the opt-out using our website at [LINK] and we will change the status of that mobile number to opt-out for you.
What is the purpose of the Textel Toolkit?
We want you to be successful when using our products, and so we have pulled together some best practices to use when sending text messages related to your business that we think will help to navigate some commercial texting laws.
This Toolkit should not be used as a substitute for consultation with appropriate legal or compliance counsel as decided by your business. We recommend you take others steps you think are needed to understand these requirements. There are many other sources, including the FCC’s and FTC’s websites.
Do I need to check the Do Not Call List or is Textel doing this?
You do not need to check the national Do Not Call Registry or state DNC lists if you are sending a text that is informational. The federal and state DNC lists generally apply to sales-related texts and prevent businesses from sending such texts to individuals who have registered their numbers with the Registry.
If you are sending a text related to the sale or promotion of your products or services, you don’t need to check the DNC Lists if you already obtained written Consent from the intended recipient.
Isn’t checking the DNC Registry easier than getting prior written consent from someone to text them about a sale?
We don’t think so. The DNC Registry and similar state DNC lists are costly and constantly updated. It is a best practice to get someone’s consent, avoid surprise, and start building positive customer relationships from the start. Are you more likely to want to buy from a business that calls you cold, or one that you have visited or purchased something from and told you would like to get text updates?
Is there special language we need to include in a promotional text to a customer?
Any text related to your business should first and foremost be clear and accurate.
Do we need to include the name of a person to contact when we send a text to a customer?
No. Under the Caller ID rules it is important to include the name of your business and a contact phone number, text number or email address for the business when you text about the sale or promotion of your products or services.
If the text is only informational, you don’t have to include the name and contact information of your business, but we think that including this information improves the customer experience.
How long should we keep text messages and data showing when and to which numbers they were sent?
We suggest keeping these Records for at least 4 years. If an individual customer raises a concern about a text message, this may be important information for you to reference.
If you are using Textel Conversations or Textel Blast Textel your customers’ texting history, including [LIST DATA POINTS] for at least four years. If you send texts to customers about sales or promotions outside of these Textel tools, we suggest you take steps to keep copies or screenshots of them for at least 4 years.
Should we keep a list of mobile users who indicate that they don’t want to get more text messages from us?
Yes. Keep in mind that Textel keeps records of the mobile users who Opt Out of getting your texts through the Textel tools, by replying “STOP” or a similar keyword. However, you should keep a list of mobile numbers for individuals who communicate an opt-out to you in another way, such as through email or a phone call. Make note of when they called or emailed and the steps you took to make sure they no longer receive texts from you.
Do we need to get an actual signature for written consent to receive texts to be valid?
No. Consent, including a signature, may be given electronically through a text response (e.g., sending a message from mobile device that includes keyword), a digital signature (e.g., a phone number), checking a box on a website, clicking a button on a mobile webpage, or signing up at the point of service or through an IVR.
What if one of my customers texts me before I’ve asked for their consent either verbally or in writing? Can I respond?
Yes. If someone texts a business first or before prior, written consent is obtained, the business may respond, but should avoid sending texts intended to promote or sell products or services, until after the business receives prior written consent. Also avoid sending any texts outside of the texting windows.