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Robocalls by retailers barred by law, court rules

October 17, 2012 | 11:51 am

Best Buy

Robot telephone calls aimed at getting shoppers into a store are barred by federal law, a federal appeals court ruled Wednesday.

A three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals decided unanimously to revive a class-action lawsuit in the state of Washington against Best Buy Stores, ruling the chain’s automated calls urging consumers to redeem reward points amounted to unsolicited telephone advertising.

The court said the calls violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, which prohibits prerecorded or artificial messages to residents without their prior consent. Calls made for emergency purposes are exempted.

A lower court had ruled for Best Buy, which argued the calls were merely informational and did not advertise a product. But the 9th Circuit overturned the district court, deciding “the calls were aimed at encouraging listeners to engage in future commercial transactions with Best Buy to purchase its goods.”

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-- Maura Dolan

Photo: Customers enter a Best Buy store in Manassas, Va. Credit: Karen Bleier / AFP/Getty Images

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