CTIA messaging requirements

The CTIA is the official trade association of mobile wireless carriers in the United States. As an association, apart from being a single, common voice that represents the independent wireless carriers, the CTIA carries out some statutory duties. Among other functions, the CTIA is saddled with the responsibility of setting out the guidelines on what must obligatorily be present in a text message advert: one that of course must have been sent with prior express consent by the receiving consumer.

After extensive deliberations on what must compulsorily be present in a text message call to action and what may be optional, the CTIA in conjunction with all the wireless carriers has come up with a stipulated set of requirements that are a compulsory pre-requisite for marketing text message calls to action. It should be noted that these text message marketing requirements are compulsory for even the shortest and most seemingly mundane messages, even though more emphasis is placed on including these requirements when wireless operators are advertising their shortcodes or when wireless companies are urging their customers to opt-in for a particular service, especially if it is a kind of campaign that would imply the receipt of recurrent text messages by the consumer from the service provider.

If these requirements are not followed, will there be any repercussions? The answer to that question is yes, only that the repercussions would not involve legal action. As opposed to the TCPA, the telephone consumers protection act which when violated may lead to legal action and loss of millions in statutory damages. Violation of the CTIA’s guidelines leads to quite milder consequences. When the guidelines agreed upon by the CTIA and the wireless carriers are not followed to the letter at any point in time by a particular carrier, an extensive audit may be carried out by the CTIA on the carrier’s shortcode. If the CTIA’s rigorous audit fails, suspension of the erring carrier’s short code may follow. Therefore, possible suspension of a violator’s short code may be regarded as the repercussion for not following the CTIA’s guidelines.

So, what exactly are these guidelines that the CTIA and the wireless carriers have stipulated to be compulsory prerequisites in a text message intended for marketing purposes? The guidelines include:

A Complete, Clear and Lucid Description of the Product Being Marketed:     

According to the consensus of the CTIA and the wireless carriers, it is obligatory and binding upon the wireless carrier to give an understandable and lucid description, in clear terms, of the product that the text message call to action is trying to advertise. When talking about complete descriptions, it must contain every single detail of the product that is being advertised.

To ensure transparency on the part of the wireless operators and complete and thorough knowledge of what the customer is getting into, it is only fair enough that both parties are aware of every single piece of information that is available about the product. For instance, it won’t make a lot of sense if the consumer thinks he is opting in for a service that he would be able to use all day, only to realize after signing up that he would only be able to use that service at night or on weekends. It is therefore compulsory for operators to fully describe and explain the product being marketed while sending a text message call to action.

Full Information on the Server’s Delivery Frequency:  

While sending a text message call to action to a customer, it is compulsory for the carrier to make the customer know if he would be receiving recurrent text messages from the wireless carrier after opting in for the service or product being advertised. If recurrent text messages are going to be involved, then the frequency with which the consumer would be receiving the text messages too must be made known to him. If the campaign being marketed includes two options and only one would involve the receipt of recurring text messages, the customer must understand that, and if opting in for one option would mean receiving more frequent text messages than opting in for the other, the consumer must understand all the variables, as must be provided in the text message call to action.

Complete Terms and Conditions Link:

In the text message, a link to a webpage which must have been created by the wireless operator prior to the delivery of the text message must be included. This link should take the receiving customer to a page which lucidly explains the terms and conditions of the campaign they might be considering opting into.

Link to the Privacy Policy:

While sending the text message, it is also required for the wireless operator to include a  link which would direct the receiving consumer to a webpage that would explicitly explain the wireless carrier’s privacy policy. This webpage would contain information about non-disclosure of the consumer’s private information and other related details. Most wireless operators adopt the more convenient and highly efficient method of putting both the terms and conditions and the privacy policy on a single webpage, sending the link to that webpage in the body of their text message call to action, and indicating that the link contains both terms and conditions, and the company’s privacy policy.

Message and data rates apply:

If at any point during the campaign the consumer would have to pay to send a message to the wireless operator, probably to opt-in to or opt-out of the service, or to renew his subscription to the service, it must be indicated in the call to action. If data rates are going to apply in online transactions between the consumer and the wireless carrier concerning the campaign being marketed, that information must be.

(Inspired by Tatango)

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