Before Josh Allen and Devin Singletary had the Buffalo Bills competing for AFC East Division titles, the Bills were one of the league’s more medicore teams. Some of the team’s best highlights each year were actually ‘lowlights.’
One such highlight, if one will, was when the Buffalo Bills found themselves in a lawsuit related to spam texts.
The Buffalo Bills sent text messages to fans
Plenty of companies, sports or otherwise, use text messages to their advantage. In the sports world, texts are a way to notify fans of news and scores or inform them about giveaways.
Fans can even report other unruly fans at sporting events all through a text message.
The Buffalo Bills are one such company that takes advantage of text messaging. By 2012, the Bills created a texting chain where fans could subscribe to receive texts from the team.
The system is basic. Fans give the team their number and get texts containing updates and scores. The Bills provide a disclaimer about text message rates applying and them only sending a certain amount of texts per week.
Everything sounds simple and easy, right? One Bills fan learned first hand that wasn’t the case.
One Bills fan sued the team because he received extra text messages
Jerry Wojcik was a lifelong Buffalo Bills fan. In September 2012, Wojcik visited the Bills’ official website and saw an advertisement that informed him about the Bills’ mobile alert system.
Wojcik signed up for the service, which promised it wouldn’t text him more than five times per week. Given that there are seven days in a week, that sounded like a fine tradeoff.
The Bills, or rather the system, didn’t live up to their word. Instead of receiving a maximum of 10 texts over a two-week span, Wojcik received 13 texts in those 14 days.
That October, Wojcik filed a lawsuit on behalf of the nearly 40,000 fans who subscribed to the Bills’ mobile alert system.
Wojcik claimed he received six text messages the first week with the service and seven the second. By sending 13 texts instead of 10, Wojcik said the Bills violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, which is designed to prevent too many unsolicited telemarketer calls.
Text messages, as they are a form of communication involving phones, count as calls in that situation.
Buffalo had to pay $3 million as a result of the lawsuit
By 2014, one of the NFL’s stranger lawsuits in recent memory had a verdict. The Buffalo Bills reached a $3 million settlement Wojcik and nearly 40,000 fans who signed up for the service.
Wojcik wouldn’t receive the $3 million, though; he didn’t even get $1 million in the deal. The Bills paid up to $2.5 million in vouchers to 39,750 fans in the form of gift cards to the team store or the Bills’ official website.
Wojcik’s attorneys received $562,500, or in the range of an NFL minimum contract. As for Wojcik, he received $5,000 after he sued his favorite team.
As for the Bills’ mobile alert service, the team got rid of it. That was probably a safe move. If Bills fans complained about the service, what would have happened with Dolphins or Jets fans who signed on as a joke?