Pizza Hut Is Being Sued For Allegedly Harassing Customers

News flash: Signing up for promotional text messages from Pizza Hut might be a life sentence — at least, it was, until recently. If you've ever given a company your phone number to snag a quick discount before, then you know how those promotional texts can plague your inbox for weeks until you finally bite it and text "STOP." But a scathing new TCPA class action lawsuit accuses Pizza Hut of ignoring customers' pleas and chugging full-steam ahead with an onslaught of spam.

According to customer Danuel Cortez (who filed the suit in Washington federal court), despite texting "STOP" multiple times to opt out of Pizza Hut's automated text promotions, the messages persisted for months. Cortez sent the first "STOP" text in April 2022 and continued receiving texts through May and June. The most perplexing part? Pizza Hut's automated response interface sent a confirmation text letting Cortez know that his request was received and that he would be successfully unsubscribed. (Apparently not.)

Cortez says the illegal texts were an "invasion of privacy, harassment, aggravation, and disruption of the daily life of thousands of individuals," via court case platform Top Class Actions. Per the case, this issue spans the last four years. The official Pizza Hut TCPA class action rules, "Defendant's illegal acts caused Plaintiff and the Class members harm, including statutory damages, inconvenience, invasion of privacy, aggravation, annoyance, and violation of their statutory privacy rights."

The promotions just don't STOP

Per the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), no company can use an automated messaging system to contact a personal telephone for commercial purposes without the recipient's consent. Violating the TCPA isn't just a social faux pas for companies, but an infringement of personal privacy rights. The case Cortez v. Pizza Hut Inc. could receive a jury trial, during which the plaintiff would argue for declaratory and injunctive relief in addition to statutory damages for every customer who has been receiving unsolicited texts. A scheduled court date or anticipated settlement amount has not yet been released.

It's been a big year for Pizza Hut, and not all of it has been bad. In January, the chain brought back "The Big New Yorker" pie after a 20-year hiatus, and just a few weeks later it broke the record for World's Biggest Pizza. But, in April, Pizza Hut and KFC (which also belongs to fast food parent company Yum! Brands Inc.) were sued for a mass cybersecurity attack that breached customers' personal data including phone numbers, addresses, names, birthdays, and even social security numbers. Before that, last November, KFC caught major backlash for its automated text system when foodies in Germany were sent an unsavory promotional message on Kristallnacht. (Not a good look.)

Call it an aggressive marketing strategy. Call it customer harassment. But whatever you call it, many foodies might not call in a pizza order for delivery tonight.