ServicePlus Home Warranty faces a proposed class action over its alleged practice of placing unlawful telemarketing calls to consumers’ cell phones without prior express consent.
The 14-page lawsuit alleges that since ServicePlus does not first secure consent to contact consumers, its use of an artificial or prerecorded voice for the alleged telemarketing calls violates the federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA).
Moreover, the case claims that defendant THS Group LLC (who does business as ServicePlus) has run afoul of the South Carolina Telephone Privacy Protection Act by failing to satisfy the statute’s requirements for prerecorded telemarketing calls.
According to the lawsuit, ServicePlus has “implemented a scheme” to drum up new customers by placing telemarketing calls under the false pretense that the recipients of those calls are already customers and need to renew an expired or lapsed home warranty policy. Per the suit, these calls are made using an artificial or prerecorded voice, the use of which is illegal under the TCPA unless the caller has obtained the recipient’s prior express consent to be contacted, or the call is for emergency purposes.
Moreover, the suit says that the defendant’s calls violate the South Carolina Telephone Privacy Protection Act in that the law requires telephone solicitors who use prerecorded messages to play within two seconds of a completed greeting a prerecorded identification and opt-out message disclosing the identity of the caller and a number the recipient can call to opt out of future telephone solicitations. Under the law, a call must also contain an automated, interactive voice- or key press-activated opt-out mechanism that allows a consumer to make a do-not-call request during the call, the suit says.
The plaintiff, a Charleston, South Carolina resident, says he received numerous telemarketing calls from ServicePlus that failed to adhere to the foregoing federal and state law requirements. Per the case, the plaintiff received a call from 844-453-0706 on May 26, 2022 that played the following prerecorded message:
“Hi this is Emily from ServicePlus, your current home warranty provider. Please know that your home warranty plan has expired or is about to expire. There’s still time to renew your plan today, and get two months of coverage absolutely free. Please do not make the mistake of being left without a home warranty coverage. So give us a call back at 844-YES-COVER-ME. That’s 844-YES-COVER-ME. 844-937-2683. Talk to you soon. Bye!”
The plaintiff says he has never had a home warranty with ServicePlus or provided prior express consent to receive the company’s telemarketing calls. Although the plaintiff wrote to ServicePlus on May 25, 2022 via email to request that the calls stop, the company nevertheless continued calling the man throughout June and into July, the complaint claims.
The lawsuit relays that ServicePlus was sued by the Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General in March 2020 while it was still doing business as Total Home Protection. Per the case, the Pennsylvania attorney general’s complaint “outlines a long history of deceptive practices” by the defendant’s owners’ prior home warranty companies. Moreover, the lawsuit alleged Total Home Protection preyed on elderly or vulnerable consumers by selling them home warranty service contacts that were falsely advertised, using “creative and deceptive means” to wrongfully deny claims, ignoring consumer claims and inquiries, and refusing to reimburse or refund customers in accordance with the company’s written guarantees, the suit says.
The case relays that although the defendant in December 2021 entered into a settlement agreement with the Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General that required the company to change its business practices, THS “rebranded to escape the stigma” attached to the settlement and its previous bad reviews, and started doing business as ServicePlus.
The lawsuit looks to represent anyone in the U.S. with a cellular or residential telephone number that is not assigned to a ServicePlus customer or warranty holder and to which ServicePlus placed or caused to be placed a call that used an artificial or prerecorded voice anytime within the past four years and until the date of class certification.
The case also proposes to cover anyone in South Carolina with a cellular or residential telephone number to which ServicePlus placed or caused to be placed a prerecorded call, the content of which was identical to the calls received by the plaintiff, within the applicable statute of limitations period.
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