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Man Sues United Airlines for Sending Him Text Messages That Help Customers Make Their Flights

Man Sues United Airlines for Sending Him Text Messages That Help Customers Make Their Flights

A man has filed a class-action lawsuit in the state of Hawaii against United Airlines claiming that flight update text messages that are meant to keep customers informed and prevent them from missing a flight had drained his cell phone’s battery and invaded his privacy.

Riordan Pringle of Honolulu accuses United of “flagrant breaches of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act – a law that was passed more than 20 years ago in an attempt to prevent marketing companies from harassing customers with automatic dialers and recorded messages.

The law also applies to automated text messages such as the ones that United sent with information like check-in times, boarding notifications and gate changes. United has also used text messaging as part of its much-lauded ConnectionSaver program that helps passengers with tight connections make their next flight.

Earlier this month, ConnectionSaver helped save 2,100 connections in just one day as winter storms wreaked havoc across the United States. The tech works by automatically identifying customers with a tight connection who are booked on a flight that can be held for a few minutes without compromising an on-time arrival.

ConnectionSaver then sends out an automated text message to the customer telling them to hurry to their next departing gate and provides step by step directions so they don’t get lost along with the way.

Within the first few months of the system being introduced in 2019, United claims the text messages helped save 50,000 customers from missing their connections. It relies on customers either using the United mobile app or providing their cell phone number when they make a booking.

When you book a ticket with United and provide a cell phone number, the airline automatically starts sending messages with flight information. But in order to comply with the TCPA, United must also provide a way for customers to opt-out of receiving the messages.

United does this by asking customers to reply STOP to the same number that sends out the messages. The only problem, however, is that texting STOP doesn’t always work.

In fact, Riordan Pringle says he texted STOP in an attempt to prevent United from sending him any further text updates on at least four separate occasions. Pringle even received a message confirming he had opted out but the flight updates kept on coming.

The lawsuit claims that the barrage of messages sent without his consent was an invasion of Pringle’s privacy and that the messages were draining his cell phone’s battery. They also caused him aggravation and annoyance, and precious time was taken out of his day trying to make the messages stop.

United apparently knew full well that its opt-out system didn’t work properly and was an issue that was regularly discussed by frequent flyers. The airline had also previously been cited by the Federal Communication Commission for violations of the TCPA.

The lawsuit alleges: “United failed to take effective action to stop the violations, and chose to save on the costs of solving the problem at the expense of the privacy and frustration of its customers.”

In seeking a class-action suit, Pringle is asking for the court to consider allowing anyone else who tried to unsuccessfully opt of United’s text messages within the last four years to join the suit. His lawyers believe thousands of customers could be eligible to join the suit.

United has been contacted for comment.

View Comments (94)
          • Do you hear yourself? No where in the article did it imply that the guy was being charged on a per text message basis. And frankly if we use common sense we can infer that he doesn’t since A: it wasn’t mentioned in the suit as damages, and B: even most dirt cheap plans these days don’t charge for text messages (this is the 2020s not the aughts).

            This guy is just an a-hole and if you don’t see through his intentions as disingenuine then I don’t know what to tell ya.

        • Another waste of the courts time on someone that noticed a technicality to try and line his pocket. The court system has to many real cases to waste time on cases like this.

    • Sad. We always have those who just push the system to make life difficult for others. I cant count the time those messages helped me with my flights.

      • The court should declare the case without merit in 10 seconds and throw it out. Award UAs legal costs and court costs against this whinger.
        UA should place him on their ‘no-fly’ list too.

      • Are you quoting trump?? The loser who filed 60 losing lawsuits because he was ashamed to admit he was a loser? Then he proceeded to continue to lie and pretend that he wasn’t a loser for months, making a complete fool of himself?

      • This guy just want free money $$$$$$$$ i guess the economy in Hawaii is not to good and united is a big company with money very easy target

      • Very balanced article. Started reading with favoritism for UA and how I benefitted from the text system. But as I read further, I realized how UA was warned about the text mishaps and the plain text of the law being violated.

        • Sure their buggy text message system needs to be fixed, I think we can all agree to that, but a class action lawsuit for “invasion of privacy” and “waste of my time”? Yeah, I don’t think so

          • Well, in this case the class action suit will be the motivator. Ever get frustrated with how a faceless giant corporation won’t fix some inane thing? That’s what happened here, but I bet you they’re gonna fix it now. GOOD JOB HONOLULU GUY.

    • Please explain. You know United employs 10s of thousands of people. Why would you wish bad on them? You’re really defending a nut job? Really?

  • Ha! Very busy schedule. Big VIP. If you’re so busy I’d expect you to have bigger things to worry about than a few unwanted texts. Fool.

  • I hope he loses the lawsuit. People are so weird suing for literally everything. So dramatic too! “Draining his battery” hahaha!

  • This would be the customer who would also then sue because he’ll claim, United didn’t send him an update that the gate had changed or some other nonsense.

  • What a BABY. Getting a few text messages will NOT drain your battery to the point it effects you in a negative way. Yes , you did say ” Stop” , but to as far as to sue is ridiculous. Get a life.

  • I say : anyone seeking privacy should not be giving cell phone numbers away. Besides sending “Stop” messages, simply removing the cell phone number from the UAL data base would also work.

  • 1. He should charge his battery more often.
    2. He should Google “block text messages”.
    3. He needs to consider what is important in life.

    Likely the judge would throw this case out for the reasons stipulated above.

    • Mari, please, use your head. They are providing useful information to their customers. Airports and planea have a place to charge your phone!

  • Omg..get a f< Ing life. Be for reL. Oh and yes we all want to give to your go fund me especially when we in the USA have families and children go hungry. Can't wait to give to you fucking go fund me shit..get a fricking job!!!!

  • Lmao hopefully this dumb case gets tossed out, the dumbest shit people sue for. The sms barely drains battery his phone must be crap. If the unsubscribe option didn’t work you can block the number.

  • As if he didn’t know that he could either just delete the texts or that he could have, at any time, replied “STOP” and he wouldn’t have recieved any more texts.
    But this is America, land of the painfully dumb and exceedingly greedy.
    People like this guy want easy money, pretentious enough to believe that money should just be handed over to him because he refuses to exercise common sense….or even use the, what I can only assume, is a now fetid piece of cheese he calls a brain.

    This one time I’ll side with the airlines because his lawsuit is blatantly frivolous and any judge with half a brain can see that.

    • You apparently need to LEARN TO READ! He did try to STOP the text messages FOUR TIMES! UNITED has VIOLATED TCPA RULES already and needs to be held accountable! Do you see anyone else that has started a lawsuit against them for this? NO! Then let it run it’s course and see what the courts have to say! Do you LIKE TELEMARKETERS calling you daily? Of course not! This is pretty much the same thing! Please, REREAD the story before making any other comments! The OPT OUT wasn’t working and UNITED knew about it but did NOTHING to fix it! MANY OF YOU NEED TO REREAD THE STORY! THEY HAVE BEEN FINED BY THE FCC FOR VIOLATIONS OF THE TCPA AND STILL HAVEN’T FIXED THE PROBLEM! Something needed to be done to UNITED and Mr Pringle filed a lawsuit, BIG DEAL! LET THE COURT DECIDE WHAT HAPPENS TO UNITED! Carry on!

      • Norma,

        This is not a telemarketer. They are providing useful information to a customer for a limited time..

        United is not my favorite airline. In this case, I side with them, though.

      • Norma,

        First of all someone needs to remove the CAPS button from your keyboard. Second, you act like you know everything about the situation, for instance you stated United knew about the problem and did “nothing” to fix it. Oh really? And you know this how?

        Ever have a computer glitch on you? Ever have your tv remote not change the channel when you want it to? Have you ever unsubscribed from emails to be warned it may take a certain amount of time before you’ll stop receiving them? I guess not since you just “assume” United is at fault because the guy texted “STOP” 4 times. Whoopty doo!

        Like others have stated, by simply blocking the number, since he wanted to unsubscribe from receiving messages anyhow, would have easily solved his annoyance problem. It’s people like him that are just fishing for ways to make millions for no good reason (at least any normal human being that knows how to work a cell phone).

        Time to step off your soap box and the upper case button and realize this guy is just a gold digger. If I had a buck for everytime I asked someone to “STOP” sending me stuff and they didn’t, I could be rich too, as I’m sure many other could. I just choose not to tie the courts up with b.s. because they’re there to protect us, and I’m pretty sure this guy didn’t get hurt in any way. Oh yeah, I forgot, his cell phone did! SMH

  • this man had a few options, far as app’s go.
    There are apps to stop unwanted text or phone calls.
    Yes, united airlines should of had the opt-out feature working. They didn’t so you just deal with it!
    United sending text messages with out his consent,
    invading his privacy, drained his phone battery,
    Lost precious time of his day trying to make it stop.
    If this guy is a few clowns short of a circus, it be understood with a tiny bit of empathy. Did he try to contact United directly to stop -or opt out?
    Mean time, welcome to the real world,
    I deal with telemarketers daily, Over & over same ones.
    Robo calls, daily, Scammers also.
    I have blocked numbers, only to have them call back with one # different in last 4, example xxx-xxx- 8739, blocked it.
    Now they call from xxx-xxx- 8639 & so on!
    I have over 300 calls blocked for SAME company.
    I have verbally asked them to take me off list, do not call me again, I have pressed # 2 if i no longer wish to receive these calls. I have been polite, been NOT polite, have cussed at them, ignored them, nothing has worked.
    It is for help in acquiring a DR.- , To Help with my prescriptions, and help with getting my Medicare set up, as i requested.
    I have not asked for help, am not taking any prescribed pills, have my own Dr. & am not old enough for medicare yet
    They have been told this over & over.
    The other company calling & sending text is a company that’s gonna help me get my S/S set up, Set me up with an attorney if I am denied.
    Both these companys have been told I do not qualify, quit calling me, take me off the list , etc etc.
    They continue to call or text.
    It has got to the point of me filthing & fouling them, in a serious way, just for my entertainment .
    When I pause for a moment, the voice on the other end says , yes i understand how frustrating this can be, thats why we are here to help you?! Now if I can get just get a little bit more information we can get this started for you. Not kidding you.
    These people will hang in there, remain calm, & continue to start where they left off.

    So- Class Action Law Suit against both these relentless companys is worth checking into apparently,
    Between them both I have over 500 blocked calls, & they switch out one number to get thru,
    I have over 100 text messages, over 200 voice mails.
    I have used the opt out feature, didn’t work obviously.
    Frustrating,-? you bet!!
    Maddening? You think?
    Sick & Tired of it- yep!
    BUT– never once has any of this ever drained my battery.
    I also never thought to sue anyone.
    That seems to be the “go to” these days, every body’s sueing someone .
    Worse, these lawsuits are nothing more then lack of common sense, Why is it acceptable to put blame onto someone or something else for your own stupidity, lack of common sense, and why are the courts allowing them to be heard in court? Why is the courts time taken up with Class Action Lawsuits due to peoples stupidity?
    Lack of common sense? Ignorance of life has about become a whole other pandemic.! Wheres the vaccine for this? Will it be in my lifetime?

    No one is accountable for their own actions or lack of.
    Blame is on every one else.
    Why is the courts enabling people to become 2 sandwichs short of a picnic?
    Its all about the money, Bottom line.
    Criminals wait for weeks, months & years for their turn in the courts. Yet idiots have dockets maxed out.
    Make more money off of idiots i guess.
    Sorry for my ranting, I have more to say but I spare you all, you have to see what I see your selves, when will it end?
    Now, back to the Class Action Lawsuit…..
    (smile).

    • Diane – Those friendly folks trying to help you with your meds and setting up Medicare or anything like that are scammers. The longer you stay on the phone with them the more they’ll call. In their land this is a clue that eventually you’ll give in and reveal some piece of personal information that will allow them to steal from you.
      If you feel compelled to answer the phone, hang up on them as soon as you know it’s them. If you have caller ID then don’t answer, then block that number too.
      I haven’t answered my home phone in years due to all the charity groups asking for money. If you want to give money to some, then look up their address later and send them a check. Pick your own, researched charities, and give to them only.
      Regardless, stop engaging with the scammers. It will take awhile but hopefully, they’ll eventually go away. Good luck.

    • I kept getting unsolicited texts and opt out wasn’t working. They were for Betty. I’m not Betty. Finally I replied “Betty is dead.” and was immediately unsubscribed. Try having someone else answer your phone and advise that you have died. Trust me, when I worked in telemarketing that was the only thing that got someone removed from the master list.

  • This is a ridiculous and frivolous lawsuit. He could have opted out of the extremely helpful text. Instead he’s a greedy grinch that found a just as greedy ambulance chasing corrupt lawyer. Individuals like him ruin great things for everyone.

  • United broke the law, knew they were continuing to break the law, and didn’t fix their system, because it made them money. They are getting sued in civil court, and they are going to lose. He is a hero.

  • Truly UA needs to hire some programmers to fix the stop function of the text messages. Other than that, helping people make their flights is a damn good thing for an airline to provide. It doesn’t matter how many people wind up signing up, frivolous is frivolous. Hopefully any competent judge will see that within minutes.

  • I would think this coment thread is a good sampling of any American jury. Count the people for the airline versus the people against the airline and see how a jury decision would go down.

  • I mostly agree with the guy. Yes, I can see how it would be a nuisance, even drain your battery causing countless other problems trying make your way through a busy crazy day with a dead phone. But I hope he’s not trying to sue for money and that he is only suing so that United corrects the problem. As if they don’t have enough issues right now. This guy doesn’t deserve any money.

  • Maybe we should ban together to file a class action lawsuit against Mr. Pringle for frivolously driving up the cost of airline tickets for his own selfish gains. Who do you think would pay for any damages if awarded?

  • Jesus Christ….this guy is EXACLTY what’s wrong with this world today!! Total asshat…What’s next? Lawsuits for all the annoying popups on your Google Feed? Really this is epitome of 1st world problems right here. Sounds like this guy is just sad and broke (mentally as well) and just looking for some janky ambulance chasing lawyer to grab and run with this frivilous lawsuit. This type of crap is a waste of resources. Shame on him..

  • This is ridiculous if he is too damn stupid to either block the number or charge his phone that’s HIS fault. I’m glad when I get a reminder so I don’t forget. People want money for the dumbest shit. What a great member of society.

  • I think the money hungry lawyers that take these silly cases should be sued. The world is full of them!
    The guy should just bock the number so that the ones this service helps can still count on it.

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