Bass Pro LLC, the outdoor sporting goods company, will pay more than $6 million to settle a putative class action accusing the retailer of illegally recording customer calls without their consent. U.S. District Judge Cynthia Bashant, sitting in California, has approved the settlement agreement. The preliminary approval of the agreement resolves a suit filed by a customer who alleged the retailer recorded a conversation between him and a Bass Pro customer service representative. It was contended that the employee divulged financial information, including the customer’s credit card information. In addition to the $6 million cash award, under the agreement the retailer will stop recording calls without customer consent. The court order says:
The proposed settlement … reflects a change in defendants’ business practices, in place beginning March 28, 2013, in which they will not record any inbound telephone calls from California area codes without first giving notification at the outset of the call that the call may be recorded.
Lead Plaintiff Geoffrey McDonald claims Bass Pro recorded at least one conversation where he told a customer service representative sensitive information, without being informed that his conversation would be recorded. The suit, which was removed to federal court in April 2013, alleged that the outdoor retailer, in the year prior to the filing of the complaint, had a regular practice of recording incoming and outgoing telephone communications with customers without notifying the customers that the communications would be recorded, in violation of California privacy laws. McDonald filed the suit on behalf of all California residents who have had a least one phone conversation with a live Bass Pro customer service representative that was recorded without notification. In the order granting preliminary approval to the settlement, Judge Bashant also granted conditional class certification.
According to the court’s order, the settlement agreement applies to California residents who had at least one Bass Pro phone call recorded between March 14, 2012, and April 3, 2013. Approximately 94,600 improperly recorded calls were found during discovery, of which 30,000 individuals could be identified, according to the order. The $6 million settlement will be broken down into $1.8 million in attorneys’ fees, $150,000 in litigation costs and $20,000 in service-payment deductions, leaving $4 million to be paid to class members.
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