Love them or hate them, strip joints have a timeless allure – but that didn’t stop one club from adopting a new strategy to lure men inside.
“It was harassment, it was constantly, every single day for awhile, sometimes more than once a day,” Bret Lusskin said.
He is talking about spam text messages he says he got from Tootsie’s Cabaret in Miami Gardens.
“There’s no way to stop it, you just start getting text messages every single day and what are you gonna do?” Lusskin asked. “Something has to be done, and clearly they just unrepentantly took advantage of people that night, they never told anybody that it was a marketing ploy.”
Lusskin is the lead plaintiff in a class-action lawsuit filed against the club’s parent company, alleging that Tootsie’s “surreptitiously obtained” dozens of cell phone numbers from patrons by holding a contest. The winner received a Rolex. Participants just had to fill out a form and include their cell number.
“We allege that they advertised the watch in order to lure people into providing their cell phone numbers,” said attorney Scott Owens, who filed the suit.
Within days, Lusskin said, he started receiving the text ads. Over more than a year, he got more than 280 in all.
“I didn’t win anything, all I did was get freaking hundreds of text messages,” he said. “I would not have signed if it had told me that I was going to be getting bombarded by text message solicitations from them.”
The lawsuit alleges that what Tootsie’s did violates federal law, specifically the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, which stipulates a $500 fine for every violation.
“With the 280 messages times a hundred people times $500 per message, you’re talking in excess of $10 million for this class action lawsuit,” Owens said.
Tootsie’s refused to comment on the issue. The club’s lawyer told NBC 6 it is company policy never to comment on pending litigation.
His court filings make clear that he does not think the suit has any merit. In them, he writes repeatedly that the defendants deny the allegations.
NBC 6 had no luck trying to bring a camera anywhere near the club, even while standing on public property nearby.
“Uh, you can’t point it at the front door, guys,” said a man in a suit who walked up to NBC 6’s team. He stood in front of the camera to block the shot.
If you text, there is a good chance you have received text spam, such as the junk cars message that is currently going around.
Priscilla Perez says her 12-year-old son got a text from Tootsie’s.
“I got mad, actually, and I felt like he was being violated,” she said. “How do you send him this message, 12 years old, come to Tootsie’s?”
Owens says if you get a junk text, do not respond to it. Instead, save it for evidence, and call the Federal Communications Commission to report it.
Lusskin said his texts from Tootsie’s stopped only after he sued the club.
“As we’ve seen in this case, it can get out of control, so someone has to stand against that tide before it turns into email spam, where it just proliferates to the point that text messaging is just useless,” he said.