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Retailers who use Spark Loyalty care deeply about the details of SMS compliance and text message laws and regulations. Your customers deserve to have their personal information protected. We support retailers and consumers in connecting positively and in a way that respects privacy and applicable law. 

SnowShoe works every day to stay within compliance with federal and state rules, and we look to federal regulations before we collect contact information or send a single text message. Complying with all the federal regulations may appear complicated, so we’ve put together a short and helpful guide to using SMS messaging and staying compliant with the law. 

Spark Loyalty

If you’re using Spark Loyalty, you want your text messages to reach your shoppers. And you’ve come to the right place! With our unlimited text messaging plans, you can use the best channel to reach your shoppers. Thanks to an average open time of 7 seconds, texts are the best channel if you want to have your messages read. But before you get started with Spark Loyalty, you need to learn how to comply with the federal regulations for marketing your business through text messaging. 

Compliance isn’t that complicated, but it is required. If you fail to follow the law, this can have serious blowback. For example, back in 2012, the pizza retailer Papa John’s was forced to pay $16.5 million to settle a lawsuit that said they had sent messages without proper user consent. SnowShoe will work with you to make sure you don’t end up in that kind of terrible situation! 

Your phone carrier belongs to an organization called the Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association (CTIA). This organization includes every mobile carrier. CTIA works together to set rules and best practices for the text marketing industry. One of these rules is S.H.A.F.T. — which stands for sex, hate, alcohol, firearms, and tobacco. Including information related to any of these areas of business in your call-to-action or any of your messages is considered one of the highest violations of CITA rules, and may result in an immediate ban. This isn’t a step that SnowShoe or Spark Loyalty takes — this is something that comes from the mobile carriers. 

General Content Rules: 

  • No content with depictions or endorsements of violence or hate.
  • Don’t send messages containing profanity or hate speech.
  • Endorsements of illegal drugs are forbidden.

Prohibited terms:

SnowShoe’s current standard configuration of our text messaging software is entirely SHAFT compliant and the system does not allow transmission of information in clear text about the following subjects or materials: 

Sex-related terms

  • Sex
  • Sexual Terms
  • Adult content

Hate Speech

  • Hate/discriminatory speech
  • Profanity


  • Alcohol
  • Wine / Beer
  • Liquor


  • Guns
  • Bullet
  • Ammo

Tobacco / Smoking

  • Smoke
  • Tobacco
  • Snuff / Chew
  • Vape and all vaping products
  • Cannabis: this includes all mentions of the following:
    • THC
    • CBD
    • Marijuana – weed, pot, smoke, cannabis, kush, flower, dab, pre-roll, edible, indica, sativa, & all variations 

Note that Sex (adult content), Alcohol, Firearms, and Tobacco are all federally legal, even though they have certain restrictions around them. These items can thus only be marketed through SMS as long as a functioning age-gate is in place. The age-gate needs to prompt the user to enter their birthdate, rather than  just click “Yes” to approve that they’re over 21. If, for example, you operate a bar you may still be able to send messages about happy hour specials, if you undertake the work to get a special toll-free number (SnowShoe does not provide such numbers) and create a special website with an “age-gate” to prevent those under 21 from signing up for messages from you. If you plan on sending texts about alcohol or tobacco, check with our support team first so that we can help you to remain remaining compliant.

[[Note: SnowShoe does not provide age gates to retailers at this time. ]]

About Carrier Violations

A carrier violation occurs when carriers (such as Verizon, AT&T and such) receive an outbound SMS and opt to not deliver the message to the destination phone number. In other words, carriers monitor and filter SMS traffic, and if your message triggers a perceived violation from the carrier’s perspective, your text will not be delivered.

What Happens Next?

If a carrier violation occurs on multiple occasions, your text messaging service will stop working entirely, as the carriers will turn off the number you have been using. You must contact SnowShoe to re-instate your text messaging service. SnowShoe will attempt to educate you and your team on the issues that caused your carrier violation. After our work with you, SnowShoe will make a decision, at our sole discretion, as to whether or not we will be able to support your business moving forward. 

Learn More: 

CTIA Shortcode Handbook

SMS Marketing Guide for Cannabis Marketers

Carrier Violations

SMS Best practices for Alcohol