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Launches Campaign to Combat “Junk Faxes”

The Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR) announced today that it has filed suit against local businesses, including Schatzi on Main, the famed restaurant founded by Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver, for junk faxing — the sending of unsolicited ads to fax machines. While Mr. Schwarzengger no longer owns Schatzi on Main, having sold the restaurant in 1998, his name is used extensively in its advertising. FTCR has not sued Mr. Schwarzenegger and does not allege that he was involved in the transmission of “junk faxes.”

Junk faxes are like junk mail, except the sender does not pay for postage, paper or ink. FTCR sued under federal and state law. The federal law precludes junk fax advertising and provides penalties (from $500 to $1,500 per fax). California’s unfair competition law can force businesses to relinquish ill-gotten gains, and FTCR has asked that the lawsuit defendants be required to reimburse consumers who received their fax ads for lost time and materials.

“Junk faxes are an invasion of privacy,” said FTCR attorney David A. Holtzman. “Celebrities that cherish their privacy should be a little more concerned about the public’s. Junk faxing is also a form of stealing time, paper, ink, and sometimes sleep. Our lawsuits are designed to stop companies from forcing consumers to print unwanted ads.”

Junk faxing is attractive to advertisers because it shifts costs from advertisers to recipients. Problems that result from junk faxing include:

  • Junk faxes can mean lost business. Fax machines cannot receive orders while junk faxes are coming in. Some fax machines stop receiving when junk faxes run them out of paper.
    Junk faxes disrupt communications for all fax machine consumers. Businesses, non-profit organizations, and private citizens may miss important information because legitimate fax communications are blocked from being sent or received.

  • Junk faxes irritate household residents and business employees who make repeated trips to their fax machines to retrieve possibly urgent documents that turn out to be ads.

  • Junk faxes can awaken people who have fax machines at home. Some automated junk fax systems dial fax numbers throughout the night.

  • Junk fax recipients pay for wasted paper as well as the toner or ink-jet ink and the electricity required to print the unwanted ads.

FTCR’s lawsuit against Schatzi on Main and other businesses is one of two lawsuits filed by FTCR to stop junk fax practices. In one lawsuit, FTCR has sued FAXertise, a bulk faxing service based in Westlake Village, and several of its clients. Schatzi is a FAXertise client. Other defendants in that suit are FAXertise clients Rosti, of Montana Avenue in Santa Monica, Akbar Cuisine of India, of Wilshire Boulevard in Santa Monica, and dance instructor John Cassese, of Fourth Street in Santa Monica. The other FTCR suit is against the Torrance-based high-tech vendor Communications 2000, Inc., in response to unsolicited faxed ads for its “TEC Networks” business, which sells phone systems and computer products.

The offending junk faxes by Schatzi on Main advertised special hours or menus for Christmas Eve, New Year’s Eve and Valentine’s Day. Its pre-Christmas ad proclaimed that Schatzi on Main is “One of the Most Famous Restaurants in the World.” Schatzi on Main’s junk faxes paraphrase “The Terminator.” (They say “You’ll Be Back.”)

“Unplugging Schatzi‘s fax machine should be a warning to other junk faxers that they could be next,” said Holtzman.

FTCR filed these two anti-“junk fax” suits in L.A. Superior Court on March 30, 2001 (Case Nos. BC247812 [FTCR v. Communications 2000, Inc., et al.] and BC247813 [FTCR v. FAXertise et al.]).

Consumer Watchdog
Consumer Watchdog
Providing an effective voice for American consumers in an era when special interests dominate public discourse, government and politics. Non-partisan.

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