A consumer group says unwanted faxes are more than a nuisance: they’re illegal. They’re suing a number of businesses, including a restaurant with ties to Arnold Schwarzenegger, to make them stop.
Wish you could terminate unwanted faxes? A consumer watchdog organization is suing a number of Santa Monica, Calif., businesses – including a restaurant founded by Arnold Schwarzenegger – for sending out unsolicited faxes.
“Junk faxes are an invasion of privacy,” said attorney David A. Holtzman of the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights.
“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.”
Schatzi on Main was actually purchased by Arnold pal Charly Temmel two years ago. But the Terminator still maintains close ties to the bistro, and his role is heavily touted in its promotions.
Didn’t Know It Was Illegal
Despite the star power, Temmel wanted to drum up some business for his restaurant, and paid more than $1,000 to FAXertise, a bulk faxing service, to send out one-page ads.
“Of course, when you do something in your restaurant it’s important the people know it,” said Temmel, an ice-cream maker who shares Schwarzenegger’s Austrian hometown of Graz. “I don’t have a lawyer in my back pocket, or on my side, and I was thinking it’s OK. If I knew this was illegal, I would not do it.”
The problem, says Holzman, is that unsolicited faxes are illegal under federal law. Environmentalists say the practice is wasteful.
And foundation says the faxes are more than a nuisance: businesses can suffer if their machines are tied up – or out of paper – when a client is trying to reach them.
Unplugging the Terminator?
But the watchdog group is hoping to use the lawsuit to make a high-profile friend – not an enemy.
“The reason we are out here in front of Schatzi on Main is because we are hoping to enlist Mr. Schwarzenegger in our cause,” said Jamie Court, executive director of the foundation. “We’re hoping that his renunciation of this practice will lead others to renounce this practice.”
Holtzman was more direct.
“Unplugging the Terminator’s fax machine should be a warning to other junk faxers that they could be next,” he said.
The owners of FAXertise say state law gives them the right to send bulk faxes. The foundation says federal law provides stiff fines – up to $1,500 per fax – to junk faxers.
The lawsuit will also ask that defendants reimburse consumers and businesses who received the ads for lost time and materials.