Just the Fax

Published on

The San Francisco Chronicle

Local lawyer Ben Rosenfeld’s fax machine has been violated and he’s not going to stand for it.

The civil rights advocate has sued America Express Travel Club, , based in Texas, for “unsolicited commercial faxing (a.k.a., ‘blast faxing’).” Over a period of six months, the suit says, Rosenfeld received at least eight faxed solicitations to buy airline tickets from AETC.

Rosenfeld’s suit, filed in California Superior Court, alleges AETC has basically passed the cost of printing its advertising on to a captive consumer. And that violates both state and federal laws, the lawyer says.

“For the chance of hooking relatively few customers, some companies barrage individuals and other businesses with faxes, creating huge environmental waste and congesting recipients’ fax machines and phone lines so they have to sort this chaff from their legitimate business faxes and spend extra time and money maintaining their machines and supplies,” Rosenfeld’s suit alleges.

Money Talks was unable to reach AETC for comment.

While Rosenfeld expects his case is heading for a default ruling that would leave him scratching for a settlement, he’s not alone in the forced fax fight.

A Los Angeles consumer rights group, the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights, recently filed suit against Schatzi on Main, the L.A. restaurant founded by Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver, for junk faxing.

FTCR, which sued under federal and state law, claims 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.”

The offending 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” and also took a page from the Terminator himself, promising patrons that “You’ll be back.”

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

While we wish Holtzman, Rosenfeld and the rest of the fighting fax brigade the best of luck, we pity the next Girl Scout who shows up unannounced at their doorsteps.Talk back.

Consumer Watchdog
Consumer Watchdoghttps://consumerwatchdog.org
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