The bad news keeps piling up for Fax.com, but I’m not sure anyone there is listening. The company hasn’t said a word about the Supreme Court’s decision last week not to hear its appeal regarding a lawsuit by Missouri’s attorney general. Nor has it said anything about the $5.3 million fine issued by the Federal Communications Commission earlier this month. Trying to call Fax.com doesn’t work either, as its toll-free number has been disconnected and no other numbers are listed anywhere. Perhaps the company is out of business, though that may be wishful thinking.
Wired magazine reported online last week that it’s unlikely Fax.com will ever pay its fines, saying the company has created a “maze of bank accounts, trusts and offshore corporations” to hide its money. Meanwhile, Fax.com’s Web site blissfully ignores that anything is wrong. When was the last time this site was updated? Its opening page touts its Internet Emergency Response Network, which distributes faxes to help locate missing children, but the last “found child” is from July 2002. Even if the program is still active, hiding behind so-called success stories isn’t the answer.
Why should you care about Fax.com? You don’t send junk faxes. You’re not one of those annoying telemarketers. You don’t purposely spam people. Because, as reminded by attorney (and reader) Walter Oney in an e-mail last week, what one DMer does reflects on everyone else. “The direct marketing industry needs to understand that scofflaws like Fax.com are part of the reason they are under such intense fire,” he wrote. “Please go read the FCC opinions about Fax.com, paying careful attention to the reported failures to live up even to their own misguided interpretation of the law by ignoring do-not-call requests and to the way in which Fax.com attempted to browbeat unrepresented complainants.”
But Oney isn’t finished. “Like it or not, you’re all tarred with the same brush, and you will all have to endure whatever restraints are needed to keep outfits like them from abusing marketing technology. Any company that actually boasts of its ability to send millions of faxes per day, as Fax.com has done, is not your friend. … And make no mistake: Anyone’s right to free speech stops at the boundary to my home and office. If your industry continues to insist on its supposed ‘right’ to invade our privacy, all of America will rise up to outlaw your whole industry, by constitutional amendment if need be. Best to find a middle ground before that happens, don’t you think?”
Does anyone disagree?