Have you received a fax advertising a “Florida Bahama’s Cruise” for $398 pp? If so, read on.
Under federal law (Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991, 47 U.S. Code 227), it is illegal to send unsolicited commercial faxes. The definition, in my opinion, is broad enough to include junk email (AKA “spam”), but IANAL and that’s beyond the scope of this post. The law makes it illegal
(b)(1)(C) to use any telephone facsimile machine, computer, or other device to send an unsolicited advertisement to a telephone facsimile machine
and it defines ‘telephone facsimile machine’ as equipment that “has the capacity”
(a)(2)(A) to transcribe text or images, or both, from paper into an electronic signal and to transmit that signal over a regular telephone line, or
(a)(2)(B) to transcribe text or images (or both) from an electronic signal received over a regular telephone line onto paper.
The law allows individuals to sue the sender for $500 per violation. I am considering filing my first small claims court action due to an unsolicited fax sent to my toll-free fax number, even though the violator is in Florida. Why? The egregious nature of the fax and the company’s record of skirting the law.
The only identifying information on the fax is “SOTA License# ST-23944.” Turns out “SOTA” stands for “Seller of Travel” (I think), and Florida License ST-23944 lead me to a BBB report on a company, SPECIAL T TRAVEL SERVICE INC:
The company “offers travel packages through telemarketing and their web site… This company has an unsatisfactory customer experience history with the Better Business Bureau…. This company is licensed by Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. The license number is ST 23944. This company also does business as Travel Shopping Spree T.”
From the Florida BBB Report:
Georgia: On August 1, 2002, the company signed an Assurance of Voluntary Compliance (AVC) with the state’s Fair Business Practices Act Administrator. The respondents willingness to enter into an AVC shall not be considered an admission of violation. Specifically, the Administrator alleged that the Company: Solicited consumers in the state of Georgia by misrepresenting via an Internet advertisement that consumers have won discounted travel services. The Company entered into the AVC in order to resolve this matter without the necessity of formal legal action. Upon breach of any of the provisions of this AVC by the Company, the Administrator reserves the right to request initiation of formal legal actions against Company concerning the subject matter of this AVC.
Report as of: 5/12/2004
I found their address information through a WhoIs Search:
|Registrant:||Make this info private|
|Special T Travel Inc.|
|529 North Ferncreek Avenue|
|Orlando, FL 32803|
Of course, Network Solutions, like other firms, offers to hide the registrant address for a fee. Bah. Here’s another of their websites.
Neither phone number associated with the fax — 1-866-388-7739 to order, 1-866-670-5897 to be removed from our “opt-in list” — turns up on a reverse phone number look-up.
The fax blaster firm labels itself as “Flip Flop Market.”
If you received a fax, you can file a complaint with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. If enough of us file $500 claims, we could make them think twice before (a) fax blasting and (b) falsely promoting.
Why do I say falsely promoting? Because the website special — three of the four trips promoted on the fax — is being sold for $3896 per family.