New Regulations Reduce Fax Solicitations10 Sep, 2003 By: Alicia Ellis imageSource
New Regulations Reduce Fax Solicitations
up dealers! For those of you who sell fax machines and consumables and those of
you who typically use fax broadcasts as a means to generate sales of equipment,
cartridges or other supplies, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has
passed new regulations that may change the way you do business.
July 3, 2003, the Commission released a Report and Order in CG Docket 02-278
revising the telemarketing rules and adopting new rules to provide consumers
with options for avoiding unwanted telephone solicitations. Specifically, the
Commission established with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) a national
do-not-call registry for consumers who wish to avoid unwanted telemarketing
3 of Subpart L of the report, which relates to restrictions on telemarketing and
telephone solicitation, states that no person or entity shall, "use a
telephone facsimile machine, computer, or other device to send an unsolicited
advertisement to a telephone facsimile machine." An "unsolicited
advertisement" was further defined as being "any material advertising
the commercial availability or quality of any property, goods or services."
Commission reversed its prior conclusion that an established business
relationship provides companies with the necessary express permission to send
faxes to their customers. Under the amended rules, a business may advertise by
fax with the prior express permission of the fax recipient, which must be in
writing. Businesses may obtain such written permission through direct mail,
websites, or during interaction with customers in their stores.
Struggles According to Peter J. Grant, principal analyst for the Gartner Group,
unit shipments for all fax machines will decrease between 2002 and 2003 by 9.6
percent. Projections by Gartner into 2007 see unit shipments continuing their
decline by 7.8 percent annually. This decrease, according to Grant, is due
primarily to replacement technology, such as scan to e-mail with little to
nothing to do with the FCC regulations. "If anything," said Grant,
"dealers may be affected more on the supply side due to the decrease in use
of existing machines and the increase of the replacement technology."
Slawetsky, president of Industry Analysts Inc. concurred with Grants remarks
saying that he foresees no change in installations and only a minor affect on
supplies. "While the average fax unit receives 300 to 400 pages per month,
junk faxes account for less than three pages per day," said Slawetsky.
"Dealers will see only a small fraction of a percent change in
Wharton, products marketing manager for the copier, fax and MFP division of
Panasonic pointed out that there are laws currently in affect to limit
repetitive solicitation and those dealers selling fax machines are typically
selling to workflow and vertical markets that are not in the business of
receiving junk e-mails. "Dealers are looking for customers who still use
the fax as part of their core business," said Wharton. "The percentage
of junk faxes being sent to these types of customers is so small, any effect
will be minor."
Problems Although the market for dealers selling machines and supplies does not
appear to be affected, those dealers who are avid fax users and rely on the fax
as a marketing strategy, may have cause to be concerned.
is going to be a tremendous burden for dealers," said Paul Miller, director
of government affairs for the Independent Office Products and Furniture Dealers
Association (IOPFDA). "Dealers who typically fax specials and product
updates to their customers will no longer be able to do this without prior
written consent." Miller went on to say that businesses, both large and
small, could incur hundreds, even thousands of dollars in costs associated with
obtaining the necessary permissions. "Many companies will be forced to hire
outside services to handle authorizations and with fines of $500 to $11,000 per
fax per day, companies cannot afford to make mistakes."
to the report which appeared in the Federal Register on July 25, "the
permission to send fax advertisements must be provided in writing, include the
recipient's signature and facsimile number, and cannot be in the form of a
options, which presume consent unless informed otherwise by a recipient, will no
longer be acceptable. "A facsimile advertisement containing a telephone
number and an instruction to call if the recipient no longer wishes to receive
such faxes, would constitute a negative option," according to the report.
"This option (in which the sender presumes consent unless advised
otherwise) would impose costs on facsimile recipients unless or until the
recipient were able to ask that such transmissions be stopped."
FCC believes that, "even small businesses may easily obtain permission from
existing customers who agree to receive faxed advertising, when customers
patronize their stores or provide their contact information. The Commission
believes that given the cost shifting and interference caused by unsolicited
faxes, the interest in protecting those who would otherwise be forced to bear
the burdens of unwanted faxes outweighs the interests of companies that wish to
advertise via fax."
Options The FCC suggested, for example, that a company that requests a fax
number on an application form could include a clear statement indicating that,
by providing such fax number, the individual or business agrees to receive
facsimile advertisements from that company. Such statement, if accompanied by
the recipient's signature, would constitute the necessary prior express
permission to send facsimile advertisements to that individual or business.
to Miller, companies must address the issue and be prepared with consent forms
for all their customers. Miller suggested that salespeople may be the best
suited for the daunting task of acquiring fax permissions when they complete any
new sales. And, while e-mail solicitations are not currently considered under
this ruling, Miller believes that the anti-SPAM movement will spur permission
requirements for e-mail broadcasts as well.
there are pending injunctions and stays being brought to halt this order from
going into effect, without a stay, the new rules will be enforceable as of
August 25, 2003. For more information about this ruling, readers can visit
www.fcc.gov or www.gpoaccess.gov. Visit www.imagingnetwork.com for a
downloadable consent form.