Company Ignoring You? Fax 'Em To Death

Giant corporation ignoring your repeated and valid pleas? After exhausting traditional methods of complaint resolution, including, but not limited to, at least calling at least once and escalating to a supervisor, try “Faxing For Dollars,” another get-em-by-the-balls technique described by Ron Burley in his book, Unscrewed: The Consumer’s Guide To Getting What You Paid For.

1) Draft a good, cogent, spell-checked, grammar-checked one-page complaint letter (here’s how), with your full contact information.

2) Find the fax numbers for executives. These can be found by Googling for: SEC filings, Financial documents, often found in company’s investor relations section, press releases, Internal promotional events, like charity auctions and golf tournaments, sales materials, contracts, other legal documents…

Be sure to look at the roster of executive officers on the company website, and cross-reference it with the management information available for most companies under finance.google.com

You can also try calling the company switchboard and do a little social engineering to get more fax numbers, Burley says to say something like:

I’m with the firm of Hurley & Burley. I’ve got a balance sheet that I’m supposed to fax to Ms. Jones’ office, but all I have is the district fax number, and I certainly don’t want to send it there.

Or

Hi. Ms. Ramona Jones requested a list of tee times for October. She didn’t give me a fax number to send it to. Can you help me?

3) After harvesting as many executive fax numbers as you can, fax them all copies of your complaint letter, again, again, and over again, until you receive a call on your telephone. If you don’t have a fax machine, you can send faxes online with a service like eFax.

4) When that happens, keep your head screwed on, and your voice even and professional. Burley says say something like, “Thank you for calling. I realize that you are a busy person, so I hope that we can come to a quick resolution of the matter.”

Burley writes,

The executive may have assumed that you are a crazy person or a zealot; just show her that you are sane, that your request is reasonable, and that all you want is your acceptable goal. She will quickly do the math and realize that it is in the company’s best interest–in time, effort, and energy–just to take care of you, whether or not she believes that you are right. It’s called “paying you to go away.

And that, friends, is called winning.

PREVIOUSLY: How To Kick A Scammy Car Dealer In The Nuts
(Photo: Getty)

Comments

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  1. Jasmo says:

    This sort of tactic can also result in the corporate equivalent of the chef spitting in your food.

  2. aparsons says:

    You could also tape your pages together and have a never-ending circular fax. That would get their attention!

  3. beyond says:

    They’d probably just Sprint you.

  4. gibsonic says:

    faxes are screened by AA’s that will probably just throw them in the recycle bin with the rest of the spam faxes.

  5. kamel5547 says:

    @gibsonic: Assuming there is a “real” fax machine. E-fax solutions are becoming quite popular, jsut one more # on the spam list…

  6. Kavatar says:

    Helpful tip: Don’t call them 215 times.

  7. DieBretter says:

    I would like to throw in a caveat to this. In some states this is illegal so make sure you know the law. Here in WI it has to be between certain hours and if you’re asked to stop you have to stop along with some other things.

  8. DAK says:

    A few hours ago, this headline said something about “fax spam” didn’t it? What happened?

    Not sure how effective faxes can be for anything anymore anyway. The EECB’s seem to be a much better option.

  9. asolipsist says:

    “I would like to throw in a caveat to this. In some states this is illegal so make sure you know the law. Here in WI it has to be between certain hours and if you’re asked to stop you have to stop along with some other things.”

    DIEBRETTER’s caveat is irrelevant, please don’t listen to it. If you have a legitimate beef with a company and you have a pre-existing business relationship, faxing is entirely legal.

  10. I guess what trolls call “Crying” really does work…

  11. rdm7234 says:

    Really, you shouldn’t ever do this. It’s soooo un-ethical and so wasteful. It’s not an issue of whose resources you are wasting, because in the end we are all paying for it.

    There is a special place in hell for fax-spammers. There is no excuse for his kind of behavior. If a store rips you off, you don’t have the right to steal from them or vandalize their store. This is no different.

    Whoever recommends this should be ashamed.

  12. fluiddruid says:

    Hey, contacting execs works. It’s sad but after months of wrangling, drastic steps are necessary.

  13. iKnow says:

    What if editors are ignoring me, should I email them to death?

  14. bluegus32 says:

    I’ve done this many times in my legal career as a means of making sure I’m noticed.

    It works like a freakin’ charm. Use it sparingly, though. Save this for the truly @sshole situations that call for it.

  15. andyhof says:

    What about spreading the words around in venting sites like futureshopsucks.com, ihaterogers.ca, iHateBadService.ca etc … Will it be a waste of time ? Well .. at least you may feel better afterward …

  16. cde says:

    Very similar to the paint a sheet black, fax it and before it finishes, taping both ends over so the receiveing fax machine spends all its toner/ink on printing black pages.

  17. sly100100 says:

    I worked for a guy who thought faxing potential buyers and or dealers of his product was a great idea.
    All I received after a mass faxing of 1000 or so business’s was an angry phone call every few minutes from all over the place.
    the funny thing is my boss wanted to do it again the next week.
    I didn’t work there much longer and I think he got in trouble with the phone company or something and they threatened to fine him if he didn’t stop!

    He was a real jerk anyway.

  18. quantum-shaman says:

    @rdm7234: In addition to that, I found out by looking at my phone bill recently that it isn’t exactly cheap to send faxes. I guess it’s okay for me to use my employer’s resources to do this, right? I think this sort of tactic would make you look like an ass at best, or some kind of corporate stalker at worst. If you are lucky, they will just continue ignore you.

  19. quantum-shaman says:

    @andyhof: There are several websites along these lines, but not focused on a specific company. Judysbook.com and epinions.com come immediately to mind. There’s also insiderpages.com which is more geared toward local businesses.

  20. Mark 2000 says:

    Wasting a forest of paper over your petty complaints is irresponsible. I can’t believe an ethics based site like this would suggest it.

  21. lalawgirl says:

    This exact technique worked for me in a dispute I had with GE over an applicance. Don’t know why everyone is bashing it.

  22. DAK says:

    This isn’t an ethics-bas

  23. DAK says:

    @DAK: Oops. This isn’t an ethics-based site, really. Some of the arguments are based on ideas of ethical behavior, but not nearly all of them.

  24. DieBretter says:

    @asolipsist:

    My caveat is entirely relevant, this is WI code mentioned though. I’m currently in law school so I have more an idea of what I’m talking about then most people that say stuff is illegal or isn’t.

    You see 134.72(2)(a)(1) and 134.72(2)(a) right? Or about 137.72(3)(b)?

    134.72 Prohibition of certain unsolicited messages by
    facsimile machine. (1) DEFINITIONS. In this section:
    (a) “Facsimile machine” means a machine that transmits copies
    of documents by means of a telephone line, telegraph line,
    microwave, satellite, radio wave, fiber optics, coaxial cable or any
    other transmission facility or any switching device.
    (b) “Facsimile solicitation” means the unsolicited transmission
    of a document by a facsimile machine for the purpose of
    encouraging a person to purchase property, goods or services.
    (2) PROHIBITIONS. (a) A person may not make a facsimile
    solicitation without the consent of the person solicited unless all
    of the following apply:
    1. The document transmitted by facsimile machine does not
    exceed one page in length and is received by the person solicited
    after 9 p.m. and before 6 a.m.
    2. The person making the facsimile solicitation has had a previous
    business relationship with the person solicited.
    3. The document transmitted by facsimile machine contains
    the name of the person transmitting the document.
    (b) Notwithstanding par. (a), a person may not make a facsimile
    solicitation to a person who has notified the facsimile solicitor
    in writing, by telephone, or by facsimile transmission that the person
    does not want to receive facsimile solicitation.
    (c) A facsimile solicitor who receives notice under par. (b) may
    not disclose to another the facsimile transmission number of the
    person who gave the notice under par. (b). Each disclosure of a
    facsimile transmission number is a separate violation of this paragraph.
    (3) TERRITORIAL APPLICATION. (a) Intrastate. This section
    applies to any intrastate facsimile solicitation.
    (b) Interstate. This section applies to any interstate facsimile
    solicitation received by a person in this state.
    (4) PENALTY. A person who violates this section may be
    required to forfeit not more than $500.

  25. rdm7234 says:

    @DAK: I kind of wish it were. We expect ethical behavior on the part of these companies, but we don’t want to hold ourselves to any standards?

  26. asolipsist says:

    DIEBRETTER you fail it. I hope you’re only a first year.


    “(b) “Facsimile solicitation” means the unsolicited transmission
    of a document by a facsimile machine for the purpose of
    encouraging a person to purchase property, goods or services.”

    The situation in the article has nothing to do with this statute, as the statue is dealing with ‘facsimile solicitation’ and the article is not, so none of this nonsense from 134.72 applies.

  27. FLConsumer says:

    Or, you could just do what you should do to begin with — send them a certified, return-receipt letter, referencing the certified return receipt # in the letter. Guaranteed you’ll get a response, sooner rather than later. I don’t even bother calling companies anymore. You may balk at the cost of sending such a letter, but for me, it’s well worth it. My time (billable) is far more expensive, so I see it as saving me money. Additionally, I usually get top results every time I’ve employed this method.

  28. DieBretter says:

    By sending them faxes to correct a problem you’re encouraging them to purchase a service or good to remedy your issue. I.e., if they’re an appliance manufacturer and you’re having a problem with your refrigerator or dryer they have to pay someone for their service and part to correct the issue. No where does the author indicate this being an issue of warranty.

    You are encouraging them to do something in such a case right? It’s not free for them to correct it either, if they need either pay someone, pay for the part (it’d be counted as a loss since they’re not receiving compensation for it, so yes, they are paying for it), pay for postage, et al. right? So yes, it does hold true in these cases. You’re ENCOURAGING them to PURCHASE a GOOD/SERVICE for you so it is a SOLICITATION so thus this statute applies.

    Try it with Kohler, Johnson Controls, Schwinn, Harley-Davidson, Buell or any other company here in WI and see how far you get.

    BTW, I’m set to graduate this December and my area of specialty is Constitutional Law. I’ve gotten nothing but the highest marks in that area for my years of pre-law and regular law. I’ve already been contacted by the ACLU for 2 different positions. So yeah, I must be crummy to be sought out.

  29. @DieBretter: A company doesn’t have to purchase anything to correct billing problems or cancel an account. The code you mentioned doesn’t sound like it’d work in those cases. Besides, it sounds like all of the conditions in part 2 are met given that we’re talking about a customer-business relationship. Furthermore, if it’s solicitation to ask a business to hold up a warranty don’t businesses consent to being solicited by giving the warranty in the first place?

    IANAL, but what you said sounds an awful like using the letter of the law to violate the spirit of the law.

  30. DieBretter says:

    @Rectilinear Propagation:
    Just for clarification, I was making the argument based on the presumption that such problems were in a period out of warranty as the original article never made any mention of it being a warranty issue.

    All I mentioned in the first place was to make sure that you know the law as doing it in some places it might be illegal, such as it is here in WI, if you do it from the hours of 9 PM – 6 AM; regardless if you have a business relationship. That was my original intention, make sure you know the law so you don’t violate it and end up in a worse position. If you’re trying to get a $300 billing issue resolved and you end up getting fined $500, you’re negative at least $500 and maybe more.

    Granted they do not have to pay for parts to correct a billing issue or canceling an account, you still have a business relationship with them at that point (as you mentioned), but they do have to pay for the services of the people that they’re employing (for instance, a medical group is employing a surgeon for their service of operating on you).

    I’m all for doing whatever you need to get stuff done with companies, just make sure it’s lawful.

    It does sound like what I said was trying to violate the law, but honestly and sadly, given some companies propensity for disregarding their prior customers, I could see that argument or similar being made.

  31. bashar82 says:

    I’ve used it in dealing my credit report. A few faxes to the top and things came right off.

  32. alteredcarbon says:

    @ DIEBRETTER

    You may be a law student, but you’re an idiot. Con Law is NOT Consumer Law so your Wisconsin code citation has zip to do with the discussion at hand. A chimpanzee can find the same code online.

    Further, a consumer who faxes corporation XYZ to voice a complaint will NOT be fined for spamming. Ever hear of a pre-existing business relationship? And as to your “two” alleged job offers at the ACLU, it’s a good thing you’re going to work for a bunch of nutjobs who prefer to fight for the 1st Amendment rights of the KKK and Nazis. You’re better suited to that kind of work than you are as a consumer advocate.

  33. wjleiner says:

    @DieBretter:

    Do me a favor. Please don’t assert that since you’re a law student you automatically know more about a particular area of law than the next guy, and then merely copy/paste a section of a statue. Try doing what law students do, which is interpret and apply that statue to a particular situation. I’m not going to sit here and debate your ultimate conclusion. My problem is that your initial post reeks of elitism. Something, IMHO, our legal community needs to minimize.

  34. rachaeljean says:

    This is awesome! And it could save a lot of trouble in the end. I know that I’d much rather send a typed communication of some kind than loose it and yell at some mid-level manager and then 1) feel like an ass and 2) have the other person on the phone hang up or refuse to help me.

    The wasted paper is troubling though. :-/ I hope major execs recycle!

  35. A-Consumer-Advocate says:

    @DieBretter:

    Massive, massive fail. I hate to be mean, but you personify the stereotypical law student who is so caught up in their own “brilliance” that they can’t even read a statute. Talk to us after you’ve passed the bar and practiced for a few years.
    Your reading of the statute is wrong on multiple levels. Further, as is often the case, the statute is poorly written and subject to constitutional challenges, something you oddly didn’t mention, despite being a self-professed *expert* in constitutional law.

    I could spend several pages analyzing the statute for everyone, but instead I’ll give real world practical advice. Try getting that from a law student. Ha!

    1) Feel free to fax companies you do business with when you have a complaint. Do it only during common business hours (9am – 6pm in the locality of the business). Put your name and number on it. Keep the fax to one page. Don’t do it an obscene number of times–a few times a day should be fine. Don’t make any wild threats.

    2) If they ask you to stop, stop.