One Step Forward Or

By Caron Carlson  |  Posted 2005-04-25 Print this article Print

One Step Back?"> "This will be a giant step backwards in a business where good customer service requires a quick turnaround," said Dave Feeken, a real estate broker in Kanai, Alaska, and a representative of the NAR. "The process of buying and selling real estate is still dependent on faxes."

For many small-business owners and operators—even some real estate agents—the prospect of turning back the calendar to the days when almost any store, restaurant, bank, insurance company, hotel, health care center or airline they did business with could send unrestricted faxes presents a dismal prospect.

Jim Sutton, who received his real estate brokers license this year, said his fax machine is tied up with unwanted ads less often than it used to be, but he said he believes his consent should be necessary before it is tied up at all.

"Someone is coming in and using my personal equipment without my permission," said Sutton in Saratoga, Calif. "I get endless faxes for Mexican vacations and stock touts and health care plans and so on."

The problem lessened after Sutton took a fax sender to court for sending unsolicited mortgage offers. He remains active in notifying senders when he believes they are breaking the law, and he does not condone his real estate colleagues efforts to soften the rules.

"Once you show up at an open house and say hi to a [real estate agent], they want to be able to junk-fax you for the next 10 years," Sutton said.

Sending unwanted faxes for a long time is something Boxer is seeking to prevent, even if Congress passes an exception to the consent rule for established business relationships. The bill headed to the Senate floor includes an amendment introduced by Boxer authorizing the FCC to limit the duration of such a relationship.

Boxer also succeeded in extending the hours that faxers must be available for phone calls from recipients directing them not to send any further faxes. Sen. Gordon Smith, R-Ore., who introduced the measure earlier this month, said the amended version reaches a middle ground and will "make business and day-to-day communication easier on a lot of users."

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