Linda and I killed SYNERGY’s FAX line this week. We had discussed it for a long time and decided it was time to pull the plug.

The last five FAXes we received were ads for “bad-credit-no-problem” mortgages and “who-would-want-to-go-there?” vacation packages. The transmissions were addressed to “All Staff.” Each was in the same format as those we had repeatedly, per federal regulations, asked the supposed sender to remove (540) 351-1702 from their files and their automatic dialers.

Some, e.g., Jim Bacon, have never really liked FAX. While FAX was a vital technology during World War II, it became just a simple tool when compared with the big deals of communications – the Internet and Cell Phones – that exploded in the 90s and the 00s. FAX was a handy, inexpensive technology – that was its downfall. No entity could make a lot of money by doing the things necessary to make FAX continue to be effective – like shaming government agencies into enforcing the regulations intended to support the medium. FAX was allowed to become the pond of bottom-fishers.

The end of FAX is, perhaps, a small loss for civilization but because it is a simple, useful tool it is symbolic of a larger cloud on the horizon on which we will focus in our next column.


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6 responses to “ANOTHER FRIEND IS GONE”

  1. Toomanytaxes Avatar

    Ed, you make good points about faxes, but I’d like to note that there are segments of the economy that communicate mainly by fax. One of the chief users of faxes is the mortgage industry to communicate their products and rates to other members of the real estate industry. Health care manufacturers also use the medium a lot, as do hotel chains to send information on special promotions to travel agents. However, these businesses fax only to other businesses that are generally interested in receiving the faxed information. And, of course, any business that has an established business relationship with a person or another business can fax until told to stop.

    As you correctly note, there are quite a few “bottom feeders” still using faxes to reach ordinary businesses and consumers. Many of them wind up in court. Class actions against fax advertisers is a cottage industry.

    As an interesting sidelight is a recent federal court case from Illinois that upheld an insurance company’s refusal to take over the defense of a junk fax class action. That one ought to scare a few businesses that advertise by fax.

  2. Anonymous Avatar

    Another major downfall of the FAX was that it never made it into the home like other communication devices.

    It was strictly was business tool used by one business to communicate with another business.

  3. Phil Rodokanakis Avatar
    Phil Rodokanakis

    >> like shaming government agencies into enforcing the regulations intended to support the medium <<< All one has to do, is to file a claim with a small claims court. In VA each unauthorized transmission results in a $500 claim. However, collecting the award may be another story…

  4. Anonymous Avatar

    Please send me some faxes, I could use the money.

    I’ll use the judgement to pay my real estate taxes at 50 cents to the dollar. For that kind of arbitrage, I’m sure the tax collector will go get the cash.

  5. Jim Bacon Avatar
    Jim Bacon

    Fax spam — Grrr. Adding insult to injury, fax spam consumes your paper. You end up subsidizing your spammer! At least e-mail spam exists only on the computer. All spammers should be hung up by the thumbs.

  6. Anonymous Avatar

    I would argue that the fax machine had a greater impact on business communication than e-mail. It was the first affordable and accessible communication tool that allowed one to transmit documents over great distances almost instantaneously. It was much faster than regular mail, it was cheaper and faster than overnight fedX, and, because of this, fax technology helped to create the “just in time” business culture that we currently have. E-mail provided remote access to communications, but faxes set the pace for the current business environment.

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