Troubleshooter or troublemaker?

Author:Taylor, Mike
Position:Money Matters
 
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BOTTOMFEEDER TOM MARTINO? SAY IT AIN'T SO.

But I'll say it, and I've got the fax to back it up.

In three years as managing editor of ColoradoBiz, I've grown used to an occasional company phoning to complain that it was not notified about a top-company ranking it might have qualified for. But until recently, I never thought I'd hear from the representative of a company demanding $1,000 because we DID notify it.

That happened early this year, when consumer advocate Tom Martino's company, Fax Wars-Consumer Crusade, demanded $1,000 in damages on behalf of a Fort Collins accounting firm, Sample & Bailey.

The damage we inflicted: Twice last year we faxed entry forms to Sample & Bailey for our annual "Top Professional Services Companies list," a statewide ranking based on number of employees.

ColoradoBiz runs six annual lists, much like the Top 250 Private Company rankings based on 2003 revenues you'll find in this issue. To notify companies of an upcoming list, we blast-fax entry forms to firms from the previous year's list; we individually fax companies that have sent us press releases; and finally, we contact companies we discover through word of mouth or any other means.

I have a policy that we call companies that we don't have a history with before sending a fax, not so much for legal reasons, but because a fax not preceded by a call is about as effective as a bottled message tossed in the Pacific.

But apparently we didn't call Sample & Bailey before faxing; I say "apparently" because I can't verify it one way or another. I simply don't keep seven-month-old phone records lying around.

But more to the point: After being notified of this pending $1,000 hit, I called Sample & Bailey President Roger Sample and left a voice mail, explaining that we weren't trying to sell him anything with our faxes. Sample called back promptly and assured me he had no interest in collecting money from us.

He vowed to do his best to call off Martino's fax hounds. He even admitted he wasn't quite sure how his company was benefiting as a customer of Consumer Crusade.

"I know we have something where we give these faxes that come in to somebody for some reason, but quite frankly. I'll be honest, I don't know who it is and why," said the president of the company we faxed. "But certainly I'm very supportive of trying to get this thing unraveled. We certainly have no vindictive nature on this. Let's work together and see what we can do to help you out."

I think Sample did...

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