My First Cease and Desist

closePlease note: This post was published over a year ago, so please be aware that its content may not be quite so accurate anymore. Also, the format of the site has changed since it was published, so please excuse any formatting issues.

I just got my first cease and desist order today. I think it’s kind of like losing your virginity, but for bloggers. So who thinks they can bully me into silence? None other than SpeedTicketBeaters.com. Just so that we can all remember what I said over two years ago, here’s a link to the original post.

Here’s the e-mail I received earlier today:

October 20, 2007

Dear Sir:

It would be advisable in the future before you post content such as the material you posted about our company, you can factually support your supposition. Your failure to do so has resulted in the litigation we are now organizing.

Your allegation against our company describing it as a scam, is in no way a reality you can prove in a court of law. In fact, should such an occasion arise, you would find yourself having to refute the claims of thousands of documented customers, who utilized this companies services successfully over the past 5 (Five) years.

Regarding the details of your allegation – every single testimonial writer on the website is a real human being. Each one has used materials provided by the company to defeat their citation/s. We retain the contact information of all of the testimonial writers in our company files. However, we cannot control any scenario where the customer has decided to use an alias , or otherwise fictional name, for privacy purposes. Perhaps it should have occurred to you that we cannot possibly be aware of such a situation when it is the case. Therefore your inability to contact any individual author of our testimonials should never have been presumed to be a reflection of the companies business

practices. Rather, those cases are a customer exerting his or her right to privacy. That in our opinion is fully understandable considering the customer likely wishes to avoid any further harassment from their local Police departments.

In the future, it would serve you well to absolutely know what you write to be true.

You may consider this a formal demand that you remove entirely from your web page the entire section you posted about this company. The material must be entirely removed from your web page within 7 calendar days. To clarify: By Saturday October 27, at Noon Eastern time, all of the relevant material must be deleted from your page. Failure to do so will cause this department to obtain legal jurisdiction over you. This would begin a civil court claim against you for malicious business interference and defamation. That claim will result in punitive and monetary damages against you.

Any future written content authored with your involvement appearing anywhere in print – will be considered malicious business interference, and defamation as well. Any broadcast content in any media, created with any involvement by you, will be considered the same. Any complaints made by you to any agency or organization, that result in any limitation on our ability to conduct business, will also be considered legally actionable. Should we become aware of you participating in any of these activities, legal remedies will be pursued.

A screen capture of your web page taken today will serve as proof to any judge in the United States of the malicious nature of your intent. We will obtain jurisdiction over you in any of the 50 U.S States in which you reside if necessary.

Consider this notice a “cease and desist” upon you, relating to all further contact, complaints, and activities you are considering undertaking. Failure to comply with this notice will bring you legal harm.

From this day (October 20, 2007) forward, any further contact with this company must be made by your attorneys. Only the contact of your attorneys will be acceptable hence forth. All other contact or attempts at contact will be considered a violation of this notice. Should such violations occur, they may be used against you in court at a later date.

Good day.

SpeedTicketBeaters.com/LEGAL

cc: active lit

They still don’t get it, do they? There’s no defamation because I’m not making any libelous statements. The purpose of the original post was to point out that I was suspicious, did some light research, and confirmed my suspicions to my satisfaction. I never said that the service they provide isn’t real. I never said that the service doesn’t work. All I said was that I couldn’t find the authors of any of their testimonials. That doesn’t mean they don’t exist, it just means that I couldn’t find them online.

The resource I used was AnyWho.com, which is reliable, but not infallible. I’ll give them that there’s a chance the people who submitted testimonials may have used false names, but there’s no way to prove it, is there? Just like there’s no way to disprove it. Convenient, right?

The only thing I’ll give them is that, in the comments of the original post, I said, “none of the people in their testimonials exist.” I will admit that I have no way of knowing whether or not this is true. That being said, it’s unlikely that over a dozen different people from all over the country are all unlisted from the phone book. Moreover, the statement is not libelous or defamatory, because it is a factual statement that I was unable to find any of the authors of their testimonials on the website AnyWho.com.

So I apologize to SpeedTicketBeaters.com for making a statement that I couldn’t have definitively known to be true. You’re absolutely correct that I have no proof that those people don’t exist. Which brings me to an interesting point: in the C&D, they make a definitive statement that they later admit they know can’t be true.

Regarding the details of your allegation – every single testimonial writer on the website is a real human being. Each one has used materials provided by the company to defeat their citation/s. However, we cannot control any scenario where the customer has decided to use an alias , or otherwise fictional name, for privacy purposes.

So what you’re saying is, every single person is real, except in the case where they might not be real. Nice one, guys. As it stands, testimonials are, for all intents and purposes, worthless. They are not evidence that a product works. They carry especially little weight when they are authored anonymously, and to attempt to bring litigation against someone for making a statement that you fully admit you cannot disprove isn’t exactly good business sense, is it? Oh I know you, “retain the contact information of all of the testimonial writers,” but if they don’t tell you who they are, how do really know they’ve used your service? Couldn’t I, or anyone else, just write a testimonial about your service and send it in under a fake name?

And what do they mean, “regarding the details of your allegation”? Their call it my, “allegation against our company describing it as a scam,” but how am I doing that? In no way did the statements I made imply that the service they provide is a scam. The word “scam” does not appear on the original post, and I even made a point of saying, “I’m not saying anything about their system. Maybe they are legit and have good info; I have no idea.” The only thing I can think of that might be misinterpreted to mean scam is the title of the post: Speedticketbeaters.com or Bigfuckingcheaters.com? What I meant by “cheaters” is not that they’re going to cheat you out of your money, but that perhaps the testimonials are not real, and they may have cheated by making them up themselves. Again, a statement of opinion. A supposition, which, as defined by Meriam-Webster, is an opinion.

Let’s not forget that I’ve researched and talked about all of this before. And just like last time, in order to actually sue me, they would have to prove both malicious intent as well as actual damages.

I’ll wrap this up with one last (I think quite apt) observation: Who sends a legal notice via e-mail on a Sunday?

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14 Comments

  1. Wow. Why did it take two years for them to complain. I read your blog fairly regularly and I missed this one originally, and really how large of an audience do they think you have any? To really do any damage to their company you’d have to have a very widespread readership. Plus you didn’t say that the people didn’t exist you said they didn’t exist in AnyWho which really is a very big difference of statment. According to my dad our state’s supreme court said lying in political ads is not a case of libel or defamation, but rather freedom of speech so if they brought you to court here they would probably lose. As for your question who sends a C&D via e-mail one a Sunday? Better question who composes it on Satuday and then waits to send it until Sunday? I never realized how powerful you in fact were Thomas. I must say I’m suprised and there will be no living with your newly inflated ego.

  2. So, I just went to thier site and let me make one statement against them. They state and I quote “There is no way to avoid speeding tickets….” Well there is one way to avoid them, DON’T SPEED! I have been driving for nearly ten years and have never even been pulled over. These kind of scare tactics are absurd. If you follow the law you won’t get a ticket. This seems like a service for people who don’t want to take responsibilty for thier potentionally leathal actions. It is my =opinion= that this company was created by someperson(s) who couldn’t figure out a way not to speed.

  3. Wow. Response time is really slow huh?

    I gotta go and read that original post you have.

  4. Ceased and Desisted

    This post comes exactly one month from the moment I was to, “remove entirely from your web page the entire section you posted about [SpeedTicketBeaters.com]”. Instead of me being the one to cease and desist, it would appear that SpeedTicketBeaters.com’…

  5. GORDON KELSCH

    This comment is for Emily above, To say tha not speeding will avoid speeding tickets is naive, I have 2 and in neither case was I speeding. In fact in both cases the speed limit on the roads in question were found to be illegal and changed. I agree ther are some people that haven’t had to deal with crooked cops and cities but just consider yourself lucky for now.

    “If you follow the law you won’t get a ticket.”

    Here is an example of that not being true,

    Ticket #1

    your going 65mph on fwy 52 in Calif. (speed limit is 65) but other traffic is going an average of 85 you get pulled over and ticketed for obstructing traffic!

    Ticket #2

    You are going 77 on fwy 8 in Calif. other traffic on road is going 77 at same time all lanes. You get ticketed for speeding and when asking the Judge what you should have done instead of going with the flow of traffic he’ll smile and say nothing. The law states that you must follow the posted speed limit and it also says you must go with the flow of traffic. It is the officers discretion as to whether he can ticket you or not. in both cased you followed the law and both tickets are enforceable. The laws are set up to make sure they can get plenty of tickets to generate lots of revenue!

    This comment was just an example of a lack of education. (and poor spelling but we’ll forgive that)

    “This seems like a service for people who don’t want to take responsibilty for thier potentionally leathal actions”

    Here is a site you can go to to to find out the truth http://www.sense.bc.ca/research.htm

    Their study shows that few fast drivers are involved in crashes and many more slow drivers are involved in crashes. Drivers going between 10-15mph above the posted limit have the lowest risk of being involved in a crash . the drivers in the highest risk zone are drivers going from the posted speed to 10 below!

    FYI I came to this post looking to read about Speedticketbeaters.com because I too had a foul experience from him, I wasn’t looking to contradict anyone, but Emily’s post was just too wrong not to comment.

  6. @Gordon – I see what you’re saying, but I disagree with you.

  7. GORDON KELSCH

    You disagree with what? Are the facts/research I backed up my opinions with not good enough? Or what else?

    I’m not trying to cause trouble however it is frustrating to have people say “If you follow the law you won’t get a ticket”. It’s a naive point of view. To get even more technical the laws are illegal in many jurisdictions and manipulated to generate revenue not promote safety. For example I just got a speeding ticket dismissed because the Law states that the speed on roadways should be set within 5mph of the speed of the average driver on that roadway after a speed survey is conducted. My ticket was for doing 70 in a 60 zone (speed was 70 then all of a sudden it changed to 60 for no apparent reason on I 5 in WA state it went back to 70 after 5 miles again for no apparent reason) The reason for this drop in speed is to create a zone where drivers are caught off guard and then set up radar cops to ticket them and generate revenue! This was stated in court by the cop who ticketed me. My ticket was dismissed due to “the speed limit being illegally low”! The speed survey showed the speed should have been 70. The cop also stated that ticket revenue in the county had risen by 290% after adjusting the speeds. (he was trying to justify himself) Note the speed is still illegally low even though the judge dismissed the ticket for this reason and probably will stay that way until someone sues the county! Theres just too much money in it for them to stop for any other reason!

    If this wasn’t what you disagreed with please elaborate.

  8. @Gordon – I don’t see facts or research. I see speculation and anecdotal evidence. If we’re accepting that as true, then let’s consider my own anecdotal evidence. I’ve never received a speeding ticket while driving within the posted legal speed limit, so according to my personal experience, the system works. I’m not trying to invalidate your personal experiences, I’m just saying that I don’t agree the system works the way you claim it does.

    Moreover, I think your interpretation of the law isn’t quite on the mark. I sincerely doubt the law states that you “must go with the flow of traffic,” but rather that you must not obstruct the flow of traffic. These are two very different things. That said, if you can cite the law, I’d be much more willing to come around. -)

  9. GORDON KELSCH

    Thomas

    Fact #1 Federal law is “MUTCD”

    MUTCD which states 23 CFR 655.603 adopts the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices as the national standard for all traffic control devices installed on any street, highway, or bicycle trail open to public travel. When a State or other Federal agency manual or supplement is required, that manual or supplement shall be in substantial conformance with the national Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices. 23 CFR 655.603 also states that traffic control devices on all streets and highways open to public travel in each State shall be in substantial conformance with standards issued or endorsed by the Federal Highway Administrator.

    In short all states must comply with MUTCD even if their laws are slightly different they must be in compliance.

    MUTCD which overrules all state law, states

    Section 2B-13 of the MUTCD says: “Speed zones (other than statutory speed limits) shall only be established on the basis of an engineering study tht has been performed in accordance with traffic engineering practices. The engineering study shall include an analysis of the current speed distribution of free-flowing vehicles.”

    In my particular case the Speed posted was 70 then 60 for 5 miles then 70 again In Skagit county WA. This change in speed as stated by the police officer has produced a 290% increase in tickets revenue for Skagit County in that 5 mile stretch. The Traffic engineering study I obtained for the stretch of road showed the average speed as 77,78,74,82,77 in each study over the past 10 years (I only needed to have 5 years) and the 85th percentile speed as 72. So following the MUTCD the lowest posted speed should have 70 miles per hour not 60 and also showing that the speed change was for some other purpose than following the law! My ticket for doing 70 in the 60 zone was illegal and I should have been doing 70 in a 70 zone. (not speeding)

    Fact #2

    As I posted earlier http://www.sense.bc.ca/research.htm

    This research clearly shows that that crash risk is minimized for those drivers traveling 10-15 km/h over the average speed. Contrary to popular belief, there are more crashes at slower speeds than at faster speeds. It also shows if speed enforcement is for safety purposes then Speed enforcement should only target only the top 2-5% of speeders. It also shows that the safest drivers are the drivers going between 3 over and 11 over the speed limit, not the drivers doing the speed limit which typically was posted below the 85th percentile as req by Federal law!

    Fact #3

    Money is the motivator…

    In the United States, just two speeding tickets can increase your insurance premiums by 50%!

    The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), a powerful lobby group funded by the US insurance industry, has been the chief opponent of moves to raise speed limits.

    Insurance companies in the US frequently purchase radar and laser guns for police forces to issue more speeding tickets.

    Fact #4

    When the US Congress allowed states to increase their maximum speed limits in December 1995, the insurance/safety lobby protested that these moves would result in horrific carnage — 6,400 more fatalities each year (a 15% increase). Actual fatalities and injuries fell, despite significant increases in total miles travelled and small increases in average speeds! (Source: NHTSA-NCSA)

    NOTE: Average speeds changed little yet posted speeds changed a lot, showing that drivers will drive a safe comfortable speed on average when posted speeds are correctly used according to Federal law! Proving that posted speeds are for some other purpose than safety. (Revenue generation)

    If not safety as I have proven, and as you say not revenue generation then what is the motivator of the posted speeds?

    Fact#5

    Motor vehicle code defines speeding as “Traveling faster than the legally posted speed limit!”

    Fact #6

    If the speed limit is not “legally” posted it isn’t speeding, as in if the speed limit is posted arbitrarily instead of as required by federal law! (85th percentile method)

    I can provide even more facts if you wish, but if these aren’t enough then I submit nothing will change your mind beyond what you believe to be the truth. (remember your beliefs aren’t facts either, their just your beliefs which are based on your perception and nothing more. As all of our beliefs are to begin with.)

    Gordon

  10. Replies:

    #1: “The engineering study shall include an analysis of the current speed distribution of free-flowing vehicles.” Note that it says, “include,” and not “be solely based upon.” It is possible that other aspects of which you and I have no knowledge have been taken into account.

    #2: I haven’t read through that study, but a few things that come to mind: I suspect speeding being safer doesn’t apply to every roadway. Why is speeding safer? Is it because most other drivers are speeding, thereby making a person who follows the speed limit an anomaly? How do pedestrians factor into this research? I’ve heard of (but not seen) research that states a difference of 10 mph in speed can mean the difference between life and death for a collision involving a pedestrian.

    #3: You’ll get no argument from me on that one, although you’re still stating facts without citing sources.

    #4: You’re claiming to have proven that posted speeds are not motivated by safety, but I think you’re patting yourself on the back prematurely.

    Interestingly, I once read (in WIRED magazine, I think) about a traffic engineer whose philosophy was to make roads appear more dangerous, which would cause drivers to actually be safer. To prove his point, he walked backward into oncoming traffic without looking. Everyone simply drove around him.

    #5: Agreed. The law is the law, like it or not. I’ve spoken with officers who told me they can technically write you a ticket for traveling even one mile per hour over the posted speed limit.

    #6: I don’t know what the federal laws are, but in the state of Washington there is a sort of “general” speed limit. From the Washington Driver Guide:

    Speed limits, unless otherwise posted, are:

    • 20 mph in school zones.

    • 25 mph on streets of cities and towns.

    • 50 mph on county roads.

    • 60 mph on state highways.

    • Parts of interstate highways may be posted with higher maximum speeds.

    So even if the posted speed limit doesn’t follow the federal laws, that doesn’t give you carte blanche to drive at whatever speed you like.

  11. GORDON KELSCH

    First of all I never said anyone had or has or should have cart blanche to drive what ever speed they like! Now you are exaggerating and assuming things to fit your view. As you said lets keep this based on facts. Your statement:

    “I don’t know what the federal laws are, but in the state of Washington there is a sort of “general” speed limit.”

    Lots of States and lots of cities have there speed limits unless otherwise posted and this just fine. There are thousands upon thousands of laws that are illegal and just not challenged, Washington is famous for there slow speed limits and high revenue from such. The facts are The MUTCD is the Federal bible on all things traffic law. The MUTCD overrules ALL State law on traffic matters. MUTCD which states 23 CFR 655.603 adopts the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices as the national standard for all traffic control devices installed on any street, highway, or bicycle trail open to public travel. When a State or other Federal agency manual or supplement is required, that manual or supplement shall be in substantial conformance with the national Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices. 23 CFR 655.603 also states that traffic control devices on all streets and highways open to public travel in each State shall be in substantial conformance with standards issued or endorsed by the Federal Highway Administrator.

    States can have what ever laws they want but enforcing them depends on public complicity and ignorance. Just because the states saw this is a speed limit doesn’t make it enforceable unless it is in compliance with the MUTCD. States and local governments rely on peoples ignorance to enforce laws and generate revenue, you can say anything you want about safety but once Politicians found out that they could tap into these revenue sources and spend the money on what ever they want, it was the wild west with traffic laws and speed limits and cameras. You see taxes from sources like homeowners taxes and such which is what governments used to rely upon to receive income from came with strings attached they had to spend a certain percentage on improvements to those homeowners lives. like roads and improvements, sidewalks and schools and such, but Politicians needed to pay back benefactors who donated to help them get elected so they had to find other ways to raise revenue that didn’t have strings attached so they could do their pet projects and repay their benefactors, and it has snowballed from there. Revenue from Speeding tickets have no strings attached to them giving politicians “Carte Blanche” to spend it on what ever they can or need to!

    One more thing you said this

    “The engineering study shall include an analysis of the current speed distribution of free-flowing vehicles.” Note that it says, “include,” and not “be solely based upon.” It is possible that other aspects of which you and I have no knowledge have been taken into account.

    Well if there are other factors they have to be included in the report that the speed limit is based upon so we would have knowledge of them if they existed!

    You also said this:

    “Why is speeding safer? Is it because most other drivers are speeding, thereby making a person who follows the speed limit an anomaly? ”

    I didn’t say speeding is safer! What I am trying to get you to understand is the “speed limit” is not put in place in most cases for safety! There are lots of states that actually do use safety as the overriding factor for speed limits but not always. California for example in lots of areas is pretty good about it!

    Other States like Washington use speed limits to create a situation to generate revenue!

    It has been proven and your example you used from Wired magazine was a good one, that most drivers will drive a safe speed for conditions regardless of posted speeds. and where drivers are driving faster than posted speeds it is usually because posted speeds are posted too low and drivers are driving the speed that is usually correct. There are studies done on this and that is why federal law is what it is! Lower posted speeds are posted to generate revenue in most cases and it Works!

    You said “The law is the law” and that is what these politicians are counting on you to think!

    Laws are overturned daily throughout the country as well as people who fight the unjust laws are being exonerated daily as well! Just because some politician makes a law and gets it passed does not make it right by any means!

    Washington for example claims to comply with federal law and even has it posted on their website but in fact as much as 60% of their speed limits aren’t posted following those very same laws they claim to follow!

    One last thing there are people who drive too fast and should be cited for such as long as it is done so legally! There are also people who drive too slow and they should be treated the same way! They also are the more unsafe of the two.

  12. GORDON KELSCH

    Thomas

    BTW I’m enjoying our debate thanks! Have a swell day.

  13. Jonathan Miller

    I know I am a year Late on this Blog, but I feel the need to interject a little bit, firstly Gordon Kelsch, is without a doubt an employee or owner of speedticketbeaters.com pretending to be your average joe citizen. How do I know? because I bought their sham service and that is the B.S. they sell. Aside from that, there is something specific I want to relay Gordon quoted the speed study B.S. stating that that is how they determine, Thomas you bring up a good point by stating there must be other factors and in fact there are:

    These factors are considered:

    road type and condition

    location and type of access points (intersections, entrances, etc.)

    sufficient length of roadway (1/4 mile minimum)

    existing traffic control devices (signs, signals, etc.)

    crash history

    traffic volume

    sight distances (curve, hill, etc.)

    test drive results

    speed study

    This information was taken from:http://www.dot.state.mn.us/speed/graphicsnew/SpeedFlyer2002.pdf

    which is the Minnesota DOT website and references the MUTCD. It does go on to say the speed study is the most important, but it isn’t the only factor. Just thought I would shed some light on that.

  14. GORDON KELSCH

    I do not nor ever have I worked for Speedticketbeaters.com or any other site or attorney of the kind, EVER! Just because more than one person comes to the same conclusion doesn’t mean they are in cahoots or even know each other. The guy at Speedticket beaters is an a__Hole! But being a jerk doesn’t make you wrong it just makes you a jerk. I am not pretending to be anything, I am a small business owner in southern California, and my business has nothing to do with law or tickets.

    FYI do you know what you do when you ASSUME?

    Yes all those other things are taken into consideration IF THEY PERTAIN TO OR AFFECT THE CONDITION but that doesn’t change anything, and doesn’t change the reasons government entities use the police for revenue generation. Please explain why more often than not city county and state governments make changes like red light cameras, speed traps, Helmet laws and even child “safety” seats (I love that one) etc.. while in budget shortfalls or when they are in need of more revenue? Those who think these are done for safety purposes and not to generate revenue are Naive indeed! Not to say for some of these some kind of safety is a byproduct but that only makes it easier for the politicians to stuff it down your throat.

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