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Trading in my Virtual Fax Number

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Last year I wrote about a few web services that I enjoy using and don’t mind paying for. One item that was missing from the list is my online fax service. I get very frustrated when people and companies insist on communicating by fax, so I begrudgingly keep an online fax number.

Today I was told that I’d have to fax some paperwork to my insurance company to deal with a claim. I asked if I could just email it in, but State Farm said they needed a ‘real’ copy. Over the past few years I came very close to canceling my eFax account, but was stopped short each time by an urgent matter that required sending or receiving a fax. Unfortunately, a fax number is a necessary evil if you want to deal with contracts, insurance and other exciting matters.

The call with my insurance agency today prompted me to finally get rid of eFax for good. Before logging into my eFax account I re-visited the pricing page and verified that pricing was indeed as horrible as I remember. I’ve been paying eFax $16.95 per month in order to send/receive a fax or two per month. If  I had to send more than 30 pages per month, I’d have to pay $.10 per additional page.The plan includes 130 incoming pages per month.

I decided to take a look at RingCentral, a company that’s better known for its virtual phone services. RingCentral’s marketing folks have asked me to take a look at its mobile and office phone services for the past couple of months, but I’m pretty content using Google Voice for now.

I didn’t realize until today that RingCentral offered a stand-alone fax service that’s similar to eFax. At just $7.99 per month, RingCentral Fax is less than half the cost of eFax and allows me to send or receive up to 300 pages per month. Additional pages would cost just 5.9 cents. Paying annually would bring the cost down to just $6.39, but I’m holding off on plunking down $77 until I get more comfortable with the service. I used my Amex card to sign up for the $7.99 per month plan.

Am I happy that I still have to have a fax number in the year 2010? No. Am I happy to now have a service that has a much more sensible cost structure? Definitely.

How do you deal with faxes? Are you blessed with all the joys of having a physical fax machine or do you have a an online fax service?

Xavier Lanier is the publisher of Gotta Be Mobile and a photographer. He uses too many devices to count, but his current favorites are the iPhone 5s, HTC One, Nikon D800 and Sony RX 100M II. You can follow him on Twitter and Google+.

23 Comments

  1. Corinne

    03/30/2010 at 7:35 pm

    I’ve never had to send that many pages via fax.

    I have a free fax number from http://voicemail.k7.net/signup/
    They allow me to receive free incoming faxes.

    I send faxes with http://www.gotfreefax.com/. I can use my own coversheet, for free.
    3 pages per fax maximum or up to 30 pages for $2.98.

    Considering I might only send 1 fax every couple months, it suits me well.

  2. Charles

    03/30/2010 at 7:37 pm

    I have the same issue. I am using Trustfax and like it. For $30.00 per year I get 50 Send/Receive Pages, 150 Bonus Receive Pages, Faxes Sent To Your Email, Fax Inbox – Unlimited Storage, US Local Fax Number

  3. Xavier

    03/30/2010 at 8:20 pm

    Thanks Charles, I’ll have to check out Trustfax. Looks like eFax is severely over-priced.

  4. Tim

    03/30/2010 at 9:37 pm

    Since I never expect to receive faxes, only to occasionally send them when a form is required, I just use my PC as the fax machine.

    In my experiences, most 56k modems are faxmodems, and they’re widely prevalent on laptops and in desktops(I imagine most reading this blog have an old computer around with a spare PCI fax-modem).

    I’ve never received a fax using the built-in Windows Fax and Scan program, so I’m not sure how it works, but sending a fax is fairly straightforward and operates just as though you had a fax machine hooked up, no need for a separate online service.

  5. ramfrancisuk

    03/30/2010 at 11:26 pm

    Seems a bit silly to me. It would have been endlessly cheaper to buy a fax, and just connect it when you needed to send a fax. Especially if your usage is so limited.

    • Xavier Lanier

      03/30/2010 at 11:33 pm

      That’s what I used to have, but it’s not a very mobile solution. Also, I have to receive faxes once in a while that are of a urgent matter. I wish companies would just move away from faxes and to emails.

    • Joe

      03/31/2010 at 1:58 am

      Then you also have to have a landline phone, which many people don’t have anymore.

      And among the few who do have a ‘landline’, I’d say there’s a large amount of people who are using VOIP through their ISP/TV providers, whether that’s Comcast Triple Play, Verizon FIOS, or any number of others.

      • jeff

        03/31/2010 at 10:40 am

        Fax over a VoIP line much? Hit or miss, usually miss.

        • ZXT

          04/04/2010 at 7:18 pm

          You are right Jeff. Sending a fax through your VoIP is usually a miss. This is because the protocol for fax is “slower” than the protocol used in VoIP and the result is missing packets hence failed fax.

  6. Oliver

    03/30/2010 at 11:28 pm

    There is a fax machine in the printer room at work that I use about once a year to fax something. I think I have/had a free eFax number for inbound faxes, but I haven’t used it in probably five years, so I am sure they killed it.

    In a pinch, I could hook up my home printer/scanner/copier/fax to a phone line.

  7. kah

    03/30/2010 at 11:48 pm

    What is fax ? :-). I have used the tactic of printing then signing or filling in and scanning the document to the Insurance or other company. So far has worked a treat.

    Get them to do then same they seem to be okay with it. A lot of organisations are using multifuctional devices anyway, they can scan and email to themselved and send to you….

    • Xavier

      03/31/2010 at 12:51 am

      I always ask if it’s ok to email a doc. A lot of times, companies insist that they need an original document, with a copy of your ‘wet’ signature for it to be valid. I know, scanning/emailing should be the same thing, but policies are behind the times.

      • ZXT

        04/04/2010 at 7:16 pm

        I’ve been to similar situation so I know where you are coming from Xavier. Some companies will just tell you its their policy and you can’t argue with that.

    • ChrisRS

      03/31/2010 at 8:14 pm

      Same here. PDFs signed on my tablet PC are ot accepatble to some organzations. (The idea that a wet signature then faxing is more real and secure than an email is beyond silly. Cut and paste – white out to obscure tape lines – a second genration copy – then a fax. Right.

  8. tivoboy

    03/31/2010 at 8:47 am

    goog will have fax to your google voice number pretty soon.

    • Xavier Lanier

      04/01/2010 at 12:30 am

      And that’ll be the end of Ring Central for me…

  9. DP

    03/31/2010 at 2:07 pm

    I’ve had an eFax account for about a decade and, like you, have found them severely overpriced. That said, I still get dozens of faxes a month from various clients, and my eFax line has pretty much always worked as it should. I don’t know if it’s worth what they charge, but it’s certainly worth something. I will be interested to read more about your experience with RingCentral as I think I’m doomed to having a fax line of one kind or another for at least several more years!

  10. Rob

    03/31/2010 at 6:16 pm

    Luckily most of the companies I have to deal with have everything in a digital format or an online resource to fill out, so I don’t have to receive faxes. At least not in the past 6 years. The few times I have had to fax something to a company I have just used PamFax. For the money an infrequent faxing I do, it fits me just fine. On top of that I use Skype and Google Voice; mostly the latter.

  11. Joshua Mac

    03/31/2010 at 7:46 pm

    There are several good companies that have competitive plans. Efax in my opinion has been riding their name for quite some time now.

    I have a RingCentral number as well…and for the most part have been rather satisfied.

    Here’s a comparison chart for the top 5 companies if you want to check them out at some point. http://www.fax-number.net

    Josh

  12. Scott McB

    04/01/2010 at 7:46 am

    A year and a half ago, my mother-in-law passed away, and we were in another state dealing with her affairs from a hotel room, and needed to fax a lot of information. The hotel wanted an arm and a leg to send faxes, but they had free wireless internet. We ended up trying Faxage http://www.faxage.com

    They have a really basic plan that is $3.49/month, and you pay 5 cents per minute for incoming/outgoing faxes. They also have other plans for heavier usage too. That service worked perfect, as we only needed it short term. It was easy to use, and we had no problems at all, and then cancelled after 2 months as we no longer needed it.

  13. Xavier Lanier

    04/01/2010 at 9:08 am

    One thing I forgot to mention, eFax offered me 1 year for $50 if I stayed with them.

    • ZXT

      04/04/2010 at 7:14 pm

      I don’t think that’s enough compared with the savings you’ll get if you somewhere else. BTW, I’m pretty sure you’ve read all the stories about how hard to cancel your eFax service. If not then just Google “cancel efax” and you’ll see stories on how hard to cancel the service.

  14. ZXT

    04/04/2010 at 7:11 pm

    eFax is really over priced like Vonage. Everyone will soon realize it and they will all abandoned ship.

    For comparison, I’m using Onesuite Fax service and I only pay $2.95 monthly that comes with unlimited incoming service. Whenever I send a fax, it will just cost me additional 2.5c per page. So a 50 incoming fax and 50 outgoing fax a month is only $4.20, that’s 80 percent savings compared with eFax,

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