Trading in my Virtual Fax Number

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.

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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?

  

Comments

  1. Charles says

    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

  2. Tim says

    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.

  3. ramfrancisuk says

    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 says

      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 says

      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.

        • ZXT says

          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.

  4. Oliver says

    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.

  5. kah says

    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 says

      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 says

        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 says

      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.

  6. DP says

    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!

  7. Rob says

    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.

  8. Joshua Mac says

    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

  9. Scott McB says

    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.

    • ZXT says

      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.

  10. ZXT says

    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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