Online fax services: a brief guide
The vast majority of people will send maybe two or three faxes in a year. Only rarely do individuals need to send regular faxes, unless they deal with large volumes of legal documents. This means most people no longer own a fax machine, and are looking at the large numbers of online services that will hook you up with a fax account for a flat rate per month with a per-page charge.
UK based fax services: A comparison:
If you're looking for a UK based fax service, here's a few to consider (note that eFax here refers to eFax UK):
Online Fax Services: The Fine Print
Unfortunately, these services often advertise that they cost less than having a dedicated phone line for the sending of faxes, which is absolutely true. But for those who believe in the absolution of that statement, I meant it to be equivalent to saying “punching you in the arm won’t hurt nearly as much as when those guys kick you in the balls bollocks.” Reason? A large number of these monthly fax services are laden with hidden and often arbitrary fees, which customers don't find out about usually until after being lured in by the trial offers.
A few popular online fax services, and things to watch for:
- eFax: Considered by some to be the 'grand daddy' of internet fax services, the free version of eFax allows free inbound services which redirect fax from your 0870 number to your email. Pretty cool, but besides that, it is considered a pretty dodgy service. I say this from personal experience, and efax.com has also received loads of complaints over mysterious fees and charges, and has been reported to the BBB many times. Common complaints include: the inability to cancel accounts; “free trials” that are indeed trials, but are not free; per-minute charges out of scale with the number of pages being faxed; unexplained changes to your fax number (rendering printed materials with the old number useless); and clients unable to send faxes to efax.com customers.
- Faxtastic: Faxtastic is based on a similar principle like eFax, where the fax senders subsidize the cost of sending fax to you by faxing to a 0870 number. While it has monthly options (mentioned above), faxtastic also has pay as you go, where you purchase credits in advance and draw against them when you send faxes. Sending a fax to geographic numbers in the UK, USA, and Europe costs 5p per page, and there is no obligation to buy a set number of credits each month. Note that in order to keep the service active, you must receive at least one fax in the first seven days of opening an account, and one at least every 90 days thereafter, otherwise you will lose the allocated number and will have to re-register.
- Pamfax: this service offers pay-as-you-go as one of its options. But what's cool about it is that it works through Skype. Pamfax charges you in the neighborhood of €0.14 per page to the U.S. and Western Europe. It also allows sending faxes from word/excel 2003/2007 and you can pay via Skype credit. It also connects to Google Maps so that you can view recipient location.
However, if you would like to expand your options, consider these services located outside of the US:
1. Fax1: Fax1 provides both sending/receiving services. For sending only, it requires a minimum payment of $10 for 'PAYG' but note that they charge a service fee of $9 a month to receive fax. The credit doesn't expire, and you can use it anytime.
2. FaxAway: $1 / month maintenence + $0.11 / min of usage, it's wort a quick look.
3. 101Fax: You get a choice between a US local or toll free number, and you can choose either pay per use or low monthly plans. There are no minimum pay requirements like Fax1, but beware of the fine print, as 800 numbers have a $15 charge plus service fees. Otherwise, it's considered a great fax service.
Though there aren’t as many pay as you go fax options in the UK, seeking them out is well worth your while for most fax senders. The “convenience” for monthly fax service is one of the more expensive and useless conveniences you can avail yourself of. Pay as you go is definitely your best option, in view of the various 'complexities' in the recurring billing contracts.