The title pretty much says it all, and frankly, how is this possible in 2007 is beyond me.
But wait, isn’t it 2009 (almost 2010?). Yes it is. An therein lies the rub. I wrote this two years ago, and the fact that most of it is still valid is quite sad. Fax technology should be dead – it’s ridiculously unpractical to translate meaningful text to dumb image, when on the receiving end they need meaningful text again. Yet in many professions faxes are still used, and from time to time all of us are forced to dealing with it. That means finding a service appropriate for the ad-hoc, just-in-case use, nothing less, nothing more.
I’ve had a trusted old eFax numer for perhaps a decade, never gave it a lot of thought. However, some glitches prompted me to check again. Here’s an updated version of the matrix I published in 2007 – the comparison of 10 Internet fax services by Top Ten Reviews:
What’s wrong here? There’s not a single offer tailored for individual ad-hoc users. I’m sure a busy office has enough fax traffic to justify the $10 or so that most of these services charge, but as a consumer, the grand total of faxes I receive in a year is perhaps 2-3, and I don’t send more than 5 per year. $10 is not a huge amount, but why would I pay a monthly subscription optimized for 1-200 pages monthly traffic?
The free version of eFax (btw, how could the granddaddy of Internet fax services escape the comparison?) allows free inbound services, but no sending at all. I don’t expect free sending, but why can’t I pay per use, only for the pages I send? Oh, well, since the previous (2007) vintage of this post, I’ve found two free / pay-per-fax services that solve the outbound problem: FaxZero and GotFreeFax. Very well – problem solved. Except now there’s trouble on the inbound front.
In the past two years two of my eFax numbers “disappeared”, and so did an alternative one @ FaxDigits (in fact FaxDigits no longer seems to exist). For now, any time I need to give my fax number to someone, I need to send a test fax to it first to check if it’s still operational. That’s crap. Yes, I get what I pay for, you might say – which is zero. But like I said, I’m willing to pay, just not $10 per month – that would make the 2-3 faxes I receive par year really expensive. I can’t believe I am the only one with such usage pattern and there is no reliable provider with a usage-based pricing plan to match such usage.
I understand it may not be economically feasible for a service provider to maintain all these phone numbers and charge pennies – so perhaps the solution is lump it with another service that already runs millions of phone numbers – Google Voice? Let’s hope they will step up. 🙂
Finally, here’s Dilbert’s take on the issue.