Do you still use a fax machine?

In today’s world, a fax seems positively archaic, and so when I left the shared office building where one was provided, I decided I wouldn’t get one to replace it.



And it’s worked quite well, except for one business relationship: HostEurope. They’re a fine hosting company, offering excellent service and exceptional bandwidth at reasonable prices. Their only drawback is that they insist on using faxes.



When my bank changed my credit card and I needed to give them the new number, they refused to take the number over the phone, though they did accept to have it sent in cleartext over email, which I refused. So now I’m paying them the occassional overage, typically at 1-2 euros a month, with bank wire transfers.



Now I need them to add some RAM, and they insist on getting the order by fax. This time, I’m afraid I’m going to have to buckle.



What’s up with that policy? Isn’t it just a bit odd, archaic, even, for an internet business, a hosting company, no less, to have a fax-only policy?



I believe there are some legal implications, such as signatures transmitted by fax being legally binding, but given the services such as efax lets you transmit a scanned page as a fax, anyway, what’s the difference between delivering that scanned page by email and by fax?



What do you think? Do you still use a fax, and why?

13 comments

Not using faxes although I spent a year supporting those darn thinga few years back. And I can assure you that people are still using faxes -- and that they're not too tolerant when they cannot. Your problem isn't really as big as you think: Any 7-Eleven will let you send a fax for DKK 5 in Denmark and internationally for DKK 15. It's overpriced, but I'd prefer that to paying via bank transfers. When you're there you should also buy a cup of coffee -- it easily beats Baresso's.
By Steffen on Tue, Jul 11, 06 at 05:21 · Reply
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Yes, there's also a couple online variants -- http://www.faxitnice.com/ is one of the more promising because it doesn't have a monthly fee like the others -- but the fact remains that it's a silly way to send bits around the world. Thanks for the tip about the coffee, though, that was news to me.
By Lars Pind on Tue, Jul 11, 06 at 05:21 · Reply
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It's worth a try; actually if you're a black coffee man the best coffee comes from McDonald's and 7-Eleven. Oddly enough... About alternative paths: I don't know if there's a modem in your ultramodern MacBook, but there's certainly one in my semimodern PowerBook. Also, Guan was planning a faxing service a few years back. Never got off the ground those, but I have a hunch that he's still got enough hardware laying around to power a small telco. (Finally, you're right, it is a silly way. Though I have to confess that I've always been kinda taken by the way these pioneers thought "Well, we'll just use the phone lines to tranfer document. Easy enough!".)
By Steffen on Tue, Jul 11, 06 at 05:21 · Reply
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Two weeks ago I was in the "7-eleven" situation - just reversed. With the tax deadline too close and needing the final bank statements from last year (someone eats them but I don't have a dog...) Danske Bank wouldn't mail OR fax them - exept my good friend Søren who works at their London office. He agreed on faxing them, but our fax at the office was out of ink!!! I couldn't help laughing when I called 7-eleven at Vesterbrogade asking him if he had paper in his fax... In my old days stamping letters at a patent office here in Copenhagen we had a lot of fun doing what we today call "spamming". We taped two or three documents together so they looped for a whole night and overloaded my dad's fax memory - hilarious!!! At my old boss' studio <www.gab.dk> years ago we had a highend fax that could send and recieve a broad spectra of middletone so we could send images back and forth to clients. Every monday morning the tray was filled with wine advertising which people didn't even consider as spam... But what happend to color faxing!?!
By Anders Hviid on Tue, Jul 11, 06 at 05:21 · Reply
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No fax - and occasionally the odd trip to 7-11 to deal with that problem. But somewhere down memory lane I remember when I got my first e-mail-adress at work - and I could actually leave the fax-room (dark boring place where I spend Hours before the e-mail-age). At that time I had an add on to Outlook that made it possible for me to fax an e-mail to someone who didn't have an e-mail-adress (most people that I was communicating with didn't in the beginning) - so maybe that is still an option?
By Trine-Maria on Tue, Jul 11, 06 at 05:21 · Reply
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I've sent/received a handfull of faxes in the past 2 years. In each case it was for legal backup to a correspondance that had already occurred by email. One was to fax the confirmation of a bank transfer for some accomodation in Paris. Another was to recieve a written receipt (for legal/tax records) of a laptop that I bought off a friend in a different city. My understanding is that distorted faxes of laser printed letters with unintelligeable signatures have already been proven to stand up in court, whereas untraceable emails with crisp clear scanned image files are not as clearly established as valid evidence. And noone wants to get the judge who has never used a computer and thinks that such evidence is inherently unreliable...
By Mark Aufflick on Tue, Jul 11, 06 at 05:21 · Reply
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Exactly, it's so rare, and mostly only for those situations. Online fax software like efax is great, except that with a minimum monthly fee of $12.95 for a fax every 3-6 months, that's prohibitive. 7-11 works in a pinch, but I've had bad luck in the past -- machines not working, transmissions failing, etc. I'm sure they are one-offs, I really should try again next time.
By Lars Pind on Tue, Jul 11, 06 at 05:21 · Reply
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I just say "I don't do fax" and tell them I'm sending them a PDF via email, adding that when they print it out that the quality will better than fax. That normally sorts it out - they get something in their hot hands with a "handwritten" signature (which I keep handy in hi-res bitmap for overlaying on forms).
By Robin Benson on Tue, Jul 11, 06 at 05:21 · Reply
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That's a great idea, Robin, I think I'll just try that and see how they react.
By Lars Pind on Tue, Jul 11, 06 at 05:21 · Reply
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I have a few versions of my signature scanned @ 1200dpi bitmap. I keep a few reduced ones handy, drop them on top of a 150dpi photoshop version of a PDF, save as PDF with reasonable compression and email it away. Key: if I ask first, the answer is "no - we can't accept anything by email" but now I just send it. Once they get it and print, it's pretty difficult to argue that they just must have a shîtty fax version, especially if they have a plain-paper fax.
By Robin Benson on Tue, Jul 11, 06 at 05:21 · Reply
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I don't personally use faxes, but I know that our company uses them for faxing signatures to different service providers (internet, mobile etc) since those are usually monolithic companies with deep-rooted policies that are quite hard to change. And even tho' sending a PDF via email will most probably guarantee better quality in the print, it is unfortunate that so few companies support it.
By Jan Wikholm on Tue, Jul 11, 06 at 05:21 · Reply
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I started by doing what Steffen suggested (go to 7/11), and for some reason the fax got lost. Then I resorted to Robin's suggestion: Send a PDF by email. That worked. Thanks all for the discussion, faxes seem so odd these days where every computer does email and so many printers have built-in scanners.
By Lars Pind on Tue, Jul 11, 06 at 05:21 · Reply
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Putting a scanned copy of your signature is not a good idea since it can be easily reproduced and stolen. Better off using some type of esignature provider.
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