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Ditch the FAX line!

January 2, 2012 by Karl

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Learn how to ditch your fax machine while keeping your fax service, and save money monthly without having the cost of the machine or the local phone company.  Learn one more trick in how to be a frugal and thrifty minded small business owner.

We run two businesses from our home.  It is imperative that we have a dedicated fax line and a good reliable machine.  This is why we have had a dedicated fax line coming into our house for the past 10 years.

Over the past 20 years, there have been two options with fax machines.  One is to have a physical machine that sits on a horizontal surface in your office, and the other is to use the modem of your computer as a fax machine.  Each has its reliability issues and associated expenses.

With a physical machine, there are costs associated with keeping it operational.  Though it is always available to receive a fax, it uses paper and ink or toner to print a page, and that costs money – especially for all those junk faxes that are received.

Using a computer as a fax machine has it’s issues also.  The computer always needs to be on, and if it goes into sleep mode, it may not always wake up in time to answer, or not wake up at all.  Also, faxing out can be a headache if the fax program you have only accepts a single type of document format, which involves time-consuming conversions.

We just recently realized that our dedicated fax line was costing us over $20 a month in fees and taxes from our local phone company, for something that we use once or twice a week.  Then there is the cost of the equipment, maintenance, and ink or toner on top of that.

There is another option!  There are fax services out there that allow you to keep your existing fax number (it may take a few weeks for the number to be ported over to them).  Most of them offer a 30 day free trial.  There are initial costs to have your existing fax number ported from your local phone company to them, but then the monthly costs to have a fax machine will be more than cut in half.

The way these fax services work, you are given an email address in which you can send your outgoing faxes (usually as an attachment in one of several different formats).  You email your fax to your service, the fax is sent out, and you receive an email receipt that it was successfully faxed.  Incoming faxes are received from that phone number, and emailed to what ever email address you choose.

When shopping for a fax service, be sure to find one that has reliable service.  There are some that do not have very good track records.  Also make sure they can set you up with the number of accounts that you may need.  For example, if you have 5 employees that need to send faxes, you should be able to set them each up with a separate email to send faxes out, or you could have a single email that everyone on staff uses.  Check these details before signing up with anyone.  I would also check out their service for a month or so before porting your fax line over, to make sure they are providing the quality of service you need.

We have decided to go with a local company that provides fax services rather than going with one of the big international services.  I like to keep the business local, and I also like having the personal relationship with someone who can take care of things if there is a problem.

We have switched fairly recently, so I will give an update on how it is working.  We should be saving about $15-$20 per month taking all the factors into consideration.  This is an annual savings of $180-$240.  Every bit helps in this economy!

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