Internet Fax Buying Guide What You Need to Know Before Buying Any Online Fax ServiceBefore acquiring any Internet Fax service you must ask some pertinent questions before you sign on the dotted line. Remember, getting a fax number and service for your business or company should have your full attention because this is a long-term service and doing your homework now can save you significant money over the long haul.
Besides, picking the RIGHT fax service provider will help you avoid serious problems/headaches down the road. More importantly, like any business service you must make doubly sure you get a high quality reliable service that will enhance your business and not hinder it.
So with these concerns in mind, here are some basic questions you should ask before buying any Internet fax service.
Questions About The Company
Who owns the company? How long have they been operating? How many customers/clients do they have? How good is their support? Basically, you want to do some research on the Internet fax company you're thinking about using. Check out the company's history by doing a BBB search to see if there are any major complaints about the company or service.
Check to see if there's a trial period and if there is a 30-day money-back guarantee if things don't work out. Most legitimate fax companies provide this feature. Find out how long they have been operating and find out what their support is like? Check out the online fax forums to see how the different companies are rated? What problems are discussed? Check these forums to see what the support is like for a company and/or if there are any problems with using a particular fax company.
Keep in mind, many fax service providers have their own forums... check these to see how well questions are answered and how quickly problems are solved. You can even monitor these forums for a few days just to see how quickly problems are dealt with?
Remember to ask around to see if you can find actual users of a particular fax service, there is nothing as good as first-hand experience and advice when choosing a service. Microsoft's Office Marketplace is a good place to start.
Questions About Your New Fax Number:
First, you will want to check to see what type of fax number is supplied by the fax provider - local number with your same area code or a Toll-free number? Can you get inbound numbers in a different country in case you want to create a virtual presence there? Check to see if a fax provider recycles old fax numbers? On rare occasions this could present a problem with you receiving someone else's faxes. Keep this in mind if you discontinue your fax number, especially if you were receiving sensitive faxes through your number.
Questions About The Transmission of Faxes:
How do I send faxes? You want to know the exact procedure for your chosen fax provider? Is there a desktop or email application I can use to send and receive faxes? Does it work with Windows Applications? Is there an online interface or site where I can send and receive my faxes? (Most fax services have this.) Can I store my faxes online? If so, how much disc space is provided and how long before my faxes are deleted? Can I track the process of my faxes online? Can I track how much each fax costs? What attachment file formats are used by your prospective fax provider? Most use the TIFF (Tagged Image File) format but other popular ones are Acrobat PDF, JPEG/JPG and GIF. If you have or use a different format, check with the provider to see if they can handle it.
Can you change your email address to where your faxes are sent? Can you have multiple email addresses? Do you have control over your fax identifier (CSID) for outbound faxes? The CSID is used to identify the sender of the fax and is a legal requirement in many locations.
Finally, if security is a real concern, you must ask whether or not your fax provider can send encrypted/signed email? Encryption ensures only you and the receiver sees your faxes. Can your faxes be sent and received via email with PGP encryption?
Questions About Fax Broadcasting:
Does your fax provider offer Fax Broadcasting - sending the same fax to hundreds or thousands of recipients? This is useful in a business setting for such things as Newsletters, Press Releases, Special Sales or Deals - not to be confused with Junk Faxes, which is similar to email Spam!
If you or your company does a lot of legitimate faxing, you must check to see if your fax provider is completely scalable to meet your company's growing faxing needs? Can you easily get multiple fax numbers for different departments or agents? Can it handle high volumes on short notice?
Questions About The Costs of Faxing:
Perhaps the most important questions you have to ask concerns the cost or price of your online faxing. Are there any set-up costs? Are there any hidden fees? Is there a trial version you can start with? Is there a money-back guarantee if you're not satisfied with the service? Fax services are paid for by subscriptions - you must check to see if it's a yearly or monthly subscription? Most companies give you an option and if you buy an annual subscription, you usually get a discount - check this?
Regardless of how you pay, you must check how many faxes can you send and/or receive each month with your subscription? Fax companies all have different plans and fees... so it pays to shop around... most services go for around $10-$15 a month. Heavier volume faxing will be more expensive. Also check to see if there is custom pricing for companies?
What are your provider's international fax rates? This is something you should really check out as you will have to pay more for these types of faxes. If I go over my limit, what are the costs of sending faxes? Receiving faxes? Remember, as a general rule of thumb, page calculations are done based on fax time with the 60-second per page limit as standard. Most faxes are less than 40 seconds, but faxes with large graphics may be counted as two or more pages.
Some fax providers base their fax rates on a per/minute fee... 5 cents a minute. When considering the costs of your Internet faxing, you have to remember, with online faxing you won't have the cost of a fax machine, or the cost of a second phone line. Plus, you won't have to pay ink, toner and paper costs.
Overall, Internet faxing is a good viable alternative to the old fax machine. It offers some very distinct advantages because it is completely mobile, you can send your faxes anytime, anywhere. And since it is computer and Internet based, it can be much more efficient than the old fax machine.