How to Compare Online Fax Services
Looking for an online faxing solution? Can’t seem to decide? A quick search on google will probably bring dozens of results. How do you know which one is right for you?
Unfortunately there are a lot of “gotchas” and “hidden fees” in the online fax industry. In this article we’ll look at the different factors you should consider when selecting an online fax provider. We’ll also reveal some of the hidden fees in the industry.
Pay as You Go
The first question you should ask yourself is, “am I going to be sending a lot of fax“. Is this just a one off thing or are you going to be sending fax a lot?
If you’re not going to be sending fax often then you definitely don’t need a subscription plan. Look for a fax provider that has a good Pay as You Go option.
If you don’t need to send fax often don’t sign up for a subscription plan. Look for a Pay as You Go option.
When looking for a fax service with a good Pay as You Go options keep a few things in mind:
Is there a minimum page count for each fax? Some fax providers will set a minimum page count. What that means is, whether you send 1 page or 15 you will be charged the same. This can be quite inconvenient as you’re paying for pages you do not need.
Is there a minimum credit purchase? Some fax services might ask you to purchase credits from their website and use those towards sending fax. While there is nothing inherently wrong with this, however it gets very frustrating when you are required to make a minimum credit purchase.
As an example you want to send 3 pages, however the minimum credit refill is $5.99 for 100 pages. This is quite inconvenient if you just need to send the 3 pages.
The cost of international fax is a tricky topic. First of all to be clear, in the online faxing industry faxes to Canada and the US are considered local faxes. All other location are considered international. If you need to send faxes outside of Canada and the US you need to pay attention to this.
Most online fax providers are not very clear about how they price international faxes. There are generally 3 different types of fax providers out there.
Type #1: International Fax is not Supported, These fax providers will only allow faxes to Canada and the US. Make sure you understand this before choosing these fax providers specially if you are sending international fax.
Type #2: Separate Charges are Applied. This is a very inconvenient pricing model. The problem is you are already paying for their monthly subscription fee but on top of that your credit card will be charged extra when trying to send a fax to an international destination.
Be careful when selecting these fax providers as you might be in for a surprise when your credit card bill shows up:)
Type #3: International Faxes Count as Multiple Pages. While it would be great if there was a fax service that would charge a flat rate for all destinations, unfortunately such a fax service does not exist yet.
In our opinion the best method for pricing international fax is to charge them as multiple pages. For example you might sign up for a monthly plan that provides 300 pages for $5.99/month. If however you are sending faxes to high toll numbers, each page might count as several pages, therefore you won’t actually be able to send 300 pages.
When selecting an online fax service make sure you also compare the rates they are charging for the destinations you plan on sending fax to.
This is one major source of inconvenience when using many of the online faxing solutions. When you register with them they promise a certain number of monthly pages. However later you will only come to realize they are not actually charging by page but by minute. What that means is:
Watch out for fax services that charge multiple pages for pages taking longer than a minute
What? Really? Shouldn’t this be written somewhere? Sometimes it is, sometimes it’s not, but more often than not it’s in small font buried under the rest of the documentation.
Well how bad is it? How often does a fax take longer than a minute? In our experience about 47% percent of faxes take longer than a minute, that’s almost half the faxes sent. When selecting a fax provider take this into account if you are relying on the monthly page count they provide you.
International Local Numbers
When choosing a fax provider you may also want to take into account the availability of local fax numbers in your region. For example if your business is located in Japan, and it’s important for your customers to send faxes to a Japanese number then you need to make sure your fax provider actually offers local numbers from Japan as well.
Keep in mind that you might encounter one of the following with regards to international fax numbers:
Type #1: They Don’t Have International Numbers. These fax providers only have US and Canadian fax numbers to choose from. Might be a good fit if you don’t require an international local number.
Type #2: They Claim They Have International Numbers But Actually Never Do. This is a tricky one. On their website they claim they have numbers from many different countries, but when you actually try to purchase one of their international numbers they normally show you an error message saying “We are currently out of the selected number, Please contact support …“
This can be very frustrating if you generally don’t want to wait for them to restock on their numbers.
Type #3: They Force You Into the More Expensive Plans. The trick here is that these services will require you to pay for a higher priced plan to get certain international numbers. Not very convenient if you don’t send a lot of fax and hence don’t need the higher plans.
Not all fax services provide international fax numbers, those that do might force you into a higher plan.
Refunds on Failed Faxes
Faxes will fail every now and then. There are many different reason for this:
- Destination is busy
- Connection issues
- Disturbance on the phone lines
But what matters is how the fax service deals with such cases. Below we’ve listed a few different ways services deal with such cases.
Type #1: No Refunds. If a fax fails, well tough luck there will be no refund on the failed delivery and you either have to pay again or use up more of your monthly credits. Make sure you avoid these providers as it will become very costly to use.
Type #2: No Refunds But Will Allow Retries. When there is a failure these providers will not provide a refund however they will let you retry your fax. This is better than Type #1 providers however imagine if you mistyped the fax number, now there is no way to fix it. You have to pay for a whole new fax.
Type #3: Partial Refund. These providers wont pay you back all your payment but they will pay back most of it. Still not ideal but better than Type #1
Type #4: Full Refund. These providers will refund your full payment in case there is a failure in delivery. In our opinion these are the best type of fax providers out there. Remember you’re paying for your fax to be delivered.
Failure in fax delivery is a common issue, what matters is fax services should provide a full refund in such cases.
Fax quality can make a huge difference in the readability of your fax. Make sure the service you are using either allows you to select the quality of the fax or if the option does not exist it chooses a good default. This is specially important if you choose to send fax that has small fonts or has lots of handwriting.
Another important factor to consider is are you going to be charged more for higher fax qualities or will all faxes be charged at the same flat price. A lot of services might charge you extra if the duration of the fax takes longer than a minute. Higher fax qualities generally do take longer than a minute.
Ensure your fax service provider lets you choose the fax quality. If it doesn’t make sure they are sending faxes with a decent quality.
Plans & Pricing
This is where you need to choose your plan. Most services price their plans based on a monthly page credit. For example they might charge you $11.99 for 400 monthly pages. You will need to choose the plan you need based on all the hidden fees and charges.
Also if you don’t use fax very frequently you should ideally be looking for a service that has smaller plans. For example if you only need to send 60 pages a month, look for a fax provider that has cheaper plans closer to 60 pages.
If you don’t need an expensive plan find a fax service that offers smaller plans.
Free trials are very helpful in deciding whether the fax service offers what you really need. Different services offer different types of free trials. Choose one that gives you a decent trial of the service.
Type #1: No Free Trials at All. These services just genuinely expect customers to pay for their services without even trying it first. Not really sure what they’re thinking but hey, every company operates differently:)
Type #2: You Can Send a Few Pages but You Can’t Test Receiving Fax. While you do get to send a few pages in the trial, however if you actually want to receive any faxes you will need to sign up for one of their monthly plans.
Type #3: Sending and Receiving. The best type of trials are those that let you send and receive faxes. This way you can really see if the service is what you expect before signing up for a monthly plan.
Choose a fax service provider that offers a decent free trial so you can truly test the service.
East of Cancellation
Cancelling your plan should be as simple as a single click. You shouldn’t be asked to call customer service or send an email for your plan to be cancelled. Unfortunately there are a few services out there that do require you to contact support in order to cancel your plan. It’s not an issue on it’s own but does make the experience very inconvenient.
Your fax service provider should not ask you to jump through hoops to cancel your plan.
So there you go. We’ve explained some of the points you need to keep in mind when selecting an online fax service. Now all you need to do is choose one:)