Topics: frugality, internet, technology
As a first-time homebuyer getting ready to embark on the long but rewarding path to homeownership, I realize that I may soon need to fax roughly 83,184 documents to various lenders, real estate agents, and other give-me-house types. Having never owned or really even operated a fax machine, I was faced with four possible outcomes:
- Buy a fax machine. Considering I’ll probably never need to fax something again, I’d rather not buy another piece of technology that sits in a box and gathers dust.
- Hope I won’t need one. They have this thing called the internet now that lets you send documents at THE SPEED OF LIGHT!!! So far, I’ve received every document I need by e-mail, but I have a feeling I may need access to some faxy goodness along the line.
- Give up on owning a home. It’s too much trouble to buy a fax machine, so I’ll just never purchase a home instead. Fortunately I’m not lame, so this option won’t be happening.
- Find another method of faxing. Perhaps I have a built-in fax function somewhere in my left arm. Let’s see… radar… homing missiles… secret decoder… nope, no fax machine.
But I figured there had to be some other way of faxing stuff on demand without having to run down to Kinko’s each time. I vaguely recalled that services like eFax exist which allow you to send or receive documents online that get spit out of a fax machine at their destination. I did a little digging and found out that eFax is a tad pricey for what I need, but I also found a few alternatives that might prove useful to myself and others who need a li’l bit o’ faxin’ here and there.
- Go with eFax if you only need to receive up to 20 faxed pages a month. Beware that the 21st fax will terminate your service if you don’t upgrade to a paid version immediately.
- eFax’s free fax receiving service goes well with faxZERO‘s free fax sending. The service is paid for by ads automatically placed on the cover page of your fax. Note that you’re limited to two faxes a day and that each one cannot exceed two pages.
- RapidFAX works well for someone who needs to send 100 faxes or receive 200 faxes a month for a period of only a month or two. Your first 30 days are free and you can cancel after that; otherwise, your credit card will be charged $9.95 a month until you do. You can opt for either a local or toll-free number to receive faxes at no extra charge. I’ll be trying out this service for my faxing needs in the coming months. (EDIT: As I’ve since discovered for myself, RapidFAX makes it very difficult to cancel their service. My calls to customer service were always disconnected. It took months to finally get the situation resolved.)
- If your faxing requirements will be ongoing and higher in volume, check out Metro Fax Number and its unlimited faxing. It also offers 30 days free, but you’ll pay a $9.95 setup fee and then $12.95 a month thereafter.
You might be wondering how an internet faxing service works. Some differ a little, but here’s the basic deal you’ll get from most services:
- Pay your usage fees which can be either a fixed upfront cost or a pay-as-you-fax price.
- To send a fax, ready your materials in an electronic format. Most services allow PDFs and various Microsoft formats, or you can use a scanner to convert your paper forms into an image file.
- Use the service’s online form to compose and send the fax, providing the recipient’s fax number and attaching your document(s). Some services also allow you to send your fax straight to your recipient by e-mailing your attachments to an address like [recipient-fax-number]@yourfaxservice.com.
- To receive a fax, simply provide the fax number which the service will generate for you. You’ll be able to retrieve the faxed items from the service’s website or your own e-mail inbox.