What's a Fax Machine?

July 27, 2007 - Get free updates of new posts here

No offense to you or your company but why is there still a fax # on your business card?

PS. Have a great Friday;)

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25 responses to “What's a Fax Machine?

  1. Joel Mueller Reply

    When you deal with financial institutions like banks, and especially ones outside of your state (Wells Fargo isn’t in Michigan), fax machines are a must.

    I can’t even think of a financial institution that I’ve dealt with this year and didn’t require me to fax them a book. 😉 Banks, merchant account providers, paypal even.

  2. Noah Kagan Reply

    I guess they still use those things in the midwest;)

    PS > I think it’s also funny since I grew up with my father who was a fax/copier salesman/business owner.

  3. Flexo Reply

    I echo Joel’s comment. In financial services in the north east, the fax machine still sees a lot of activity… though much less than 10 years ago.

  4. Adrian Crook Reply

    I don’t like them either, but they are still heavily used in old school industries. We just sold our place in Toronto and there was tons of faxing back and forth to sign agreements.

  5. Brian Kotlyar Reply

    I see your point about not needing fax machines in the valley (though I don’t live/work there), but I’ve personally seen all kinds of small businesses that are still super dependent on their fax machines. The biggest reason? Just getting signatures on contracts. It seems foolish, but snail mail and fax machines are the best way to do that for a lot of people.

  6. Noah Kagan Reply

    Brian,

    You just made me realize a TON of small restaurants need a fax machine to receive orders. Maybe they will use the internet or gomobo.com in the future…

  7. Brian Kotlyar Reply

    Thanks for sharing gomobo. I wasn’t familiar with them, but its a cool idea. Campusfood.com is another, less mobile, example of ways to cut out the fax machine.

    I read an article a while back, that I wish I could reference now but can’t seem to find, and it was basically a chronicle of all the ways the fax machine was supposed to die and why it hasn’t. Fax is just an incredibly tenacious technology. Even the fact that it runs on the old school TDM phone network helps because that is pretty much the most reliable network out there.

  8. Brian Breslin Reply

    one reason i have a fax: contracts. I can get my clients to send me a contract ASAP. Or when I need to send a NDA, done in 2 minutes. much faster than using the scanner, and figuring out how to send as a jpg, etc.

    so it comes down to money. i spend way more on my fax machine than i’d like, but one new sale closed a year more than pays for its costs.

  9. John Wilson Reply

    Noah, the simple answer is that it makes you accessible to people who still use fax! It doesn’t imply you’ve got a fax machine, simply a means to receive them is all eg fax server.

    I’m happy to admit we occasionally send faxes when sending the signature page of a doc back – its still quicker than scanning and creating attachments.

  10. zach Reply

    The stink of it is that fax machines still offer some functions that you can’t easily get elsewhere. Sure, you CAN scan something and then email it… but that means the other person gets the file, downloads & scans it for viruses, and then prints it off: fax machines cut out all those extra steps and goes directly to a hard copy.

    They seem to be used hugely by legal related companies, i.e. insurance & banks, etc – probably because of not only their simplicity, but also because of the security aspect: anything on the internet is subject to hackers etc, but a fax goes directly from one party to the next, and (to the best of my limited knowledge) cannot be intercepted or messed with. It is also a great way to have a legitimate signature, instead of those goofy “electronic signatures”

  11. Sofie Reply

    Mmm here in Belgium a fax message is still an official record.
    You could replace this with email but as long as e-mails are not encrypted and signed with a key/certificates, an email cannot be seen as official document according to the law i believe.

  12. rob Reply

    I just signed up for efax.com yesterday….sucks cause it’s like $10/month, but i can “receive faxes” in pdf form to my email account. i got my first spam fax about 8 hours after opening the account. i need docs signed all the time and the people i deal with can’t handle the scan/email, although that’s all i do. just as easy for me to scan/email from my printer.

  13. Jen L Reply

    When I deal with my t-shirt vendor, they usually fax us an order confirmation which I then sign and fax back (as a contract agreement). I tried a new t-shirt vendor recently and asked them to fax me a receipt for our records. To my surprise, they emailed me a pdf scan of the invoice with their signature indicating the bill was paid.

    I noticed two things about the second company: 1) they were a much smaller company compared to the large company I previously dealt with and 2) the people in the company were younger.

    However, the new company didn’t take credit cards as payment (probably because of the CC fees) which was inconvenient; the previous company took more forms of payment.

  14. udandi Reply

    I have the campus fax machine sitting my office and what mostly come through it is fax spam for vacations and mortgages, but we can’t get rid of it in case a student needs unofficial records faxed off to someplace. why it is in the reference librarian’s office and not the dean’s admin asst’s office is beyond me, though!

  15. Aniq Rahman Reply

    @ Noah: Awesome blog man. I wish I could point you to a conspiracy theory or something, but I think that the aforementioned comments speak for the majority of fax users (huge corporations, hospitals/pharmacies/doctors offices, restaurants, retailers, etc.). It also got me thinking about how the fax machine itself probably won’t die for a while (or until someone comes up with an analogous hardware device that can send files to a secure email server or FTP by typing it in — which probably already exists — regardless, the whole process of scanning multiple pages, compressing/cropping/adjusting levels for scans in photoshop, opening up a mail client, attaching each file and sending it out to find out that your recipient is a chump with a 10MB attachment limit is too big of a time investment and risk for a business).

    @ Brian Kotlyar: Interestingly enough, http://www.campusfood.com uses fax to send orders to businesses (or so I have been told by a partner at their advisory firm). Funny how that works =)

    Here on the East Coast, http://www.seamlessweb.com has a bit of a monopoly on orders and seems to be expanding rapidly (think huge financial firms with thousands of employees that work all day and have a $25/meal budget from the company) — I’m guessing they do the same.

  16. Sri Reply

    Fax is still much needed. Just bought a house….the realtors use fax A LOT.
    Also, think about countries OUTSIDE USA.

    Why havent they come out with better scanners? Just drop the item in a slot and it automatically saves the image on a specified folder.

  17. Nii A, Reply

    I can’t count the number of faxes we’ve had to receive, sign, and fax back w/ CPC… faxes are essentially when you’re dealing with B2B… Their old economy status also provide a sort of finality when inking agreements with suppliers/contractors/and clients.

    I

  18. Shelley Reply

    I had to buy a friggin’ fax machine this week. I was almost embarrassed to take it out of the UPS guy’s hands when he delivered it.

    I have to fax in forms and receipts to get reimbursed for medical expenses through my husband’s pre-tax medical spending account. He doesn’t want to fax the documentation from work and I’m sick of scanning all the pages into a file to fax from my PC. So, now every few weeks I will plug in the friggin’ fax machine, fill out the MSA forms and fax it all off.

    What an archaic method of documentation. At least I got the fax machine dirt cheap and new off of eBay. And, when we do our next real estate transaction it will be handy to have the friggin’ fax machine because we were faxing offers and counter-offers back and forth for last year’s buy and sell which again required scanning and faxing from the PC.

  19. rob Reply

    update: i just ditched my efax account. they suck. tons of spam. i got a number with ringcentral.com. great customer support and you can get an 800 number for incoming calls and faxes for ~$15/month. cheaper than efax and no fax spam (spax? did I just make that up?) yet.

  20. Shelley Reply

    Just received this joke via email and could not resist stopping back here to post it. My apologies if it has been circulating around the net for five years. I don’t recall ever reading it before and the subject matter applies:

    THREE WOMEN, TWO YOUNGER, AND ONE SENIOR CITIZEN, WERE SITTING NAKED IN A SAUNA. SUDDENLY THERE WAS A BEEPING SOUND. THE YOUNG WOMAN PRESSED HER FOREARM AND THE BEEP STOPPED. THE OTHERS LOOKED AT HER QUESTIONINGLY. ‘THAT WAS MY PAGER,’ SHE SAID. I HAVE A MICROCHIP UNDER THE SKIN OF MY ARM.

    A FEW MINUTES LATER, A PHONE RANG. THE SECOND YOUNG WOMAN LIFTED HER PALM TO HER EAR. WHEN SHE FINISHED, SHE EXPLAINED, ‘THAT WAS MY MOBILE PHONE. I HAVE A MICROCHIP IN MY HAND.’

    THE OLDER WOMAN FELT VERY LOW -TECH. NOT TO BE OUT DONE, SHE DECIDED SHE HAD TO DO SOMETHING JUST AS IMPRESSIVE. SHE STEPPED OUT OF THE SAUNA AND WENT TO
    THE BATHROOM. SHE RETURNED WITH A PIECE OF TOILET PAPER HANGING FROM HER REAR END.

    THE OTHERS RAISED THEIR EYEBROWS AND STARED AT HER.
    THE OLDER WOMAN FINALLY SAID………WELL, WILL YOU LOOK AT THAT….I’M GETTING A FAX!!