Friday, March 20, 2009

Need Faxing Solution

I'm looking to join the growing number of people who no longer have a home phone line (landline) at their house. I was looking at my bills the other day and realized I'm paying close to $50 a month for two phones lines that I almost never use - one line is my standard home line and the other is for a business fax machine. I make and receive almost all my calls on my cell phone now, so I don't see a need to continue to have and pay for a landline.

I first thought about this several months ago. At the time, I realized that my home security system uses the landline to contact the monitoring service in case the alarm goes off. So I believed I was stuck with keeping the line if I wanted my alarm system to work. While laying in bed the other night, it dawned on me that I should call the alarm company and see if they have any options that do not require a phone line - perhaps using an internet connection or something instead. It turns out, they do! The alarm system can be set up to use radio frequencies. To switch to this, there is a $125 installation fee (they have to install a new device at my home) and my monthly bill will increase by $5.

So it's looking good for the elimination of the landlines. But the remaining hurdle is my fax machine. Receiving faxes is not a problem because there are many companies that can do that for you, convert your fax to a PDF file, and email it to you. These companies also offer sending services for sending computer files as faxes via email. However, at least two times a month, I need to fax receipts - documents that are not computer files. So to use the email fax service, I would need some way to convert these documents into a computer file.

Alternately, there is a product called Magic Jack. This device plugs into a USB port on your computer and then you can plug any regular phone into it and make voice calls using your internet connection. It might be possible to get one of these devices and plug my fax machine into it and send faxes that way. Unfortunately, Magic Jack is not guaranteed to work with faxes, so it would be a hit-or-miss proposition if I went this route.

I do not have a scanner, so if I went the email fax route, I would need to buy one to convert my receipts into computer files to fax them. A scanner with an automatic document feeder (which I want because the typical real estate contract is 15 pages long and I don't want to manually feed all those pages) runs about $300. The eFax service runs $14.13 a month, which includes 130 pages of incoming faxes and 30 pages of outgoing faxes per month. I don't see myself ever going over those amounts. Magic Jack costs $40 for the first year and $20 a year after that, but there is the possibility it won't handle faxes.

If I went the eFax and scanner route, I would save $30.34 a month by eliminating my two landlines, which includes the monthly eFax fee and increased monthly alarm fee. That means the costs for the radio alarm installation and new scanner would be recovered after 14 months.

Does anyone know of any other fax sending options I might be overlooking?


Hawk said...

If you have a DSL line, then you can use the "other half" of that. For us the DSL line is a business expense so it's pretty much free.

Shaun said...

Nope. My internet connection is a cable modem, not DSL. Thanks though!

Anonymous said...

MyFax offers two cost effective options:

$10/month: 100 send/200 recieve with either a local or toll free number (eFax charges extra for toll free numbers)

and if your just sending:

MyFax Free:

It allows you to send up to 2 - 10 page faxes per day to domestically or internationally (41 countries.)

hope this helps

Shaun said...

Thanks! I am faxing to a toll free number, so this is useful advice!

Jonathan said...

I've used RapidFax for a while, $7.95 a month for light usage.

QBrain said...

I have used callwave's fax service for 8 years now. It is now $10/month for basic which I think covers what you want.

As for not needing a scanner. If you have an iPhone, check out Whiteboard Capture and maybe jotnot. Jotnot seems to target what you are trying to do, but I think Whiteboard Capture works better and there have been 4 updates since the original release a couple months ago, jotnot is brand new, so no idea how much work will go into it now.

Of course, you can do the same thing with a digital camera and a little processing.

Shaun said...

Thanks! I should have an iPhone again in a month or so and I'll check these out!

mobilehomegurl said...

I use a scanner - it's been a lifesaver! For the fax, been using jFax - $15 per month, it's not the cheapest but it's been reliable. Hope that helps!

la jolla real estate said...

How can i fax some papers using online service?

Shaun said...

That's why I am talking about getting a scanner. You would need to scan your paper into a pdf or gif or jpg file (the online fax services handle many file types), then submit that file to the online fax service.

ZenDarb said...

AccessLine has a voicemail and fax feature for $8.95 a month. I use that for all my tenant communications and faxing (along with a scanner and email). This setup has worked great for me (and the tenants do not have my personal number which is a plus!).

Shaun said...

I've got an iPhone now and have just tried the jotnot app. Looks like it will do exactly what I need! Not bad for 99 cents! Still working on setting up the web fax service. My alarm system is bwing switched to radio next week, so I'm well on my way to eliminating my land lines.

Jacquis said...

Interesting - I have thought about going land line free for a while now. That really helps.

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