16.02.2008
by Esa Turtiainen

I started a new venture and needed a fax.

Why? There is still plenty of offices where the fax is an official document. If you order products using fax, it is considered legally binding. And it makes your venture look good if you can tell a reliable fax number where to reach you.

I still don’t want a fax machine. I still have a landline telephone and the fax machines are cheap but it sounds quite stupid to have an extra box there.

After a quick survey I found PopFax.com. It is cheap (receiving 4 EUR/month with fixed local Fax number, sending 5c/page to most places in the world). Some other alternatives I found were twice as expensive.

So, I am now their customer. Still I have some reservations to recommend it for you. All the critical things work fine. Some others do not.

I have some problems on downloading faxes. It is not critical because they come nicely as email attachments and you can browse them in their web. But when I try to download one, it just tells that file is empty. I tried to debug this and Linux WGET reported some very weird SSL certificate incompatibility error. It likely works with Windows just because Widows is not very accurate in this kind of issues.

And when I asked some issues (actually many, many more than any other service I am using), it became immediately very clear that the help desk is in France. It is funny that the French attitude is very easily detectable: "we are very sorry to hear that you have not managed to use our perfect program but do try again - you certainly are able to solve your problem in that way." I have had many French colleagues in the past and this is exactly what they always say when there is a bug in their system. (Recommendable reading: "French or Foes".)

But, it sort of works. This was not the only problem but now I have a fax and don’t have one more stupid machine collecting dust at my office. And now I can send "signed" documents - if someone really thinks that this is more reliable than email.