Tuesday pet peeve: for fax sake!

I really, really, really hate fax machines.

Seriously, why is anyone still using them now that we have scanners and email? I’m sure they came in very useful in that brief period between their invention and the internet becoming mainstream, but they’re vastly inferior to email in almost every way. And yet I’ve dealt with two companies and one individual this month who insisted on conducting our business by fax.

Here’s why I hate fax machines:

Sending faxes sucks
Every machine in our building is different – some require a 9 for an outside line, others don’t. Some require a 1 before even a local number, others don’t. Some accept the original face down, others, face up: some, right way up, others, upside down.

Even assuming that you’ve got the original in the right orientation, and dialled the right combination of numbers, successful transmission is not guaranteed. Sometimes you hit a dual-use fax/phone line, and the person picks up and says hello – so you have to try again. Sometimes you lose the connection halfway through transmission. The machine in our office doesn’t automatically print reports or otherwise indicate its status, so you have to manually go into the various menus to get it to print out a report telling you if your document transmitted or not.

Even when the document sends properly, how can you be sure the right person received it? I don’t know a single person who has their own machine; even friends who have their own business or are otherwise self-employed don’t have a fax machine. So the document goes to the shared office machine, whether it’s work-related or not, where it might get lost, or picked up by the wrong person (hello, security risk?)

Receiving faxes sucks
On the frequent occasions that our office machine has been busily printing spam, it runs out of paper. Since it’s hidden away in the corner and NO-ONE IN THEIR RIGHT MIND USES A FAX MACHINE ANY MORE, it can take hours or even days for someone to notice and add fresh paper. And then there’s the risk that someone else will pick up your item by accident, or spot something private (two of my recent faxing escapades were work-related, the other was/is private* – but I don’t have my own fax machine, so the shared office machine it is).

That fax noise really, really sucks
Could they not have come up with a better noise than that (you know the one I mean) to indicate a successful connection?

Please, please, please, let me just scan the damn thing and email it to you. That way I know it’s going to the right person. And please, please, please, if you must fax personal items to me, call and let me know so I can a) put paper in the machine and b) ensure that my PRIVATE correspondence is seen only by me.

A plague of fax noise and invaded privacy upon those who insist on using fax machines!

And let’s not even get started on the fact that I had to MAIL a CHEQUE to one of these people! Forget PayPal, he/she doesn’t even take credit cards!!!

*nothing, like, medical, embarrassing, or career-threatening. But something personal enough that I don’t want my office mates to see it. Inevitably, one of them did, and started to ask questions…

About Cath@VWXYNot?

"one of the sillier science bloggers [...] I thought I should give a warning to the more staid members of the community." - Bob O'Hara, December 2010
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10 Responses to Tuesday pet peeve: for fax sake!

  1. chall says:

    I know. Although I have to say that faxing sometimes has an advantage (I recently had to mail a reimbursement claim to my insurance company and then atlked to them on the hpone… they stated they only had one claim, but I mailed two, so I faxed the second one within the next few minutes and they got it and started processing it.) I guess it has to do with that "signature" thing that has to go in the bottom of the claim and that I can't do in my computer. (And I don' have a scanner.)Apart from that, I am all there with you 🙂 And especially the "email or call me BEFORE the fax so I can pick it up".hope the rest of the tuesday goes better!!

  2. Cath@VWXYNot? says:

    Well, I suppose if you don't have a scanner… ;_

  3. Massimo says:

    I could not agree more. Over the past few years each time I am asked to provide a fax number I decline, saying that I do not have a fax machine. I asked the person to scan and send it by e-mail.

  4. Cath@VWXYNot? says:

    I tried that… apparently this person does not have a computer.

  5. The Ridger, FCD says:

    Seriously? Who cares if the page is upside down (top to bottom, I mean, not blank side)? How can that possibly make a difference? It's a piece of paper!

  6. Cath@VWXYNot? says:

    But if it's the wrong way up, it won't match the info that the receiving machine prints onto the top and/or bottom of the incoming fax. That offends my perfectionist sensibilities – and is another thing that never happens with an email!

  7. The Ridger, FCD says:

    Unless of course when they scan it, they scan the pages both ways, which I get a lot of. That's annoying, having to keep rotating the view.

  8. Silver Fox says:

    I have one of those fax/printer/scanners and have never tried to connect it as a fax machine. I think fax machines are alright – *IF* you are in an office using it for office stuff and there is someone who always remembers how they work.I will have to FAX something to someone this coming week because they don't have an online form for me to fill out (or I'll have to print and scan and email), and to do that I will walk downtown and pay someone some money (maybe, maybe I can do it by phone, which will still probably require some kind of hard copy to be faxed or mailed). Yuck.

  9. Cath@VWXYNot? says:

    Ridger, I haven't come across that one myself! How rude!SF, isn't it a pain? If I were you, I'd scan and email!

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