We researched several online faxing vendors, including their plans and features. We began by compiling a list of vendors. In addition to the service providers we were already familiar with, we added vendors we found in our research, those that regularly appeared on other reputable online lists and reviews, and companies that reached out to us asking to be considered for review.
Next, we went to each vendor's website, noting their features and pricing structures. When available, we took advantage of trial periods, watched product demos and tutorials, and sent sample faxes to gain firsthand experience of the service. We eliminated companies whose plans contained lots of hidden fees and/or that charged exorbitant over-limit fees.
For the next phase of our research, we reached out to our finalists, posing as a potential customer. We posed a series of questions to customer service reps from each company, noting the quality of service we received.
To arrive at our final determination, we considered which companies offered the best balance of affordability, robust features and ease of use. Here are the criteria we used to evaluate each online fax software provider:
- Pricing structure. We looked for faxing services that offered a variety of plans, making them accessible to businesses with a range of faxing needs and budgets.
- Fax limits and overage fees. In nearly every instance, vendors offer multiple plans with different limits regarding the numbers of pages a user can send or receive. The higher the service tier, the more frequently faxes can be transmitted. Along with the page limit, nearly every company charges an overage fee if more faxes are sent or received than the number allotted in the plan.
- Features. We specifically looked for features that make it easier to send and receive faxes, such as scheduled delivery, electronic signature, the ability to edit documents, the option of sending faxes to multiple recipients simultaneously and integration with modern software suites.
- International and toll-free faxing. Around the world, faxes are still used. Some fax services will sell you a fax number in a foreign country; most services, though, let you send international faxes for a small fee. Many services offer toll-free faxing, which is an added bonus for your clients and customers if you frequently fax documents back and forth.
- Mobile access. Most business people never go anywhere without their cellphones. We sought out services that either offer their own mobile app or allow users to send and receive faxes through a web browser.
- Ease of use. In addition to convenient features and fair pricing, we prized services that had an simple, intuitive interface. We relied on product demos and trial versions to determine how easy it was to send and receive a fax.
One major trend in the online faxing industry is consolidation. J2 Global has acquired more than a dozen online fax brands. During our research, we came across numerous consumer complaints about unfair billing practices, poor customer service and almost scam-like practices, which have led to J2 Global and its holdings receiving an F rating from the Better Business Bureau. Customers report similar problems on Consumer Affairs and the Complaints Board.
While some of these subsidiary companies are listed below on our vendor's list, in each case, we have noted their parent company and eliminated them from consideration as a best pick.
If you're considering using one of these services, carefully research whether or not the company is the best option for your business.