The Shopping Club

Just the Fax

Good afternoon, Andrew.

Before we get off the subject of free phone-calling and move on to free Internet service providers (ISPs), I should mention the Web’s numerous free faxing services.
The best that I’ve found is Fax4Free.com, which gives you the ability to send and receive faxes from any PC with a Web connection. They require you to fill out a short form, and then assign you a fax number (mine is in the 801 area code, which is somewhere in Utah). When you receive faxes at that number, they are e-mailed to you as an attachment. You may then view the fax on your computer monitor or print it out. (Jfax.com and Efax.com also offer free fax-receipt services.)

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What sets Fax4Free.com apart is that you may send faxes as well. You just punch in the recipient’s fax number, create a simple cover sheet, attach the document you wish to send (in Microsoft Word format, for instance, or as a picture file), and in a few minutes it arrives–for free!--anywhere in the continental United States. (Jfax.com and Efax.com offer this service for a few dollars a month, but why bother?) You can’t send things like newspaper clippings or handwritten notes, but you can send more or less anything that exists on your computer in a digitized form.

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I spent an hour or so this morning sending documents from my Fax4Free.com account to my Efax.com account, for which, I suppose, I deserve hairy palms and blindness. The round trip–from my computer in Cambridge, Mass., to Fax4Free’s Internet fax machine (apparently in Utah), to my Efax.com number (508, somewhere in western Massachusetts), to my Hotmail account server (located in Redmond, Wash., maybe?), and back to my computer here in my apartment–took less than 10 minutes.

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In any event, Andrew, I look forward to hearing what you have to say about free ISPs. (For those who don’t know, an ISP–e.g., AOL, MSN, or Mindspring–allows you to connect to the Web through your computer modem. The service typically costs around $20 per month and you cannot surf the Internet without one.)

Also, I have given up wondering how all these companies are going to turn a profit on me. I have consumed at least $100 worth of free stuff so far this week, I estimate. Yet my only purchases have been a pair of corduroy slacks worth $50 (ordered online, but from a company that’s clothed me since long before the Web) and some groceries (off-line). Maybe advertisers have planted a bomb deep in my subconscious, and I’ll soon find myself purchasing eight cell phones and a food dehydrator on Angela Lansbury’s cue? Otherwise, I worry that I may disappoint some very generous advertisers.

Best of luck,
Bruce

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