Fax Over Internet: Still Around

This is a bit old, but I hadn’t noticed, so perhaps some of Loose Wire’s Asia-based readers hadn’t either: j2Global Communications, provider of the eFax Internet fax service, have this year started offering local toll-free numbers in Asia — well at least in Manila and Singapore. It says it’s planning to add numbers in Malaysia soon.

This means you offer customers, bosses, spouses, friends, colleagues or whoever local numbers in those countries to cut down on fax and voicemail costs. The press release says the company has a regional footprint now encompassing Australia, Hong Kong, Japan, New Zealand, the Philippines and Singapore, although I can’t see anything on their sign-up page that suggests offering Hong Kong yet. (Australia offers three cities, New Zealand one and Japan two. J2 says they’re continuing to pursue our vision of providing customers with local fax and/or voicemail numbers in as many cities as possible around the world.

The service costs $15 a month, with a $15 set-up fee. Incoming faxes are free, outgoing cost 10 cents a page, wherever they go. There is a free version available, where you can recieve faxes only: The only numbers available for that service, I believe, are in the U.S. I have not been overly impressed with the eFax service in the past, but it’s good to see local Asian numbers appearing in a service like this.

The End Of Free Faxing?

What’s up with eFax, also known as j2, the (supposedly) free Internet fax people?

I received an email from j2 Global Communications today that said

Dear Jeremy,

Your account has been suspended and your eFax number 1-973-215-1210 is no longer accepting faxes.

If you wish to keep your eFax account, you may upgrade and reactivate your account immediately by using the following link.

If you do not reactivate your account by 12/16/2004, it will be closed and your eFax number will be reassigned to another user.

If you have recently upgraded your account, thank you, and please disregard this notice.

Sincerely, The eFax Free Team

Um. Now, I may have missed something along the line. eFax send out ‘third party ads’ to support the service so I tend to let all the junk emails they send me go into a spam bin [see note below on altered text]. So I may have missed a crucial email. But I can’t see anything in this email that explains why they’ve canceled my free account and why I suddenly have to upgrade ($13 ‘one time setup fee’ [sic] and $13 a month for the number).

Now of course I’m not a suspicious individual, so I’m assuming this has absolutely nothing to do with the almost simultaneous announcements of “the immediate availability of its eFax® service in three additional languages” (Spanish, German and French, in addition to existing services in English and Dutch) and today’s press release that “j2 Global Communications, Inc. (Nasdaq: JCOM), the provider of outsourced, value-added messaging and communications services, today announced the availability of eFaxSecure, a new service for its eFax Corporate(R) customers”.

I’m not supposing for a second that these announcements, which make no mention of any free services the company offers, or the apparent suspension of some of those services, are intended to cover up scrapping any such services (were any scrapping to have taken place). Nor would I dream of taking a closer look at whether a NASDAQ-listed company is supposed to alert investors to the suspension of discontinuation of services (were any discontinuation to have taken place) as much as the addition of new ones.

Still, if it is the end of free Internet faxing, it’s a shame. I never really used it that much these days, but it was nice to put on namecards. Perhaps with the rapid spread of VoIP services, these kind of things were anachronism anyway. I might see what their PR folk have to say about all this in any case, just to see whether I’ve got the wrong end of the stick.