- Core functions (email and web based faxing) run well
- Large variety of extra features
- Brand name in the market
- Wide selection of geographic numbers
- Good international coverage
- Custom Cover Pages
- Signature Stamp
- Higher than Industry Price Point
- Some functions can only be done through eFax Messenger
- eFax Messenger for Mac is dated
- Possible concerns about billing & cancellation customer service practices
- Review Summary
- Table of Contents
- Full eFax Review
- Our eFax Plan Specifics
- Core Online Faxing Features
- Software Interface and Usability
- Extra Features
- Customer Service
- Individual Ratings
Supplementary eFax Review Guides
eFax Comparison Guides
eFax’s internet based faxing service lets users send and receive faxes over email, their web browser, eFax’s messenger program, and Smartphone applications. The system has a long history in the industry, and is seen as one of the true “name brands” in the market.
In this review, we will measure eFax’s online fax service against other services in the market by putting every single detail to the test. Read on to find out if this fax service is for you.
- eFax Plus
- $12.95 / month
- Send 150 pages / month free
- Receive 150 pages / month free
- Additional Pages within faxing zone10c each
- Toll Free Number
- Unlimited Online Fax Storage
- Faxing Zone in USA, Canada, and 40 Other Countries. Extra long distance to other countries.
- Microsoft Office and Outlook Integration
This category includes an evaluation of the basics of sending and receiving faxes and core features of the eFax service.
eFax allows for sending a fax through email, your web browser, and eFax’s own software – eFax Messenger.
All three have the same basic functions – the ability to send a number of different file formats together to a fax machine.
Sending a Fax through Email
eFax makes sending a fax through email about as easy as it possibly could.
Simply prepare an email the same way you would normally, attach any documents you want faxed, and send the fax to the fax number you want to dial with [email protected] at the end of the fax number (for example, [email protected]).
Press send on your email, and eFax will turn your email into a fax – the subject and any other “meta” information such as your sender name and fax number will be turned into the proper fields of the cover page of the fax, while the subject and body of the email will be turned into the subject and body of the fax cover page.
As long as the documents attached are of the file formats that eFax accepts (there are over 63 different types at last count), eFax will automatically turn them into the fax that is sent – there’s no need to adjust or edit or move the files into different file types or one large document – all files will be sent as one continuous fax.
Emails can be drafted and saved just like any other email, and when sending to multiple users you are able to insert multiple fax numbers and also multiple email addresses – a good benefit for somebody who frequently sends to mixed groups of people.
While eFax offers special integration with Outlook and other Microsoft Office products, an email can be sent directly from any email program on any operating system, or web based email systems such as Gmail, Hotmail / Livemail, Yahoo Mail, etc.
eFax does a good job in putting as much functionality as can be put into the relatively straightforward ability to send directly from an email address to a fax number.
Video Tutorial – Sending a Fax through Email
Sending a Fax Through the Web Interface
eFax’s web interface is built to be a central place to manage faxes, both for sending and receiving faxes.
The web interface does a good job of allowing the user to send faxes, with an interface that is comparable to the functionality of a web based email system such as Gmail / Hotmail / Yahoo Mail.
Just like in sending through an email, the online interface allows the user to put in the sender’s information and a subject and message for the cover page, and that information will be transferred over to the cover page that gets sent to the sender.
Attachments are uploaded to the web interface (just as simple as attaching a document to an email) and eFax will translate all the necessary information from the documents over to the fax as it is sent through their systems.
Video Tutorial – Sending a Fax through the Web Interface
Sending a Fax through eFax Messenger
The eFax Messenger program is the third way to send faxes.
For sending faxes, the program runs fairly simply – simply start the program, choose send a fax, then fill in the necessary information (it’s as simple as sending an email).
Just like with the web interface and sending an email, eFax places all the information into the proper fields on the cover sheet, and then pulls all the attached documents together into one fax transmission.
eFax messenger also lets you pull contacts from your eFax contact database or a synchronized contact database on your computer – so if you manage your contacts through Outlook (for example) you are able to pull that contact information into a fax that you are sending to.
One neat part of eFax messenger is the ability to send a fax directly from a scanner. This is reviewed in a later part of this review, but happens through the eFax messenger program and is covered in this section’s video.
Video Tutorial – Sending a Fax through eFax Messenger
Receiving a Fax with eFax is simple and straightforward – when you are sent a fax, you are automatically emailed a copy of it to your email, and there is also another copy store in your eFax accout’s web interface.
Oddly, we can find no way to access our faxes from the eFax messenger program – it appears to be only for sending faxes and changing some options and features in the account.
Receiving a Fax through Email
When you are faxed you receive a copy of the fax in your email, either in PDF, TIFF, or EFX (eFax’s custom file type) format.
From here you can treat the fax just like you would any other email – you can forward it as an email, edit and sign the document and fax it back, or anything else you want to do with it – the fax is now for all intensive purposes a computer file just like any other.
The system works well, and is simple and straightforward. Any email address that is authorized to receive a fax will get a copy of any faxes sent to your fax number.
Receiving a Fax through the Web Interface
When you are sent a fax, you will also have a copy of the fax arrive in your eFax web interface. From here you can access all the faxes in your account, so if you are travelling or away from your main email, you can still access your faxes.
The web interface works quite straightforward, and is easy to work with. Files are downloaded in the same format as in email (PDF, TIFF, or EFX).
Video Tutorial – Receiving a Fax with eFax
Software Ease of Use
Overall, we find all of eFax’s systems functional. We find that they do what is required, and do it quite well.
The email program is fairly straightforward and does everything that is asked.
The web interface and eFax messenger are functional but not as intuitive or run as clean as other providers in the internet fax market. The messenger software seams a bit dated, and the web interface a bit slow and not intuitive – while we are always able to find what we are looking for, if we haven’t used the system in a while sometimes it takes a few clicks to find it.
While all of the features are there, we find that some options need to be changed in the eFax messenger program (custom cover pages, signature setup, etc.) while others can only be changed in eFax’s web interface – we would have preferred that all functions such as cover pages and signatures were available in both the web interface and the messenger program.
Integration with other Systems
eFax is well integrated with the Microsoft Office Suite as well as Star Office and Open Office.
Operating System Support
eFax has integrated its systems so that he majority of day to day functions can be done either through email or the web interfaces.
- Microsoft Windows
- Mac OSX – Web Interface and Email Only
- Linux – Web Interface and Email Only
- Blackberry – Web Interface and Email Only
Windows users will be at home with the service, however Mac or Linux users may need to access eFax messenger through a Windows based operating system. As editing cover pages and setting signatures can only be done through the eFax Messenger program, Mac and Linux users who are intent on using these functions of the service may be disappointed.
One feature we love on eFax is the ability to scan directly to a fax.
One of the reasons people love fax machines is that they’re very easy to quickly send a message – in two steps, one can put a document in a fax, dial a number, and have it sent – while with a computer scanning and emailing can take 5 or more steps, even more if sending a multiple page document and using a scanner that doesn’t have a document feeder (meaning you have to scan each page separately by hand).
With the eFax messenger program, you can send a fax from your scanner much like you would send a fax from a fax machine – put the document in the scanner, put the information of where you want to send your fax to into the eFax messenger program, and it will scan and fax the document in a minimal number of steps.
The Scan to Fax feature is fully covered in the later part of our video on Sending a Fax from eFax Messenger.
The ability to make and edit custom cover pages is a benefit to people who want their own “look”.
EFax comes with a number of preset cover pages, but the editable pages give you the ability to have complete control over the appearance of the entire document, including where each field is placed.
The system comes with a small learning curve but once it is in place it is quite easy to get the hang of. Pictures and graphics (such as company logos) can be easily imported, and users can make a quick change to an existing cover page template.
One of the major reasons that people fax regularly is because in many cases it’s the easiest way to get a copy of a signed document sent from one place to another.
eFax has a feature that will let you upload a copy of your signature to the service, so that you can sign documents from your eFax program or your Smartphone – great for an “on the go” person who’s frequently signing and returning documents to different locations, or someone who’s just looking for a bit of extra convenience.
eFax fax service in the USA provides free service to all service to all states in the USA. Included in this cover is more than 40 additional countries that are at the same local rate as the US. International faxing to further countries is available at rates that are reasonable (roughly comparable to long distance telephone costs to each country, estimating 1 minute per page of transmission time).
At this time, eFax offers fax numbers in 3,500 cities in 46 countries around the world.
eFax has probably the best set of international numbers and service of any online fax provider we’ve seen.
There are two core security features in eFax
The first is the ability to have faxes not come through your email whatsoever. You can change the feature so that when you receive a fax, you only receive a notice in your email that you’ve received a fax, instead of receiving the whole fax. This will make your system more secure, as you can only access your faxes inside of the eFax web interface.
The second is the ability to have each fax arrive password encrypted. To do this you will need to change the fax format to EFX, however it is one way to reduce the chance that someone sees an important fax.
eFax gives you the ability to authorize 5 email addresses for each number to send from and receive faxes to. A good benefit for people with multiple email addresses, home based users that are replacing a fax machine, or smaller offices that want to share one fax number among employees.
eFax also offers the ability to have large file sharing – for faxes over 10mb in size, the program directs you the a large file sharing feature.
This will let you upload your files to a special server, then share the link to the files to the person you want to send them to. While this is different than sending a fax, it is a nice extra for people who have the occasional large file that they want to share that’s too large to send over a fax.
eFax has specific Smartphone applications for iPhone and Android based phones.
eFax will work on other Smartphones such as Blackberry, Windows Phone, Palm OS, and Symbian OS devices, however the function will be strictly through the email interface – receiving a fax through the regular email system as eFax turns that fax into email, and sending a fax by sending an email through eFax’s fax system.
For Android and iPhone applications, the application is small and simple, giving users the ability to send,view, and sign faxes.
eFax provides a good support system with customer service and technical support, and has been recognized by a number of industry leaders such as PC Magazine, Forbes, and the LA Business Journal. Feeback from “consumer reivew” sources indicate that a consumer should have questions about billing & cancellation policies at the organization.
Resources and Availability
Customer Service and Technical Support Availability
Customer service resources are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Technical support includes a full FAQ and ticketing system.
Online Customer Service Reputation
As we consider it impossible to truly “gague” an organization’s reputation, (customer ratings and reviews can be inaccurate or easily faked, and are often more tilted towards customers venting), we prefer to look closely at the major “themes” that we see across comments of a provider. This is a summary of some of them.
Better Business Bureau
(as listed under j2 Global, Inc., eFax’s parent organization)
As of the writing of this review, the Better Business Bureau lists j2 Global, Inc. (eFax’s parent company) as a C+ on a scale from A+ to F
j2 Global / eFax has a reputation for responding to complaints, having responded to 99.8% of complaints filed with the BBB.
Of the complaints filed, 18.7% were in regards to Advertising / Sales issues, 54.6% were in regards to Billing / Collection Issues, 26.4% were in regards to Problems with the Product or Service, and 0.2% were about Delivery Issues, and 0% about Guarantee / Warranty Issues
Epinions lists eFax has having an average review of 1 1/2 stars out of 5 out of 208 reviews. The majority of the 1 and 2 star complaints appear to be in regards to billing issues, and mostly directed towards a process that is in the opinion of the reviewers, difficult to cancel.
There are 82 reports filed with the term “eFax” at Ripoff Report (some are directed not at the company, but at other companies who the consumer has labeled as an “eFax” provider). The major theme across the reports is difficult billing and cancellation processes.
eFax has been a recipient of a number of awards in different areas, ranging from technology, software, profitability, and others.
List of Awards given to eFax and J2 Global (eFax’s parent corporation)
- eFax – PC Magazine Editor’s Choice Award (2011)
- LA’s Largest Public Companies (J2 Global, Inc.) – Los Angeles Business Journal 2006 – 2010
- Most Profitable Companies – Los Angeles Business Journal 2007 and 2010
- 20 Largest Telecom Providers – Los Angeles Business Journal 2009 2010
- Masters of Technology – Information Week – 2010
- Forbest 100 Best Small Companies in America 2010
- Send 150 pages a month
- Receive 150 pages a month
- Includes Fax Number
- Lifetime archiving of faxes
- Free Setup
- 30 day Trial
Above the plan’s pages a month, extra faxes sent to the countries considered in eFax’s “Local” system (USA, Canada, and about 40 other countries) are 10 cents per page.
Pages sent to countries outside of the main 40 country block are billed at a rate that we find is about the same per page as one minute of long distance to that country.
Each page received above the plan’s minimums are 10 cents per page.
Hidden or Extra Costs
We can find no evidence of hidden or extra costs with eFax’s system – there appear to be no hidden “welcome” fees or exit fees.
One item that a consumer should take note is that eFax has a clause that fax pages taking more than 1 minute to transmit may be billed extra time. While this is slightly different from other providers, and something to be aware of, we can find no example of widespread complaint about this policy. The most likely cause of a fax taking longer would be a graphically intense diagram.
Home User Scenario (Light User)
Home user scenario:
10 pages a month sent, 15 pages a month received.
For a small volume home user, this minimum volume would stay well under the monthly minimums, and would most likely pay the minimum each month.
This user would budget approximately $12.95 / month.
Consultant (Medium User)
200 pages a month sent, 50 pages a month received.
For a consultant (medium user), mostly sending signed contracts back and forth, the sending volume would be slightly over the monthly minimum.
This user would budget approximately $17.95 / month, for plan minimum as well as the extra 50 pages sent for the month.
Health Professional (Heavy User)
Health Professional Scenario:
250 pages a month sent, 250 pages a month received.
For the high volume user, they would see some cost overages as they would be over the minimums in both cases.
This user would budget approximately $32.95 per month, for the plan minimum as well as the extra 100 pages sending and 100 pages receiving.
International Salesperson (International User)
International Salesperson Scenario:
200 pages a month sent, 200 pages a month received. 1/4 of volume is to and from the United States, 1/4 to and from Brazil, 1/4 to and from Italy, 1/4 to and from Sri Lanka (countries picked to emulate a mixed set of countries on different continents)
For this user, the USA, Brazil, and Italy are al within the “Local” Calling range. The additional 50 pages sent and 50 pages received to and from Sri Lanka would be at a rate of $0.29/page, or $29, for a total cost of $41.95 / month.
Overall, we like eFax’s online faxing service and what it is capable of.
When it comes to core faxing services, the software performs all functions well even if the software is starting to look and feel dated. Feature lovers will find that eFax covers off most of the features they will need.
Bargain hunters and people who need handheld customer service, however may find that there are other options that are better suited to their needs.
eFax is a serious contender in the internet faxing market, and some of the extra features of the package can well be worth the cost for specialized applications.
- Core Online Faxing Features 4/5
- Extra Online Faxing Features 5/5
- Online Fax Interface and Software Usability 3/5
- Customer Service 3/5
- Pricing 2/5
Final Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
View Supplements to this Guide:
Supplementary eFax Guides
eFax Comparison Guides and Fax Services
More Online Fax Services: