Fax Authority is an independent website that publishes everything from basic “how to” guides and glossary information as well as reviews of products related to the fax market.
Our current policy for compensation when it comes to mentioning or reviewing a product or service in the fax market is as follows:
When we directly link to a product or service, it is usually with an affiliate link. This means that if you sign up or buy a product or service that we have reviewed, we may receive an affiliate commission at no additional cost to you.
We do not have ads on our site. We want a focus on the content of the site, and not on advertising.
We do not accept or solicit free product and/or services for review. Every service or product that we review we pay for. The only exception is Nextiva’s online fax service – we could not directly subscribe (we are in Canada and they do not allow subscriptions outside of the U.S.) – in this case, they gave us a free account and we sent a donation to a charity of their choice for the cost of the service.
We do not accept or solicit payment for conducting a review. We choose who is reviewed by our site from a number of criteria listed below.
We do not run sponsored stories. What we publish is at our discretion.
We are independently owned. We do not have an ownership stake in any product or service we review, and no products or service we review have an ownership stake in us.
How we choose services to review
Which services to include and which to exclude is one of our biggest challenges.
Some guidelines we have set for ourselves:
Our review process should be so transparent that anyone anywhere could use it as a template to evaluate a service we haven’t mentioned because we feel this way we can help as many people as possible. This way we can also help people in markets and countries and niches where we haven’t invested time yet.
We want to include brands that offer a range of budgets and features because we feel there should be something for 90% of people and 90% of budgets.
We don’t want to include too many brands because too much information can confuse the buying process. There are a lot of good services on the market that we don’t review.
We are biased towards reviewing larger companies because we think that they are less susceptible to a major interruption. Even if a large company goes bankrupt, operations are more likely to continue during the bankruptcy process. Smaller companies are great too – if you’re interested in one of them feel free to apply how we review a service to your choice to use one of them – they might be a better choice for your specific situation.
We don’t want a single company to have control of more than 1/2 of the brands we review because we want to offer a diverse set of options. Some companies own multiple brands in the same market, and that’s O.K., but we want to make sure we’re offering our readers multiple competitors. In markets outside of the U.S., this is usually not possible.
Just like everybody else, we are susceptible to marketing, advertising, and product pitches because we’re human too.
How we rate a service – basic functionality
Basic functionality rates our opinion on the basic functions of a service. It is qualitative and based on our opinion across 5 different categories (send, receive, archive, administrative, leaving).
We provide a separate review for Windows, Mac, Linux, and Smartphone (iPhone / Android) platforms.
The rating on our online fax service comparison page is a mix of Windows (2/3) and Smartphone (1/3) scores.
How easy is it to send a fax? (20%)
How is the process of sending a fax? Are there lots of difficult steps or a few easy ones?
Is the software clean and intuitive, or complicated and clunky?
How easy is it to receive a fax? (20%)
When a fax arrives for me, how well does it happen? Is it easy to get my fax, or is it more difficult than it needs to be?
Is it easy to get my fax, or is it more difficult than it needs to be?
How easy is it to access my old faxes? (20%)
If I want to look through old communication, can I do so? Is there anything in the way to prevent getting to older faxes?
Is looking at older faxes simple and intuitive, or awkward?
How are the policies for longer term storage of faxes?
How easy is it to set up the service and change administrative settings? (20%)
Most advanced features, as well as billing and administrative options, are an important part of the system.
An easier administrative experience makes for a better overall experience with the system.
How easy is it to leave? (20%)
If I want to take my saved faxes and go, how easy is it?
If I want to someday port my fax number somewhere else, can I?
Your contact information and data are some of your most important assets. We think that the ease of leaving a service makes it a better service.
How we rate a service – extra features
The “extra features” rating is entirely based on the number of extra features a service has.
To calculate this rating, we made a list of all the features that are available with an online fax service, and calculate a service’s number of features compared to the total number available in the market.
A service with every feature available on the market would score 5/5. A service with 40% of the total features available in the market would score 2/5.
The “extra features” section does not take into account how easy it a feature is to use or how well these features work – only that they are available.
Here is our complete list of features available. A multipler (x2, x3) next to the feature means that feature counts as multiple features in our feature count (as we see more of a market for some features).
List of features:
- More than 50 file formats
- Receive fax to printer or connected fax
- Send fax from scanner (including pull scan) or connected fax
- Cover sheet customization (x3)
- Enhanced security
- HIPAA support option
- Send from more than 1 email account
- Receive to more than 1 email account
- More than 10 recipients of a fax
- More than 50 recipients of a fax
- Toll free number option
- Vanity number option
- Unlimited fax storage
- Address book
- Address book outlook sync (x2)
- Dropbox, box, or google drive integration
- Electronic signature stamp (x3)
- Block junk faxes (x3)
- Desktop application
- Smartphone application
- Web application
- Fax to / from email
- SMS alert
- Integrate fax into phone plan
- Change transmission speed (x3)
- Charge code or tracking key field
What we don’t measure but include some notes in each review
The price of a service is not included in our rating. We consider the price of a service to be subjective to the buyer.
For some people, the cost of the most expensive item may be trivial. For other people, the cost of the least expensive item may be very big.
For some people, one small feature may have an incredibly high value, for others the same feature may be meaningless.
In our review pages, we summarize price and the features it comes with.
… Customer service
Customer service does not factor into our rating. We have thought more about how to properly include (or exclude) this category than any other category when it comes to our reviews.
Customer service – what we include
Instead of including customer service in our rating, we include a summary of customer service features and reviews across the internet.
With each review we write, we:
- List the customer service infrastructure (phone support hours, support types (phone, email, chat, etc.), and whether there is some sort of help manual/FAQ/knowledgebase)
- Post the number of complaints we’ve observed at small number of “review” websites
- Summarize any common themes we notice across those complaints
- Link to where we found the complaints.
We feel that using “review” websites to find common themes useful as it helps them prepare for some of the challenges that might exist with a service.
Customer service – we could try to base a customer service rating on infrastructure, but we don’t
Customer service infrastructure (support any hour of the day, lots of online resources, etc.) is helpful but doesn’t tell the whole story.
If we just measured how much customer service infrastructure a company has, a company that offered customer support 24 hours a day would rate better than a company that had limited hours. However, that ranking would be misleading because it would be no indication of the quality of support or length of hold times.
Customer service – we could try to base a customer service rating on our experience with support, but we don’t
We don’t feel we can accurately measure the quality of support. Our experience is unique, and would not give a broad enough sample size to be accurate.
We might call one company and get their best representative on the phone, and call another company and get their worst representative on the phone.
Another possibility is that a company might “white flag” our account as a reviewer account, and when we call in for support we get their absolute best customer service agent with no hold times every time.
If we wanted to gauge an “experience” with customer service accurately, we feel that we’d need a well developed “experience checklist” and about 30-50 calls per company to get to a resolution of a problem.
Customer service – we could try to base a customer service rating on aggregate complaints from “rating” and “review” sites, but we don’t
“Rating” and “review” sites can be helpful for looking for trends, however, we don’t feel we trust them enough to review a company’s customer service from them.
Here are some (but not all) reasons why:
- Everything else being equal, a larger company will naturally have more complaints than a smaller company as the larger one simply has more customers.
- People are more inclined to leave a negative review instead of a positive one. Looking only at negative reviews doesn’t tell the whole story of a company.
- Companies whose primary market are public consumers & small business will naturally have more reviews than companies whose primary market are medium and big businesses, as the first one will naturally have a greater number of customers.
- Companies may hire fake positive reviews to increase their rating
- Companies may hire fake negative reviewers to reduce someone else’s rating
- People who feel wronged by a company may make multiple complaints (or hire people to make multiple complaints) pretending to be multiple people, making the company appear to be more of a problem company than it is.
- People may exaggerate their problem or make misleading statements about the situation they’re complaining about.
- The company may have listened to complaints as feedback to fix a problem, but the perception of that problem still exists.
- It is difficult for a company to reply to a “rating” and “review” site and authenticate a specific customer and their problem, and resolve the problem through the review site.
- There are stories of review websites pushing businesses to pay for better reviews.
- There are stories of reviews staying positive years after a business goes out of business.
- There are allegations of better reviews for paying members.
- There are stories of “A” level ratings remaining for scams frauds shut down by the government, and even review websites giving ‘A’ ratings to a terror group.
What we don’t measure and don’t include
What is each feature worth? that’s up to you.
Some people will find that one small feature available on only one service is worth 100 times the service’s cost. Those “killer app” features are sometimes unique to one customer or one niche of the market.
Other people will just want to send and receive a basic fax once a month, and don’t care about 99% of the features available on the market.
We feel that value is too subjective to each user to attempt to include it in a ranking.
… Transmission speed or quality
We don’t include the speed and quality of the fax transmissions in our ratings.
Transmission speed and quality should be consistent across fax transmissions. With fax technology, if the quality of the transmission drops, then the fax should not complete.
… Frequency of “faxes not completed” or “fax errors”
We don’t include a measurement of the ratio of successful to unsuccessful fax transmissions. We feel that there are too many variables to do this accurately.
To analyze this properly, we feel we’d need over 30 anonymous accounts with each provider, as we as 5-10 different fax lines to test a transmission with. Transmission sizes and times would have to be coordinated. We don’t plan on doing this type of analysis.
… Fax line availability
We have no way of measuring line availability with a fax provider.
We don’t expect any fax service to have the same number of physical fax lines as it does clients.
For example, a fax service may keep 10 lines for 100 clients. Not all clients are using the service at the same time (let’s be honest, most people have a fax line for occasional use instead of regular use).
During very busy times, the number of lines being used may exceed the number of available lines with that service provider. At these times, incoming faxes may get a busy signal, and outgoing faxes may be temporarily withheld until lines become available.
We have no way of measuring the ratio of fax lines to customers across different providers.