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shadow hand contract signingCloud fax providers abound – just run a quick Google search on the term. Unfortunately, they make up for their inexpensive rates with labyrinthine, anti-consumer contracts. Even a “free trial” can turn into signing your soul away. Unless you like dealing with customer service that makes the cable company look good, you should read the fine print and look for online reviews before signing-up for what might look like a great value.

Fax is a secure, proven, and reliable way to send information. And people still need to send faxes – contracts, loan applications, and healthcare information need the security of fax. When you had an old desktop fax machine, the biggest worry was the paper and toner supply (and, of course, the wait). But the days of a fax machine on every desk (or in every department) have passed and increasingly people are choosing the ease and convenience of a cloud-based fax service, often called fax-to-email. There are many companies that will offer you this service but be careful who you select as there are many shady business-practices that these companies use to suck every last cent from you.

This article collects some of these shady business practices that are more akin to what you’d see on Game of Thrones than what you’d expect from a fax service provider that truly cares about their customers.

The Set-up Fee
Some fax service providers charge a ‘set-up’ fee to use their service. They will often tell you that this is a mandatory part of the process in setting up the account. Of course, this set-up fee is often buried in a Terms of Service (ToS) contract that almost no one reads. Most consumers are very unhappy to see this charge as it isn’t spelled-out as part of the service. In fact, there are some companies that will charge this to your credit-card when you sign-up for their “free trial.”

When you call to complain you will be told that “you are legally responsible for that fee as part of your Terms of Service that you agreed-with when you started using their service.” In short, it’s legal, they can do it, and there are NO REFUNDS.

You Can’t Cancel the Service
Many low-cost fax providers also make it next to impossible to cancel the service. To keep customers, they will make you go through hoops trying to wear you down. There are several ways to make this process very difficult for the consumer. The first is to require that all cancellations must be done over the phone. No email cancellations, no ‘cancel on the website’ or over chat. It must be done over the phone. Now because this isn’t listed anywhere except for their ToS, many people will simply email the company and assume that their service has stopped.

Unfortunately, it is only after seeing subsequent charges on their credit-card do they understand that this must be done by phone.

To make it more difficult, these companies often have limited customer service hours. As customer service isn’t a priority, the consumer often has to wait a long time to speak with someone or needs to be transferred to a different representative. If you wait for hours, are disconnected, routed to a busy signal, or have problems communicating with their support as they are not fluent in English, they don’t care. They know that legally they are covered and the longer they delay the more they can charge you.

Steep Increases in Per-Page Costs
It is common for fax service providers to offer a very low-cost per page for a certain number of pages. Once you go beyond that number of pages, the per-page cost can jump significantly. And, again, the customer never receives notification of the new pricing, it’s in the ToS. The only way they find out is when they call to dispute the charges on their bill. Then they are told that it was detailed in the ToS and there are no refunds.

Another method used to reach this high page price is to not roll-over unused pages. Now rollover is almost expected these days. If you don’t use it, then most customers expect that those unused pages will carry into the next month. Nope, they have to “use it or lose it.” Again, this nuance is not spelled out on the website but is buried in the ToS.

Yet, another method used to make the consumer “burn through pages” is to limit the size of the fax. Instead of sending out one big fax, you may have to split it into several smaller faxes.

Easy to Do Business With
At Biscom, we take pride in our customer service. We don’t play games – we make faxing work (easily). If you’re a small business or a global enterprise, our US-based customer support team cares about your problem and will solve it. No hidden fees listed deep in the ToS– just reliable faxing. In fact we have been recognized as a leader in customer service. So if you’re looking a transparent and trustworthy cloud-based fax service, do your research and choose Biscom.