Waiting for Fax Machines to Die

I ordered a piece of professional sound equipment online from a company in New York today. A few minutes after I placed the order, one of their sales reps sent me an email with a PDF form for me to fill out and sign and fax back to them. They also wanted a copy of the back and front of my credit card. It’s something the company has to do with all international orders. When did Canada become international? Anyway…

I called up a friend who’s ordered from the company before and asked him if it’s safe to give the company a copy of my credit card. He said it’s normal procedure when setting up an account with the company. I said okay, fine (though I don’t like it and I plan to cancel the card as soon as the order goes through).

But here’s my problem: I don’t have a fax machine. Why can’t I just scan the signed form and the credit card and send it to them as a PDF? But I play nice and fill in the form, scan my credit card and print it, and then I go down to the local drug store and pay $2.50 a page to send the fax to New York.

Then I come home and email the sales rep to tell him I just sent the fax. He replies to say the fax of the credit card isn’t clear. Could I send a clearer copy? What does he expect from a photocopy of a physical object (my credit card) sent through a fax machine? Doesn’t everything look like crap once it’s faxed anyway? How am I supposed to sharpen the image on a fax?

Eventually I get around to creating a PDF of the scanned credit card and emailing it to the sales rep. He agrees to accept it after I convinced him there’s nothing else I can do. I tell him to let me know if the printed PDF is clear enough for him. Half an hour later he tells me it’ll work. I’ll post the name of the company later if it turns out they’ve taken liberties with my credit card information. So…

I have some questions:

1) Why would a company need a faxed photocopy of my credit card? I’ve never heard of that before, but apparently it’s an accepted practice. Which it might be, but I’ll never do it again.

2) Why can’t I email a scanned copy of a signed form? It takes ten seconds to open a file and print it. How is that any worse than a fax? Wouldn’t it result in a much higher quality document? Why wouldn’t anyone want a scanned document over a faxed version?

3) Why can’t I scan a form and fax it through my computer? I can use my computer to call land line telephones or any phone for that matter. Why can’t I call a fax machine and have it accept a scanned document?

4) Why the hell does anyone still use a fax machine?

About Phillip

Phillip Cairns is a beekeeper in St. John's, Newfoundland, who writes about beekeeping at mudsongs.org.

4 Replies to “Waiting for Fax Machines to Die”

  1. When my lawyer needs me to fax something with my signature, a scanned PDF emailed to him satisfies legal requirements (in Ontario)

  2. Why can’t one just superimpose a signature on documents? I could scan my signature once, make a file, and paste it or photshop it anywhere I want. A signature doesn’t mean shit. I don’t need to print, sign, and then scan. I just need to edit and print. Or, just edit and email. Really, if you have a landline phoneline plugged into your computer’s old modem (if you don’t have some new-fangled completly modem-less computer), you can just fax to a number with an application that I’m pretty sure has been included with Windows for a grip.

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