Thursday, March 12, 2009

Why Do Fax Machines Still Exist?

Earlier today I was putting together a few forms and receipts to send over to my company's old Flexible Spending Account provider for tax purposes.  The super fast printer/scanner in my office does a great job of instantly scanning several documents into a bundled PDF that's emailed to me.  As I'm about to draft an email and attach the PDF I check the website and realize that there is NO EMAIL ADDRESS to use to send the information.  Instead they want you to mail it (oh hell no) or f-ff-fffax it!?!?  

Ok, fax machines were pretty cool back in the '80s before Adobe Acrobat and email came around.  It was actually kind of fun hearing the alien noise at the other end of the line when the call connected.  The advent of the fax allowed paper documents to be magically beamed across the country over regular telephone lines.  When Albert Gore came along and invented the internet, we instantly had another method for transferring information (email).  In one of the most underrated technological advancements of the 1990's, Adobe (now an official partner of my company) developed the .PDF data format in 1993.  The Portable Data Format allowed images and text to be embedded in a lightweight medium consisting of a very minimal file size.  People now had the ability to print directly to PDF and send documents over the internet without the need for dialing out to another fax machine.  

We're now closing in on 2010 and I find myself severely annoyed that companies still rely on this outdated communication medium.  Adobe Acrobat is free for anyone to download and is installed on the vast majority of computers in today's online world.  Instead of being able to simply email my receipts and forms to the FSA provider, I have to copy down the fax number, prepare a god damn cover sheet (lame), go locate one of the few fax machines in my office (none exist on my floor), figure out again how to dial an outside line, wait for the alien noise, marvel at the excruciatingly slow scan speed that all fax machines possess and finally wait for the stupid confirmation message to print out so I make sure the documents were delivered properly.  And once all that's done, I need to hope that my fax is ultimately delivered to the proper person in the office of the FSA provider. 

In short, there is no need for anyone to buy/use a fax machine anymore (I checked, and they still sell a lot of them at  They should all be burned (err recycled) and made to suffer the same fate of Betamax (and VHS) tapes.


Anonymous said...

I would like to point out that the instructions on the form specifically said not to put a cover sheet. So, I'm sorry you wasted your time with that.

Anonymous said...

Seriously. Im not even sure why I have to freakin sign the form for such little stuff. Down with the FAX.

Anonymous said...

I think TPS reports need to be faxed.