UPDATE: Receiving faxes with Callcentric, or not

This is an update to my April, 2009 post about using Callcentric to receive incoming faxes.

Back in April, I recommended using Callcentric’s fax reception feature as a cost-effective way to receive incoming faxes. In the past few days, I have had several people report that they were unable to send me faxes; both senders received messages related to poor line condition after a failure to transmit faxes to me. This seemed unusual since both fax machines are connected to regular phone lines (ie: no VoIP problems to blame) and both faxes were able to transmit faxes to other machines without issue. Additionally, each fax machine is in a different state and connected to a different telephone provider, making issues with service on the other end seem unlikely.

I started by looking for help on Callcentric’s web site to make sure I was not doing something wrong. During my search, I found this page on Callcentric’s site that states that fax reception is currently unsupported, but it sounded to me like perhaps only receiving faxes to regular machines connected to a VoIP telephone adapter were unsupported. When I wrote my post in April, the warning about fax reception was not on the page.

Unfortunately, Callcentric support has confirmed that any fax reception using their service is unsupported at this time, though they continue to tweak the service regularly; even faxes received using Callcentric’s own fax-to-PDF function (what I was using) are unsupported as of this moment.

Boo. Hiss. According to Callcentric’s support team, the fax reception feature is still being developed fully and they are unable to say when they might support fax reception again.

3 Responses to “UPDATE: Receiving faxes with Callcentric, or not”

  1. […] UPDATED 2009/06/21 – Read my important update […]

  2. Thank you for posting this article update. I’m glad to see someone discussing what is going on.

    I began researching Callcentric in December for my phone and fax needs. I spent a significant amount of time communicating with a representative to ensure that their system would do everything I needed it to do before I opened an account with them. No issue with receiving faxes was ever even hinted at during that time. Yet, when I tried to send a fax to my Callcentric number (from a landline fax machine) it would not go through. I tried four times.

    I contacted Callcentric support and they asked me to explain exactly what happened while trying to send a fax to my Callcentric number (even though I did that in the trouble ticket) just to turn around and tell me that the Callcentric fax was unsupported. They never looked into the problem to see what was wrong or if I simply needed to modify a setting somewhere in my Callcentric account. Yet, when I signed up, the Callcentric web site said (and still says as of 1/6/2010) that fax is supported:

    “Can I send and receive faxes with my Callcentric account?

    “Yes you can. If you only wish to only receive faxes we actually have a very convenient fax reception feature. This feature allows you to receive faxes and then send them to a configured email address, or you can download them right from your My Callcentric account.
    . . .
    “If you do not have a hardware UA or wish to receive your faxes on a computer/software you should make sure that your default/preferred codec is set to G.711 or if supported T.38.

    “If you are having problems with sending/receiving faxes you can always contact us for further assistance.

    “*Please read the detailed information regarding Callcentric’s support of IP faxing (FoIP) below:

    “Technically we support fax using either the T.38 protocol or transparently with G.711. However, both largely depend on the reliability/stability of your internet connection. An internet connection with regular packet loss, high latency (ping) to our servers, and/or jitter (large variations in the latency) will cause problems for faxing. While we do support it, and it does work – we can’t tell you how reliable it will be on your internet connection without you actually trying it. We have a number of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) that address your internet connection quality, speed, and such . . . .”

    Even though none of the four faxes went through (they did not go through on the sending fax machine or register on my Callcentric Dashboard), my Callcentric account was charged. When I asked for a credit for the failed faxes, the response I received was that I my account would not be credited because fax is not supported. Now I have a fax service and no fax capability. For the most part, I’ve seen good feedback on the service and customer service, but my limited experience has me wondering whether I made the right decision.

  3. Hi Kris,

    Thank you for writing with your experience.

    Unfortunately, I think that your experience speaks to fax over IP in general. From my experience, the experts that I know working on VoIP full-time still tell me that fax over IP can be flaky.

    I do know that some solutions have been released recently (e.g. FaxxBochs) that seem to guarantee reliable fax over IP, but I do not have first-hand experience. If you do find a reliable VoIP provider for fax, please let us know and I will do the same. In the meantime, take any VoIP offering that claims they work with fax with a grain of salt.

    Take care,
    Dennis

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