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Time to face the fax?

Leeds Hospital still has 350 fax machines: have you still got one?

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Having last used a fax machine at some point in the early noughties, I was under the impression that (aside from football transfers) the humble telefax had gone the way of the overhead projector.

However, news that Leeds Hospital still plays host to 350 of the outmoded message slingers has somewhat shattered this illusion. I guess they're safe from the Windows XP virus that ravaged the NHS last year?

So does your practice or business still run a fax machine? And why?

All the best,



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07th Feb 2019 11:39

We have a fax machine. It is the same one we bought in the early 2000s.

It is very, very rarely used. Mostly used by payroll who sometimes receive wage changes by fax (clients are technophobes).

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By mrme89
07th Feb 2019 11:40

I think most people just entering the workplace would have no idea what a fax machine is.

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By Mr_awol
07th Feb 2019 11:45

We still have one. Strangely enough, I heard it ring sometime last week and wondered if it was ever used these days.

I think our payroll department still get some info coming through on it, but doubt we use it for sending anything

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07th Feb 2019 11:50

We don't have one as we moved to electronic fax in 2010. However, we still have two clients who use fax to send information over. It doesn't cost us anything. We forked out a tenner for 1,000 pages of credit back then and still have 700+ left. Can't see us using those any time soon.

And until fairly recently some mortage lenders would only accept documents by fax, not by email, not to mention HMRC

Perhaps we could have saved a fiver by buying fewer credits but £1 a year doesn't seem too bad!

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07th Feb 2019 11:53

TomHerbert wrote:

news that Leeds Hospital still plays host to 350 of the outmoded message slingers has somewhat shattered this illusion. I guess they're safe from the Windows XP virus that ravaged the NHS last year?

And I wonder how many of them actually work?

Seriously. My wife was recently referred to a hospital by fax. After three weeks I called the hospital to ask about the referral. "What referral?"

It turned out that the fax machine involved - and many others at the hospital - had not been working for a long, long time.

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07th Feb 2019 11:54

Ours also only ever gets used when clients send payroll info. I wonder why employers seem to have clung to fax for payroll but have abandoned it for other purposes? It's a strange little quirk!

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07th Feb 2019 11:58
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07th Feb 2019 12:56

One client who faxes the payroll change (only ever one) every month without fail.

When I was at Baker Tilly we used the fax regularly for FaxPay when running payrolls and arranging payments.

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07th Feb 2019 13:08

Technically I still have an old scanner with a fax facility which probably works if I wanted it to. I could in theory pull out the broadband and plug it in, it would work. I am sure we could cope with 5 minutes and no internet.

I stopped my fax to email service some years ago, I only had one client use it (a solicitor) and then he retired. I had already moved it to a premium number to deter its use, and so it was free my end!

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By tom123
07th Feb 2019 13:33

We have a large multifunction copier that the whole office uses - I specified a fax again last renewal, because some of our customers (global automotive generally) still wish to fax over purchase orders in some instances.

Also useful when our respective companies cannot manage to email each other because of overly pessimistic spam filters.

I guess we send out no more than half a dozen faxes per year. We probably receive one useful fax per week.

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By K81
07th Feb 2019 13:38

yep, still using fax machine - local financial investment group will only fax us the client info for tax returns as they consider this safer than e-mail!

As others have mentioned payroll department still use theirs.

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07th Feb 2019 14:05

We still have one.

Up to about five years ago we paid wages weekly and made up wage packets with cash, the process involved encashing a cheque at a local branch of our bank where we had an open credit and to avoid hanging around whilst they made up the money-I believed the more individuals saw the transaction in the branch once a week the more chance I would get mugged for the cash after leaving, this was Leith Walk and you will all have seen Trainspotting- we would fax them a list of notes/coins we needed for the payroll, then it was just hand over cheque they handed over made up monies, straight out, the fact I was carrying cash not so obvious (Back then up to £3k a week in notes, worth a mugging as would buy a fair volume of substances)

However even we embraced the modern world, works/trades staff got moved to monthly paid like the office staff so now the fax sits in the office doing nothing but waiting for when it is time for it to go to Chambers Street Museum.

I should mention the museum is scary if you are my age, they have a section split by decades of the 20th century and if I visit I wander around going " we had that, our one was a different colour etc" re all the reel to reel tapes, record players, dictating machines, adding machines , space hoppers etc contained in the section.

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07th Feb 2019 15:27

This topic has prompted me to turn on our fax machine. It is not a happy bunny ! I try to remember to turn it on every few months to "recondition its capacitors" and it is reminding me that I've neglected it for the best part of the last year.

Quite a psychedelic light show and some motor spasms going on as I type - but it'll come down off its trip in a hour or so. I hope.

Can't be unique. Anyone else discovering a fax maxchine out of its head?

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07th Feb 2019 15:41

We still have one - mainly used by our payroll section.
Personally I miss the Telex machine!

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to vinylnobbynobbs
07th Feb 2019 15:49

If we are going for nostalgia kit, I go for the photocopier where you sandwiched a carbon/ink sheet between sheets of paper and ran it singly through the machine, I used one at a branch audit in circa 1986 and it was old tech even then.

And who can forget my childhood in circa 1973 when my older sister was doing a degree in Maths and Computing at Edinburgh where her room was littered with elastic band bound bundles of punch cards- who remembers them- and in her case not forgetting that, after five years, she somehow instead emerged from university with an M A in archaeology- from cutting edge tech to the pyramids in one degree.

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08th Feb 2019 11:44

In 1982 I studied computer programming, and spent 6 months industrial placement programming British Aerospace's computer. The first step was with a stack of gridded paper in which manuscript commends etc. were entered.

This stack, once complete, went through to the punch card girls (end excuse the use of gender, but they were all girls) who would take the manuscript and convert to punch cards.

Once done, the cards were taken to operations and, overnight, fed into the computer where they were compiled.

By now we have the first draft of a program, but we (the programmers) had to wait for an overnight slot for it to be run. This could be three or four nights.

It was only on the day after that that we got to see the results, and actually sit at a terminal to start fixing and modifying.

A far cry from the code and run that we have now.

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By SXGuy
07th Feb 2019 16:32

Gave up mine last month. Only had 1 client use it and he's since started emailing instead. My printer has fax option so I'd use that if I really have to

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07th Feb 2019 16:49

We have a big communal multi all in one in my office.

The other day it set off some strange beeping noise, everyone thought it was broken, but I said no that will be a fax coming through all the youngsters looked at me like I was an idiot then sure enough a piece of paper popped out of it from China or somewhere.

I remember when I was training (from 1988) when my pal from the other office rang me to "get next to the fax machine" to receive an urgent fax.

He was excited as hell so I thought it must be good/important so stood for 15 minutes for it to come through.

Imagine my surprise when the urgent fax turned out to be a copy of his hand flipping me the bird.

How we laughed.

You don't get banter like that with your smartphone.

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By Tornado
07th Feb 2019 20:31

We had a fax connected until about three months ago.

It remained connected in case a client wanted to send something, but we only ever got faxes about special deals on cars and vans, debt collection agencies and printed T shirts. These were frequent enough and it cost quite a lot to keep the fax rolls replenished.

Now with just a phone connected to the line, the phone rings every now & then and when answered there is the forlorn sound of one fax machine trying to connect to another. You feel a little sorry for it as it will never get a reply.

The last business fax received/sent must have been at least three years ago.

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08th Feb 2019 10:12

It's staggeringly frightening that this country's biggest employer still uses fax machines to receive its most critical patient information and yet the government believes that, at the same time, it has systems that are sophisticated enough to handle the complexity of post-Brexit trading requirements. We're doomed, Captain Mainwaring!

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08th Feb 2019 10:18

Amazon still like to use fax...

On 17 November 2017 at 04:51, wrote:
Greetings from

Please note that your order is currently on hold pending the verification of your billing information. We will be happy to proceed with your order as soon as we receive a recent credit card statement for the credit card you referenced for this order.

At your earliest convenience, please fax us a statement which displays the billing name and address for the card.

You can find our fax number on the Help page:

Alternatively, you can ask the issuing bank of your credit card to contact us with verification of these details.

You will not be able to access your account online until this verification procedure has been completed. However, it is not necessary to open a new account or place a new order; we will complete the processing of outstanding orders once your billing information has been verified.

Thank you for your patience with our security measures.

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08th Feb 2019 10:26

I mourn its demise, because a fax machine is one of the most useful office gadgets I ever used.
I am p**d off with clients following the crowd sending me all sorts of stuff as photos on their wizz bang mobiles. The time it takes to make the fuzzy picture use-able and get-able into the clients file is a complete waste.
Second instead of the email, all I needed to do, for short messages, was write the client a note which might then go instantly into the client's file.
Third it remains the easiest way to obtain copies of bills, and suchlike.
Scanning is OK, but for one or two pages, diagrams, sketches, the Fax is faster and better.
Horses for courses.
and, I am not a Luddite I have been using computers in my practice since 1979.

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08th Feb 2019 12:05

Modern all in one devices (printer/scanner/fax) connected to a telephone line are essentialy backdoors to your local network without a firewall. However, properly controlled access to a fax (=keep the telphone plug out till needed !) possibly still has a role as a legacy security tool for exchanging highly sensitive documents. In an era when the National Computer Security Centre identifies as its national priorities getting ISPs to enforce Border Gateway Protocol to prevent IP address spoofing for webpages and email, and getting Telcos to do really anything at all to prevent criminals access the SS7 mobile control network to subvert 2FA for banking confirmations, it does offer a primitive but effective transmission control. The way that works is that you and your respondent are on the phone and have confirmed each other's identity, you send them a test fax to the number they give you , they confirm receipt over the phone, they respond with a copy of your test fax so both ends have confirmed the fax numbers , you confirm receipt over the phone and you are then both confident that the fax channel is verified and highly sensitive docs can then be exchanged. Obviously a secure document exchange platform is easier, simpler and better!

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08th Feb 2019 12:43

There is an HMRC office that historically will not correspond by email and will only accept submissions via fax or post..very modern!

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08th Feb 2019 13:10

I have never owned a standalone fax machine, but I did often used to use scan and fax, or print to fax. However, in recent years computers have often not got this facility as standard, and I haven't sent or received a fax for over five years.

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By ikh
08th Feb 2019 14:16

Just used it today for a mortgage application - sent to me via e mail but with only fax or letter as accepted reply. No doubt the secure side will be raised in it's defence over e mail. Had problems though - not set up to tell me whether the transmission had been successful. I think the recipient now has two copies.

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By Mitch
08th Feb 2019 14:17

We still have one and it was used in the last week of January when HMRC faxed through an up to date statement for our client, having refused to used email and snail mail would have taken at least a week.

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10th Feb 2019 09:48

Haven't used one in years, although printers still seem to offer that option. I find it much easier to scan and email. I suppose the advantage would be if you have a printer that does not have a sheet feeder.

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11th Feb 2019 08:41

Our fax machine is 22 years old and still going.

We receive only 4 faxes per year from a quasi public sector department that has yet to discover email.

My wife needed an urgent MRI scan and the doctor said he could not even fax it to the private hospital and that he had to send it by post.

All this and yet HMRC want to be the "most digitally advanced tax system in the world".

Government please get your digital house in order.

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11th Feb 2019 21:55

Never mind fax machines, what about the Oce photocopiers in the late 80's that used to copy the pages with flash photography (rather than a scanning bar).

If you had the lid up to copy a cash book, etc you'd be blinded for 5 minutes if you forgot to shut your eyes!

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