J2.com Improves Voice Mail, Fax Communication

I’ve been using this service for a very long time– about four or five years (when I first signed up they were called Jfax). Overall I’m very happy with them. Here’s how it works:

For a monthly charge (I pay $12.50; they have other plans) you get a phone number that you can use to receive voice mail messages and faxes. You can also use their service to send faxes.

When somebody calls that number they get a recording telling them that they can either leave a voice message or send a fax after the tone (they provide a generic recording for you but you can also customize it). When someone leaves a voice message, that message is sent to your email address as an attachment. You open the attachment and you hear the message from your computer speakers! When you get a fax, you see the fax after opening the attachment. This, to me, is way cool. When I first started using this service it was a very new kind of thing and it was almost like science fiction.

Sending faxes is equally convenient. It’s all done through their website. You simply type in the cover page message and then attach a document from your computer. For example, if you want to fax your resume to a company, you need to have your resume on your computer already (for example, in My Documents or on the Desktop). Now here comes the only complaint I have about this company (and for me it’s only a minor complaint): When you send someone a fax it takes about fifteen minutes for the other person to receive it. You do get a confirmation email in two or three minutes telling you it was sent, but for some reason it still takes a while for the other person to get it. Another consideration is that you can only send faxes that you can create on your computer (this is the case with any internet faxing system). So, for example, if you need to sign something and fax it you’ll have to go find a regular fax machine. And you can’t fax things that you wrote by hand. This isn’t really a complaint for me because I haven’t run into these situations (yet), but it’s something one should be aware of.

They provide you with numerous options for customizing various aspects of your account. They provide you with so many options that you can truly personalize their service. For example, when you open account you can choose among eighty or so cities/area codes for your phone number. You can even choose from a list of foreign countries. Most people probably choose an area code that corresponds with where they live, and I’m not really sure why anyone would want to do otherwise, but at least you can if you want. You can also make it a toll-free number if you want (though there is an extra charge for receiving calls on a toll-free number). You can keep their generic pre-recorded greeting (which is advertising-free, by the way) or record one in your own voice. Or you can turn off the voice-mail greeting and make it a fax-only number (I think they should charge a little less for this but they don’t). And get this, you can even change the generic greeting from English to Spanish, French, Afikaans, or about a dozen other languages. And you can do each of these things on their website in just a few minutes. This leads to my next comment, which is that every aspect of their site is very intuitive and easy to navigate–the registration process, changing options, customer service options, etc.

Another feature that can be extremely useful for some people (though personally I don’t have much of a need for it), is email by phone. By calling a toll-free number a computer voice will read your email messages to you. If you do use this feature then be warned: they charge extra for this and the per-minute charge can really add up over time.

J2 has been around for a while. They were one of the first companies to offer this type of service. So they have a lot of experience at it, they’ve had a lot of time to learn (and probably make a few mistakes along the way) and they came up with an incredibly great service. Recommended!

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