The eFax experience

I have been an eFax user for many years, and stuck with it even though it’s not a medium I use much nowadays – and more importantly nor do my clients. Email, Adobe’s PDF, messaging and devices like the Fujitsu Scansnap make fax – plus the fax spam that I get – a medium of the past.

As a smart marketer you would think that awareness of your products maturity or ‘ageing’ would be top of mind. You might do mid life enhancements or add services that keep the product relevant. Integrate it with other services or products perhaps?

Maybe it doesn’t look like that from the inside? Maybe eFax has a nice ‘annuity’ revenue from it’s existing base and it’s slow to recognize the problem I see? Maybe.

I stuck with eFax for the same reason many customers do with such services: – it was easier to just renew than to fill in complex forms about the spam, or to cancel for that odd time when I DID use fax. Then I got the price increase notice. Note to self ‘when you have a nice annuity revenue stream, don’t do anything to cause customers to question the service’.

So, being a good GTDer, I made myself a note to downgrade to free service, or to cancel. No urgency, just one of those fill in tasks to do when I was bored.

I was bored. I went onto the eFax web. No way could I find out how to cancel. Nothing in ‘My Account’. Nothing in FAQs (nobody will leave if you don’t tell them how, right?). Nothing.

eFax has one of these fancy ‘Talk to live operator’ facilities. I click the button. It opens a special window and i type in my question. Nothing. I get one with other tasks, type ‘Hello’ once in a while. 30 minutes later I give up.

But now I’m on a roll. This is reinforcing all the ‘ease of use’ issues that I had when starting up with eFax. But then you learn how to cope and they fade away. Now they are back – with a vengeance! There is a link to email sales, so I email them. “I wish to downgrade my account to the free version. If that is not available for any reason I wish to cancel. How do I achieve that?” The reply is “Customer Service don’t read these emails’ and an explanation of how to get help (the ones I had already tried).

My bad side was piqued I had to reply ‘Silly me! Fancy expecting sales to deal with a customer issue! Having sat on the end of your ‘talk to a live support person’ for over 30 minutes with no response, and no way to remove my credit card information from within my account it seems that customers cannot leave.”

No answer to date! Wouldn’t you read that as a red flag? I would. I did, every time I saw an email from a customer that looked even vaguely dischuffed (an English term – head for Google), I would leap in and regard it as a challenge to bring them back on board. Not Efax, no response was ever received. And even if it’s not a part of sales’ remit, wouldn’t you forward the email, or have someone call. As an aside, I ordered form Land’s End recently and pressed the ‘Call Me’ button and had a very smart and on the ball woman call me, literally within seconds. Compare and contrast.

I tried phoning and end up (many times) in auto response hell. I won’t go into how bad it is. Suffice it to say, it refers me back (after many branches) to the web site that I can’t make work.

Onwards! By now the bit was between my teeth. I had a hunch that the ‘talk to me’ may be to do with the fact that I was using Safari web browser on my Mac. I check the eFax web (the rest of the web appears to work fine, BTW) for a FAQ telling me to use Microsoft or some such – nothing. I download Firefox and install it on my Mac. I click ‘Talk to me’. Viola!

Progress, I get to ‘talk’ to someone at last. But my woes are not done yet. The person I’m talking to doesn’t ‘get’ my problem. They “cannot downgrade my account due to the architecture of their system”. Huh??? I should just get in touch when the annual agreement expires, and they will cancel it. The short version is that I was getting quite angry and told him to do whatever it took to cancel the account RIGHT NOW. There never was an attempt to understand WHY I was unhappy, if there was a way to fix it, if they could find a way to keep me.

So if I had stock in eFax, I would be ditching it very fast indeed. I’ll watch with fascination what happens. i do hope they wake up in time…..

{WOM, Bad Customer Service, Customer Service, Mac, Marketing, Product Management}

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