The Last FAX

My old crusty Lucent (before Avaya) Partner II D18 phone with a new ARC mascherina.

Our business phone used to be an integral and extremely important part of our business. I had it set up in the 1980s and 90s so we had to punch in project codes in order to make long-distance calls so we could charge those calls to projects. We had 6 lines and 40 extensions until I added a voicemail, which to up 8 extensions. Our old Avaya Partner II system was state of the art and holds its own today as I have had it bridged into VIOP for a few years. When I was upgrading our security in 2012, I discovered the phone system supported integrating video with our computers and “buzzing people in”. I didn’t implement that feature, but I was impressed that a 20-year-old phone system could do that at the time.

The phone system had been paid off for years, but we carried a service agreement on it, which was a wonderful deal until 2017. I often got calls from Avaya sales telling me we needed to replace the phone system and that we would save money by purchasing a new phone system. I would ask “How would buying a new phone system for $15,000 save us money?” The salesperson said the service agreement would be less. In 2017 I asked Avaya to drop the service agreement since I could buy phone parts for next to nothing on eBay, and could maintain the phone system myself. I received a document in the mail several months later about being a claimant on Avaya’s bankruptcy. They owed us money for prepaid service that expired after I dropped our service agreement. I noticed reading the documents that Avaya filed bankruptcy the same day they effectively terminated our service contract. I felt bad like cancelling our service agreement was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

In 2014 when we had T-1 Internet, our phone system was bridged into the T-1 as voice over IP (VOIP). T-1 service is dedicated and one thing you pay for with T-1 is immediate repair. The phone module went out in the T-1 router in 2014. Instead of replacing the router within 24 hours, it took CenturyLink 5 days before they replaced the router. In the 1990s five days without phone service would have been a disaster for our business, but we discovered in 2014 it was only a minor inconvenience as most of our important clients called our cell phones, texted or used email. The phone system was becoming obsolete. At the end of our T-1 contract a few months later, I dropped the T-1, moved all our servers to virtual servers at our ISP, and had our phone system restored to a plain old telephone system (POTS).

These days 99% of incoming calls are from people trying to sell phone systems (being a phone system salesman must be one of the worst jobs in the world these days), recordings saying they have important information about our car warranties, calls saying “DON’T HANG UP!” because they import information about our credit cards or just silence. We hadn’t received a legitimate FAX in years.

Up until Monday, we still had 6 lines, one that was used for FAX; but I had put in a request to cancel 3 lines last Friday afternoon, which took 48 hours before the lines were cut off. First thing Monday morning we got our last FAX, trying to sell insurance, about an hour later the FAX line was dead.