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.

76 thoughts on “The Last FAX

  1. What a blast from the past. I had just THAT Lucent phone, and T-1 at my old firm, 1996-2002. It’s amazing that they made a product so good and long-lasting it basically put them out of business, as they were set up like a Landscape Architecture firm where their maintenance and upkeep services were really where they made their money.

    I remember feeling so advanced when I started my own firm in September of 2002 — wow, where’d 18 years go? — when I plugged in my HP 950 PSC — printer scanner copier fax, and went to town. I was a Sole Prop, and had been given the Lucent phone as we had a depreciation cycle, and as well completed our service agreement, so simply renewed minus one phone (mine, “lost”) on file that year when I left the previous firm to start my own. What a wealth of difference from then and now. Back then I could remember the VAX at the college library and how it felt so “That’ll never catch on. Too cumbersome.” And, I felt that with 8-tracks versus cassettes… And, then cds came out, etc. I remember the WTF one year that my thick, blue Zip Disk and external drives Felt shaky, and then in the next Mac iteration… WHOAH, there’s no media input except USB Jazz/thumb Drive. What THE hell am I going to do with the info on these disks not yet uploaded. FireWire and a little ingenuity… And, I laugh now. FireWire? Ingenuity? DOOD. Plug ‘em in an older system and teachers them in an email. Problem solved.

    Lucent. Avaya. I was in COlorado then, and frequently drove past one of their buildings. Nice blast from the past memory, Timothy.

  2. “Teachers them in an email.” = WTF Autocorrect?! Seriously?
    = attach them to an email (to download in the new system).

    Autocorrect often writes thing for me that I didn’t Nintendo.

    • Hi Dale. The point I’m making is what was important is no longer important, and the primary activity on the old phone system is phone salesmen trying to sell something that is not needed in the same way as it used to be. The rest of the calls are junk calls. Junk mail and junk calls both are such a waste of time.

      • I realise that. Sorry, I should have commented the part instead of the other 😉
        I got rid of my landline just recently. You shoulda seen the hoops I had to jump through to get them to understand I no longer wanted nor needed it. Sheesh.

      • I dropped our landline a few years ago after upgrading to phones that could do WiFi calling. Still don’t get vey good calling out here even with WiFi calling.

      • We were on the “No Call” list on the landline so we didn’t get too many solicitations. In the end the only calls on the landline were politicians, non-profits or thieves pretending to be non-profits begging for money, and a few people who were looking for the “other” Tim Price who is/was a much wilder person than I am from the people I had to convince I was not the Tim Price they were looking for.

        I would get calls that started “Hey dude remember me? We were partying at X-place. Remember when we X’d and X’d?” I would tell the person I had no clue what he or she (as many women as men called) was talking about. I would get laughter followed by “That’s just like you to kid around like that. So when do you want to party again…” It took some doing to convince them I was not who they were looking for. I have no idea what the other Tim Price looks like but he’s a perfect name doppelgänger.

      • I am on the “No Call” list and yet they get through. I update every year but still. This is a company that didn’t go through any lists, they had me in their database. Annoying like hell.
        So I trained the only two who did call on the landline to use my cell

    • BTW I don”t think there is much Chinese in this old equipment. Not the case for most newer phone systems.

  3. Sorry, but to hell with T1. Had it in the sticks in Michigan years ago. Very poor speed, very bad customer service. A couple of years later, A,T and Crook sent me a note saying that I never returned their equipment after termination of the account. That was complete, and total BS. I remember this instance and the return of said equipment. Today? They can stuff it.

    • I got the same BS about equipment return from CL. I think it’s standard that they don’t log equipment after it’s removed. I told them it didn’t matter they would just have to junk it anyway. T-1 was fast enough back then because it was dedicated. Now it’s nothing. I finally have gig Internet at home. It’s 20 times faster than what I have at the office because downtown is old, decrepit and a sad place to be for not much longer. Thanks, John.

  4. Everything is temporary…including phone systems. 🙂 You are quite the valuable individual and jack of all trades to have as an employee in any business. I hope they know you are worth your weight in gold for what you can do.

  5. Ch ch ch changes….
    Too bad about the company though… Funny how the phone rings mainly about offers isn’t it?! And yep, they always come up with these ‘offers’ that double or triple your bills and insist on it being a …bargain! Hard to shake them off the phone too! 🙄😱🤣

  6. Your post did remind me of the days I used a fax too. I faxed orders to the US of A to order sample libraries on disks. Those were the days before Internet…

      • Well ours is crap anyway. They are all crap here. Something to do with the way the signals bounce off the river. It is like a natural amphitheater. I know Marconi invented radio but he fully credited James Bowman Lindsay, who, despite being the son of farm laborers and a handloom weaver, made it to St Andrew’s uni. Anyway he was an inventor and a pioneer in telegraphy. He experimented widely on the river because of the way the signals bounced. Throw in your average gale force wind sweeping off the North Sea and I am sure you get the picture re this NOT being a top WiFi area. That is before we get to the fact that the pc is sat far from the router.

      • Sounds like you need some hardwiring to pick up on your pc. We have a lot of metal which is like having a big tin hat. Between the fact the village doesn’t allow cell towers ofver 30 feet, and our tin hat, our mobile phone service sucks out here, even with WiFi calling. I finally got upgraded to gigabit Internet, which is 8333.33% faster than the 12Mbps Internet we had for years.

  7. When it comes to phones, my parents, mostly my mom was good going through phones. From the good and sturdy one color only, black rotary dial desk phone. When the Trimline came out, my mom had to have that. The one phone she wanted for ages was the Princess style for the bedroom, which started as a rotary. It took forever for Mountain Bell to offer touchtone in our area. If you tried using touchtone with a rotary as an extension, after a while the phone line got confused. It was more they (phone company) wanted you to replace your rotary dial with a touchtone. It wasn’t until the 90s she decided to go cordless and went through three AT&T cordless phones, one Uniden, one Panasonic, back to AT&T, and finally a Uniden, which I use. Mom, though, was a more of refusenik when it came to mobiles. “Can’t you call beforehand to say you’re running late, or I’m leaving now.”

    • A remember we had a party line when I was a kid. Getting a private line was a beg deal. Then for the longest time any place 10 miles or farther away was a long distance call. I had friends in Bernalillo and Placitas and the calls were long distance until around the mid 70’s. My best man gave us a phone for a wedding present. We used that phone for years and then kept it around as a backup until we dropped the landline a few years ago. We got a Uniden wireless phone in the late 80’s or early 90’s and kept that one going until we dropped the land line. That Uniden phone was really ergo. It was broken several times from being dropped or knocked off the counter or table by the cats. I clued and duct taped it back together several times. We tried a few other cordless phones but they did not feel the same. So that poor old Uniden was kept going like the Energizer Bunny.

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