AGENTS can save huge amounts on their faxing costs by reading the small print on deals with communications companies and keeping up to date with what is now available on the market.
Harris claims there are real economies of scale to be made with the right deal and by watching for new innovations in the communications field.
He explained: "There are companies whose advertised rates often seem cheaper than BT's but there are always a couple of 'gotchas' to consider before signing up.
"They may quote rates at 40% cheaper, but that is before you take into account BT discounts which can make a big difference to your bill."
BT charges fax calls by the second whereas most other companies do it by the minute. This means an agent will be charged 2mins of call time for a fax that takes 61 seconds by most firms but BT will only charge for each of those 61 seconds used.
What's more, most companies take longer to send a fax using their communication system than BT so individual call time is likely to be longer.
Harris said: "A lot of agents send confirmation faxes that are one page longer than regular faxes - this will cost them.
The deal you thought was a great one may turn out to be awful," said Harris. He added that BT is required to publish its rates ahead of time but many firms change them arbitrarily.
But he said: "You can get a better alternative to BT but you must look hard and read all the small print."
There is also a human cost to faxing. Said Harris: "People often send faxes they have prepared on their PC. They print it off and walk off to the fax and wait for it to go through.
"This is a waste of time. Agents can send faxes through their computers and be getting on with something else while a fax server in the corner is quietly sending off the fax and informing you when it is sent. It's inefficient if you are faxing a lot everyday. There's time and money savings to be made."
It has been estimated that a fifth of the cost of every fax is the wasted pay of an agent, waiting for the fax to be sent.
Any agent that has a PC with a modem can simply use the fax facility that is bundled with it.
But Harris added: "The ultimate is sending your fax through e-mail, eradicating the cost of international dialling. Agents can quite easily use a service where you send an e-mail to a country which will receive it as an e-mail and then send it locally as a fax."
Harris concluded: "Tour operators and agents spend an arm and a leg on faxing. If they keep an eye on what's on offer, there are great savings to be made."
how to save on phone bills
n If you call one country a great deal, find out which telecommunications company (Telewest, Cable and Wireless or Colt for example) offer the best rates for that country. Then programme your switchboard to dial that company's special prefix. This will mean each time you call that country, your switchboard will direct the call through the cheaper company.
n If you often call many different countries, install a smart-box which can be programmed to use the cheapest companies for any particular country you call.
n Look out for the Voice over Internet service which is coming soon. You need a dial-up permanent connection to the Internet, which costs around £3,000 a year if you don't have it already. A box is plugged into your Internet connection and your earpiece then connected to the box. The box will digitise your voice, send it through the Internet and, assuming the person you are speaking with has the same equipment, it will be undigitised at the other end into your voice. As technology advances, this service will very soon be available for free, wiping out the cost of international calls.
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