Online businesses requiring offline goodbyes

This week we decided to cancel our eFax.com service. A few years ago eFax was a brilliant solution for us. It enables you to have a virtual fax receiving and sending service, with a phone number in your city, but without all the bother of actually installing and paying for another line in your office.

Reality sank in the other day when I wondered aloud just how many times we had used the $18 a month service in the past year or two. Answer? Pretty much none. Email surely has killed the fax.

We mostly only maintained a fax number for the odd occasion when we needed to exchange formal documents, for example exchange a signed contract. Nowadays for most minor documents people are happy if I just drop a scan of my signature onto a PDF. And for anything important there are brilliant services like DocuSign.

So I logged into my eFax account and cast around for the option to cancel my recurrent billing and close the account, without success. I emailed the support address and received a reply saying I needed to call eFax. I dutifully did this, and spoke to a friendly woman who after ascertaining I wanted to cancel my account immediately offered me a free three month subscription. This was AFTER I had answered her question “why do you want to close the account” by saying “because we haven’t used it in at least a year”. Which I thought was pretty clear.

The support person handled it perfectly gracefully after I declined the free subscription, and within minutes the account was closed.

But I got to wondering, just how many people actually take up the three month subscription, and when the recurrent billing kicks in again, don’t just ring again to cancel the account?

What’s the strike rate? How many customers does eFax retain as a result of putting us through this offline process? My guess is not a huge number. If I’ve rung to cancel the service it’s because I’ve decided to cancel the service. Not because I’m torn, or undecided.

I wonder if it’s all worth the effort when online businesses like eFax force us to deal with them offline when we want to end our relationship?

So I log into

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