eFax Chat Bots Have No Favorite Simpsons Character

Joanna thought she could send out two free faxes using eFax, but when she did, she got an email telling her she needed to upgrade. Purchase the paid service just to use the demo? That doesn’t sound right. She tried to connect to eFax sales chat to get her problem solved.

Yes, she should’ve sent an email to customer service, but that’s not the point. The point is that the person on the other end was totally incapable of responding like a human. Previous eFax posts (1, 2) corroborate this.

We don’t think they even have a keyboard, just a mouse to select pre-packaged answers from a drop-down menu. Apparently it doesn’t have any options for responding to queries about the Simpsons…

(Photo: Tubes.)

Chat InformationYou are now chatting with ‘Bret D’
Joanna: hi
Bret D: Welcome to the j2 Global Sales Team! I am Bret, your Online Sales Representative. How may I assist you today?
Joanna: bret d
Joanna: my efax number is: xxx-xxx-xxxx
Joanna: they told me i got to send 2 free faxes
Joanna: but when i tried
Joanna: i got an email telling me i have to upgrade
Bret D: Our experts at the Customer support department will be able to answer/solve your queries.
Bret D: * Please browse our FAQs section at http://www.efax.com/efax/twa/page/help
Bret D: * Use the ‘Search’ option on the page to seek help with your enquiry by typing in your question
Bret D: * You could also email your enquiry to our Customer Support Department by clicking on the tab ‘Contact Customer Support’ and filling up the form.
Bret D: Email support is available 24/7 at freehelp@mail.efax.com
Joanna: i don’t need email support, though
Joanna: and i already went through the FAQs
Bret D: For all account related issues, you need to contact out customer support as this is a sales chat.
Joanna: this is sales
Bret D: If you wish, I can upgrade your existing number and add a local number under eFax Plus 30-Day Free Trial Offer.
Bret D: If you wish, I can upgrade your existing number and add a local number under eFax Plus 30-Day Free Trial Offer.
Bret D: You can send and receive faxes via your email to anywhere in the world and to any fax machine.
Bret D: You need not to download any software with the eFax Plus service since you will receive the faxes in .pdf file format.
Joanna: bret, are you sending me pre-written answers?
Joanna: throw me a bone here!
Joanna: i might be interested in upgrading, but i want to see how it works, if it’s smooth, etc.
Joanna: brettttttt!
Bret D: Joanna, with eFax Plus: You will get all the features immediately.
Joanna: you’re sending me pre-written answers!
Joanna: this is a sad day in the life of Joanna [redacted]
Joanna: I just asked a computer to throw me a bone.
Bret D: Joanna, you will need a credit card to avail this special offer.
Joanna: ok, how about this: who is your favorite character from the simpsons.
Joanna: everyone has a favorite character from the simpsons…
Bret D: While processing your account, our system auto checks your card for $1.00 even though it does not debit it.
Bret D: Would that be preferable?
Joanna: except for a computer…
Joanna: come on, who is it?
Joanna: barney?
Joanna: moe?
Joanna: I’ve always been a fan of mr. burns, myself.
Joanna: hello?
Bret D: I apologize for the inconvenience. We would be unable to process your request since you have reached the sales department. Our experts at the Customer support department will be able to answer your queries.
Bret D: Thank You for contacting j2 Global Sales Chat. We hope you found our session helpful. Good Bye!
Chat InformationChat session has been terminated by the site operator.
Chat InformationYou are not currently in a chat session.
Chat InformationYou are not currently in a chat session.


Robot CSRs Man All The Online Fax Chat Lines
Update: Canceling Fax Service Like Passing Gallstones
Canceling Fax Service Like Passing Gallstones


Edit Your Comment

  1. homerjay says:

    Good lord…..

  2. Namilia says:

    Unfortunately, it seems most “internet chat” CSR’s are chatbox nowadays x.x

  3. Namilia says:

    @Namilia: I cannot believe I spelled “chatbot” as “chatbox”…

  4. Foxtrot-Yankee says:

    My Turing tests are always qualitative questions with multiple choice answers. Like:

    Which shape is most round? A Triangle, an Oval or a rectangle?


    Which of these is fluffy: A frog, a bird or a bunny?

  5. dwarf74 says:


    Good post. Made me laugh!

  6. Buran says:

    I refuse to sign up for efax anyway. They’ll give my bf TIFF files but they won’t give me tiffs. They want to charge me but they don’t charge him.

    Screw them. Anyone know good alternatives with STANDARD file formats that are free that work with Macs? (most formats that aren’t reinventing the wheel will)

  7. Mark-dlm says:

    Good story, a similar situation happened to my this week with eFax. In fact, after being frustrated with their lack of customer service, I did try to upgrade simply to get a problem solved and it took them 19 hours to do it. These guys are a joke.


  8. mantari says:

    This is why I get bad customer service over emails to large companies. They need to scale, so they’ve resorted to cut and paste answers.

    Of course, my favorite was from maytag: “Please _call_ customer service at…”

  9. zolielo says:

    What I do is have my bot take on their bot… My bot almost always beats their’s down to a crash or loop.

  10. MentalDisconnect says:

    What exactly is a bot? I’ve read about them everywhere and never understood. Are they computer programs or something?

  11. zolielo says:

    Just an artificial intelligence program, robot, that uses a fixed or additive knowledge base to field questions through some type of electronic communication – generally chatting.

    eFax uses a fixed bot that has limited but owner defined responses. That is the best way to go, generally, for if a bot is set up to learn or add to its knowledge people can teach it wrong info. Like that eFax is a man; or whatever. “Fixed” bots will eventually loop its replies or miss understand the topic. “Additive” bots can generally reply to anything but the answers are often nonsense.

    It is a bit basic but give http://www.alicebot.org/ a try. There are bots for AIM, ICQ, ones that work as apps, etc.

  12. zolielo says:

    btw my bot knows, what is what, about the Simposons:

    zoli: Who is your favorite Simpsosns character?
    mebbot: I love the Simpsons, especially Bart and Homer. I like Homer best.

  13. Buran says:

    @mantari: I get that too. To someone with a hearing impairment (that would be me) that’s totally unacceptable. Complaints get the same “please call …” to which I tell them that they lost me as a customer. I’ve even included proof that I bought from a competitor.

    Mean? No. I just don’t support callous disregard for those with disabilities.

  14. Don Roberto says:

    I’d better start testing those online CSRs. I think I’ve encountered a few “cold sounding” crs that I simply dismissed as overly scripted people in some other country.

    Notes to self: Test chat csr’s. Also, when chatting, be sure to USE THE COMMA INSTEAD OF THE ENTER KEY.

  15. bhelverson says:

    I was a satisfied efax customer with a local number until they raised my rate to $20 – too rich for my tastes. Efax went to hell when jfax bought them. Last year efax notified me that they were canceling my free fax number, so I took it off my letterhead. About a week later they reconsidered. But I didn’t.

    In January I signed up with Smartfax. They never activated my service and ignored 2 emails asking them to fix it and ignored 2 more asking them to either fix or cancel my service. About a week later I received a telephone message asking if I was happy with my service and mumbling a toll-free number that I simply could not make out.

    Thanks to Comsumerist, I knew to initiate a chargeback. About a week later I received an email asking if I really wanted to cancel. I said Yes and, to their credit, Smartfax refunded my money. Because their service appeared to be OK, I might be a satisfied customer if Smartfax had merely activated my service.

  16. MentalDisconnect says:

    Alright… I can see how a bot would be a CSR (albeit a crappy, scripted one). I am curious about why we saw a bot in chat for people of my disability- it never talked, but it was obvious it was a bot. What was it doing? Spying on us?

  17. raelnorth says:

    If this is a bot, I can understand the confusion–okay, now, don’t throw tomatos at me…I was a chat CSR for Pitney Bowes (a company that rents and leases postal machines and other office equipment). I promise we’re real people! Where I was, what we could say and how we could say it was pretty limited. Yes, we could type, but since we had so many of the same questions over and over, we did have “canned responses”. Double click “for more information, please visit our website at http://www.pb.com/ratechange” or whatever would appear in the chat window.
    As far as my company was concerned, we had very specific things we could answer in chat. For other things, people would have to call–hey, you can’t get someone in the sales department to help you with tech support, right?
    And with up to 8 chats going at once, I know I certainly would not have had time to mess around with some bonehead who can’t type everything they need to say on one line asking me who my favorite Simpsons character was. I would have sent them a general information link and gone on to other, greener chat windows!

    And…t’s Ralph Wiggum. ;)

  18. Buran says:

    @MentalDisconnect: Probably. Asshole spammers are lurking everywhere looking for email addresses.

  19. nightbird says:


    I think I torrented my copy, but it’s easy to use and works great.

  20. dogmatixx says:

    Don’t use eFax. I’ve been using a service called MaxEmail for a year or so, and although it is a paid service, it’s cheaper than efax and more flexible.

  21. mattbrown says:

    hah that was funny. gotta give it to them though; who uses the word avail this way: “…you will need a credit card to avail this special offer”

  22. dextrone says:

    HAHAHA boy that was funny; people should put this stuff on REAL news networks like BBC World

  23. strathmeyer says:

    Well, it didn’t advertise a human chat session.

  24. HeadBeeGuy says:

    I’ve been using Comodo’s TrustFax service (http://www.trustfax.com) for a few years, and it’s been painless and reliable. Never actually tried it on a Mac, but since it’s all browser-based and doesn’t rely on any IE-specific brokenness, I’d be surprised if it didn’t work.

  25. Adam Rock says:

    I’ve had to log into a chat with a customer representative once, and I refused to continue the conversation until they told me the color of a banana. It was indeed yellow, and the person passed *my* turing test.

    AI will never fully pass a Turing test until it can feign stupidity properly.