Can an electronic fax service automatically redial if the first attempt fails?

We use an electronic fax service. Can it be set up to redial if there was a failed fax attempt for whatever reason?

You didn’t say what electronic fax service you use, but it doesn’t matter much for my answer. Most — I can’t say for sure, but probably all — Internet fax services automatically retry your fax multiple times before telling you that it failed. How many attempts depends on the service. Some services do have a preference control that let you specify the number of retries.

I can tell you for sure that more is not better. After 3 failed attempts — no matter the reason (busy signal, wrong phone number, human answering, whatever) the chances of your fax succeeding on the 4th or 5th try are so small that it’s usually not worth bothering.
In my experience running, I know that about 89.7% of faxes succeed on the 1st attempt. 6.7% make it through on the 2nd attempt. 2.2% on the third call. After that the numbers drop precipitously: .8% succeed on the 4th call and only .5% on the fifth try. Clearly, three is the magic number.

After three failures, your best move is to call the person you’re trying to fax to make sure that their fax machine is on and working, then re-trying once they’ve fixed the problem. It’s possible that they just get a lot of faxes and the line is frequently busy, in which case you’ll need to try again — maybe waiting until after business hours to increase the chances of calling when the line is free.

Do you have a question about faxing? Send me your fax question.