Is repairing a fax machine worth it?

My fax machine quit working. I don’t know what’s wrong with it, whether it can be repaired or how much it would cost to fix it. I called a repair shop, but they want $100 just to have a technician look at it. Is it worth it, or should I just buy a new machine?

In today’s disposable society, it seems like a shame to just toss something that, theoretically, could probably be fixed. Unfortunately, in the case of lower-priced consumer fax machines, as is often true with desktop printers and scanners, it might be more cost-effective to purchase a new machine than to repair an old one.

Higher-end laser fax machines used in a commercial setting, however, are highly repairable. Much like copy machines, fax machines and fax-copy combos can be repaired again and again and again. (You’ll get that joke if you’ve worked in an office where the copier breaks down so much you’re on a first-name basis with the technician.)

A service call charge of $100 is not unreasonable in the fax repair business, but you could try to negotiate. If you’re leasing the machine, check to see if a maintenance contract was written into the lease. Also, some repair companies offer a loaner machine to use if they have to take yours off-site to fix it.

Many companies won’t work on thermal or ink jet machines, mainly because replacement parts can be costly and hard to find and the labor costs could actually exceed the value of the machine. But if you, or a machine-savvy person in your office, can narrow the problem down to a particular part, you might be able to obtain a replacement through the manufacturer or retailer. Also, check to see if your machine is under warranty.

The general rule for fixing home appliances and consumer electronics is to go ahead and do it if the parts and labor costs won’t exceed half the price of the product. If your fax is a low- or mid-priced consumer or light-duty small business model (costing, say, $400 or less), it might be time to get a new machine or transition to Internet-based faxing. You can compare services at

If you do end up getting rid of your machine, please dispose of your fax machine responsibly.

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