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Friday, December 16, 2005

Brother MFC 8440 - All in One Review

Having been a Brother customer for some years using the MFC 8790 until it finally gave up the ghost, we recently upgraded to the MFC 8440 model as this was their top of the range machine.

The whole office was pleasantly surprised by the enhanced speed of the newer machine. having spent about 2 hours configuring it and programming in all our speed dials we were happily using the fax until I noticed that we were getting a number of failed transmits to some of our branches that use a fax machine and answering machine on the same line.

I initially assumed this was a problem on our end and so set about doing some tests to ascertain exactly where the fault was in our set up. This revealed that if the receiving party makes any sort of noise on the line (such as an answering machine outgoing message) the 8440 stops trying to sending the fax and just gives up. This leads to loads of redials until it occasionally manages to send the fax. Experimentation revealed that this also happened if anyone just picked up the phone on the receiving end and said 'hello'.

Obviously this was a problem given that lots of people use combined fax/answering machines and even Brother's manual tells you how to set up the 8440 in such a configuration. There is no way of knowing if the party you are dialling has a dedicated fax line and so you get a lot of wasted phone calls and failed transmissions.

This was raised with Brother and they sent out an engineer to test the machine. he found the same fault and so returned a week later to completely replace the innards of the machine. The problem persisted.

Then followed numerous frustrating phone calls to Brother UK to have them trot out a list of reasons why they thought the problem was an isolated incident. The final excuse was that we were using a digital telephone system and the 8440 was not compatible with it. This was disproved by dragging the machine down to our server room and plugging it directly into a normal analogue line. Same problem!

They then sent out their senior engineer who spent about 2 hours doing test calls and trying various configurations of the internal software. Finally he confirmed what I had been saying to Brother for the past 3 weeks. It was a firmware problem. He left saying that Brother Japan would have to work on the problem. In the meantime they would repair our old Brother MFC machine free of charge.

Great result so far! However we still wanted to use the 8440 machine. So we waited....and waited. Finally I called Brother UK again only to go back to the same old stories of why the problem was just isolated to us. We were using a digital exchange etc etc. They then simply gave me a code to give to my supplier and said they would just have to take the machine back.

That's fine but it doesn't take into account the fact that we now have to find another machine that will work, arrange for the old machine to be picked up, reprogram yet another machine etc etc. Not to mention the fact that Brother have refused to deal with an issue that they know exists. They seem to prefer to simply hope that no one else notices this problem.

So if you find the same problem with your 8440 (its easy to test) let Brother know and maybe they will take a slightly more enlightened view of customer service! Unless you are certain that every fax you are going to send is to a dedicated fax line I wouldn’t buy the 8440. Its great in every other way but it has this one big problem that presumably will never be fixed given Brother’s attitude to customer feedback.