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It means that your fax machine is "answering" the incoming call before you pick up the handset. Usually, the factory setting on the fax machine picks up after two incoming rings. There are three ways you can address this issue: 1.) You can either change the number of rings to, say, five incoming rings to give you enough time to answer the phone before the fax machine picks up, or 2,) you can find out if your fax machine has a feature that allows for the voice hook "click over" that will allow you to override the fax when you pick up your handset, or 3.) turn your fax machine off until you need to send a fax.
If you want to investigate number 2.), then you'll need your operator's manual.
Should be in the operators manual. You need to change the setting, through the control panel, to "autoanswer". You can print out the current settings by pressing the "menu" button, scrolling to "user settings" and print from there. You can also select the number of rings before the machine picks up, and the volume of the ringer.
After months of trying to solve this problem I finally figured out that the machine was set to phone/fax mode instead of fax only. If you have a dedicated fax line you can set to FAX ONLY MODE. In FAX ONLY MODE you can control whether or not the machine rings when it receives a fax call. You do this by selecting Data Registration, Press Set and use the up and down arrows to select 4. RX Settings. Press Set and use the up and down arrows to display the item you want to set or change and turn the ringer OFF. Press Set.
The sleep mode is only a power save mode. You may not have the machine in the correct fax receive mode. If the machine is on a line by itself it needs to be set to fax only, if line is shared with a telephone it needs to be in fax/telephone, if you share the machine with an answering machine it needs to be in TAD mode, and so forth.
Each time you press the MODE key it will change the receive mode. Most people hit this key by mistake and change the MODE and the unit will not pick up calls. Press the MODE key until you are in the correct mode.
To make sure the machine will print, press reports and then the 1, this will print a help list. If the help list prints you know that the machine works. Then check to make sure the machine is in the correct fax receive mode.