All You Need to Know About Postage Meters
What is a Postage Meter?
A postage meter is a machine with software installed that prints postage indicia. Postage can be printed directly on the envelopes, labels, or adhesive tape, and can be issued for any type of mail: first, second, third, or fourth class; airmail, registered mail, and any other special service offered by the US Post Office.
How can a postage meter help my business?
Because all of your postage is purchased through the meter, using a postage meter gives the advantage of tracking postage costs for your business or organization. Additionally, postage meters come in different sizes for different volumes of mail. Whether you send out a couple of dozen pieces of mail a week or even hundreds, a postage meter can help save you money on postage and make you more efficient.
What is a Meter?
The meter is the central part of your postage meter system. It stores the postage and prints the indicia, which is the printed information on the envelope that tells the USPS the amount of postage paid for that envelope or parcel, and the services associated with it.
What is a Base?
The base is the portion of your postage meter that handles the envelope, transporting it to be stamped. There are four parts to a base: feeder, sealer, stacker, and tape dispenser.
A feeder guides envelopes through the meter. This is important if you feed more than a couple of pieces a day, as the process can be tedious and time-consuming. Some meters come without a feeder, but we recommend considering this feature.
A sealer moistens the envelope flap and closes it.
A stacker clears mail from the machine after it is stamped.
In some cases, it is not possible to print an indicia directly on to a mailing piece – like with a large package. In these cases, strips of adhesive paper, called tape, are fed through the meter and affixed to the package. The tape is stamped with the indicia or postage amount.
What is a Scale?
The scale weighs letters or packages and indicates how much postage to apply to your mail piece, based on the current rates applicable to the service selected. Some models automatically apply that amount when running the piece through the meter. Some models even allow you to shop the best rates, comparing different carriers. FP RateGuard™ insurance is available to guard against multiple USPS® rate increases. Postage rates are set by the USPS®
How do I purchase new postage for my postage meter?
No need to leave your office or business, or to send out checks. Your postage meter will download new postage directly into its system whenever you want. You can use your credit card or FP’s Reset Debit Program.
What happens when the USPS® increases postal rates?
We will let you know when rates change, but you can also get protection against frequent postal rate increases through programs such as FP RateGuard™.
Can I buy a postage meter?
No. Postage meters, regardless of manufacturer, are rented – never owned. These postage meters are highly regulated by the USPS® because they hold actual U.S. mint.
What are the reasons for having a postage meter?
There are many reasons to use printed postage:
- promote a professional image for your growing business,
- provide the ability to assign exact postage
- save trips to the post office, and send mail in different classes
- track costs for specific mailing campaigns
It has been calculated that using postage meters can save your business up to 20 percent in mailing costs over time.
What happens if something goes wrong with my postage meter?
One of the mailing systems consultants at Offix is always available to assist you with any problems you might have. Please, note that, by law, customers are not allowed to open the meter component of the postage meter since it contains live postage.
If I switch to a postage meter from Offix, what happens to the postage money in my current postage meter?
You would need to return your old meter to the old manufacturer. The money would be refunded from the USPS® for that account.
How does the postage actually get into my postage meter?
The postage is debited from your bank account into your postage account. Your contains a built-in, self-dialing modem that sets your meter’s value. For this reason, your meter needs to be connected to a standard analog telephone jack using a standard phone cord, which is supplied to you. You can also set up your account on reset debit instead of “on demand” debit so that when you reset your meter, your bank account is automatically debited without having to call FP.
If I send out a package, how would I get the stamp onto the package?
You would simply run a self-adhesive label through the postage meter and attach it to the package.
What will the actual “stamp” that the postage meter creates look like?
Above is a sample of an Information-Based Indicia (IBI), along with a sample company logo, which could be imprinted by the postage meter on an envelope. See below for a description of the Information-Based Indicia Program (IBIP) initiated by the USPS®. Your company logo can be replaced with a company advertisement, which you can change and customize. The 2-D barcode includes the following information: licensing post office, rate category, date of mailing, postage amount, device or meter ID number.
What is IBIP?
The USPS® initiated the Information-Based Indicia Program (IBIP) to enhance the security of postage metering by supporting new methods of applying postage to mail. The information-based indicia (IBI) is printed by the postage meter or other forms of PC postage systems on mail pieces. The IBIP program is designed to give the post office greater visibility and security of mail. In addition, the use of the 2-D barcode removes levels of sorting within the mailing process cycle, which in turn will speed the delivery of a mail piece.
Are postage meters and mailing machines the same thing?
Why can’t I get my postage meter from the USPS®?
Federal regulations prohibit that the USPS® compete with private enterprise. The Postal Service is a regulatory authority, determining product compliance with regulations and supplying product authorization on the basis of demonstrated compliance. The USPS® only regulates manufacturers that provide postage meters; they are not allowed to supply them.
What if I make a mistake when printing my postage with my meter?
Unused indicia or postage printed with your meter can be considered for refund. The complete, legible indicia can be submitted within 60 days of the date in the meter stamp for refund at a postal retail window. For specific details, contact your local Post Office.
Will I be able to use my postage meter for all types of mail?
Postage meters are currently authorized for use on all mail services (except periodicals), including Domestic First-Class Mail® services, Priority Mail®services, Express Mail® services, Parcel Post™, International Mail, Presorted First-Class Mail discount services, and Extra Services.
If I am sending a package or envelope that requires extra postage, how do I know the right postage amount?
Postage meters come with postal scales, which are often integrated into the postage meter itself. Simply place the envelope or package on the scale, and the correct postage is determined and set immediately.