I post a high volume of letters and packages on a daily basis and spend a lot of money with Royal Mail. Initially I was visiting the post office daily and dreading my trips there with two small babies and 20+ items of post that had to be weighed, measured and stamped while a queue of frustrated customers grew and my babies cried. I really wanted an alternative way.
I tried online stamps through Royal Mail and Paypal/eBay but I found I had the added expense of sticky labels and ink. I also had difficulty printing in a cost effective way.
I received sales calls from different companies offering to save me money on my postage and then the idea of a franking machine was put to me. I would print the postage at home and package it in bags to take to the post office. I would fill in my certificates of postage as usual and get my stamp from the post office but would not have to spend all of the time waiting for each letter to be weighed and stamped. Sounds great? How much does it cost?
Well I was pleased to find out it a cheaper alternative. I would pay a rental cost for the machine but that cost was far less than the amount that I would save on stamps. For example, a large second class stamp starts at 69p, the same stamp starts at 58p by franking. A medium second class parcel starts at £5.20, the same stamp is £4.40 by franking. When you are posting in large volumes, this can be a substantial saving. You can use the machine to post standard post, recorded, registered, overseas and more.
I use the Pitney Bowes DM55 which carries a line rental cost of £ 12.95 (exc. VAT). There are a few other franking machine providers including FP Mailing and Neopost. They all have offers available to you in terms of line rental price and free postage. I received £20 free postage with Pitney Bowes.
There were other costs to take into consideration when deciding on the franking machine. You normally receive a free ink cartridge with your machine but once that runs out you will need to purchase another. For my machine they are roughly £50 and give 1500 impressions. I used to have an FP mailing machine and it’s cartridges were £100+ but gave 4500 impressions. I prefer the cheaper option! Yes, I get less impressions but £50 each time is easier to budget than £100+. You do not have to purchase from the company themselves. I have purchased compatible cartridges from Mailcoms Ltd and a few sellers on eBay at a much cheaper price. On eBay I have bought ink cartridges for £15-20. You just need to ensure that the ink is Royal Mail approved and compatible with your machine.
You also need to purchase franking machine labels if you are not printing directly onto the envelope. I post my wedding garters out in normal envelopes but my Disney books and jewellery beads are posted in padded envelopes that do not fit in the franking machine. I go through a lot of labels but I purchase them through eBay sellers at very reasonable prices, i.e. £10 for 1000 labels.
My advice for anyone choosing a franking machine would be to speak to all of the providers. You can fill in your details on a site like Best Franking Prices. They would then forward you details to Fp Mailing, Neopost, and Pitney Bowes. Each company call you quite quickly and give you all of the information that you need. The prices I have quoted are based on my machine, the Pitney Bowes DM55. The machine you get will depend on the volume of letters you are sending. It is good to ask the following:
- Monthly rental cost – how much is it and is it payable monthly or quarterly?
- Payment method – do you pay by direct debit? If you pay in an alternative way, is there a charge? Do you pay for postage in advance or in arrears?
- Ink cost – is the first cartridge included? How many impressions does it give and what is the cost?
- Reset costs – is there a fee every time postage is added to the machine
Once you have each company’s information, it would be a good idea to compare Royal Mail’s franking prices to stamp prices. You can see current prices (from April 2013) here. Have a look at how much you would save and compare that to the amount you will spend to have a franking machine. For me, I was saving around £100 a month so it was a no brainer!
I find using the franking machine so quick and easy. However, I was still spending so much time writing out addresses and certificates of postage. I needed a quick way to do this as all of my evenings were spent doing my post. I found an excellent solution which I will blog about later.