Postage meters are commonly found in workplaces of all types and are often considered one of the most important pieces of office equipment as they perform two vital tasks. First, postage meters reduce outgoings and second, they increase efficiency.
Here are some step by step guidelines to help when learning how to use a postage meter in a business environment.
Learn how to use a postage meter by watching this video demonstration. alternatively, read our written guidance below:
Step 1: Prepare Your Mail
Before you start printing postage, you should take some time to prepare your mail.
First, you’ll want to ensure you have all items to hand, separating these into different piles based upon estimated size and weight.
For example, you may wish to keep all A6 items together, and all No. 9 items together. If you have any large items, such as boxes, put these to one side.
You should ensure that all envelopes are stuffed, and if you are using window envelopes, that the address is clearly visible.
If you are using non-window envelopes, you can use your postage meter to help you prepare the mail, as long as your device has an option for printing recipient addresses.
You can connect your postage meter to a network which allows you to transfer addresses from your PC to the machine, usually through any mail merge system.
The postage meter can then print addresses onto sticky labels, or directly onto a non-window envelope. One major advantage to this is that it business mail look both professional and legitimate.
Step 2: Determine Postage Values
If your postage meter comes with integrated weighing scales, you can simply place an item on the scale and the machine will automatically determine the postage value based upon current USPS rates.
If your machine has network connectivity, you don’t need to worry about changing rates, as the device will automatically update the rates based on fee changes.
This will usually be set to send the mail in the most cost effective way possible, but if you need to use priority or express services, you can usually change this setting with just a push of a button.
Nevertheless, always ensure the postage amount changes appropriately before printing to reduce the risk of label or envelope wastage.
If your postage meter doesn’t have integrated weighing scales, you will need to use standalone scales to determine the exact weight of the mail before entering the information manually into the meter.
It’s never a good idea to guess weights as this could lead to insufficient postage being applied, which could lead to unnecessary financial outgoings.
Step 3: Set Customization
If you’ve got a more advanced postage meter model, you may have the option to add customized text, logos and designs to your postage sticker or envelope.
You can either enter text via the machine itself or in most cases, you can design your customization on a PC and use the network connectivity to transfer the design to one of the postage meter’s memory slots.
Many businesses use this feature to promote their business or their products and services. Before printing, you’ll want to ensure that the right customization is set up.
For example, if you’re sending correspondence to prospective clients, you may wish to promote an award you’ve recently received, or a new product you’ve recently launched.
Step 4: Print Postage
When it comes to printing postage, you need to decide if you’re going to print onto a label or directly onto an envelope.
The advantage to printing onto the envelope is that it creates a professional look and by loading similar weight items into the feed tray, the postage meter will feed through each individual piece automatically, applying the postage.
Alternatively, printing onto labels means that you don’t need to remove materials from an envelope if the postage has printed incorrectly. It also means that envelopes can be recycled by having a label stuck across the previous address, helping the business to be more ‘green’.
For very large items that won’t fit under the printing head, you will need to print onto a label and stick this manually onto the parcel.
Step 5: Seal the Envelope
If you’ve chosen to use self-seal envelopes, and have very high mailing requirements, you could find that a great deal of internal resources are spent simply sealing envelopes.
To make the process more efficient, opt to use glue based envelopes and choose a postage meter than offers automatic envelope sealing.
This means that the machine moistens the glue and creates a fold, sealing the flap down onto the back of the envelope.
Step 6: Check Your Funds
After you’ve printed postage for your mail, you should always check your remaining funds to ensure you have adequate finances to post your next batch.
When funds are low on the postage meter, you will need to top these up before you can apply further postage, unless you have an account agreement with your chosen supplier.
However, it’s often best not to choose the account option, as this can make it more difficult to determine how much of your business outgoings are mail related.
Depending on your exact postage meter model and your personal preferences, there are a number of ways to top up your prepaid funds.
One of the most common ways is through the USPS Postage Now program which accepts payments via a range of sources including credit cards, debit cards and wire transfers.
When it comes to adding funds, you may wish to add enough to cover a month or two of postage requirements at a time. This is because some suppliers may charge businesses for each top up.
How To Change The Date
Some digital postage meters require you to lift off the display unit and a rotary date system is in place underneath.
You can change this as shown above. However others, depending on the exact make and model, have differing instructions which can be found in their user guide.
An example of how to change a date on a digital Quadient IJ25 postage meter is detailed below:
- Go to the ‘Ready’ mode and press the MENU button.
- Using the scroll buttons, (< >), find the option where the date advance indicator is flashing and the screen will show today’s date.
- To change the date, scroll again to the required date and press ‘OK’. The machine will now print the date required.
If you find that you’re struggling to operate a postage meter, there are two things you should check before calling for support.
Firstly, are any of the moving parts jammed? This is a very common problem, as sometimes sticky labels can become loose and can attach to the internals and sometimes an envelope can jam the system.
If something is jammed, simply switch the machine off at the source, and gently pull at the paper until it becomes free.
Secondly, check whether your inks are full? If ink levels are low, it could affect the quality of the print.
If your inks are empty, you should be able to purchase new ink from your postage meter supplier and fit them as easily as you would on a regular office printer.