Calculating the amount of postage you have to pay on a letter or package can be done automatically using a franking machine. Available from suppliers who have been approved by Royal Mail, these machines help companies that still depend on direct mail. You only have to insert the parcel or letter into the machine to ‘mark’ or ‘frank’ it and indicate that the postage charges for it have been paid.
The machine is connected to a franking account operated in your business name by Royal Mail. This enables the machine to calculate the postage accurately. Moreover, it allows Royal Mail to keep an eye on the weight of the packages you are posting and whether the correct charges have been paid. Businesses that send out a lot of letters or packages by mail will find sufficient practical use for a franking machine. It will save considerable person-hours needed for stamping the envelopes and eliminate any error in calculating postage charges.
On the surface, it may appear as though the franking machine is easy to operate. All you need to do is feed the letters or packages you want to get franked into it and you’re good to go. However, there is more to the machine than that. The following will provide you with a brief overview of how franking machines work.
Inserting an Ink Cartridge
The first step to operating a franking machine is to insert an ink cartridge into it. Franking machines usually come with an ink cartridge installed when you buy or lease one. Under the requirements laid out by Royal Mail, red ink was used until recently. In April 2013, the colour was changed to blue. Now some stores may try to sell you outdated cartridges, so you should ask your supplier about the ink colour provided with your franking machine. Your mail would not be sent if the wrong colour is used.
Labels for Large Parcels
While franking machines can mark smaller letters and packages easily, this is not the case with large parcels. For them, you need to buy separate labels. Without labels, you won’t be able to frank the bigger packages you have to post.
Downloading Tariff Lists
You need to download the latest tariff list from Royal Mail. Franking machines are programmed with tariff lists so that they can work out the correct amount of postage you have to pay for letters and packages. You can get the tariff list from Royal Mail for around £50. However, don’t make it a one-time purchase. You need to stay up to date with the tariffs so that your mail goes through and you don’t end up underpaying or overpaying.
“Feeding” In Letters and Packages
Once you have inserted the cartridge and labels and downloaded the tariff list, you can start franking. If your franking machine has an automatic feed, the machine will pull in the letters and packages without you having to do anything. However, if it doesn’t, you will have to manually feed the letters and packages into the machine.
Weighing the Packages
Most franking machines have a built-in digital weighing scale. The machine will weigh the packages and letters you are sending and calculate the amount you need to pay for posting them. Nearly all modern franking machines have a weighing scale. If yours doesn’t have one, you will need to use an external weighing scale.
Now you know how a franking machine works. As you can see, it makes postage much easier for your business. However, always make sure of using the right machine or else you’ll be paying more than you should. Also, stay in touch with Royal Mail to avoid wasting your money or suffering penalties.
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