With all the price increases going on for different products and services, businesses need all the help they can get. Home, start-ups and small businesses need to find ways to save on costs but increase their productivity in order to keep up with the big players in the market. Royal Mail has recently increased their prices. Many small businesses that used stamps to send mail are now turning to franking because of all the savings it brings. A franking machine is just like a printer that prints the correct postage on letters and parcels. Instead of using stamps, you just place the envelope on the weighing scale and the machine will weigh it for you and apply the correct postage rate. Some models even seal the envelope for you.
Brand new franking machines can be expensive but small business owners are lucky because they have many options to choose from. Aside from renting and leasing, they can also buy second hand models. Here’s the lowdown on second hand franking machines.
Brand new franking systems cost £1,000 and above. This is the price of low volume franking machines. Mid to high volume systems can cost anywhere from £3,000 to £15,000. Some systems even cost more depending on the features they have.
Low volume franking machines can frank around 5 to 50 letters per day, just about the same number of items a small business sends. Although a small volume system is quite ideal for them, the price may not be. So, buying second hand is a good option. You let others pay for all the advanced features and then just pay a small amount afterwards.
Most second hand franking machines are from major manufacturers. These include Neopost, Pitney Bowes, Frama and FP. They sell their former demonstration models for a lower price. For example, a brand new low volume Neopost device costs £1,000. If you get the same second hand model, you will only pay around £500 for it. You can also get a 5-year warranty with your contract. Provided the machine is well maintained, you can get a significant cost savings.
Aside from purchasing, you can also rent reconditioned systems for as little as £23 per month. That also includes a full support and maintenance agreement. You can pay a little bit more for updates and ink cartridges for the entire life of the contract.
Things to Consider
There are a few things to consider if you are looking to buy a second hand model. First, look for a reputable and accredited supplier. You need to get a system from a Royal Mail accredited supplier in order to enjoy the benefits of franking. This is also a way to be sure that all your postal transactions are legitimate.
You also need to know the number of impressions a franking machine has done so that you can be sure that it will still serve you for a considerable amount of time.
If getting a reconditioned piece, you need a warranty to cover your machine from any breakdowns after a certain number of impressions from the day you get it. Sometimes, reconditioned pieces are better than second hand ones because its main components like feed rollers and print heads have already been replaced because that’s a part of the reconditioning process. Second hand units are sold as is.
Before making a decision, ask to see the service book of the unit you are eyeing to buy. You can also ask for a guarantee or a proof that the unit has been properly serviced throughout its life. The service book will list all the parts that have already been replaced. You can ask questions and discuss your concerns with the dealer. This way, you can make an informed decision. You can also find out problematic issues that may not have been resolved. This will surely affect your decision greatly. If the machine has a lot of service calls, it might be a good idea to move on.
Be sure that you will get a replacement machine while yours is being serviced. Onsite repair contracts are good for this kind of situation. You will save a lot of time and money by not having to go to the post office because your machine is out of service.
Generally, renting and leasing are better options than buying second hand or reconditioned machines mainly because of the franking licence issued to the machine. Before franking, you need to procure a franking licence from Royal Mail. This licence includes your name, the machine model, a unique die number, serial number and the manufacturer or supplier. You will be given a sticker with all these data that you need to place onto your machine. Without this sticker, your transactions will not be honoured.
Now, a second hand device was already issued to someone else. That person may also be located at a different place than your place of business. Therefore, the licence must be replaced with the correct information. You need to apply for a new licence in order to use that particular machine. All the work may be too much for a small business owner that relies on himself to do everything for his business. If you have people to delegate this task to then it probably might not be such a bad idea.
Another potential problem is that some second hand machines in the market and even on eBay are bad machines that have not been returned to their proper owners i.e. supplier or manufacturer. The lease on these machines may have already ended but the device was not returned or the previous owner may have not paid his monthly dues. Some may have been stolen. The only way you can be sure that you are getting a good machine is by contacting accredited suppliers.
Remember to ask for all important documents and review everything before you sign a contract. The important points to review are maintenance, support and repairs. These will be the most expensive parts of your contract so you better be sure that you are getting a good deal.