Postage meters may sound like a great way to save time and money, but the added operating costs associated with a postage machine can increase dramatically. You might think that you’ve covered all necessary fees just by buying a postage meter and paying $25 to over $50 a month to rent/lease it, but hidden fees often lurk beneath the fine print in your contract. Your business could spend $90 or more each month before you print any postage.
So what type of hidden postage meter fees should you watch out for?
Proprietary Ink Cartridges:
Postage meters only work with proprietary ink cartridges that are specifically made for the meters, The ink itself can cost up to $0.10 per print. As an alternative, online postage software like Stamps.com uses your own printer and costs about 1/100th of a penny to print postage.
Postage Reset Costs:
Recharging your meter with funds to buy more postage isn’t always free. Whether you’re buying a refill online or over the phone, you will need to pay a reset fee. It can add up – costs could get as high as $10 per recharge.
Equipment Insurance/Maintenance Agreement:
Postage meter contracts want you to purchase equipment insurance, often referred to as a maintenance agreement for additional monthly costs (usually around $12 per month). If your meter breaks and you don’t have the maintenance agreement, you’ll be stuck paying for costly repairs to get it fixed.
Early Termination Fee:
Postage meter contracts are complex documents and usually last several years. Ending your contract early can trigger an “early termination fee” costing your business hundreds or even thousands of dollars.
Equipment Return Fee:
Once your meter contract is over, the customer often is responsible for mailing back the large and cumbersome meter at your cost, no matter if you ended your contract early or if you fulfilled your long-term lease.
Additional Equipment Costs:
The postage meter isn’t the only thing you’ll need to print postage. While most people assume the scale is part of the meter, some meters require a separate rental fee for the integrated scale. And without a working scale, your meter is wont be very effective.
Annual Postage Rate Updates:
Postage meter companies also may charge you to update the postage rates on your postage meter for annual USPS rate increases, or else your machine won’t work.
If you use a company logo or a rotating seasonal image on your postage, it will not only cost you more in ink to print but the postage meter company also will charge you up to $95 per image customization fee.
Stamps.com Online Postage Contains No Hidden Fees
Thankfully, you don’t need to sign up with a postage meter company in order to print postage. Stamps.com lets you print USPS-approved postage using your PC and printer, which translates into no additional costs for you. Starting at $15.99 a month, Stamps.com’s service costs a fraction of what postage meter companies charge. Also, there are no multi-year contracts or proprietary ink costs with Stamps.com.
Additionally, Stamps.com offers free or discounted Delivery Confirmation and a 10 percent discount on package insurance, rate discounts on Express and Priority Mail, address verification and “cost code” reports to outline how much you’ve spent on a particular customer or shipment.