Pacific Mailing & Shipping Systems, Inc.
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Postage Meter FAQ's


What is a postage meter ?

A postage meter is a mailing system that prints postage directly on the envelope (or on an adhesive tape) for any type of mail -- First Class, Priority Mail, Express Mail, or package services (Library Mail, Book Rate, etc.); International air mail, registered mail, certified mail, or other special services.

What is a Meter ?
The meter is the critical part of your mailing system. It prints the indicia and stores the postage funds.

What is a Base ?
The base is essentially an envelope handler, designed to transport the item to be "franked," or stamped, through the meter.
The four main parts of a base include the feeder, sealer, stacker, and tape dispenser.

A feeder guides envelopes through the meter. Although you can get a low-end meter without a feeder, feeding a large mailing by hand is going to be pretty tedious.

A sealer moistens the envelope flap and closes it. The sealer is normally built into the feeder to allow automatic envelope sealing.

After mail is stamped, it must be cleared from the machine. This requires a stacker. Low-end stackers are no more than a catch tray placed at the edge of the meter and designed to hold metered pieces of mail.

Power stackers can stack more envelopes by using a conveyor mechanism to move the stamped pieces away from the meter's edge.

Tape dispenser
In some cases, it is not possible to print an indicia directly onto a mailing piece - like with a large package. In these cases, strips of adhesive paper called "tape" are fed through the meter and affixed to the package. The tape is stamped with the indicia.

What is a Scale ?
A scale weighs letters or packages and tells you how much postage to apply to your mail piece. Interfaced models automatically apply that amount when you put the piece through the meter.


Who sets postage rates ?

The United States Postal Service sets the rates and regulations we follow.


How would I purchase new postage for my postage meter ?

You don't need to go to the Post Office for this. New postage is downloaded directly into your postage meter at the touch of a button through FP Mailing Solutions Direct Debit program. New postage can also be charged to your credit card or via e-check. There is no need for sending in manual checks and waiting days for postage to be added to your account.


What happens when the USPS® increases their rates ?

For older models, your local FP Mailing Solutions representative would send you a new rate card or chip for your postage meter/scale. For newer models, your postage meter will download the updates via internet download. You can get protection against frequent postal rate increases through programs such as FP Rate Guard™.


Can I buy a postage meter ?

No, all postage meters regardless of manufacturer are rented and cannot be owned. These postage meters are highly regulated by the USPS® because they hold actual U.S. currency. On mid to high volume machines, the postage meter is just a small piece of the machine itself. The machine itself can be purchased or leased.


What are the reasons for having a postage meter ?

Printed postage from a postage meter has many advantages. It promotes a professional image for your growing business, gives you the ability to assign exact postage, saves trips to the Post Office, allows you to send mail in different classes and track the costs of specific mailing campaigns. All of which can save your business up to 20 percent of mailing costs in the long run. Postage meters also get the benefit of a $0.01 per piece savings on letters up to 3.5 ounces as opposed to buying stamps at the Post Office.


What happens if something goes wrong with my postage meter ?

FP Mailing Solutions has a local dealer network with technical support representatives all over the United States. They will be able to assist you with any problems you might have. Also, by law, customers are not allowed to open the postage meter component since it contains live postage.


What happens to the postage funds in my old postage meter if I decide to switch to a FP Mailing Solutions postage meter ?

You would need to return your old meter to the old manufacturer. The money would be refunded to you from the USPS®.


What if I send out only packages, how would I get the stamp the the postage meter creates onto the package ?

You would run a self-adhesive postage meter tape through the postage meter and attach it to the package.


What is IBIP ?

The USPS® initiated the Information-Based Indicia Program (IBIP) to enhance the security of postage metering by supporting new methods of applying postage to mail. The information based indicia (IBI) is printed by the postage meter or other forms of PC postage systems on mail pieces. The IBIP program is designed to give the post office greater visibility & security of mail. In addition, the use of the 2-D barcode removes levels of sorting within the mailing process cycle, which in turn will speed the delivery of a mail piece.


What is franking ?

This is a term generally used in Europe in regards to postage meters. Franking is synonymous with stamping. An envelope that has received postage has been "franked". Here in the U.S. you will most probably hear the term "metering your mail", where the word "metering" comes from the word postage meter.


What is a franking machine ?

A franking machine is the same thing as a postage meter. This is a term generally used in Europe in regards to postage meters. Here in the U.S. they are referred to as postage meters or mailing machines.


Is a mailing machine or a franking machine the same thing as a postage meter ?



Why can't I get my postage meter from the USPS® ?

Federal regulations prevent the USPS® from competing with private enterprise. The Postal Service is a regulatory authority, determining product compliance with regulations and supplying product authorization on the basis of demonstrated compliance.


What if I make a mistake when printing postage from my postage meter ?

Unused indicia or postage printed with your meter may be considered for refund only if they are complete, legible and submitted within 60 days of the date in the meter stamp. These unused meter stamps are refunded at a postal retail window. For specific details, contact your local Post Office.


Will I be able to use my postage meter for all types of mail ?

Postage meters are currently authorized for use on all mail services (except periodicals), including Domestic First-Class Mail® services, Priority Mail® services, Express Mail® services, Parcel Post™, International Mail, Presorted First-Class Mail discount services, and Extra Services.


What if I am sending a package or envelope that requires extra postage, how will I know how much to set the postage amount to on the postage meter ?

Postage meters come with postal scales which are often integrated into the postage meter itself. Simply place the envelope or package on the scale, and the correct postage is determined and set immediately.