Is Your Office Breaking One of these 5 Postage Meter Laws?
Posted by Megan Webb-Morgan on April 25, 2013 in Business Technology [ 0 Comments ]
Postage meters don’t sound all that dangerous – so how could you possibly be breaking the law?
Your business may benefit from the use of a postage meter if you regularly over-spend on postage, spend too much time in the post office, or send out bulk mailings to your customers and clients. However, if you aren’t following standard US Postal Service regulation, you could be stepping out of legal bounds.
1. Postage Meters Must Be Leased
Postage is considered a form of currency by the US Treasury and is, thus, highly regulated. Therefore, the USPS mandates that meters cannot be owned outright – they must be rented or leased through one of several USPS-approved vendors. This allows for private enterprise within the postage meter marketplace while also ensuring that the distribution of postage is tightly controlled.
- There are five companies in the US that are allowed to lease out postage meters to businesses and individuals. The fees and rental rates vary by company, whereas the actual postage charged is the same across the board.
2. Meters Must Be Inspected Regularly
Before the invention of digital postage meters, mechanical meters were subject to tampering and postage fraud. Although digital meters are far more secure, the USPS still mandates that meters be inspected regularly by the vendor to ensure that the lessee is in compliance and that the machine itself is in good repair.
- All meters must use the same fluorescent ink – another element of the USPS’s fraud-prevention strategy.
3. Only Certain Mail is Allowed
Postage meters can be used to send First-Class Mail, Priority Mail, Express Mail, international mail, and packages. You can also purchase insurance, delivery confirmation, or Registered Mail with a meter. All flat mail must be stamped directly by the meter; postage for packages can be printed and affixed with adhesive tape.
- Be aware: postage meters cannot be used on periodical mail – a special class of mail that includes magazines, newspapers, journals, and newsletters. Check with the USPS to determine whether your mailing falls under the category of periodical mail.
4. Bulk Mail Requires a Permit
Direct mail is still one of the most effective ways for your business to gain new customers. According to Target Marketing’s Sixth Annual Media Usage Forecast, direct mail had the highest rate of new customer acquisition (34%), as compared to 25% for email marketing.
In order to take advantage of bulk mailing rates for your direct mail campaigns, you must fill out Form 3615, Mailing Permit Application & Customer Profile at your local post office. You must submit a completed “postage affixed” postal statement with your bulk mailing and drop it off directly at the post office.
5. Drop-Off Rules
For most types of metered mail, you may drop the mailing into any postal collection box or give it to your mail carrier. You must drop off the mail on the same day that the mail is metered for. If the drop-off is delayed, you must re-print the label with the correct date.
- Bulk mailings are the exception to this rule, due to the volume of mail and the discount offered by the USPS. These mailings must be brought directly to the post office so that postal workers can confirm that it meets bulk criteria and has the correct postage affixed.
The regulations that control postage meters function to keep costs down, reduce fraud, and help businesses and individuals take advantage of the many benefits of metered mail. Make sure that you understand these regulations to ensure that your business mail is metered correctly and dropped off in the right place at the right time.