It’s tempting to think that a second hand franking machine might be a good bargain, but the truth is that a second hand franking machine, unless purchased from one of the very few legitimate suppliers on the market, may end up costing you more than a new franking machine.
Why a second hand franking machine may not be a good bargain
Franking machines are unlike other items of office equipment which may easily be bought and sold second hand. In order for a franking machine to be credited with postage funds it must be registered with one of the four Royal Mail approved manufacturers. A franking machine, whether new or second-hand, must also be inspected and licenced for use by the Post Office.
A second hand franking machine may have been registered and configured for use in a different postal region from the one in which you will be using it. Furthermore, with an average lifespan of about ten years with regular usage, the franking machine you purchase second hand may need replacement print heads, or may have a damaged weighing platform that could lead to inaccurate postage charges being applied to your mail.
The cost of rectifying any configuration issues or problems with a second hand franking machine could feasibly end up costing more than the price of a new machine. More importantly there is the possibility that the second hand franking machines you find on auction websites or in small advertisements are actually machines that have been leased from the manufacturer but have not been returned when the lease expired. Such machines are blacklisted by the Royal Mail as they are effectively classed as ‘lost or stolen’.
A final point to consider is that a second hand franking machine may have been rendered obsolete by the manufacturer, which means that obtaining support and consumables for it may be difficult or even impossible.
Second Hand & Reconditioned Franking Machines For Sale
There are companies that deal in reconditioned and second hand franking machines and this might be a cheaper option. Second hand machines can be a great way to obtain some major savings with many such machines being sold as ex-demonstration models. One example is the Neopost IJ25. This costs around £995 new but you can buy it second hand as an ex-demonstration model for £495.
Reconditioned machines for rent
Second hand and reconditioned machines can also be rented, with similar savings available. The same Neopost IJ25 can be rented for £22.95 per month including support and maintenance or £29 if you throw in replacement ink cartridges. This machines is available mainly from Mailcoms who offer a wide range of second hand and reconditioned machines.
Things to Consider Before Buying Used
The first thing to consider when buying a second hand or reconditioned machine is the question of licence transfer. Transferring Royal Mail licences might be a bit of a problem in that it can be quite a costly process. Before using the machine you have to register it in order to be able to re-credit it and top up the credits. Then you will need a licence from the Royal Mail. The whole process may very well cost you more than you have paid for the machine itself.
Unfortunately, it seems that franking machines are being listed on ebay, according to a blog run by the Mailcoms company. This is despite the fact that they are essentially a ‘prohibited item’. Therefore it is a good idea to check the meter and serial number with the manufacturer, otherwise you might find yourself buying a stolen machine.
Before buying or renting a second hand machine it is a good idea to check how many impressions the machine has made in its lifetime so far in order to judge how long the machine will last. Reconditioned machines should come with a warranty covering you in the event of breakdown.
Such machines may be better than buying second hand anyway as they will have been fitted with new components as part of the reconditioning process. Before making any agreement to buy or rent, check the machines service record book or, if this isn’t available, obtain some kind of guarantee that the machine has undergone regular service throughout its life.
The record book will enable you to see which parts have been replaced. It will also enable you to see whether there have been a high number of service calls logged, and if it is not clear why such calls have been made, it is probably a good idea to stay well clear.
Getting a franking machine at the best price
The safest way to bag a franking machine bargain is to compare the machines on offer through the Royal Mail’s list of approved franking machine manufacturers and distributors at http://www2.royalmail.com/discounts-payment/franking/approved-manufacturers-suppliers-inspectors-and-maintainers
Depending upon the volume of business mail you send out daily, a brand new franking machine can be purchased for less than £500, but there is a sufficient choice of franking machines on the UK market to cater for most budgets and requirements.
If the capital cost of a new franking machine still deters you from investing, new franking machines can be leased from as little as £20 per month.