Franking machines were first invented in 1884 in response to security problems experienced by the postal service. The first such machine was invented by Norwegian Engel Frankmussler, hence the terms ‘Frank’ and ‘Franking’. It was initially called a ‘postal stamp affixing machine’ but by 1902, thanks to various inventors around the world who were working on similar ideas, the Pitney Company of America had begun to produce such machines in bulk.
Using a franking machine is basically an easy way in which to pay for postage, particularly if you have a lot of mail to post. They are used by all kinds of companies from small businesses to large corporations and there are no restrictions on volumes of postage. There are also discounts available depending on the amount of mail processed.
Franking machines come in all sorts of sizes and models ranging from small machines that can be rented from £20 per month to large complex machines that process large amounts of mail per minute and which consequently cost much more to rent. Most companies hire machines as the initial capital outlay involved in buying one can be substantial. In most cases machines are usually topped up or recredited by telephone. This eliminates the need for petty cash, stamps or cheques.
Franking machines often come with integrated weighing scales, although some models don’t in which case you usually have to use your own. Many machines will also enable you to apply a business logo or marketing slogan as part of the frank. They have to be licenced with the Royal Mail and such licences come with the machine when you obtain one from a supplier. The Royal Mail maintains a list of approved suppliers.
Secondhand or reconditioned
Some machines can be obtained second hand, but this can be a costly process as they have to be re-registered with the Royal Mail and a new licence obtained. The whole procedure can cost more than the cost of the machine itself. There is also a risk, where some machines are offered for sale on websites like ebay, of ending up with a stolen machine, so you often have to check the display and serial number with the original manufacturer in order to avoid such a risk. If you are going to go down this route, and large savings can be made by buying or renting a secondhand or reconditioned machine, it is best to do so through a reputable supplier, for example Mailcoms which has a variety of reconditioned machines on offer, many of them ex-demonstration models.