A Beginner's Guide to Franking Mail
The video above will introduce you to the basics of using a franking machine.
N.B. For specific rules, set up and details of ongoing use we also have a more advanced guide.
Installing a Franking Machine
As for setting it up, many franking machines are self-install models, and can be set up reasonably quickly, though some will come with the option to be installed by a trained engineer.
Producing Franked Mail
Once everything is in place and ready to go, how do you actually use your device? (You can also view visual instructions in the video above).
Firstly, the letter to be franked is placed onto the weigh scales. In the case of mechanical scales, the weight will need to be manually entered or selected from the user interface on the franking machine. Digital scales attached to the machine do not require this.
Secondly, the class and type of item to be posted is selected from the franking machines user interface (e.g. first or second class, letter, large letter of packet). Many machines will calculate the charge from the weight but a few may require this to be selected from the tariff. Other details such as company logo, return address or message can also be selected for the franking process.
Then once the correct details have been selected, the letter is fed through and into the machine, facing upwards. Some machines have an automatic feeder function.
The letter is now franked and ready to be sorted and bundled for posting.
Note: If the machine has a cost centre feature, it may require that the user logs in before using the machine. The user shouldn't forget to log out after completing their franking!
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Posting Franked Mail
Any mail that is franked must be posted on the same day and in the area shown on the franking mark. If you miss the last post, then the mail must be re-franked with the next day's date.
For an item to be accepted by Royal Mail, the frank must be in the top right hand corner of the letter, in red ink, and be a clear legible print. If you ship goods in coloured packaging, then it is recommended than you frank onto a label that is then stuck onto the mail.
Franked mail has to be sorted into bundles of letters in the same class with the franking mark facing upwards. These bundles are then placed into special pouches which are supplied by the Royal Mail.
First class mail goes into red pouches and second class mail into green pouches. If you produce large volumes of mail daily, then the Royal Mail will supply your business with mail sacks or trays for you to place your post.
It is important you do not place any non-franked mail in with the franked mail bundles.
Franking Machine Features
Some models of franking machine are designed to make the task of franking as fast and efficient as possible. These are usually designed for mid and large volumes of mail. The basic models for low volume use may lack some or many of these features, or be limited on the features.
Digital weigh scales are not always a standard feature of a franking machine. In some models they are an additional extra that can be connected to the machine, while in other models there may be no facility for directly weighing the items to be franked (requiring the purchase of a separate weigh scale).
Some franking machines come with the basic ability to add a company logo or a message, with greater features for the high volume models. The mid and high volume models may have an automatic letter feed but the low volume models usually require manual feeding of the items. Another feature that is useful for the larger business is the addition of cost centres which allow individuals and departments to send post from their own budgets.
Franking machines usually have a quoted number of items that they can frank in an hour. Mid volume machines can generally frank between 3,000-6,000 items per hour, allowing the franking process to be done in the fastest time. Virtually all franking machines are able to provide a basic statement of the franking usage and more detailed statements, invoices and receipts are supplied in the higher usage models.
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