As the world continues to get more digital, there are some things that will remain “analog”. One of those items is business mail. Business mail is an important part of how companies operate. Oftentimes it allows them to get paid, pay their bills, talk to customers and send documents. While some may view business mail as outdated, the benefits of business mail can’t be denied. Most customers feel that physical mail is more personalized than email. Customers also consider physical mail to be more secure than email. Not only do customers sometimes prefer physical mail, legally it may be required. There are some industries and document types that need to be sent via mail. In order to be compliant with the law some documents must be sent by mail instead of online.

For companies that send a lot of mail, the cost of their mail can impact their bottom line. The cost of postage supplies, envelopes, and stamps add up over time. Not only that but businesses find themselves paying for paper, ink and printers as well. These mailing supplies need to be checked and restocked on a regular basis. In addition to paying for mailing supplies, companies also spend time and money going to the Post Office. Taking multiple trips to the Post Office each week equates to an increase in gas cost and loss of working time.

Some companies opt for using a Postage Meter as a way to make their mail cost more efficient. What most people don’t realize though is the true cost of a Postage Meter. Oftentimes the hidden fees associated with these meters are very large. Companies may advertise their meters as “free” but that is never true. These hidden fees typically fall into one of four categories: lease, general billing, meter rental and postage.

Let’s talk about lease fees first. Lease fees may include a variety of one time or monthly fees. Examples of these fees are: installation cost, meter rental, printer head replacement, maintenance, spare parts, property taxes, value insurance and cancellation fees. Print head replacement, maintenance and spare parts may be included in your rental fee. However, you’ll want to double check this because if not you’ll be paying for those separately. Value insurance is to protect the leased equipment and cancellation fee is the cost you would incur if you end your contract early.

Next up you have general billing fees. These fees are things such as late charges, finance fees, loyalty program fees, annual account access fee, returned check fee and dormant fees. Most of these charges can be avoided if you pay your bill on time and remain in good standing. Annual account fees often cover your priority customer service calls. Yes, you have to pay to get customer support for most meter companies.

Third, you have your meter rental costs. These costs are usually the first rental invoice, interim rent charge and rental rate charge. The first rental rate invoice is the prorated invoice for the first month. This is necessary if you had your meter installed sometime other than the first of the month. The interim rent charge is the time between the installation date and start of the lease date. The rental fee rate is the monthly or yearly cost to rent the meter. It’s important to check this rate in your contract as sometimes these rates are only good for a year. This means that come the following year your rental fee may go up.

Finally you have postage costs. Postage costs can include postal rate change fees, refill/reset charges, over limit fees and postage advances. Each year the USPS changes their rates, this means you are charged a postal rate change fee. For any necessary refills you may be charged a fee as well as if you go over your limit. An over limit fee can be as much as $700.

Along with the fees incurred while having a Postage Meter, you are often locked into a three or five year contract. If your mail volume changes drastically during this contract you can find that your mail costs are increased. For small businesses being locked into a contract this long can impact their ability to make business changes and grow. Locking a company into a contract is beneficial to the Postage Meter companies but not the clients they are serving.

As previously noted, there is no way around sending business mail. Customers sometimes prefer it and sometimes it’s required by law. While you may not be able to stop sending business mail, you can make it easier. Online mailing solutions, such as Switch, give customers the ability to send mail easily. Switch is a subscription-free way to send mail online. With no subscription, no mailing supplies and no trips to the Post Office, Switch saves companies both time and money. Gone are the days of having to restock mailing supplies or waste time going to the Post Office. Utilize Switch to get your business mailing done faster and for less money.