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A franking machine can bring with it ample advantages in terms of financial and time savings, however, is buying a second hand franking machine the best idea? What may appear to be a bargain on first glance could prove to be costly when it comes to second hand franking machines. We’ve investigated this further to find out which route is preferred: new or second hand.
Why buy a second hand franking machine?
A second hand franking machine is considerably cheaper than a brand new machine making it a tempting purchase. Buying a franking machine is different from buying and selling other office equipment as franking machines are licensed and regulated by the Royal Mail. This means it cannot simply be resold and reused like other equipment. A second hand franking machine will be much cheaper but it will bring with it a host of nitty gritty licensing and configuration issues as well as other potential problems down the line.
- Royal Mail License: A Royal Mail franking license is essential, in order to obtain this Royal Mail must inspect and approve the machine for use.
- Life Span: The average life span of one of these machines is 10 years, if you buy one new it will remain a solid investment in your office for years to come. However, a second hand franking machine has most likely experienced some wear and tear and maybe even damages. It is not surprising that you will find yourself replacing or fixing parts of the used machine. Once the machine begins to break, you will find yourself repairing it out of your pocket – using the initial money saved from buying a second hand machine.
- Configuration: As the machine has been used previously, it is likely to be registered and configured to the previous owner. This means an engineer will need to reconfigure the machine to your postal code (you will not be able to use it until it has been reconfigured to your area).
- Blacklisted machines: secondhand franking machines found online could be blacklisted machines that have been leased but not returned to the manufacturer after the lease period ends. These machines are essentially stolen and will not work.
- Maintenance support: Before you buy a secondhand machine check if the manufacturer still has the ability to provide parts and support in maintaining the franking machine. Without this, repairing it may be impossible.
With these considerations in place, it could cost you more in the long run to buy a secondhand franking machine due to the extra problems that they may come with. This leads us to question whether a new franking machine may be a better option.
If you are looking for a cheaper option and are not sure it’s the right time for your business to buy a franking machine, renting could be an option for you. The cost of renting differs depending on the volume of mail processed, the size and the ability of the machine. You can rent a new, secondhand or reconditioned machine, the latter being a great alternative.
A reconditioned machine will have had any damaged or weakened areas replaced, reducing your costs and ensuring the machine runs well.
By renting a franking machine you are able to optimise the postal benefits without having to dig deep to cover the total cost of the machine as well as any maintenance and repairs the machine requires. A franking machine rental can cost as little as £23 per month and often includes the cost of maintenance within the agreement.
Second Hand or Reconditioned Franking Machine?
Fortunately, there are reconditioned and occasionally ex-demonstration models available from approved suppliers if you call to enquire. An ex-demonstration model could be found for a very reasonable price (an almost 50% saving!) however, they are rare and you may need to ‘shop around’ to find one. We feel this is worth the extra effort though due to the fantastic savings and the good quality and condition of the franking machine. Remember, a reconditioned or ex-demonstration model will be fully functioning with relatively little wear and tear compared to a secondhand machine where the condition varies considerably.
Royal Mail Approved Suppliers of Franking Machines
When buying a franking machine always make sure you buy from a Royal Mail approved seller. To make this easier, you can find the list of companies that are approved to sell secondhand/ reconditioned machines here.
Although there are not too many approved suppliers we strongly recommend you ensure you choose one that is approved. A Royal Mail approved supplier has been checked and the products they are selling are recognised as meeting the strict requirements therefore you can be sure of the quality.
Considerations before buying your machine
We touched on some of the considerations earlier, but we will look at them in more detail here. The last thing you want is to purchase a second hand machine only to find it has been blacklisted or is not in working condition.
License and registration: The franking machine you buy will need to be licensed by the Royal Mail. This means changing the license and registration of the second hand machine so it is under your name and within your postal region. The license may not be given if the franking machine in question is unreliable or unserviceable and without the license the machine cannot be used. Without registration, you will not be able to top up the machine with stamps or labels, you may also find re-registering an older machine to be problematic and time consuming.
Meter and serial numbers: earlier we mentioned the chance that a second hand machine found online may be stolen or ‘blacklisted’. An easy way to check before purchase is to take the meter and serial number to the manufacturer to find out the status of the machine. If it was stolen or not returned after the lease the manufacturer will tell you and you will save yourself a lot of money and bother.
Service log book: The log book is a great reference point when you want to know the history of the machine, how it runs and the parts that have been replaced. You should be able to see how the machine has been operating up until that point and this will be a very helpful indicator as to whether or not it is worth the money. If the log book has many service calls and replaced parts you may want to look for another machine, or you may want to confirm all the issues logged have since been resolved before you buy.
These quick checks and considerations could save you from choosing the wrong franking machine, it is sometimes easy to forget all the factors that impact the effectiveness of a machine (especially a second hand one). Think of it like a second hand car, you want to know its full history and working order before you buy it and it’s the same for a franking machine.
A franking machine can save your business a large amount of money and time, however, if you try to cut corners when choosing which machine to buy or rent you may find yourself worse for wear down the line. With the rules and restrictions in place, it may make finding the right machine more time consuming but when you do it will not let you down. A second hand machine may prove extremely beneficial if you buy through a Royal Mail approved company. There are many important precautions that should be taken but if all of this is in order you may save yourself a lot of money. However, if the secondhand machine bought proves to be in poor condition it could cost you more money than it would’ve cost to buy a brand new machine in the first place. Follow our tips and you should be able to save money both now and in the future.