Postage Meters Lingo and Terms - A Glossary
The first step in shopping for stamp machines is understanding the lingo. Before you talk to any postage stamp machine company, get to know your way around stamp machine jargon. This will save you from confusion, frustration and renting or buying a machine that does not meet your needs.
Everyone knows what a new machine is, but this will clarify things for those looking for a used machine:
- Rebuilt Equipment
Rebuilt equipment is a complete overhaul of the mailing machine. The process starts with completely taking apart the machine, cleaning, performing a factory inspection, refinishing and finally testing. At the end of the process you’ll have a machine that looks and performs as a new machine.
- Refurbished Equipment
All components are inspected and all bad or worn parts, with less than 50% expected life, are replaced. The equipment goes through a similar rebuilding process where worn areas are refinished, and repairs are made to ensure the equipment is at peak performance. Testing is then conducted to establish that the machine is at product condition.
- Production Ready Equipment
This is a simple process involving the replacement of bad or missing parts. The unit is then tested and quickly ready to return to production.
- "As Is" Machine
When you’re considering "As Is" equipment you’ll be purchasing an up to standard, working machine. Mechanical defects should be spelled out to you by the seller. There are no warranties, and no reconditioning has been done to the machine.
Postage meters glossary
These common definitions have been arranged for you from A to Z for easy reference.
Account Codes / Account Tracking
Account codes allow you to assign the cost of postage to different departments or clients. Low-end postage stamp machine models with this feature only track a department number, while more advanced models can indicate the client name or department for billing.
Automatic Date Advance
A feature that automatically forwards the date logged in the meter so you don't risk having mail returned because the date was wrong.
Automatic Postage Reset
This feature prevents users from accidentally printing large denominations. Meters accomplish this by resetting to basic first-class letter rate after each use, or by requiring a safety button to be pushed if the amount is over $1. Either method is useful, especially if more than one person will use the machine.
A barcode is a series of vertical full bars and half bars representing ZIP Code information relative to the address on the piece of mail.
The part of the mailing system that handles the mail through the meter. Standalone meters don't require a base.
BMC (bulk mail center)
Now referred to as Network Distribution Centers (NDCs), these locations are used to process and organize outgoing mail to fewer locations to increase efficiency.
Cheshire - Label
A mailing label that is half the cost of pressure sensitive labels. These are typically printed in groups and cut by a machine into individual labels, they are then applied with glue to the mailing piece.
The mailing supplies that you use and must replenish, e.g. labels and the ink or toner used to print the postage. In some cases you may use special envelopes, or even sealing fluid, as well.
The phase-out of mechanical meters by the United States Postal Service in favor of electronic meters, in hopes of reducing mail fraud due to meter-tampering.
Decimal or Bulk Mail Meters
These are able to print postage in fractional amounts. Bulk mailings typically require postage to three decimal places, such as $0.198.
The part of the base that is used to guide an envelope through the meter. Manual feeders require the user to shepherd the piece all the way through the meter; semiautomatic feeders handle the piece from the meter opening. Automatic feeders grab envelopes and process them on their own.
Synonymous with stamping. An envelope that has received postage has been "franked."
High Value Blocking
Requires that the user take the additional step of approving postage that is over a certain amount, e.g. $1. This helps prevent the user from accidentally assigning large values of postage erroneously.
Marking printed on the envelope/package that indicates the amount of postage used, as well as the date and meter number.
Information-Based Indicia (IBI)
The postage markings printed by PC Postage products. The IBI includes bar codes that indicate postage has been paid, as well as additional shipping information.
Mail Class Die
Used to mark an envelope or package with specific markings showing a given postal classification, e.g. second-class mail.
The part of the mailing system that prints postage. Meters are federally regulated; they can be rented but not purchased.
The maximum postage the meter is able to postmark. Machines have a set maximum, usually $99.99, $9.99, or 99 cents.
Method of stacking envelopes with their flaps open so they can be moistened and sealed as they run through the sealer. Sealers that are capable of opening the envelope flap do not require nesting, but cannot be used with already-sealed envelopes (as they would rip them open while attempting to open their flaps).
Services that allow customers to download official Postal Service postage from the Internet and print it directly onto envelopes and labels using your existing printer (or, in some cases, a small proprietary printer). PC Postage can be entirely software-based, or can integrate with a small hardware storage device, which stores postage securely offline.
A password is required to use the meter, thereby preventing unauthorized users from printing postage.
Phone-Based Refill / Postage By Phone
The United States Postal Service has now mandated that all stamp machine refills be done over the phone.
The maximum amount to which the meter can be filled at the post office. Most meters go to $9,999, while a few run as high as $99,999.
Digital scales that automatically indicate the charges for multiple classes of mail, or possibly for other carriers like FedEx or UPS, store rate information in a replaceable chip. For full functionality, this chip must be replaced any time a carrier changes its rates.
A device that weighs letters or packages and, in some cases, indicates the amount of postage needed. Higher-end scales can interface with the meter so the correct postage is automatically entered.
The device that automatically seals envelopes as they are run through the meter. Most sealers can also seal envelopes that don't require postage, like paychecks.
The part of the mailing system that helps organize metered mail. A catch tray simply organizes the mail, while a power stacker actively clears the stamped mail away from the meter.
A device that will dispense a piece of tape for the system to meter. Higher-end models feature automatic tape dispensers.
There's more to learn about stamp machines than just buzz words! Read our Postage Meters Buyer's Guide for detailed advice that takes you through every stage of the purchasing process. Or, instantly learn what different stamp machines dealers can offer your business by comparing their services side-by-side.Ready to Compare Postage Meters Price Quotes?