If you are buying or renting a postage meter in Canada you essentially have three choices of manufacturer. Many people think that there is only one meter rental company authorized to sell postage equipment in Canada. In fact there are three companies who are the manufacturers of equipment and who have approval from Canada Post for providing postage meters. These companies in alphabetical order are: Francotyp-Postalia Canada, Neopost Canada and Pitney Bowes Canada.
When you review proposals for meters you need to understand a number of issues.
Postage equipment can be bought, leased or rented and at times these terms are interchanged by the suppliers. You need to understand which of these three forms of contract you are entering into when you sign any deal. Always remembering there is a "meter charge" which is separate from the equipment charge that must be paid for use of the regulated meter. Some vendors bundle the meter and equipment together but there are always charges for both. Choose your postage meter here
Rental only devices. It is common in the industry to have rental only agreements for some of the smaller units, the more manual systems that are used for lower postage volumes. These are often quoted as "all in" pricing including the equipment rental, meter rental, resets, rate changes, digital fee, and extended maintenance in one monthly rate. Be sure to read the fine print to make sure everything the salespersion said was included really is. Rent a postage meter for as little as $19 monthly.
In addition to the equipment and meter charges there are other fees which will be charged: rate change fees; charged to upgrade the software when Canada Post changes postal rates, reset fees; charged each time that you download new postage to your machine, digital contract fees; essentially a charge the manufacturers levy to deal with reporting postage usage to Canada Post (the name of this fee is different with each manufacturer), Extended Maintenance Fee; this fee covers the costs of repair to the hardware while you run it. More details of what costs you will incur.
Contract term. Each postage contract will be set for a duration of time. Common agreements are for 60 or 66 months although agreements as short as 24 months are possible. Be aware of the termination date of your contract so you know when the renewal should be expected. It is common practice for some vendors to approach clients as far as 24 months from the renewal date to get them to "upgrade" on a new term. This can cost you money you do not need to spend and over time inflates your total cost of the system.
Rate quotes. It is generally expected that rates are quoted at a monthly equivalent based upon a lump sum annual payment. If you choose to pay quarterly (most common contract) or monthly there will be an upcharge for the more frequent billing, usually four or five dollars a month extra could be added on. This may vary with size of equipment. This is often not disclosed at time of signing the contract.
- Insurance. Make sure to add your new postage equipment to your current contents or building insurance plan. Failure to do so may make you incur additional monthly or quarterly charges from the vendor. 'Value Max' insurance offered by one vendor may not offer much value when you could add the cost of the equipment insurance to your existing insurance coverage for free.
- The actual postage meter, the part of the device which controls the amount of postage placed on the envelope, remains the property of Canada Post but be rented on a contract basis from your chosen supplier. It is this part that is called the meter (usually a circuit board within the hardware device) which is regulated by Canada Post. Essentially its a way to print money in the form of postage you have pre-paid for.
There is much more that you will want to learn before you enter into a contract with a vendor. Doing your homework can help you make a better buying decision. Finding a vendor who is really interested in helping you make an informed decision by explaining the details of the contract, the full range of charges and the constraints of their contract is an important part of the buying equation. If possible look for an independent dealer that will act as your advocate between you and the manufacturer.
As a dealer of mailing equipment (full disclosure: we are a dealer,) we have a bias towards a solution sold through a dealer rather than direct from the manufacturer. Since mailing equipment is bought only infrequently, working with a vendor who can support you in other areas of your office needs can make for a more solid relationship which will carry over to your mailing equipment as well. The mailing equipment manufacturers are usually only interested in getting you under contract for as long as they can and then moving on to the next available opportunity.