For businesses or organizations that mail large amounts of printed material, metered mail may be the least expensive and most efficient stamping method. To send correspondence via metered mail, also called franking, a postage meter machine will stamp the postage amount directly onto envelopes or onto a label that is affixed to the envelope or parcel. The machine alleviates the need to use individual stamps and can add postage to a large number of parcels quickly. In fact, some postage meters can stamp several hundred envelopes in about one minute.
There are many kinds of machines that can generate postage for meter-labeled mail. Some are faster than others. In addition, some have scales built in. The scales allow the user to weight their mail before affixing a label to it. If the user is in doubt as to the weight of a parcel, she may need to have it weighed at a post office before mailing it. In many cases, she can affix a label and then pay the difference, if necessary.
Metered mail is typically regulated by the postal authority in each country. In the United States, it is regulated by the United States Postal Service. In India, the Department of Post, a branch of the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, regulates metered mail. In England, it is controlled by Royal Mail. Although the metered stamp for each county is different, they all have the date, postage amount, and sender details clearly marked.
Each country has its own rules and regulations that govern the way the meter-labeled mail is handled. For example, in the United States, the postage meter allows people to print postage for everything except periodicals. In addition, those who send more than 500 pieces of mail via presorted first-class metered mail will often receive a discounted rate. Most other countries offer discounts for bulk mailing as well.
There are a few general rules for people using metered mail. The mail normally must be picked up by the mail person on the same day it was stamped. In most cases, if the mail is not picked up, the postal person will require the parcel to be re-stamped with a new date. In addition, most companies require the mail to be divided between national and international parcels. Doing so can increase efficiency and may make the mail room personnel aware that a certain type of label must be affixed to the parcel.
Although many companies prefer metered mail because it saves them time and money, others prefer to use stamps. Company leaders realize that recipients of metered mail may see the mailed item as a bulk item. As a result, they may deem it insignificant and disregard the material inside the envelope. If a recipient never opens a mailed parcel, it becomes wasteful for the company or organization.