Franked mail rules: Which mistakes lead to surcharges?

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Franked mail rules: Which mistakes lead to surcharges? ...

Many businesses know about the discounts franking machines can provide compared to stamps.

But franking machines are not exempt from human error, particularly if your business is sending a high volume of mail on a regular basis.

Common breaches of franked mail rules, such as errors on weight and size of mail posted, will incur fines from Royal Mail. While a mistake with a single item of post is not a huge issue, mistakes made on a large scale can result in substantial surcharges.

In this blog, we highlight the most common franking errors which lead to these surcharges and how you can avoid them.

For advice on how to rectify the top franking mistakes, read our blog, ‘Posting  franked mail – franking mistakes & how to avoid them’.


Common franking mistakes that can incur surcharges

Measurement mistakes

It’s up to individuals in the office to understand and follow franked mail rules. As such, it’s worth noting that franking machines only check the weight of items and not the size or thickness, unlike postage pricing.

As a result, some people misuse or abuse the size guide, or break franked mail rules by franking large letters as though they are letters. Some even try to force letters through the slots in the size guide!

The cost of doing the above? Royal Mail will charge the difference plus an administration fee for doing so.

Mixing mail classes in a single pouch

If mail is separated by class and a 2nd Class mail item is found in a 1st Class postage bag, it is treated as a 1st Class mail item.

The cost? The sender will be charged the difference between the 1st Class rate and the franked amount, plus a processing charge (administration fee).

International charges

You should also be careful when franking international mail. Items franked at the cost of UK post and sent internationally – say to the Republic of Ireland – will incur additional surcharges.

Incomplete impressions

Incomplete franking impressions can result in mail not being delivered, withheld or delayed. Make sure to service your franking machine regularly to ensure impressions are being printed clearly onto mail items.

Failure to do so will result in surcharges from Royal Mail as they will not be able to read the franking mark and confirm the amount of postage paid..


How incorrectly franked items are treated by Royal Mail?

Underpaid items are still delivered by Royal Mail to the recipient – this is because Royal Mail processes up to 100 million items of mail per day, so identifying errors and returning mail would raise costs and charges to end users.

If you underpay or incorrectly frank your post, you will be charged the underpaid amount, as well as incur an additional processing charge. This can cost up to £2 per item sent internationally, but will be less for franking machines using Mailmark.

It’s also important to note that there’s no “underpayment threshold”. If items are underpaid by even a penny, you will be contacted by Royal Mail and charged.


How are underpaid funds collected?

There are two ways that funds are collected, depending on the type of franking machine you’re using. For the majority of businesses, letters detailing surcharges of over £10 (including the surcharge fee) are sent out the following week after the underpayments occur. If the charges are over £10 within a 30 day period, a consolidated letter will be issued. However, if the underpayments and fee are under £10 over a period of 30 days, Royal Mail will send a summary letter of charges.

Advice for avoiding franking mistakes:

  • Sort your franked mail into class, size and destination.
  • Use red pouches for 1st Class, green for 2nd Class, and white for international mail.
  • If you have a lot of mail, use mail bags (provided by Royal Mail) and take care to place items in the right bag depending on their mail class.

To discover more about the value of franking machines, use our checklist to find out how much franking really costs your business:

How much is your franked mail really costing you? A checklist for ensuring you're getting the best value from your franking machine.


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