Neopost IJ25 Postage Meter Pricing Scam

I just got off the phone with Neopost, whose postage meter I have been using for a number of years. I guess I never put together the true cost of using it. The reason for my call was that my postage meter suddenly stopped working, saying “Warning, Ink Expired”.

It turns out that the Neopost IJ25 postage meter is programmed to stop working if the same ink cartridge has been installed for more than one year (as in 365 days). When I called, I was told that we should have received a single warning about a month ago that the ink would expire soon. However, if we had pushed “Ok” that one time, the warning would disappear, and the next warning would be when the postage meter stopped working altogether. I don’t know if we got the warning or not, although nobody remembers seeing it.

Nonetheless, my Neopost IJ25 postage meter is dead in the water. The cost for a replacement ink cartridge is $124: $86 for the cartridge (!!), $29 for overnight shipping “& handling” (!!), and $9.32 for tax. 2-3 day shipping would have been $23, 10 day shipping $12. Clearly, Neopost has a strong incentive to set up their IJ25 postage meter so we would not see the warning, and is not shy about overcharging for shipping.

In addition, Neopost gouges us to update the meter for postal rate changes (so it prints 43 cents instead of 42 cents) – this was $91.89 on 12/22/08, plus a special deal $67.02 for one year of subsequent updates. In the notice, Neopost gleefully noted that the postal service has agreed to start increasing the postage more often – probably twice a year. The thing is, to get the special deal, I have agreed to automatic, non-cancelable upgrades; to cancel, I must give at least 30 days, but no more than 60 days, notice. Again, clearly designed to make it more difficult to cancel.

The only thing that is reasonably priced is the actual rental of the Neopost IJ25 postage meter and scale, at $219.57 for 12 months.

However, the actual cost of using the Neopost IJ25 meter for 12 months is: $219 rental, about $90 reprogramming, and $124 for the timed ink cartridge, or $433, or about twice the quoted rental cost. Not to mention the inconvenience of having a postage meter that dies unexpectedly and with no (practical) notice.

So why is that a scam? For the same reason that it is a scam when an airline quotes an airfare that doesn’t include baggage. Neopost should be honest about the actual cost of renting their equipment, and not gouge their customers for the rate reprogramming and ink cartridges. There is no excuse for charging $29 for overnight shipment of a 4 ounce cartridge. And, worst of all, they should not design the Neopost IJ25 postage meter to fail unexpectedly and without (practical) warning, significantly inconveniencing their customer.

You can bet that between now and next December, I will be looking into other options that don’t include a meter programmed to fail.

If anyone from Neopost cares to dispute or comment on this post, I will be happy to talk with them. If anything is incorrect, I will certainly correct it.

Dreamweaver Secure FTP (SFTP) Configuration

The Dreamweaver configuration documentation for “Secure FTP” is poor to non-existant. I am not talking about how to check Dreamweaver’s “Use Secure FTP (SFTP)” checkbox (which is trivial, but for which there is LOTS of documentation), but rather how to set up your secure server to receive the Secure FTP communication from Dreamweaver.

The trick is that Dreamweaver’s “Secure FTP” is not FTP! It is ssh! It runs on port 22, which is not configurable (within Dreamweaver, as of CS3).

So, for all of us who have wasted hours setting up an ftp server, and trying to figure out why Dreamweaver wouldn’t connect through the firewall, now you know!

You just have to set up sshd to receive connections on port 22, and don’t waste your time with vsftpd!

When configured properly, the (Ubuntu) /var/log/auth.log will report the connection via sshd, and sshd will report “subsystem request for sftp”. sftp is an ftp-like program that runs under and through ssh. You can read more about the sftp client via Linux “man sftp”. You can use the sftp client to connect between Linux computers to transfer files over ssh like you would use ftp, but with no need to set up an ftp server (again, sftp uses the sshd server).

Ubuntu Server Configuration

A few random notes.

To start the iptables rules for the firewall on startup, first, create the firewall script, adding the iptables rules one by one, and save the rules with:

iptables-save > /etc/default/iptables

Then, to load the rules automatically with the new Upstart init system, I just create a new file, /etc/event.d/iptables :

# Script to start firewall
# Save rules with iptables-save > /etc/default/iptables

start on runlevel 1
start on runlevel 2
start on runlevel 3
start on runlevel 4
start on runlevel 5

exec /sbin/iptables-restore < /etc/default/iptables

That way, you aren’t changing any existing files, just adding the new one. On every reboot, the iptables rules get loaded. You can check that they are loaded with:

sudo /sbin/iptables-save | less