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.