A postage scale is an extremely sensitive scale which is designed specifically for weighing pieces of mail to determine how much postage should be used. Many offices have a postage scale, which is used to avoid overpayment of postage and to make mailing in general more efficient. Many companies manufacture postage scales which also have metering capabilities, for use in businesses of all sizes.
There are two basic designs for postage scales. Some are mechanical, meaning that mail is placed onto a weighing platform and the weight is reflected with a needle, and others are digital, displaying the weight of the mail on an easy to read screen. Mechanical postage scales are often used by small businesses which do not want to invest in a more expensive digital version. However, using a mechanical scale comes with cautions, as the springs inside will stretch over time, ultimately yielding incorrect readings. Also, a mechanical postage scale usually does not tell the user how much the postage will be, only how much the mail weighs. The user must compare the weight to a chart of published postal prices
A digital postage scale, on the other hand, will read accurately for a much longer period of time. In addition, a digital postage scale is usually linked with a database of postage prices, so it will tell the user how much the mail weighs and how much the postage should be. Periodic electronic updates ensure that the scale is accurate. In many cases, a digital postage scale also shows comparison prices, indicating how much the mail will cost when sent by different methods.
When bundled with a postage meter, a postage scale also prints the necessary postage directly onto the mail or onto a small adhesive strip. Typically, the money for the postage comes from an account which the user maintains with the post office. Using a postage scale with a meter allows a business to take care of every step of the mailing process in the office, rather than obliging the business to send someone to the post office to put postage on the mail.
To use a postage scale effectively, a business should keep an ample supply of postage stamps on hand. The major reason for using a scale is to save money on postage, so mailroom staff ought to have the tools to make precise postage. The scale should also periodically be calibrated, to ensure that it is reading correctly.