A new printer tries - but fails - to take the hassle out of mailings.
(FSB - September 2006 issue) -- My branding and fashion PR consultancy, GTK Marketing Group, is constantly scrambling to get out mailings for premieres and launches. Our system is workable but a bit clunky: We keep mailing lists on Excel spreadsheets and print address labels on an ordinary inkjet printer using free mail-merge software that comes with our Avery labels from Staples. We then use the Postal Service's Click-N-Ship online-postage system (usps.com) to print a separate postage label for each invitation.
I was eager to try DYMO's nifty new LabelWriter Twin Turbo printer and postage system, which promised to eliminate some of those steps by integrating address and online-postage printing functions. The LabelWriter is a sleek little number that resembles the love child of an Epson 2200 printer and a Rolodex. Unpacking it was simple: Clear illustrations in the printer helped me load address labels on one spool and postage labels on another. The system uses thermal-imaging technology, so you don't have to fuss with ink cartridges.
While initial setup software is included, I had to download additional software for my version of Microsoft XP. (The software also works with the Mac OS and most other operating systems, but you have to download a different version for each.) Then I had to visit another site to download the DYMO Stamps application provided by Endicia, DYMO's postage fulfillment partner. DYMO Stamps includes useful wizards that help you find zip codes and calculate postage. If you mess up on the postage (which I did), you can apply for a credit, although I'm still waiting for my $2.95. Unlike competing online postage services, DYMO Stamps charges no monthly fee. You pay the actual postage cost, plus $13.95 for a roll of 150 thermal labels.
As I approached the two-hour mark for what should have been a simple installation, I concluded that setting up DYMO Stamps was way too complicated for the average time-strapped business owner. And the system doesn't solve my original problem of having to format and print two labels for each piece of mail. I'll be first in line if someone figures out a truly integrated, user-friendly postage and mailing system. Until then I'm sticking with the USPS website and my old inkjet printer.
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