The battle between printer makers and third-party ink/toner makers continues with news that Hewlett-Packard has added blocks to stop non-HP ink being used in their printers. Here’s how to avoid paying more than you need to.
This has been going on for years. Printer manufacturers now make most of their money from sales of consumables (mostly ink or toner) rather than the original machines.
Forcing (sorry ‘encouraging’) customers to use ‘original’ supplies takes many forms. There’s the subtle wording (such as word ‘original’ itself) to suggestions that supplies from elsewhere could be of lower quality or even damage your printer. Then there’s harder tactics like making printers that will only work with supplies that come with unique chips (the printer checks for the special cartridge chip and won’t work if it’s not present).
Buying ‘original’ manufacturer branded supplies would not be so bad if they weren’t so overpriced and sometimes offer less than third-party options.
Here’s some suggestions for saving money on your printer needs.
- Buy in advance. Stores and printer makers rely on people waiting until they’ve run out of ink/toner before rushing to get more. You pay a high premium for that rushed purchase or express shipping.
- Keep an eye on your ink/toner levels and order cheaply online before it’s needed.
- ‘Original’ manufacturer labelled consumables are often available online for a much lower price.
- Go to a reputable online store like Amazon or Ebay merchants with an established record.
- Personally, we stick with ‘original’ supplies if they are available at a reasonable (ie non-retail) price. A small premium is worth it for the reduced hassle.
- Alternatively, try third-party ink/toner consumables (not refills). Check in your local office supplies stores, make a note of any third-party brands for sale. Give one a try (use the store refund policy, if necessary/available) and, if suitable, look online to buy the same brand in future.
- Many Office-Watch.com readers swear by refilled cartridges but we’ve never had a good experience with them. You can buy original cartridges that have been refilled with ink/toner or buy the equipment to refill your own consumables.
- Don’t upgrade the firmware on your printer. Firmware updates can fix obscure bugs but more often they are self-serving for the manufacturer. By all means, update the printer if there’s a specific fix you need but don’t update automatically. There’s always the chance that the update will lock out your preferred third-party cartridges.