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Printer ink cartridge prices: A rip-off or what?


Printer ink cartridge prices: A rip-off or what?

First I'd like to apologize if this comes off as a rant, but this has been bugging me for quite some time. Recently I went to the local giant retailer to buy some replacement ink cartridges. The colors and black cartridges needed replacing, and in total the four cartridges would cost me more than $60 dollars. While looking at the cartridges I couldn't help but notice that some of the HP inkjet printers on the shelves cost less than my four replacement cartridges. And for $10 dollars more I could just buy a brand-new printer similar to mine with fresh ink and all. I was quite baffled and I struggled to understand this logic. For a while I stood there debating whether I should just buy a newer printer instead of replacement ink, but then I thought what a waste it would be, as my printer at home works perfectly fine.

I just don't understand the logic here; why are ink cartridges so darn expensive? My four cartridges cost as much as a brand-new printer. Why wouldn't you just buy new printers every time the ink ran out? Long story short, I ended buying the cartridges, but I felt cheated knowing that the cartridges cost more if not the same as a new printer. Surely I can't be the only one who feels this way. Are there alternatives to buying those expensive cartridges or am I stuck having to go through this debate again several months down the line? How does everyone else deal with it? Opinions welcome. Thank you in advance.

--Submitted by Marilyn M.

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re Lazer Printers.

another alternative is to purchase a used one from vendors on EBay. there are many companies that will sell you these printers with relatively low page counts. In 2007 I bought one at one of these wholesalers for 56 Dollars. it was an hp 5si deskjet. It is a bit of a boat anchor but I have had it for all of this time and I have not run out of toner yet. it will print sheets up to 11x17 and has two paper trays.

I have printed cases of paper out of it and it keeps on ticking. It also has the network card installed and I send documents from six computers in my house.

I have used 123 before and the toner that I got to refill a Lexmark worked well until the toner cartridge started spewing out excess toner into the printer.

Refilling a toner cartridge does work until it can no longer hold the spent toner. As most printers today do not have a drain bottle for the spent toner. There is also developer in the cartridge that needs to be replaced as well. This can jam up the cartridge as well.

You can usually get two refills into a toner cartridge before you need to retire it.

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THINK ABOUT IT printers are free



MY INKJET PRINTER, LIKE YOU PAID $60, NOW I PAY $2.43 FOR BLACK AND A COMBO OF ALL 3 COLOURS + BLACK = $10=$13 and this company makes profit!! so you see the atrocious profits the maker and retailer share

try 123inkcartridges dotca

they also give you back 2% rewards fornfuture use

one retailer had 2 different cartridges numbers for the same cartridge, for 2 different model machines, imagine that..charging $5 more for the same cartridge

not refilled, not remanufactured, but no=name brand, and for these insanely low prices, you get more ink. i would not be surprised if the oem is also the makers of the aftermarket pieces

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I also did the same !

Not being very fond of useless paperworks, I nevertheless own a very old HP 4L which has been through my successive PC OS changes from Windows 3 at time of purchase up to Win 7 and even 8 on my actual home network.
I use it as my default printer and use exclusively HP made toner cartridges (as long as they will be available?). These usually last for up to two years.
For occasionnal colour prints, I purchased a discounted Konica Minolta magicolor 2400W five years ago and still have its originally supplied toner cartridges about half full !
Though I agree that the price of replacement cartridges is a rip off, I strongly object to the scandalous practice consisting of wasting a complete machine just because a small part of it may need replacing.

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I agree with you 100%. That is the very reason why I got rid of my inkjet printer. The Cartridges are entirely expensive.
Yes, in my opinion, Laser Printers are the way to go. Especially if you want to save money..

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I agree

I got a new HP color laser printer just last week and really am glad to have made the switch. It was about 200 bucks on sale and came with "starter" toner. As you said, how much do you really need to print? A little - no ink to dry up or heads to clog. A lot? Cost per page so much lower.

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Couldn't agree more. Three years ago after the 2nd time I had to buy more ink for my roommate's printer I bought a cheap laser printer and haven't regretted it since.

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printer ink cartridge cost

I agree and bought a B&W multifunction laser printer long ago. With a little math you will find that ink for inkjet printers currently sells at a rate of over $5000.00 a gallon! Refilling old cartridges is a way to reduce net expense, but the cartridges can only be refilled a limited number of times. Using a B&W laser printer is a good alternative, but a problem occurs when you need to print in color, and keeping a spare inkjet printer around to use only when color is needed results in ink drying out prematurely during the idle periods. Color laser printers might seem like a good alternative at first, but a little investigating confirms that replacement color laser cartridges are also a major rip off. There is no current law to protect us from this outrageous price gouging situation perpetuated by the printer manufacturers in a system akin to a monopoly wherein they set prices in conjunction with each other, so perhaps we should lobby for one! A little anti-trust action against them might go a long way toward correcting this situation.

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I know it's different

for buissnesses but for me at home I got tired of purchasing re-fills when I rarely ever print in color . I even started buying a printer every time I needed ink and giving the old printer away because it was cheaper. Everyone I know has a spare printer now lol, so I decided to purchase a laser printer that just prints black. I love it, I've had it about a year now and haven't changed toner one time yet . I do have extra toner and a new chip for when I need it but I don't think that's going to be for quite awhile Cool ....Digger

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replace ink

I BUY my ink at local super market and refill my cartridge as it is a look through to see level

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True but ...

I agree that the ink jet cartridges are often far too expensive. Some cartridges have slowly come down, but others have actually gone up in the last year or so.

For the most part the printer manufacturers are following the "King Gillette" business model, given them the razor, sell them the blades. (Yes, there really was a man named King Gillette, and he really was the founder of the American Safety Razor Company, later known as the Gillette Safety Razor Company.) This business model is still in use by Gillette (now a part of Proctor & Gamble) and the other razor companies like Schick.

If printer manufacturers charged a true price on the consumer level printers, that would potentially slow sales and potentially limit use. I recall hearing a NPR radio interview with an executive of Lexmark several years ago. He fully described the business model and said they did not make a profit until the second round of new fully loaded printer cartridges were purchased. I suspect that was and is accurate for all printer manufacturers of consumer level printers. Kodak tried something a bit different and charged more for their printers, but much less for their cartridges. Sadly Kodak, was forced into bankruptcy and is no longer in the consumer printer business.

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I bought a Esp 7250 Kodak a couple years ago it works great for Scanning or printing Photo's or Text.. BUT They make Ink cartridges that look the same, a 10 and a 30 the 30 holds more ink and will fit but not work in my printer.. I ran out of Blk and Color ink quickly after only printing only 2 photo's and a few coupons.. The ad when I bought the printer said Blk ink was $9 but I am paying $12 So I just bought the Black and said I can get by with that.. NOT. The printer would not work I contacted support and was told you must use usable Ink in Both.. or it will not print.. If you take the cartridge out and reinstall Then it won't show a Ink Level.. I was told the Manufacture of all printer give you new cartridges in your new printer that are 50% Full and the Ink level has dropped a lot since I could print 450 Black & white papers.. Have not tried it but feel 200 would be my max now...Since the printer is a couple years old now.. I will try refilled and reset Cartridges.. So I believe in my Heart we are being Ripped off with the price of cartridges.....

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Too true true butt

Definitely ink for printers is a premium product earning lots of $'s for the manufacturers. Glad to see someone addressed the original question. Yes the debate will continue as to the best way to obtain replacement ink.
But we're stuck with overpricing no matter how we obtain the ink.
I have tried 3rd party inks and tried refilling my own. Tried having my local ink supplier do the refilling (very quick and I don't end up with inky hands) but finally I now stick to the manufacturer's product but shop around for best price.
A story about a friend. She went to buy ink from the local Office Works store and finding the printers on sale at half the price she bought a new printer, extracted the ink cartridges and gave the printer to store staff telling them to sell it again. She seems quite happy with the amount of ink in the cartridges.

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Welcome to our crazy world of consumerism

As a store manager for THE big chain in North America, we have been dealing with that crazy thinking from manufacturers for years. Sorry to disagree with R. Proffitt; however, even though some printer models come with starter cartridges [ink or laser], a fair number of them do come with regular cartridges. Many times, we have promotions or a sale on printers and I always make sure the IT Dept orders a larger quantity than we normally sell when they are at regular price. By the way, this is not limited to one particular brand or model. Sometimes, with prices so cheap, I very often see customers buying 3 or 4 printers at a time for their sole personal use because for the price of 1 or 2 cartridges, you get a brand new printer including 3, 4 or even 5 cartridges. I always joke and tell people this is like getting a free car when you buy 4 tires!! Yes, manufacturers hope to make up for their loss when people will buy refills; however, most customers I speak to either have their cartridges refilled, buy ink or toner and refill them themselves or simply buy generic ones online. Yet, in spite of that, manufacturers still continue with their above-described promotions and it does not look like they intend to discontinue their practice. Go figure.

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I refill the ink cartridges on my Epson NX305

I order 4-ounce bottles that last a long time. I set the printer to use black ink only, and uncheck that box when I want to use color. I use disposable plastic gloves because refilling can be messy. I leave the printer plugged in and turned on all the time, so that it won't flush the jets every time I want to print something. and Inktec are a couple of brands that I have used. I've been doing this for eight months, and so far, so good.
I don't print very often. I ordered my black ink from

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Cheaper to buy a printer...

For years I used Epson C series printers, the printers usually cost around $70 sometimes on sale I could buy them for $49.

The ink cost about $60 so I would buy a new printer every other time that I ran out of ink.

Eventually I had a big stack of them in the basement because I couldn't bring myself to throw away a perfectly good printer.

But I couldn't give them to anyone because they would have had to go and buy ink for it.

They did come with a full set of normal ink cartridges.

I wish they still made them, I got more copied out of them per cycle then I do out of my printers now.

My guess is that it costs far less than a dollar to make a cartridge.
I'm sure they could sell them for 5 bucks and make a profit.

Think about it, you can buy a new watch, a calculator, or a zillion other more complex products for what an ink cartridge costs.

Nothing makes sense anymore, you can spend as much for a pair of glasses frames as you do a new gas powered lawnmower.

Does that make any sense at all?


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An issue that we've discussed for years...

Ah, it's time for one of our favorite discussions. Rip-off? It depends on what you think is reasonable. It's the old razor/razor blade system - sell the razor for next to nothing and then get them hooked into your system. The same thing is happening with video game systems - you buy an PlayStation or Xbox system and then you're stuck with paying $50-$60 for every new game (and of course there are some "exclusive" titles that you can only get on one system but not the other...)

I have a dual solution. I generally print to a low-cost b&w laser printer - it's generally more expensive initially and the toner cartridge can be pretty expensive when you need to replace it, but I can print thousands of pages before I need to replace it versus the hundreds of pages I would get out of a inkjet printer. I do have a color multi-function inkjet printer (I recently purchased replacement cartridges for the first time in a few years - I just don't print that much in color...) that I have on hand if I need to print something in color - I use it more for scanning documents or copying items that I need for other purposes.

I also try NOT to buy the OEM cartridges but look at re-manufactured or 3rd party cartridges that I can get for much less. Although I don't expect these cartridges to fully last as long (or have the same print quality) as the name-brand cartridges from the vendor, the price difference can more than make up for it in the long run. For example I recently faced the same problem as you did, spending $60 for 4 cartridges at the local office supply superstore and I found I could get 4 re-manufactured cartridges for $20 online (and they were the hi-yield versions of the cartridges for my printer instead of the regular-yield versions offered locally...)

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Ink replacement

Is always hard to get to the store after the initial usage of the originals. Rumors are ,the printer manufacturers , will take a loss on the printer price, to be able to cash in on the cartridges later.Nobody has to play the manufacturers game, out there are company's that sell replacement cartridges for a fraction of the originals cost .One of them is: You will buy 4 for the price of one original and they are perfectly good.
Hope this will help

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Desktop printers and ink costs

We are commercial printers and use desktop printers like everyone else for internal printing.
For day to day printing we use a black only laser printer with remanufactured cartridges (the Toner Store is a very good source). We get 12,000 to 15,000 pages from a $175.00 cartridge.
We do not use color lasers due to the high cost of drums and cartridges. We have given up on "cost effective" inkjets. But for true photo printing, only inkjets or a printing press will produce real photo quality. Color printing is just plain expensive. If you need any volume of color printing, go online or go to a print shop.

At home we print an occasional photo on a Kodak printer - cartridges are still available, including good refills from Quill. I believe Kodak printers Re still available at greatly reduced prices.

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Try "refill kits"

I buy refill kits. It costs about $2.00 to refill a black cartridge. Also, I turn on "grayscale", so everything prints in black and white. It makes printing practically free. Some say these refills are not good for your printer (I've never had a problem). I've also heard that 2 or 3 refills is the limit for a cartridge (not for me, however). But, if your printer is damaged by excessive refills, just buy another printer. They don't cost that much. Also, if you use your printer to print photos, it's cheaper to go to cvs or walmart.

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You're right on the mark.

A new printer is sometimes cheaper than new ink cartridges. However, the ink in the New Printer's cartridges is only about one third full. So, you still would find yourself back at the store for new ink anyway. Staples used to carry their own brand of ink cartridges, buy had to stop when faced with legal action from the printer manufacturers.

There are some companies that refill the ink in the cartridges. I am fortunate that I live near to one such company. A fifty dollar cartridge in the store, costs me twenty dollars to have refilled. Look in your area for ink cartridge refillers. If they're not on Google, they may be in your Yellow Pages. I hope this helps.


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refiller, easily found

I agree, I tried refilling for 2 years. That printer finally died from a clog. I see the Wal Greens offers refill services and will look at other "box" stores for the same service. I spilled ink a few times and it really is hard to clean!

I notice HP claims to have pigmented ink, rather than alcohol based ink. I'll do more research, but a pigmented ink should yield better color, plus be harder to wash off, say, a company business check.

Agreed with the Laser, business switched and won't ever go back. The "high" cost of the toner is nothing compared to the yield. Bought the college kid a laser for the same reason.
regards, onthecoast

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Remember Gillette double-edge blade razors?

Remember Gillette double-edge blade razors? Gillette figured out that they would make lots of money selling razor blades, so they priced the package with a razor and a few blades very cheaply. When you ran out of blades, you bought some more, and, horrors, were they expensive. It was almost better to buy a new razor every time, except that the landfills would be full of razors. Gillette's lock on the razor blade market was broken by Wilkenson and some no-name blade manufacturers.

Fast forward to the 21st century. Each and every printer manufacturer (HP, Epson, Brother, Samsung, etc) prices their consumer-oriented printers very cheaply. They all want everyone to have a printer. Why? To sell all of us cartridges, not very full of ink, at ridiculously expensive prices. THAT is the printer business in the 21st century. The ratio between printer price and ink/toner price for business-class printers is somewhat better, but the ink is still doggone expensive. As long as all the printer mfrs do this, we don't have much choice, so we? Can anyone spell C-A-R-T-E-L and P-R-I-C-E F-I-X-I-N-G? Unfortunately, with color printing, 3rd party and refilled ink cartridges are a serious crapshoot, because the 3rd parties have to get the ink mix absolutely correct, or you have unrealisistic colors.

For our own use here, I stick to a very old HP LaserJet 4050N black-and-white laser printer, with refilled black toner cartridges that cost maybe $30 each. VERY inexpensive printing. And the laser printer keeps pumping the paper out with great reliability. No color though. Oh, well. Can't have everything.

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The Cost of Ink

Yes, you can frequently purchase a brand new printer for less than the cost of brand new brand name cartridges. The reason for this is that the manufacturer of the printers isn't trying to make a large profit on the purchase of the printer. The manufacturer believes that you will eventually order cartridge replacements. It is in these replacements that the profit is made.

However, YOU DO NOT HAVE TO PURCHASE CARTRIDGE REPLACEMENTS FROM THE MANUFACTURER OF THE PRINTER. A quick search on the internet, perhaps something like "inkjet cartridge replacements" will find thousands of mail order organizations willing to send you replacements, many for only a fraction of the cost of the cartridges at the "giant retailer".

Usually the inexpensive cartridges are not from the manufacturer of the printers. Some of these "off-brands" are good, and some are not. You could try a brand and hope it will work well, but it would probably be best to listen to the advice of others who have already gone this route. You could run a search for reviews on the off-brand and ask for reviews. DO NOT RELY ON REVIEWS OF THE INK ON THE MANUFACTURERS OR SELLERS WEB SITE. They might not be honest.

Personally, I purchase recycled print cartridges from LD Products located in Long Beach, CA. . They are manufactured in the USA and they have a 100% Satisfaction Guarantee. I find their products are excellent and inexpensive (compared to your "giant retailer"). You can find them on the web by searching for "ld products".

Other than being a customer, I have no association with this company, and I am not being paid to make this recommendation.

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I'll second the comment about LD ink...

I have a graphics side business that requires the use of lots of inkjet ink. I have tried many, but have settled on LD as among the best alternative to OEM. I use this brand for pre-filled cartridges for my Canon. And no, I do not work for LD Products, just trying to save some of you the hunt and search time of what is out there.
Another alternative for bulk ink is Cobraink. I use this company for my Epson printer. Good service and ink quality.
I would go broke buying OEM ink at the rate I use it, and these alternatives have given me no problems.

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LD Products

I, too, have used LD Products for my inkjet cartridges for many years now. I would definitely recommend to others.

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don't despair you aren't alone

However that new printer that comes with cartridges has very limited ink in any of those cartridges. I am going through the same thing but my new printer only printed a few items before I got the "low on ink" message. So that $10 more would end up costing a lot in the end because those new ones will only last long enough to print a few things and then you are back to needing to buy new ones.

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Ink carts- rant on!


The printer manufacturers have the same pricing model as started by Gillette, Schick, and all other shaving razor manufacturers. Sell the razor blade holder cheap, then make money on the razors. So, that is why they charge so much for the ink carts, and sell the printer (Ink holder) cheap!

They really had a problem when the ink refill products came about. Of course HP put in a system that stopped that for a while. (I am not sure if they still have the prevention system, or if the ink refill products have a work around.)

This is also what the Cell phone companies do. Sell you the phone cheap..(well sort of) but put you on a 2 year contract for phone service and lock their phones to their service. It is a marketing model that works.

So rant on, but you would have to pay a bunch more for the printer up front, and still the manufacturers would not bring in the revenue they are used to. Polaroid tried to under cut the pricing model, but seems they have gone under doing it.

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print cartridge costs

I just read the other day that printer ink has surpassed purfume as the most expensive fluid in existance
The reason you can buy a new printer for about what it costs just for the cartridges is?
1/ the cartridges that come with a new printer are just "starter" cartridges and don't have much ink, and
2/ The mfg's can subsidize the cost of the included cartridges because they will make it up in the long run in Cartridge sales

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Printer ink

Did anyone calculate how much that ink really cost? A cartridge with about 20 milliliters costs no less than $20, or approx $1,000 per liter or roughly $4,000 per gallon. You car is costing you much less than that. Printer ink is really a ripoff of titanic proportions

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Price per Page

Sometimes it helps to figure out your total price per page based on how much a cartridge costs and how many pages you get per cartridge. Color make it more difficult to deal with. At least then you can look at alternatives such as printing over at the FEDEX or the OfficeMax. (You would need to figure the cost of the paper too).

The best thing I can suggest is avoid printing at all. Some of us print because we feel we need to read from paper, but if you have a good-sized monitor that is easy to read (none of these touch screens full of fingerprints), you would save the ink and save the paper. Think of the environment!

Also, you can take a good hard look at your printer properties and your default print settings. See "econo-mode"? That should be a default for your everyday "I need to save this on a piece of paper days". If you need it to look better or in color, you can always change it. Post-it notes and a pen can save on ink too.

Aside from that, you can just get in line behind the rest of us who are upset with this issue. For those that keep buying new printers, think about the real cost. Remember that the ink it comes with will only give you a reduced amount of pages so this may not be the best economical model once you do the math.

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