Christopher Shea said in his article “Living in a hidden-fee economy“:
The printer. It’s one of the most common peripherals in the computer age and so cheap — at first blush, anyway — that stores often give them away when you buy a PC. Yet how many people realize, when they walk out of CompUSA, a nice $99 inkjet model tucked under their arm, that it’s likely they’ve just committed themselves to spending nearly $1,500 on ink cartridges over the next four years? (In fact, only about 3 percent realize it, according to Stanford economist Robert Hall.)
It is a short story between printer ink cartridges/laser toners and those well-known printer companies, though it has a long history, even more than decades. When printers get cheaper and cheaper, those companies like HP and Epson, still make a good profit from the printing business. Why? The simple answer is, they make a good profit not from selling their printers, but from selling the “genuine” printer ink cartridges or laser toner cartridges. Here are some truths related to this answer:
- A new printer comes with half-filled ink cartridges or laser toner, which run out pretty fast.
- A well-known study said: On average, more than half of the ink from inkjet cartridges is wasted when users toss them in the garbage. According to the study, users are tossing the cartridges when their printers are telling them they’re out of ink, not when they necessarily are out of ink.
- The expensive genuine(or called OEM) ink cartridges or laser toners cost you more than the printer itself sooner or later.
- Printer manufacturers never agree you use third-parties’ ink cartridges & toners or refill the original ink cartridges.
- That is why Epson suited a lot of manufacturers and big retailers of third-party ink cartridges, in German and United States.
- That is why HP has this article on its website: the truth about remanufactured ink and toner cartridges. Believe it or not? It is your choice.
- That is why some companies have also turned to use the ink equivalent of DRM, the use of microchips or chips embedded in ink cartridges that work with a corresponding technical mechanism in the printer that blocks the use of unauthorized third-party ink.
Another fun fact I’d like to mention here. Did you ever experience that you had to pay extra 15 bucks or more for a USB printer cable with your new printer in FutureShop, Staples or BestBuy? In many online stores or even your local Dollaramar, you can buy it at 1 or 2 dollars. Why wouldn’t these printer companies supply this low-cost printer cable in the printer box? It is like a conspiracy between the printer manufacturers and retailers. So how about the ink cartridges and the printer manufacturers?!