Why are the toner cartridges of an HP Color LaserJet Pro printer so expensive?

Nothing frustrates a consumer more than when they have to pay a high price for an item that does not seem to be worth the price it is being marketed at.  Even if it is a useful and required item.  Especially if the consumer is aware that there are other alternatives that can be obtained at a cheaper price. 

The HP toner cartridges for the HP Color LaserJet Pro printers fall into this category. Research has shown that one of the key pain points of consumers is the amount of cash they have to pay out for replacement toner cartridges.  And the frustration grows because, in a relatively short time, the cartridge’s toner become depleted! And require replacement.  Which begs the question, why are they so expensive?

The answer to that question is revealing and multifaceted. The HP toner cartridges are expensive because;

  1. The Engineering involved: printers are been designed to be easy to use and operate, but they require a lot of detailed engineering precision to meet the reliability and precision expected by the average consumer.  HP reportedly spends above a billion dollars on research and development.  And this cost has to be recouped
  2. Different type of printer cartridges to cater to HP has a lot of different models of laser printers and these different models do not all use the same type of printer cartridges.  If they did, the unit cost of the printer cartridges would go down due to the benefits of economies of scale.  But the different printer cartridges that need to be produced means a higher unit cost for each model
  3. You are paying for the cost of the Printer: this might not seem obvious. But most printers are usually sold below the cost of manufacture.  This is done to entice the customer to easily acquire them in the knowledge that more profit will be made with the sales of the printer cartridges which are essential supplies.  This is known as the razor and blades strategy to sell the initial item at a discount to ensure sales of the follow-on supplies. 

So we have an idea of why toner cartridges are expensive.  But what option do we have to save on the cost of replacement HP toner cartridges?  An easily available option is to watch what you print and print only the essentials to reduce on your print needs and hence increase the intervals in seeking replacement toner cartridges. 

A more practical option for those unable to reduce their printing is to seek printer cartridges from compatible manufacturers. These compatible printer cartridges give the same quality and page yield for a lesser price. For example, on 123ink.ca, the compatible toner cartridge for the LaserJet Pro 100 color MFP M175a, the Compatible HP 126A CE310A Black Toner Cartridge 1/Pack from Moustache® is sold for $34.99.  Compare this to the HP Original, the HP 126A CE310A Original Black Toner Cartridge which is sold at $69.99.  The compatible version gives a 50% saving compared to OEM original. 

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