Are Discount Toner Cartridges a Bargain?

Category: Printing

Those discount toner cartridges for your laser printer, photocopier, or fax machine offer tempting savings over the manufacturer's cartridges. But are discount toner cartridges just as good? Let's look at some of the pros and cons of those inexpensive toner cartridge deals. (I also have some advice for folks who have inkjet printers.) Read on for my advice on discount toner and inkjet cartridges...

Should You Buy Discount Toner Cartridges?

Before you start counting the money you'll save on those cheap no-name replacement toner cartridges, consider these questions. Will they print as many copies? Do they leave streaks or spots in your printouts? Will they leak, damaging your expensive device? Will they work at all in your late-model device?

Think about it... printer manufacturers don't make much by selling printers. Most of their profits come from inkjet and toner cartridges, just as safety razor vendors make most of their money from sales of replacement blades. So manufacturers go to great lengths to protect their monopoly on replacement toner cartridges. But that hasn't stopped discount toner cartridge makers. (If you have an inkjet printer, see my article The Truth About Discount Inkjet Cartridges.)

Recycling is the key to making affordable toner cartridges. Third-party remanufacturers take in empty toner cartridges (often paying consumers for them), clean them, replace worn parts, and refill them with dry toner. This recycling is good for the environment and excellent for your pocketbook; a recycled toner cartridge can cost as little as 20 percent of a new OEM (original equipment manufacturer) cartridge's street price.

discount toner cartridges

OEMs have tried legal means to stop refurbishing of their empty toner cartridges. They've tried adding programmable microchips to toner cartridges and charging recyclers with unauthorized circumvention of copy-protection under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. The chips are programmed to detect toner levels and tell the printer that a toner cartridge is "empty". Then the printer will refuse to print from the "empty" cartridge. (Incidentally, it is not uncommon for such a chip to read "empty" when up to 15 per cent of the cartridge's toner still remains.) Recyclers have to hack the chip to reset it to "full" when they refill a cartridge. That is the DMCA violation that OEMs have tried to claim; fortunately for consumers, it has not worked in many cases. But some toner cartridges are not available through recyclers for this reason.

Dirty Tricks?

Making it hard to open, refill, and properly reseal a toner cartridge is another OEM trick to discourage competition. The plugs that fill the hole through which toner powder is poured may be designed to go in once and not come out without destroying the fitting. Recyclers find various ways around such barriers, with varying effectiveness. If a refilled toner cartridge leaks it will create a mess in your printer that is difficult to clean up, at the least. At worst, it can damage the printer beyond repair.

All discount toner cartridge makers offer a guarantee, but it typically covers only the replacement cost of the recycled cartridge. Damage to the printer is your problem.

Exceptionally cheap toner cartridges may not be properly refurbished. The care with which a recycler cleans the toner cartridge can have a large impact on printout quality. Uneven dispensing of toner through blocked nozzles can leave white streaks through text or dump blotches of grey or black on your pages. A good refurbishment job includes replacement of several springs in the cartridge that control toner distribution. Ask a discount toner cartridge supplier what is done to bring the used cartridge up to original OEM specs.

I've purchased inkjet cartridges for several years from LD Products, and have always been impressed with their prices and customer service. They offer professionally remanufactured laser toner cartridges that are guaranteed to meet or exceed the print quality of the manufacturer's toner cartridge. Here's one example: LD Products offere a 5-pack of Brother Compatible TN760 Black Toner Cartridges for $129.95. On the Brother website, their price for a TWO-pack is $153.99. That would save you over $50 per cartridge. (In case you're curious, LD Products doesn't pay me to promote them -- I'm just a happy customer._

My advice is to do your homework before buying a discount toner cartridge. Search online reviews to see if others have successfully used third-party cartridges with your specific printer, copier or fax machine. Look for cartridge suppliers that have an excellent online reputation, and don't forget that there may be a local business that offers cartridge refills. Dealing with a real person who has knowledge and experience in this field might save you time and trouble in the long run.

Have you purchased a discount toner cartridge? Post a comment or question below...

 
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Most recent comments on "Are Discount Toner Cartridges a Bargain?"

(See all 24 comments for this article.)

Posted by:

GWC
03 Mar 2020

I have been using LD products for years, I did have an Epson Inkjet that quit working but I had put enough cartridges in it to more than offset the price of a new printer. I now have a Brother Color laser printer and all I use is LD cartridges. I am a happy customer.


Posted by:

V. Rowe
03 Mar 2020

Yes! I've been using LD cartridges for my Canon copy machine for a few years and have never had any problem. I keep track of my copies, and I seem to get about as many from the LD as from the expensive Canon cartridges. And, the price is great! I also use LD cartridges for my Epson Workforce printer with no problems.


Posted by:

William Corley
03 Mar 2020

I have also used Linkyo toner caerridges, and have been quite pleased, for my Brother printer. Available through Amazon.


Posted by:

Raymond Coghlan
03 Mar 2020

I have a GCC Elite 1200N laser printer. Anyone any experience of replacement cartridges now GCC Printers are longer longer in business.


Posted by:

Steve
03 Mar 2020

Thanks for this article, Bob. I cannot speak to toner cartridges, but have been purchasing refilled ink carts for many years with great success and considerable savings. I also refill several of my older HP cartridges myself. Before purchasing a printer, I always check on the ink cartridge price and whether refilled cartridges are available. Too many people are tempted by a cheap printer only to find that buying replacement cartridges cost more than the printer itself.


Posted by:

marty m
03 Mar 2020

I have used inkfarm.com with some success. One for my old HP890c didn't do so well but my laser and other printers run fine on their replacements


Posted by:

Joel Sandberg
03 Mar 2020

Off brand cartridges are hit and miss.
Each supplier and brand yields different results.
I use cartridges from CCS-Digital.com for my HP B/W M1319f with great results. But color cartridges for my Brother 9340 from the same distributor were inconsistent (and when I discussed this with the distributor he told me he does not know who his Chinese supply is buying from).
Greenbox cartridges from Amazon for the color Brother 9340 have worked well and are cheep.
So every brand is hit or miss and may change over time.


Posted by:

Sara
03 Mar 2020

I've been using cartridges from 499inks for both my HP monochrome laser printer and my HP officejet all-in-one for several years. I get their house brand "premium" cartridges for the ink jet for about $10 each and the laser printer for about $19, usually when there is either a sale or a discount and sometimes free shipping. And they ship the same day if you get them early enough. I've been completely satisfied with their cartridges and will continue to buy from 499inks.


Posted by:

Joseph Baker
03 Mar 2020

I have been using LD toner cartridges for a number of years and am very pleased with them. Bob, does LD accept the empty carts? Hate to just toss them into the trash.


Posted by:

Mike Stabile
03 Mar 2020

I have a HP Color Laserjet Pro M252dw. I've been using V4INK Compatible Toner Cartridges (from Amazon) at $53.99 for the set of four. They have worked perfectly over the past few years.


Posted by:

David Mizer
03 Mar 2020

I subscribe to HP's InstantInk; they access my HP printer remotely, and each month I pay a certain amount of money for a certain number of pages. The ink is shipped free before it's needed, per remote access to the printer. I never need to buy ink, the cost of the package is one charge per month for the specified number of pages printed, plus ink shipped without any additional charge. I don't know whether it's the best deal available, but I like it. I never have to order new ink; the ink and printing is a terrific value.


Posted by:

J Reeder
04 Mar 2020

Do the LD replacement cartridges come from China? If so, probably we would be wise to stock up on the cartridges while they are available. My cartridges from LD (following your recommendations) are used in my HP printers and they work quite well.


Posted by:

MG
04 Mar 2020

I'm in Canada. Have used 123ink.ca for years.


Posted by:

Glen Jacquart
04 Mar 2020

All of my Brother laser Printers are real work horses. 98% of what I print is black and white with a cost of $.001 per page. Mytoner brand replacement cartridges deliver the 3000 pages to match their claim. They come with a new chip and are easy to install. The cost of four toner cartridges is $49.99.


Posted by:

Mervyn Clay
04 Mar 2020

There are CISS units available for many printers.
For my Brother printer I have four tanks continuously supplying the printer cartridges via tubing.Whilst the cartridges are microchipped they still tell me to remove the the cartridge after a period of printing. Remove cartridge and then slot back in after 10 seconds. Each tank holds 100mls of printing ink. Cost of a 100mls of printing ink is less than the cost of a cartridge.


Posted by:

BaliRob
04 Mar 2020

HP Deskjet 2130 Series: Mine - Deskjet Ink Advantage 2135. Its predecessor a straightforward
printer had cartridges which COULD be topped up ad infinitum and I enjoyed many hundreds of beautiful copies for some 10 years. NOW - not the case. One year after experiencing excellent printing and especially SCANNING ability I topped up the cartriges as usual ONLY TO GET C 20 COPIES BEFORE THE MACHINE STOPPED PRINTING.

Using CORERECT MAKER'S CARTRIDGES I am back to loving the machine.

My advice to all it to 'bite the bullet' when it comes to replacing ink cartridges.


Posted by:

BaliRob
04 Mar 2020

My apologies for errata in my previous response - *CORRECT and **is to bite. (Diabetic eyesight I am afraid)


Posted by:

Jim Bob
04 Mar 2020

I just ordered a cartridge from LD for my Brother HL2270DW. Good reviews. Should work fine. Thanks Bob for your articles.


Posted by:

Larry E
05 Mar 2020

Safety razors? Most people under the age of 60 have never seen or used one.


Posted by:

David
08 Mar 2020

I have an older Epson inkjet printer that I couldn't find Epson ink for. I got an LD cartridge for it and found that it worked much better that the ones from Epson. I don't print a lot and the Epson ink would dry up and clog often but I don't have that problem with the ones from LD. I'm a very happy customer.


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