Should You Buy Discount Inkjet Cartridges?
A reader asks: 'Are discount inkjet cartridges really a good deal? I've heard they can ruin your printer, void your warranty, and that the quality is lacking. Others have told me they're great and can save you lots of money. What's the scoop on those cheap ink cartridges?' Read on for my advice about refilled or remanufactured inkjet cartridges...
The Truth About Discount Ink Cartridges
It's hard to ignore the big price difference between "brand name" ink cartridges supplied by HP, Canon, Epson Lexmark or another manufacturer, and the alternatives. Compatible off-brand or remanufactured inkjet printer cartridges typically cost 15 percent less than OEM (original equipment manufacturer) cartridges at OfficeMax, Staples, and other physical stores.
Online, you may find discount ink cartridges costing 30, 50, or 70 percent less than brand-name goods. Nonetheless, many people hesitate to buy no-name or remanufactured ink cartridges.
There is a persistent rumor that using anything other than manufacturer branded OEM cartridges will void a printer's warranty. That is not true, at least in the United States. The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act (15 U.S.C.A. 2302) forbids the conditioning of a warranty upon the purchase of any product or service "which is identified by brand, trade or corporate name." In other words, your printer's warranty cannot be voided just because you used a non-OEM ink cartridge.
Whether an off-brand compatible or remanufactured discount ink cartridge will perform as well as an OEM cartridge depends, of course, on how well it is made. A fly-by-night outfit may use inferior inks that don't produce vibrant, non-fading colors; skimp on cleaning print nozzles and other parts; and skip quality control testing to save money. Shoddy cartridges can leak and ruin the electronics of a printer.
Discount Inkjet Cartridge Suppliers
To find a reliable supplier of discount ink cartridges, try searching for your printer model online along with keywords such as "compatible", "refilled" or "remanufactured" ink cartridges. Look for suppliers who have loyal fans and have been in business for a number of years. Also look for warranties provided by suppliers. One supplier I've used is LD Products, which has been around for over a dozen years, and offers a 100% satisfaction guarantee on all products.
Here's a personal example: My HP OfficeJet Pro uses a cartridge which retails for $49.99. LD sells a remanufactured replacement cartridge for $8 that works beautifully. Print quality are page yield are the same as the OEM cartridge, and I save $42 on each one! For years, I was buying the expensive HP-labelled cartridges from an office supply store, under the false assumption that generic or remanufactured cartridges might not work in my printer. Of course LD also offers replacement ink cartridges for Brother, Canon, Dell, Epson, Lexmark and other popular brands.
If this sounds like a sneaky advertisement for LD Products, well, it's not. I'm just a happy customer passing along a tip, and LD doesn't give me any special treatment or incentives. I've also used 123Inkjets.com and found that their products and prices are generally great as well.
The popular office supply store Office Depot also sells their own brand of inkjet printer cartridges, which they say are manufactured using ISO-certified processes, and are made "to meet OEM performance standards." These ink cartridges are guaranteed compatible with the OEM branded cartridges in quality, reliability, and page yield. Office Depot, Staples and other office supply stores sell replacement cartridges for Canon, Dell, Epson, Hewlett Packard, Lexmark and many other printer brands.
Ignore the Scare Tactics
Printer manufacturers, of course, don't like it when people use compatible or remanufactured ink cartridges. That's because they make more money selling ink than printers. So OEMs have tried many ways to discourage consumers from buying discount ink cartridges, and have also tried to sue remanufacturers out of business. Generally, courts have upheld consumers' rights to save money with compatible and remanufactured ink cartridges. In May 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against Lexmark, which was suing a company that sells refilled ink cartridges. That's legal affirmation from the high court that third-party companies have the right to continue selling refilled or remanufactured ink cartridges. So the best OEMs can do today is to try to scare you.
Some OEMs include software with their printer utilities that checks the "authenticity" of newly installed ink cartridges. If the software detects a remanufactured cartridge, a warning pops up on your screen telling you that the cartridge is not "genuine" and "may" damage your printer. If this happens, press the "I Like To Save Money and You're Not Scaring Me" button.
But sometimes OEMs take it to the next level. Last year, my HP printer displayed a message saying that all four of my (third-party) inkjet cartridges “appear to be damaged” and I could not print anything. HP had effectively locked my printer with a software update, in an attempt to force me to buy their cartridges. Fortunately, the nice folks at LD Products were willing to replace my cartridges.
Personally, I've never had a print quality problem with remanufactured or compatible ink cartridges. (Years ago, I ruined a few shirts while trying to refill my own cartridges, but that's another story.) Using them is a great way to save money and recycle plastic cartridges. Some remanufacturers partner with local charities to collect empty cartridges, paying a bounty on each cartridge to the charities. That's a good way to spread the benefits of recycling around.
Have you tried using discount inkjet cartridges, either compatible or remanufactured? I'd like to know your experience with them. Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 13 Jun 2017
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Should You Buy Discount Inkjet Cartridges? (Posted: 13 Jun 2017)
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