The Myth of Cheap Printers

I missed this article when it came out last December. However, it does a good job of pointing out that cheap printers, especially those bundled with new systems, don't look so rosy in the long run. It notes that in addition to producing poor quality prints, they cost a lot more over time.

Specifically, companies selling printers in the free to $100 range are using the razor/razor blade pricing strategy. The article even points out a few situations in which the ink cartridges actually cost more than the printer, meaning it would be cheaper to buy a whole new printer every time the ink cartridge runs out.

The article goes on to note that, confronted with the proportionally skewed price of ink jet cartridges, customers have sought refuge in aftermarket products, such as refilled cartridges. The printer companies, who are probably losing money on each printer sale, are none to happy about this. As a result, they've started incorporating technologies -- in some cases, computer chips -- into the cartridges to prevent such schemes.

Meanwhile, the aftermarket companies have gone to great lengths to break into the market. In some cases, they warrantee everything from the ink jet cartridge they refilled, the printer it ran in, and "environmental aspects, such as if anyone gets ink on their shirt." So, on one hand, you have the printer companies driving up the price of cartridges to keep the price high. On the other hand, you have companies willing to warrantee products that their companies don't make.

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