Printer Cartridges

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One of America’s Biggest Ripoffs-Printer Cartridges

I am always amazed at what the computer printer crowd charges for refills. Let’s take Hewlett-Packard, the biggest and probably the worst offender. I had a 4 in 1 machine (print, fax, scan, copy) for my home office. It died two years ago. You do not fix them, of course, you toss them and get a new one. I do not object to that. The 4 in 1 I bought is a dandy-does everything I could want and more. And all for $150! What a good deal.

Until you get to the cartridges. There are four for the four basic colors, needed to print color images. Go to your local office supply store-$20 to $30 each! Look at them. It could not cost them more to make those flimsy plastic cartridges with maybe 50c of ink inside than, say $1. HP claimed my cartridges would last 500 impressions Yet they ask $20 and more. OK, so you go to one of the internet sites that advertises them for $10. They say they are refills. You buy them and put them in. You start getting printer errors. You throw them out. HP claimed my cartridges would last 500 impressions. Cartridge World stores have opened up near me specializing in refilled cartridges. But they charge, I found, 60-70% of what HP does, and I bought two there that did not work and they would not make good.

You then say to yourself-I never print in color-why do the color cartridges run out? Hewlett Packard tells you when you print a black image, like a letter, the machine uses the three colors for enhanced appearance. You say I do not want enhanced appearance-but their machine does not allow you to print using the black cartridge-it will not work unless all four are filled. If one runs out you are out of business-even the fax and scanner will not work! You are trapped.

The answer? Three years ago I bought a black and white laser printer. The $40 cartridges, which are big and look like they are worth $40-they last me a year and I do a lot of printing. I use the 4 in 1 only for the occasional color printout, faxing, copying and scanning. I hope my $80 worth of cartridges in my 4 in 1 will last me at least a year or more.

Consumer Reports is a great publication and website. I recommend it highly. Check their reviews on printers. They test machines to see how many pages you can print versus the cartridge(s) cost.