Spending a Lot on Toner – Berto sees red
There’s no joy in shopping for printer ink. It’s expensive to buy, little fun to use, and before you know it—it’s time to purchase it again. And that’s a constant cause of frustration among printer owners. In Consumer Report’s annual printers survey, the expense of ink or toner replacement is the most common pain point for printer owners—affecting the owners of 1 in 5 printers.
One reason for the complaints could be that people underestimate the engineering that goes into printer ink, says Rich Sulin, who leads Consumer Report’s printer-testing program.
“People don’t see the science and engineering behind printing,” he says. “So, it’s easy to understand why shoppers have such a strong reaction to plunking down $50 to $100 for little black chunks of plastic.”
Here are a few reasons that printer ink is so expensive:
- the engineering is complicated: the oldest ink drawing in the world was created 73,000 years ago, according to archaeologists. “Companies like Epson, HP and Canon had to do research in translating a dye to a pigment composition to be able to get the photographic quality everybody wanted,” he says, while also producing prints that would last. All of that research and development, of course, costs a lot of money—and that’s where the price comes in;
- you’re paying off your printer: according to IHS Markit, a global information provider, the cost to build a printer is higher than the retail price of most—if not all—consumer printers. “This is a classic “razor-and-blades” business model where the manufacturer sells the goods at a low price to help increase the sales of accessories, where the money is made,” says Wing Lam, associate director of cost benchmarking at IHS Markit;
- lots of ink and toner gets wasted: according to our labs, with many printers, more than half of the ink you buy will never wind up on a page. “It’s typical for an inkjet to waste as much ink on maintenance cycles as it uses to print documents,” he says.
Berto #25: March 5, 2015: Spending a Lot on Toner
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