January 7

Why Are Printer Ink Cartridges So Expensive?


When you went shopping for a new printer, you, like any other responsible person out there, went for a product that was easy on your pockets. What a joy it was when you found the one that was at a price you were considering, and even lower.

That little swell of satisfaction that you felt was amazing. You came out of the store with a steal. Even if you bought it online, the price was still so much better than anything else out there.

That is the allure that inkjet printers are holding over you and many other buyers. However, it is starting to feel like you were catfished.

While getting the inkjet was quite affordable, the opposite is true when it comes to replacing the inkjet cartridges. Yes, per gallon, printer ink is much more expensive than gas; even blood!

However, the quality and simplicity they offer are simply unbeatable. But why exactly are printer ink cartridges so expensive?

It’s the Printer You Are Paying Off…

Think about it. That printer’s price point was amazingly low, it was tantalizing. There was no way you were walking out of that store, or clicking away from that site, without putting one in your cart. It felt like a steal!

In all honesty, it was just the bait to get you hooked on to the line, and the brand you bought will forever own you.

See, many manufacturers rely on the famous razors and blades model of doing business. You would get a razor on the cheap, with the first blade. However, whenever you want to replace the blade, you find that the price is so much more than you had anticipated.

The goods will sell fast as they are at a lower price, but the accessories to keep them working is where the companies get their money from.

Many manufacturers of printers sell then at cost, or even at a loss. If they were to sell them for a profit, you would probably go for some other type of printer. This is how you get catfished.

When you now want to replace the cartridges, capitalism strikes. This is also the reason why ink cartridges are not interchangeable between different brands. It is also the reason printers will authenticate the cartridge before it can accept it for use.   

Companies enjoy the monopoly.


Unless a regulatory authority comes up and forces printer companies to develop a unified standard a la USB or OBDII, you are stuck with the company that manufactured your printer. And those companies take advantage of this.

Each manufacturer will have different standards for many of the things that go into their printers; cartridges, ink, parts among other things. This ensures that it is only the manufacturer of the printer that can provide the parts needed to keep your printer running.

With this, they effectively lock out any other companies that would be competitors. With no competitors in sight, it also means that they get to set the prices of these parts.

A market that has competition will usually see manufacturers pricing their products to be able to compete on the open market. Without competitors, basically whatever the printer manufacturer feels they should get for their parts, is what they are going to charge.

It doesn’t just stop at manufacturers stopping competitors from selling. They have also made steps towards limiting how much support third party companies can offer to owners of their printers.

A perfect example is the inclusion of electronic chips with their printer cartridges. These chips contain codes that correspond to the programming of the printer, and are actually required if the printer is to work.

This is the reason why if you have ever tried to install a cartridge that is not from the manufacturer, then the printer will reject that cartridge. Without those codes, a third party cannot sell you ink.

It doesn’t stop there. Your favorite department store may also be in on the game.  

These manufacturers have been known to make deals with the stores that sell these printers. The basic idea of the deal is to lock out anyone else who may try to sell you printer cartridge from placing their offerings in those stores. In return, the store gets approved as the sole distributor or service center for the manufacturer’s products.


Getting around these high costs.

Even though this sales model works great for printer manufacturers, it just doesn’t do so well for your pockets. This is especially true if you print high quality photos regularly, or as part of your business.

Even though it may seem that there is no way out of this, you probably have heard of a few ways to get around this problem. Here are a few.

  1. Get those refilled cartridges anyway.

You may see several warnings on the printer’s manual, the packaging and even while operating it, telling you to only use genuine parts from the manufacturer. While this generally should be the case, the costs can be prohibitive.

If you can find a place to get refilled cartridges, they can be the lifeline you need. They are usually cheaper than cartridges from the manufacturer.

2. Refill your own cartridges.

If you are considering doing this, then it would be best to prepare for the potential mess that may follow. This would be best done in an area in your garage while wearing gloves, and probably an apron or overalls.

Another excellent way to knock down the price of the cartridges. However, if your cartridges contain microchips, this can be a hit or a miss.

3. Get the XL cartridges.

As is the norm with many other industries out there, buying things in larger quantities usually means they become cheaper per unit. The smaller cartridges may not have enough ink for what you want to do, costing you more to replace in the long run.

With XL cartridges, though a bit pricier, gives you piece of mind for sometime as they serve you longer, and are cheaper than other smaller cartridges when you compare price per unit of ink.


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