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back to article Brits blow millions on over-priced ink

British consumers are wasting £440m a year on branded printer cartridges rather than cheaper white label replacements. dom perignon How to avoid that freshly ripped-off feeling... A survey from YouGov found half of all households always buy brand name cartridges, which are typically a third more expensive than equivalents …

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Unhappy

So who's surprised?

As per title, who's surprised here? Because I'm bloody not.

There's a reason I grudgingly put up with getting fleeced by HP for genuine cartridges for my small laserjet printer at home, and it's the desire to have a valid warranty. It's the same at work - what's the point in buying an extended warranty on a large printer/MFD if you then use non-branded cartridges that invalidate the warranty? (Yes, I know, you could use unbranded carts and disable cartridge checking - it's still the sort of thing that a service engineer will hide behind as a reason not to fix your hardware).

If government wants to do something about this, they should start by kicking HP et al in the pants over how they tie their hardware warranties to the usage of consumables. Of course, that would force companies selling printers to admit that actually they're in the printer ink/toner market rather than the printer market...

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Anonymous Coward

Warranties

"what's the point in buying an extended warranty"

There isn't one. Every time someone offers you an extended warranty put the money in a savings account instead. Then sit back and marvel at how quickly it grows.

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(Written by Reg staff)

Re: Warranties

Not with today's interest rates, it won't...

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FAIL

Oh, wow, some sort of medal's in order for you, mate....

Right. So you're telling me that at enterprise level, you spend a four-figure sum on a high-volume printer/MFD and then *don't* spend the extra cash (normally significantly less than the cost of the printer/MFD, natch) to make sure that if it breaks in 18 months time you're covered?

Yeah, I can see how sales people would *love* you...

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Stop

Warranties

I'm sorry, but your conception of consumer law is about 200 years out of date.

In a nutshell:

1) Certainly if you are a home user,forget about your warranty. Your printer must last as long as a "reasonable person" would reasonably think it should, considering all factors including the price. This is the main, the most important part of your contract, and overrides the warranty and any unfair exclusion clauses it contains.

2) therefore, nobody can tell you not to use third-party ink. That counts as an unfair exclusion clause because it excludes those reasonable obligations to you implied by the sale of goods act and protected by the unfair terms in consumer contracts regulations.

3) I HAVE HEARDa business can be a consumer, and enjoy similar protections, both under the aboveconsumer law and the unfair contract terms act, which I gather basically says the same thing as the former.

I'm pretty sure this exact case relating to the ink has been written up in case law! Please a lawyer confirm this for me.

The warranty, such as is offered, is a "gratuitous promise" on the part of the retailer (because it's them with whom you have a contract, not the manufacturer) over and above their frankly quite enormous obligations to you under the sale of goods act. The sale of goods act 1893. Yes, that's when it was first written.

The unfair terms in consumer contracts regulations (1985?) essentially states that clauses in form contracts which unfairly deprive the purchaser of utility paid for, can be struck out.

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Grenade

I hate to be really RUDE but "Helloooo Stupid"

I have been refilling my own cartridges for YEARS.

A new printer - the ones I use with a 21 pages per minute speed, costs say $200Au. With the average getting ripped off per cartridge being somewhere about $40 - $50, for me to go through about 2 or 3 refills a month - just on the black alone, I recoup the cost of the cost of the refills by buying my INK at the price of about $60 a liter, and the after market printer cartridges - which are good for about 6 or 7 refills each - costing about $5 each... and each refill costing about $2 or $3 each....

They can stick their warranty and their printer up their arses.

I did this calculation years ago - for another printer, that by doing my own refilling - the printer then cost $450 new.... and they go oh no - you will void your warranty and you will even die.. if you touch the ink.... Ohhhhhhh

Yeah I was able to refill the OEM cartridges about 7 - 11 times each, and after refilling each cartridge - I think if I had of been buying the NEW OEM cartridges each time, I would have been up for about $4500 per anum - and by refilling it cost me about $320 - complete with about 3 or 4 cartridges (long time ago - but you get the picture)

Get off your arse, do your sums and start to think for yourself instead of being fed bullshit and CHOOSING to get ripped off in the process.

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Tool of lucifer? Well, I can see the name's half right, at least...

Yes yes, well done, I'm an idiot for wanting my printer's warranty to be easily enforceable and not involve arguments over breach of warranty through using crap consumables. Not only that, I'm also an idiot for not wanting to manually refill toner cartridges for a laserjet printer. Oh, and I extrapolate this perspective to the large laserjet printers whose maintenance and upkeep falls to me at work as well? By god, I must be some sort of living embodiment of idiocy or some such.

Next time try not being a condescending prick and reading the whole post first. Unless you're going to claim I'm still an idiot for not wanting to fuck around refilling toner cartridges...in which case, well, there's not much point continuing the conversation, is there?

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Paris Hilton

Probably because...

... the printer manufacturers instructions boldly state "if you don't use our branded ink, the warranty on this printer is VOID."

Given the cost of a printer can now be as much as the ink cartridges now - or even less - it does not make sense to keep buying ink cartridges that are branded.

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Pint

RE: RobE

Our printer cost £15 from ASDA so i wouldn't bet on that.

It's still going strong after 2 years!

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And who cares about warranties?

The Sale Of Goods Act is what you would use to sue a company who supplied faulty equipmernt. It's good for 6 years after purchase; forget the waranty, SoGA every time.

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Eh?

And you're Enterprise? As it happens the company I work for is and we don't extend warranties at all.

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Anonymous Coward

cheaper ink

I've used cheaper non-branded ink in the past in my Canon printer ... however both times I tried I ended up with a clogged prnt head and on the 2nd time had to spend £40 to replace it which rather nullified the savings on the ink!

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Vic
Silver badge

Cheap cartridges

> I've used cheaper non-branded ink in the past in my Canon printer

I always use el-cheapo ink on my Epson printers (I paid £10 for 12 cartridges last time I bought some). As long as you understand that some cheap cartridges just aren't worth having, it all seems fine so far...

>... however both times I tried I ended up with a clogged prnt head

The only time I've ever clogged a print head was when I didn't use the printer for an extended period of time - and it had genuine Epson cartridges in at the time.

Vic.

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Silver badge

Re: cheaper ink

Same for Epson, Twice, when printers had reached the end of their life I thought once the ink runs out I'll get a new one, I tried replacement cartridges and both times they clogged. Hardly a large enough sample but enough for me not to trust cheaper alternatives when it matters.

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Gold badge

Same here on Epson

Same here; tried an own label instead of Epson ink cartridge, and the printer had to go in the bin. Even after 100s of cleaning cycles, replacing all the carts with cleaning fluid carts, trying cleaning the head directly (using everything available in the cleanroom at work), etc.

At that point I decided that I didn't want photo quality printing at home, and bought a color laser. It just works (tm), the only maintenance is to load the paper tray every so often.

Thing is using Epson carts in an Epson printer, if it goes wrong I talk to Epson. If I use Tesco carts and it goes wrong, who can I talk to?

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What I want is a general solution

I hate the rip off in the present set up.

Over twenty years I have lost count of my ink jets. I have experimented with home filling and alternative cartridges. Always the original works best, giving solid deposit and maximum life without trouble.

Throughout this time I have been conscious that there is no user oriented website for printer owners. It would provide reviews, advice and a forum.

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Happy

Non Branded for me...

I've always used Non-Branded in my Epson R200, which is now over 6 years old and still running strong - with no issues...

No clogged heads..

Same with my Girlfriends R200... (same age)

Used to print documents, cd covers and photos..

I refuse to be fleased by the manufacturers..

We are looking to upgrade to a multi functional printer/scanner/coppier atm and I will be looking at the cost of non-branded replacement ink when we decide what to buy

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Silver badge

Re:Cheaper ink

The other issue you get with cheaper ink is that when you don't use the manufacturer branded paper (kodak is a good alternative as they tell you how to adjust the print settings) and ink and you print out photos you'll find it pretty hard to get a good colour match without calibrating the device which is beyond the capability of a lot of users. Random chance may get you there but likely the prints will look a touch shitty - I speak from personal experience. So whilst they are robbing you they are also guaranteeing you some kind of output quality.

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Sometimes there is a reason...

If you're printing photos on your photo printer then OEM cartiridges and paper is the best way to go, the colours output will be more correct, and will last longer, as the manufacturers will (should) have gone to all the trouble of matching the drivers, ink and paper.

Of course if you're just printing black and white docs then there's no reason to use the OEM stuff...

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FAIL

Better for the environment my arse!

Every single time I've tried cheaper compatibles they've leaked all over my printer - on one occasion it meant getting a new printer for my father it'd managed to gunk it up that much.

Not only for inks but for toners too - part of an IT Service job I had a five year ago was printer support (fully accredited to service HP Laserjets) and the amount of toner compatibles dumped thus ruining image belts and fuser units was ridiculous - when the large financial institution rolled out they were saving over a million pounds switching the company from HP official toners to refills I bet they never included the increased service and parts cost in that equation as it would easily be the other way round! (the real reasoning they switched might have had something to do with the head in charge of the deal been given a free tour of their facility..in Africa?)

Now both me and me Dad use Kodaks which have nice cheap inks - yes they don't last /as/ long as my old Canons but at under half the price for a third less I can live with and the lower outlay every time I need a new set doesn't make me balk, plus for the price of three refills I got a shiny new scanner/printer with wifi into the bargain, a big step up on the old unit.

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Paris Hilton

And all inks are not made equal...

...I spent years 'on the front lines', dealing with Joe and Josephine Public and their PC nightmares - the amount of people who wrecked (at the time) pricey printers by bunging in cheap refills was immense! People would bring in printers in bin liners, dripping with multicoloured ooze - one guy ended up redecorating his kitchen as some DIY refill kit exploded all over his wife's wallpaper!

I don't know if it's still quite as bad, but I do know that the refilled toner cartridges some of our little laserjets have had ended up with toner powder all over the innards of a couple of our HPs, so they're on my banned list.

But they're overpriced, so we barely print anything these days anyway and the online photo boys have got their act together lately too, so why bother with anything other than a cheapy little Canon MFD that you can refill once a year with branded inks for about £25?

Paris, cos I bet she knows a thing or two about producing your own prints at home...

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Anonymous Coward

Quality of inks

Aftermarket inks are hugely variable in quality and many people, quite rightly, don't want to take the risk. I have 10 year old photos printed with Epson inks that still look great. Cheaper inks have a tendancy to fade or change colour, even over very short periods of time. I've tried a huge number of replacement brands and have never found anything as good as OEM. Many of the el cheapo brands will block up the print heads too, which in turn wastes more ink on cleaning cycles.

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Stop

Buyer beware

Sure you can buy cheaper ink. But be ready to buy a new printer. We've had more printers ruined with cheap ink than have failed mechanically. Print heads have been clogged and ink has leaked all over the inside of the printer. Print quality has also suffered in some cases. And inkjets aren't the only culprit. Cheap laser printer toners have caused laser printers to fail, leaked toner into the printer, and left dark marks all over print jobs.

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Thumb Down

Well

Well if printer companies did not design their printers to only take branded cartridges I am sure more people would use refils/cheaper variants.

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Bronze badge

To be perfectly frank

I bought a non-brand replacement for my inkjet when the black ran out and the print quality from it was atrocious. Next time I shopped around on-line but made sure I got the real ones. Having said that, the printer came from one of those ex-Argos-lines discount warehouses and was actually cheaper than replacing both cartridges.

I suspect a lot of people could save a lot more money though just by taking a disk down to the nearest big supermarket and having them print their photos at far better quality and a fraction of the price than any of these easy-share camera-docking photo-printers that the manufacturers are trying to tell you are the next big middle-class necessity after breadmakers.

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What's wrong with bread makers?

Two minutes tipping the ingredients in, switch it on and the next morning you have a fresh loaf. We've had one for years and use it every day. Better than the over priced stale crap in the supermarket, especially the rustic stuff which has been kicking around unwrapped on the shelf all day being prodded and squeezed by people who can't afford it any more than they can afford soap.

Now if that Jimmy's Food Factory guy could stop messing around with chewing gum and show us how to make our own printer inks using special ingredients and machinery none of us have the remotest chance of getting our hands on, that would be useful.

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Manufacturers go to great lengths..

To tell customers how the sky will fall down if they use 3rd party inks, well at the very least the state very clearly in most cases that their warranty will be invalidated.

To be honest, I suggest folks get a cheap home black and white laser printer because thats all 80% need. For the other 15% I also point them to an online photo printer and indicate the continued savings. The for the remaining 5% I would suggest a dedicated 6x4 / 7x5 photo printer for those times where they don't want to wait the 24-48hrs for photobox to deliver, or where they just want a couple printed.

Seems to give the best of all worlds then.

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4.85?

Seriously? 4.85 a year on average? That seems high. Unless that's counting C, Y, M, and K cartridges separately.

I bought a new HP OfficeJet last XMas, and only got to the end of the bundled cartridges in the last month or so.

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Define "cheaper"

How "cheaper"? I've always used branded HP cartridges (ink & toner) & thought I'd try white label. The first toner cartridge I chucked out (it couldn't be recycled, unlike the HP branded) after a couple of days because that quality was unusable - even for draft work. The first ink cartridges smeared ink over everything - printouts, the inside of the printer, etc.. I've now gone back to HP branded - the price may be much higher, but at least they do the job.

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Anonymous Coward

What's the point of the OFT?

The article mentioning champagne linked to in this article is over 7 years old.

Since then, and the OFT's fluff, the situation has got a lot worse. Not only is the cost of ink higher than ever before, but with each new model, makers like Canon and Epson develop new ways to waste ink or introduce new ways of forcing you to spend a fortune on servicing.

Epson photo printers piss out as much ink as they can every time you switch them on at the mains (how many households switch their printers off at the mains because they're only used every few days or weeks?), and still waste a lot every now and then if you just leave them in standby. And when your printer decides its pads have soaked up enough ink from borderless printing, the whole thing just shuts down until you take it in for servicing. And of course, the cost of that deliberately points you toward buying a new printer. A lot more than hacking it and replacing the official pads with a 4p bog roll.

Remember when car manufacturers used to charge way over the odds in the UK, even compared to the rest of the EU? They eventually did something about that, so why not printer ink? If something does get done, you can be sure it'll be entirely down to the EU and not the OFT or any UK authority.

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Alien

I sell non-originals!

It's interesting to see that , as I write this, so far virtually every post is anti non-original toners/inks.

I sell them and have regular commercial customers who buy from me month-in month-out. One customer is a printer company (as in they print stuff for their customers). They have a very high daily throughput as they use HP LaserJets for much of their work. They do have a failure rate which they say is EVER-SO-SLIGHTLY above that they used to get with HP originals, but as they're paying less than half of the price for the compatibles they are more than happy - which is why each month they send me a nice fat order.

I do not hear from the vast vast majority of my customers between their repeat orders - I have to take that as a sign that they are encountering no problems.

Perhaps we get no problems because we avoid the cheap and nasty Chinese suppliers and go for large specialist manufacturers.

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Silver badge

I've got a computer screen

so I only need a printer for very very rare occasions.

I'm currently having to send a signed document via electronic facsimile. The document was sent in PDF, it has been modified (they WONT even check), and printed and will be signed and taken to a museum to fax as I no longer have the technology. - the printer is for the kids whose school is still in the dark ages.

Paper - isn't worth the rubbish written on it.

if someone invented the combustion engine these days do you think they'd drive their Ferraris to the stable to take a horse into town?

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Bronze badge
Alert

Blimey!

There can't be many better examples of the comments adding perspective to the thrust of the article.

I heard all the scare-stories like this back when refill carts were a relatively new thing, but had heard that they were better nowadays. Then again, those posting above could be forgiven for not having a second go. Does anyone have long-running experience enough to spot a trend?

On the face of it the warranty-hostage situation seems a bit iniquitous, but then in light of the above horror stories I guess you can see their point. Hardly fair for them to pay for damage caused by someone else's shoddy product...

What would be good to see would be the manufacturers offering a proper, certified refilling franchise to high-street resellers so punters could still be green by recycling their empty carts locally (and save a couple of quid in the process). But that's unlikely, far too sensible.

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Silver badge

I save even more

..by almost never printing anything :)

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Unhappy

Kids - Schools

You obviously don't have children at upper/senior school!

Homework has to be downloaded from the schools server at home and printed out, before filling in the paper copy by hand and returning by hand the next day for credits!

That's where all my ink goes. And currently they enforce the rule that if the document has coloured elements, then it has to be printed out in colour! I'm seeing the head about that next week!

I historically always insisted on using manufacturers inks (and paper when printing photographs) as I used to be a qualified Epson printer engineer, but since the homework issue started then I use a reputable brand of 3rd party ink. The quality on normal text is approximately 10% worse, but on photographs more than 50% worse. I've also noted a huge variety of quality by changing paper supplier. Epson ink on Epson glossy photo paper is awsome!

Photograph printing is much cheaper online than doing it yourself though, so I'm taking the hit on quality at home - at least until I use the 2+ years of cheaper cartridge stock!

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Thumb Down

This is a poor article.

A little like comparing an ePad with a iPad.

Just because something is cheaper does not meant it is better. Buying cheap cartridges in my experience is false economy.

I used to buy 3rd party epson inks, and while there was a significant saving of something like 60% over epson branded cartridges. I used them for a little while, until I realised that I was wasting most of my saving emptying the carts by needing to clean the nozels. I remember in one instance replacing a black and by the time I had cleared the nozels enough for a decent print it was half empty, as where the rest of the cartridges.

There is also the matter of colour quality in photos and longevity.

3rd party were definately not worth the trouble.

I now have an HP C8180 and buy a full set of inks for about £30, the pack also includes 150 sheets of photo paper. This works out at about 5p per photo, not an excessive price really.

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Anonymous Coward

I use them and they're fine

I've tried a few different non-OEM brands, and some are definitely no good at all. A stall on my local market sells Inkrite (I think - they're in orange boxes with orange clips on) and I've found them to be reliable and very close in colour to the original canon ones. They're significantly cheaper but not the cheapest around. They're even acceptable for occasional photo use, but I wouldn't trust them for long image retention.

Most of the others I've tried have produced odd colouring or spotty output. I think Canon printers are a little more forgiving of off-brand ink than Epson were (my previous brand), I've certainly had less problems anyway.

Frankly, I wish the printer manufacturers would just offer a realistically priced printer with cheap consumables. They won't do that while the market prefers to buy throwaway printers because it's cheaper than buying ink. Perhaps cheap printers should be subject to some kind of recycling levy?

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Drives me absolutely round the twist

I have an 18-month old colour laser at home which is now starting to run out of toner. I hate the giant bulky thing but the family insist they "need" it. Would cost 130 quid to buy a set of cartridges but only 115 to buy a complete brand new equivalent printer with (specifically stated) full toner. So a perfectly working networked colour laser printer will be going to the dump. This just can't be right.

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DIY refils

I bought a pack of 1 liter bottles of ink and syringes a couple of years ago (for about 40 quid if I remember) and have refilled two cannon printers from them ever since. The black is almost out now, so that's the equivalent of about 30 standard cartridges.

Its a bit fiddly sometimes, but nothing too awkward, and frankly I quite enjoy a few minutes poking around in the printer. Its much better than the hassle of going to the shops or ordering on-line and having to be in to receive the stuff. One less thing to think about...

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Anonymous Coward

The only trouble I've had...

has been the type that Epson have intentionally caused me.

I've been using 'alternative' cartridges for my Epson inkjet for a couple of years and I really haven't had any issues with the print quality. The savings have more than paid for the cost of the printer so even if it does reduce the working life somehow I really don't mind.

What I do have a problem with is since I upgraded the machine I used as a print server to Win7, and with it the new Epson drivers, my printer keeps telling me that it doesn't have any ink and refuses to print. Maybe Epson were right all along and this is what I get for not wisely spending my money on a quality ink cartridge.

Although the printer doesn't seem to have any hangups about lack of ink now that I'm printing from Linux using open source printer drivers that Epson have no control over. Strange that.

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Bronze badge

non-original cartridges...

I support a number of schools and most of them use compatibles... in general, they are ok for day to day disposable prints.

The faiure rates tend to be quite high - one laser went through 4 compatible toners, all of them creating dreadful output, switching to a brand new original, suddenly all ws better...

most of the sites that use the refills have a box for duff cartridges that need to be replaced... Ive yet to have one original fail on me - plus originals stand a much less chance of getting my fingers dirty...

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Bod

Cheap cr@p

I've dabbled in cheap cartridges before, but stick to originals now. If you just print black text and don't mind smudgy prints or print pictures and photos just for family fun and don't care about the quality, and don't mind your heads getting clogged up, then they're fine.

If you want quality prints and/or photos, cheap isn't always better. That's not to say the originals are necessarily the best, but generally they are more reliable and better quality. If you do serious photo printing, especially with the 6 ink photo printers, you need inks that colour match properly also.

Environmentally friendly? Depends, where do the cheap inks come from? What do they contain? How much fuel has been used to ship them from the sweat shop in China?

Oh, and there's a reason why originals are expensive. You are getting a printer at a massively subsidised price, and the inks essentially pay for the printer.

P.S. Shop around - you can get originals pretty cheap if you buy from the right places.

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WTF?

Cost of Ink

A full set of 6 Epson inks for my printer is about £60 from PC World, th eprinter costs just less than this. It is blatant profiteering, especially as a friend of mine works for a company which makes amongst other things inkjet ink, it cost about £1 per litre.

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Bod

Cost of printer

Your printer doesn't really cost less than £60. It's far more than that, it's just it's subsidised and you pay for it through cartridges.

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non OEM here

Never used OEM Carts since my old Olivetti back in '96. For many years I filled my own for my BJC80 a lovely little printer that I only stopped using a couple of years ago due to a memory fault developing. It had one print head in all the time I had it and it worked hard for its living!

The Pixma that replaced and became a network unit gets generic carts, and works fine for our needs.. and is doing even more work that the old BJC did. All I do is periodic cleaning..... but then thats part of ownership.... isnt it?

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Happy

Epson

Have used a continuous ink system for 2 years now no problems what so ever.

But due to my i can't be arsed to print photos i end to stick em on mem stick and off to boots lol..

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Go

Me too, well sort of.....

When I bought my current Epson I did not even bother installing the cartridges that came with it, I sold them on eBay for £25 which I then used to buy a set of refillable cartridges (basically a tank with a chip on) which I have been using for three years now.

I only use decent quality inks, but can afford to because I am not shelling out over £40 for cartridges every month. Yes every month. And all that non-OEM ink has not damaged my printer although generally it is almost worn out now with all the printing.

No full CIS here though as the kids would get the ink everywhere!

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WTF?

Wow!

I've got a Lexmark and it would be cheaper to buy a new printer than change the cartridge. However, it's even cheaper to just buy a refil kit. I've done colour and black ink and it's fine for most applications.

The best deal I ever got was the 3 bottles of black from Tesco. It cost about £5 and lasted over a year. If you use original cartridges (I know some don't work this way due to their chips) and replace them, you don't get the gumming or whatnot.

Amazingly though, I print a lot of black and white stuff, yet I've not been asked to replace the white ink yet....

(I'll get me coat)

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Silver badge
FAIL

No ink for me!

I got tired of my printer being clogged every time I went to use it, no matter what cartridges I bought, so I switched to a mono laser from Brother. It's PS too, which means I was also able to ditch that CUPS shit.

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Silver badge

After my warranty ran out...

...I bought some "pattern part" ink. It works OK and I can't tell the difference, but the printer can't tell if the ink is full or empty as the chips could not be reset due to a patent. WTF?

A patent on telling how full a bucket is? Jesus.

It's a Dell printer (rebranded-Lexmark) and needs to go when I switch over to Linux as it's not supported, so I'll be looking for a printer where I can use "pattern part" ink. if I was doing high-end stuff...maybe I'd worry. But I'm not.

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