I know we have all pondered this question every time we have to shell out $30, $40 or $50 bucks for replacement ink cartridges for our inkjet printers.  So why does it cost so much?  Some say that by weight, printer ink costs more than Russian caviar.  What’s so special about this “liquid gold” that makes it so damned expensive?  Put very simply…nothing.

Experts will tell you that ink is ink; although there are various types of inks used in printers, it is all basically the same with nothing to justify such high prices.  Why do you think there are SO many third party companies offering lower prices for refills and generic cartridges?  Because it is nothing special and if you can do it cheaper than the other guy, why not?  HP, Canon and Epson have gone so far to sue third party companies for trying to muscle in on their territory.

When I decided to sit down and do some research for this article, I was rather surprised to find the information to easy to find.  The truth is that it’s no big secret as to why printer companies charge so much for ink.  When you get right down to it the answer is simple, because they can.  It is almost as economical to purchase a new printer every time you run out of ink than it is to keep buying replacement cartridges.

Back in the day, when printers cost upward of $500, no one really cared that ink was only $30 or $40.  But now when you can buy a fairly decent printer for under $100, it doesn’t take long to figure out that you’re being screwed.  I had a neighbor who would replace his printer every time he ran out of ink.  Every few months, there would be a fairly new looking inkjet printer sitting next to his garbage can on Sunday evenings.  After a year I finally asked him what the reason for it was.  His answer shocked me at first, until I really thought about it.

The point is that ink is ink and the consumer is getting screwed by the big guys once again.  It’s almost like the oil companies charging so much for gas.  They do it because they can because they know no matter how high the price, we’ll still buy it; what little choice do we have?  The majority of HP’s profits come from the sale of replacement supplies for their printers such as ink.  So as I am fond of asking in nearly all of my blogs; what are the alternatives?  Well there aren’t many, but you do have some options.

You could go with the option of replacing your printer every time it runs out of ink.  This is what a lot of people do and if that works for you then more power to you brother.  But you’re only fueling the machine as surely as you would by continuing to buy the overpriced ink cartridges.  Why keep putting money in their pockets?  They are still taking it out of yours at a much faster pace.

Now what I like to do is find alternatives that not only cost less money in the long run, but also provide a much better product for your money.  I have never been a fan on inkjet printers, in fact I think they are crap.  I much prefer a laser printer any day over any ink based printer.  Now I know you’re going to say that printer toner cost even more than ink and you’d be absolutely right, it does.  But you have to keep in mind that toner lasts much, much longer than any ink cartridge.  You get more printed pages out of a standard toner cartridges than you would an ink cartridge.  Over time ink cartridges dry out if not used or stored properly and if you only printed a few pages with that cartridge, you just wasted even more money.  Toner will not dry out and will last much longer if not used.  So if you compare the cost between the two, toner is a much better value in the long run than ink.

Laser printers just like inkjet printers have come down in price considerably over the past few years.  You can now get a pretty decent laser printer for around $200 and you’ll get far more life out of it than you would an inkjet.  Now if you bring color into the picture these prices fluctuate quite a bit.  With most color laser printers there are four cartridges to contend with and they can be quite costly and the initial cost of the printer is higher than a black and white.  But if you look at the long term, you will get out slightly less with a toner option than with ink.  Color ink is even more expensive than black ink and you’re still faced with the problems of the cartridge drying out.

Now with third party supplies there comes another potential issue that you must be made aware of.  Because there is money to be made out there, you will find that some supplies aren’t as good as others.  Refurbished or refilled ink and toner cartridges don’t always perform as well as others, so you have to make sure you’re dealing with a company that will stand behind their product.  You need to do your homework before just buying any old cartridge from Roscoe’s Discount Ink.  Often times you get what you pay for so be careful.