I still remember when the familiar buzz of my all-in-one printer that I've named Stanley suddenly stopped, letting me know that it had printed the last of several pages.
The text and images on pages 1-20 were perfect – nothing but vivid colors and crystal clear words from top to bottom. The other pages? Not so much because I'd run out of ink.
It was hardly the first time that had happened, but it didn't make that particular occurrence any less annoying.
The thought of having to pay more than $100 again for ink cartridges was always cringe-inducing. Surely there was a more budget-friendly alternative to name brand ink cartridges. I just couldn't prove it, so I decided to do some research.
My first Google search: Why are ink cartridges so expensive?
The answers were plentiful but the same in essence. Ink cartridges are expensive because printer manufacturers need to make a profit in order to stay in business. For example, Consumer Reports representative Tercius Bufete asked Scott Williams, a chemistry professor at Rochester Institute of Technology the same question. And Mr. Williams offered the following explanation: “Ink companies spend a lot of time to get the right blend of pigment, dye, and vehicle to be able to have a very stable small droplet for high-resolution printing.”
That's understandable, but it doesn't help printer-owners' bank accounts. So Mr. Williams' revelation warranted a new Google search for ink cartridge alternatives.
Click, click, click. Ah-ha!
A list of companies promising prospective customers that they had less-expensive ink cartridges appeared, and I clicked the first link that caught my eye: yoyoink.com.
The company sells recycled or refillable ink cartridges for widely used printers, which explains why the prices are much lower than printer manufacturers' ink cartridges.
In order to understand how much money I could possibly save using compatible cartridges, I needed to find out how many pages I was getting out of each pricey ink cartridge I was buying for Stanley.
The fine people at HP.com assured me that the HP 56 Black Original Ink Cartridge and the HP 57 Tri-color Original Ink Cartridge would produce around 500 standard pages, respectively.
How much does it cost to print 500 black and white or color copies? HP currently charges $39.99 for black ink cartridges and $67.99 for color ink cartridges that are made exclusively for the HP Officejet 5605 All-in-One Printer. So that's $107.98 before taxes, shipping, and handling that can easily turn into hundreds of dollars a year.
Printer manufacturers are to be commended for wanting to produce more efficient products as echoed by Mr. Williams. Unfortunately, this is often to the detriment of consumers, in financial terms.
It's a relief to know that there are alternatives out there. For example, a compatible remanufactured color cartridge for a fraction of what HP is asking for, and the same goes for the black ink cartridge via “a top seller of compatible/remanufactured HP printer ink and toner cartridges.” And a look at its inventory seemed to confirm this. There are ink cartridges and toner for HP, Brother, Canon, Lexmark, Epson, and Kodak printers.
It was time to create an account and place an order!
In addition to the budget-friendly prices, six other things about this company really grabbed my attention:
- The assertion that inventory meets or exceeds current OEM standards
- The printer, copier, and fax machine cartridges come with a two-year warranty
- The implementation of smart chip technology that shows ink levels
- Free expedited shipping on orders over $50
- The Super Panda Membership Program that includes discounts and free two-day shipping
- Several five-star ratings from customers
Things like that mean a lot to a small business owner like me. I write a lot and I print a lot. However, I don't want to spend a fortune on ink cartridges, and I'm sure I'm not alone here.
Sometimes it just takes a bit of frustration to kick-start the search for a solution to an ongoing problem, even when it seems as if things have to remain the same. In this instance, the ongoing problem was wanting a more economical way to do business. So frustration has its perks.