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Printer ink is now more expensive than the printer itself

Work-from-home users look for cheaper options
Posted: 1:55 PM, Jan 22, 2020
Updated: 2020-01-22 19:19:38-05

Printer ink has always been expensive, but lately, with printers getting cheaper than ever, one Warren County man is thinking of tossing his old printer and just buying a new one because it's cheaper than buying ink.

Steve Lautenslager does a lot of work from home, which means he relies on his home printer. He was stunned when he recently went to buy new ink cartridges.

"It's crazy," he said.

Lautenslager said he saw shelves of replacement ink cartridges priced as high as $85 for an HP color and black-and-white combo pack.

"I was looking at the cost to replace both the color and the black and looked at the price, and then right next to it was a brand-new printer that was even cheaper than that cost," he said.

He realized he could buy a new HP inkjet printer for $59.

"It was cheaper buying a printer than to replace the ink," he said.

You hate to think about this for environmental reasons, but it might seem to make more sense financially to toss that old printer in a computer graveyard and simply buy another.

One downside with this idea, however: New printers come with "starter" ink cartridges that contain just half the ink of a replacement cartridge.

The other downside is all the waste you would be creating.

Why printers are cheaper than ink

What's going on?

Consumer Reports magazine says home printers are like razor blades: Companies take a loss on them to lock you into buying more cartridges. That $65 printer may actually cost the company $120 or more to make.

"They've got us wrapped around their little finger, you know, to get us to do what they want us to do," Lautenslager said.

HP responded to the criticism by recently telling Business Insider: "Original HP ink and toner cartridges deliver the best possible printing experience. We make significant investments in R&D each year to provide the highest levels of print quality."

But you have some cheaper options:

Refilling is just about the only alternative these days, because it is very tough to use generic ink cartridges anymore. Printer manufacturers put a computer chip in them that prevents you from using generics. Plus, generics will void your warranty.

So be careful buying inexpensive replacement cartridges, so you don't waste your money.

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FULL HP STATEMENT TO BUSINESS INSIDER:

"Original HP ink and toner cartridges deliver the best possible printing experience for customers. We make significant investments in R&D each year to provide the highest levels of print quality, safety and environmental sustainability. When customers purchase HP, they are reducing plastic waste and contributing to a circular economy. And we work tirelessly to maximize value for our customers, including Instant Ink, our "ink delivery" subscription service which includes ink, shipping and recycling."

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Don't Waste Your Money" is a registered trademark of Scripps Media, Inc. ("Scripps").

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