*NEWS*IS GASOLINE EXPENSIVE..CONSIDER INK
*NEWS*IS GASOLINE EXPENSIVE..CONSIDER INK
2007-11-19 at 11:46:00 am #21040
Think Gasoline Is Expensive? Consider Ink
Harold Walsh can make you feel good about paying $3.11 a gallon for gasoline.
He runs inkproducts.com from inside the Eagle Ridge Mall in Lake Wales. He’s located in the Create It Scrapping store. Walsh, who retired years ago from copier sales, now deals in supplying ink cartridges for ink-jet printers.Walsh also sells “auto refill” kits for printers: Replacement cartridges for the printer are connected to tubes, which run to bottles of ink that sit next to the printer. When the bottles run low, simply refill them.Walsh holds up a small bottle holding about a teaspoon of ink. “How would you like it if you drove up to the pump and bought this much gas for $13?”The 3 milliliters of ink in the bottle, said Walsh, were all that was contained in a new printer cartridge purchased from a major printer company.Walsh sells a 60-milliliter bottle of the same color ink for $8. The bottle will provide about 20 refills for the cartridge. Thus, the $13 cartridge can be refilled from the bottle with about 40 cents worth of ink.Conversely, buying the same amount of ink by the cartridge that is held in the 60-milliliter bottle would cost $260.In fact, a gallon of ink obtained by buying ink cartridges from name-brand printing companies would cost somewhere between $3,000 and $5,000.”And remember, you don’t have to drill into the ground, suck the ink out, ship it half-way around the world, unload it, and refine it,” added Walsh, continuing with the gasoline analogy.
It’s one of the reasons why third-party suppliers are selling ink and replacement cartridges – and one of the reasons printer-manufacturing companies are suing to put them out of business. In addition to courtroom action, printer companies often have electronic chips in their cartridges which make the cartridge inoperable when it runs out of ink so it can’t be refilled.In early 2006, Epson (owned by Seiko Corp. of Japan) filed complaints against 25 companies in the U.S. and United Kingdom seeking to bar the manufacture, import, or distribution of aftermarket ink cartridges in those countries.This month, Canon won a case in the Supreme Court of Japan that blocked imports and sales by Tokyo-based Recycle Assist Co. of recycled Canon ink cartridges that are refilled with non-Canon ink. Canon claimed the process infringed on its patents.But this summer, in Lexmark’s home state of Kentucky, a jury decided that Lexmark’s practice of the way it limited use of its toner cartridges “unreasonably restrained competition.” Jurors also agreed with the competitor’s claim that the methods used by Lexmark gave it the “substantial ability to exploit customers.”Darren T. Kaplan, partner in the Atlanta law firm of Chitwood Harney Harnes, was co-lead counsel in a class-action suit brought against Epson because its cartridges were technologically shut off while a usable supply of ink still remained in the cartridge.
A settlement a year ago with members of the class-action suit resulted in a credit of up to $45 at Epson’s online store. Epson denied any wrongdoing, and said it wanted to keep the ink cartridges from going dry and damaging the printer’s print heads. Critics, however, contend the real goal of the printer companies is to keep the cartridges from reuse.When purchased in cartridges, said Kaplan, ink is among “the world’s most expensive liquids,” with prices approaching or equal to “exotic perfumes and rare wines.” He added that making ink was “old technology, because it’s been around forever,” but it is the “new technology” of how it’s delivered to paper that has made it expensive.He also said his firm has similar suits against nearly “every major printer manufacturer.”Keeping one step ahead of the electronic tricks keeps Walsh and his fellow resellers busy. He said codes are constantly being changed on printers to try to defeat the work-arounds used by third-party ink cartridges.
“They’ve just gotten craftier over the last few years,” said Walsh.
The refill company’s Web site (www.inkproducts.com) offers refill kits for Canon, HP, Lexmark, Compaq, Epson, and Brother. The auto-fill system using ink tanks can be installed in printers in less than 10 minutes; the systems start at around $100.The auto-fill system already installed on an Epson printer costs about $220, including printer.Refilling cartridges might involve getting some ink-stained hands. But, as Walsh would say, people who refill wind up with more green in their wallets.