*NEWS*THE SEARCH FOR CHEAPER INK

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*NEWS*THE SEARCH FOR CHEAPER INK

 user 2005-10-29 at 10:16:00 am Views: 77
  • #14428

    The Search for Cheaper Ink
    Third-party inkjet cartridges may have a poor reputation, but one retailer is promising high quality for half the price.
    Caboodle
    Cartridges storefront Gripes over high-priced ink cartridges have
    spawned an entire cottage industry of fly-by-night refill companies,
    do-it-yourself cartridge refill kits, and dozens of Web sites that sell
    no-name-brand cartridges
    More recently, big names like Office Depot
    and Staples have gotten into the act, putting their own discounted
    brands on store shelves. These cartridges generally cost 10 to 15
    percent less than printer manufacturers’ cartridges. But a retail
    outlet selling even cheaper refilled cartridges may be coming soon to a
    strip mall near you.
    In contrast to the many Web sites that hock
    refilled cartridges, Caboodle Cartridges operates retail outlets.
    Thirty-five franchises have opened thus far, most of them in the San
    Francisco Bay Area, though stores are operating in at least eight other
    states.
    In an effort to undersell the big retailers, Caboodle
    Cartridges sells its remanufactured cartridges for roughly half their
    original cost. You can lower the price even more by exchanging spent
    cartridges for a credit of $2 to $4.
    This all sounds great, but I
    have a few concerns. What if the cartridge damages my printer? How good
    is the ink? Also, I’ll have to run a special errand just to get ink
    cartridges, instead of being able to pick them up while I’m shopping at
    Costco or an electronics store.
    The Lure of the Storefront
    I’ve
    never entrusted my old inkjet printer to refilled cartridges from an
    online outlet; I’m too afraid of damaging it. When the only recourse is
    sending an e-mail or pinging a Web site for help, I pass. Office Depot
    and Staples are well-known brands, and they earn credibility because
    they have retail outlets. Following that logic, I’m inclined to trust
    Caboodle Cartridges.
    Caboodle Cartridges President Daniel Wencel
    said that his company’s cartridges deliver print quality and page
    yields comparable to the original manufacturers’, and that the company
    will replace a customer’s printer if it’s damaged by a malfunctioning
    cartridge.
    The company’s ink has not been tested for fade resistance
    by a third party such as Wilhelm Imaging Research, which conducted
    testing for our September 2003 story, “Cheap Ink Probed.” In tests for
    that story, we found that third-party ink cartridges could make
    high-quality prints on glossy photo paper, but that their fade
    resistance was substandard: Photos printed with inks from Amazon
    Imaging, Carrot Ink, and others averaged a dismal 2.2 years of fade
    resistance. These inks may save you some bucks, but they won’t save
    your memories.
    If you mostly print documents on plain paper, you may
    not care that your glossy photos could fade quickly. But if you do, I’d
    await independent fade test results before buying from Caboodle
    Cartridges.
    Take Note
    Coupons for Cartridges: Staples announced
    on September 19 a recycling program that rewards customers with a $3
    coupon for each ink or toner cartridge they recycle at a store
    location. The company either remanufactures the cartridges as Staples
    brand items, or recycles them. The coupon can be used for any in-store
    or Web site purchase through Staples.