IN REFILL-INK GAME ,WHO WILL WIN ….?
IN REFILL-INK GAME ,WHO WILL WIN ….?
2006-03-28 at 11:28:00 am #15224
In refill game, who will win ?
Ink cartridge battles could leave buyers in bind, firms in court
2006Back when America’s major highways were two-lane blacktops instead
of massive interstates, many a long drive was made shorter reading
Gillette Burma Shave ads pitching shaving soap and blades.
I said, those were simpler times and dating standards were a tad
different, as were open-road automobile speeds (much faster) and
country billboards (legal then).It was also a time when printers were
guys with shops that set type in molten lead and turned out documents
with presses the size of today’s sub-compact cars.
Now, of course,
printers tend to be little beige boxes the size of toaster ovens that
sit next to our home computers. They guzzle the manufacturer’s ink
cartridges that cost more than cans of caviar and seem to last about as
Maybe the answer to inkjet-style caviar dreams is cheap ink
refills from third parties. (Look Ma, it only took the old guy 175
words to get to the point!)
Tribune technology writer Eric Benderoff
reported on Friday how big businesses like Walgreens and OfficeMax and
entrepreneurs like the booming Cartridge World chain now pitch schemes
for refilling cartridges from Hewlett Packard, Lexmark, Epson, et al.
found particularly appealing the image of dropping a cartridge off at
the drugstore photo counter and coming back in 10 minutes to pick up
A lot of us recall the sense of frustration, if not
anger, when we realized that today’s printermakers are exactly like the
razormakers of the Burma Shave era: Sell the razors cheap and then make
a killing selling the razor blades (or ink cartridges).
It costs manufacturers under $5 to make, ship and advertise cartridges that then sell for $30 and more, often a lot more.
wait. Cheap printers tend to wear out pretty quickly, usually going to
HP Heaven in the middle of a job just after you’ve inserted a fresh
cartridge. Because inkjet printers are so cheap, few folks buy service
agreements. Even if a warranty exists, one rarely has the time to ship
and wait for a repair when a printer breaks in the middle of a project.
you trudge down to the Beige Boxes “R” Us store to buy a replacement
that will use the perfectly good cartridge(s) in the broken machine and
those spare cartridges you stockpiled for emergencies.
Do I need to
tell you that printers from HP, in particular, get changed so often
that old cartridges are useless because they don’t fit in new machines?
models require new cartridges. The number 56, 57 and 58 cartridges for
the old HP are useless in the latest version, which needs numbers 91
and 92, even though the machines look identical and work the same as
far as anybody can see.
It’s a strategy so clearly aimed at the old
Gillette business model that it gives a hollow ring to protestations by
the companies that new technologies improve results by ever-better
designs in the computerized print heads soldered onto the cartridges.
they say, ink is specially formulated to give maximum performance in
the company’s own machines and is designed specifically for the
chemicals and characteristics of the company’s brands of paper.
sure this is true.But it doesn’t forgive the plight of the customer
with a slightly outdated machine, and it certainly doesn’t explain away
the huge profit margins.On the other hand, as any printer user can
attest, nothing anymore seems simply black and white.
cartridges don’t work as well as new ones because fill-ups can’t last
as long as fresh loads. And they really don’t always work as well as
new cartridges because of ink chemistry issues, including clogging.
Furthermore the printer-head circuitry on a cartridge’s business end is
fragile and prone to wear and tear, and damage during refilling.
Already, printermakers are suing refillers over using ink that violates patents for their unique chemical formulas.
challenges like this work, the refillers may be forced to use
inferior-quality inks with resulting erosion of customer support.
Look for more court fights, talking heads arguing the pros and cons, and a blitz of ink-consuming advertising.
Cartridges run dry?
Walgreens sez “stop by”
What does this spell?
Could it be The End for HP?