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 user 2006-10-03 at 11:34:00 am Views: 129
  • #16740

    Walgreens blazes local ink-refill trail
    his work as a real estate agent, Keith Carpenter prints a lot of
    documents and spends more than $100 a month on ink cartridges.

    when he visited a local Walgreens last week and noticed a machine that
    can refill ink cartridges in 10 minutes – and save customers up to 50
    percent compared with the cost of a new cartridge – he decided to try
    it yesterday.”I figured why not try it. And if it works, I’ll certainly
    come here again,” said Mr. Carpenter, who works for DiSalle Realty CA
    Walgreens on Monroe Street and one on Reynolds Road last month became
    the first local stores for the chain to receive $40,000 cartridge
    refill machines.

    The drugstore company plans to put them in 1,500 of its 5,000 stores.
    other retailers expect to add similar machines. OfficeMax plans to have
    an ink-refill kiosk in at least one of its Toledo stores before year’s
    end. Both Office Depot Inc. and Staples Inc. are test-marketing a
    similar service nationally. Other stores also could add the lower-cost
    service for computer printers.The price of ink per milliliter from big
    printer manufacturers such Hewlett Packard has been rising 1 percent
    annually, according to Lyra Research, a consultantcy.Plus, the amount
    of ink in cartridges has been decreasing, although manufacturers
    contend they have found new ways to maximize ink flow.Some, though,
    question the quality of the replacement inks, especially for higher-end
    printing such as photographs.Still, a lower cost is what caught Mr.
    Carpenter’s eye. The chain offers to refill a variety of Hewlett
    Packard, Dell, Lexmark, Xerox, Canon, Epson, and Okidata cartridges.The
    cost is about half that for new cartridges. For example, an HP black
    ink cartridge costs $33 at Best Buy but is refilled for $15 at
    Walgreens. An HP 17 color cartridge is $35 new, and $16.50 for a
    refill.Walgreens had been recylcing ink cartridges, giving a customers
    who do so a discount for photo printing, and the refills are even
    cheaper, said company spokesman Tiffani Bruce.The chain tested its
    machines, and customers liked the quality, she said. Hewlett-Packard
    threatened to sue the firm this year, contending the replacement inks
    infringed on its copyrighted ink formulas, she added.”Our position is
    the quality of our ink is comparable to [that of original ink
    manufacturers],” Ms. Bruce said. “It obviously must be pretty good if
    it’s so close that the manufacturer thinks there’s some
    infringement.”Paul Zalecki, owner of Computer Renaissance on Monroe
    Street, said inks made by refill services are very good for people who
    do ordinary document printing jobs with their computers.But tests by
    Consumer Reports and others have shown that refill inks fade quickly
    compared with inks made by large printer manufacturers.”If you want to
    print plain old black or color on documents, refills are fine,” Mr.
    Zalecki said. “But if you’re going to print photos, the manufacturers’
    inks have been tested to last a large number of years. Secondary inks
    don’t have much of a life span.”