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 user 2008-01-08 at 1:07:00 pm Views: 101
  • #19304

    Printers and the cost of their ink are a pain
    In 2005, a woman in Georgia sued Hewlett Packard, alleging that the company “deceives consumers into buying new inkjet cartridges before the ink has run out.” You go, girl!This woman attacked HP’s “smartchip” technology (just hearing THAT little name makes me twitch). She claims that the smartchip, which senses when an ink is running low, is actually triggering the ‘out of ink’ message way too early. Imagine that. This, of course, forces us to throw away ink cartridges prematurely so that we can rush out to Staples and purchase replacements at $20-$40 a pop. A shocking, shocking allegation.

    HP denied the claim, as far. As I can tell, the fight is raging on.I don’t own an HP printer. I suffer the pain of owning a Lexmark all-in-one printer. It prints slowly and sends faxes … well … most of the time. Some days, and for no reason at all, my computer can’t find my printer and I have to shut everything off and then turn it back on again and suddenly it reappears. Oh yes, it’s a very productive exercise. Other times my printer feeds dozens of unnecessary sheets through or jams. Fun!But that’s not the worst part. The worst part is the ink. I was using about a cartridge of ink a week. The cost? $32. For ink. That means I was spending about $1,600 per year on ink. The printer itself cost me less than $200. Something was just not right here. Pouring champagne into my printer would be less expensive.Our Georgia Peach may have suffered a similar fate, so she took HP to court. I just don’t have that kind of fortitude. So I had to resort to figuring out a few ways to pinch some pennies on my ink costs outside of the legal system. I’ve succeeded over the past few years … and here’s how.I don’t buy the name brand ink, I buy the refurbished stuff. I’ve given enough money to Lexmark. For example, a new ink cartridge from Lexmark is $32 and the same Staples refurbished ink cartridge is $27. The quality difference is negligible and that saved me $250/year right off the bat. You can purchase refurbished cartridges on the Internet that are even cheaper, too, if you want to take a shot.

    We monkeyed with the ink refill packages but didn’t like them as much. They’re kind of a pain in the butt to use and the quality was often not too hot. But I mention them here because if you want to invest the time it may be worth it to you. Many penny pinchers do.My local Staples offers $3 for every ink cartridge returned to them. We keep them in a bag, so that when we’re driving by the store we’ll stop in and turn them in. That’s another $150/year saved.We also try to save up our ink cartridges and buy in bulk. This way we can wait for the office supply store to send us one of their e-mail offers and then pounce. We’ll buy it online and we never pay for shipping.Some of our printers were set to “best” quality, others to “normal.” To heck with that. I went around to each computer and reset the default printer settings to “draft.” It’s not only faster printing but uses significantly less ink. For the rare time that we’re printing something that really needs to be the best quality (proposals, pictures of Britney Spears, etc.) we just reset for that document.

    We don’t print in color. We don’t need to. And it’s a rip off.Finally, we’ve just stopped printing a lot of stuff. When we send out quotes or invoices, we convert them to PDFs and then e-mail them. I intend to take this one step further and setup online payment so I can eliminate check printing altogether. Our fax number uses an Internet faxing service which converts any fax sent to us into a PDF and e-mails it to the recipient so we don’t have to print out those either.All of these steps saved us about half of our ink costs a year, or about $800. Now that’s some serious penny pinching. I need to find out if that lady won her lawsuit