/ Technology

Your view: would an ink tariff make you think before you print?

Last week we asked you for your thoughts on having a monthly tariff for your printing. While most of you were against it, could it help us be more eco-friendly?

Last week we asked you about HP’s new monthly tariff for printing ink. Starting from £1.99 per month, you can print 50 pages of text, photos or images. But is that a good deal or a bad deal?

It’s hard to work out, and Malcolm R was concerned whether the tariff had our best interests at heart:

‘I use a Canon printer and get, to my mind, excellent results, including photos using Canon ink. I am suspicious of any “subscription” scheme like HP’s – cynically I doubt if it will operate in most consumers best interests.’

This was followed by a series of comments against the scheme. Dieseltaylor felt it was just a marketing ploy:

‘As a marketing wheeze, briliant, but I would not touch it with a barge pole. The idea that overall this service is not designed to make HP a profit is untenable and seems to be aimed at taking out of play the independent ink suppliers.’

Wavechange has similar suspicions, thinking this is a way of getting us to spend more:

‘Monthly printing tariffs could suit a few people but are no doubt intended to get us to spend more and discourage us from looking at third party products. Not for me, thank-you.’

But John Ward was more worried about using up his sheet allowance:

‘I wouldn’t be happy about paying by the sheet as it’s often the case that the last page of a printed document only carries a few lines of printed image. We also “waste” a certain amount through drafts, reworked and updated documents, and formatting trials.’

So maybe documents should be more printer friendly, as David MacCauley said:

‘What annoys me is printing tickets, boarding passes and “collect at store info” where the whole job over-runs by a couple of lines causing a second page to come out. Yes, there are ways around this but how many pages get wasted?’

Do you really need to print that?

Bob Fasoli is in favour of the tariff:

‘I also believe that this method would mean people would think more and print less, only when it was correct. Print Preview is the way to go. I like the “roll over” and if I decide to change printers, personally this would be the way I would go.’

Maxwild prints much less than he used to:

‘I convert as much as I can to pdf and view via OneDrive on my phone or tablet. QR codes for ticketing, boarding passes etc are a development that is helping to minimise paper.’

And this reminded Wavchange how little he actually prints:

‘This Conversation has made me realise how little I print compared with ten or fifteen years ago. I rarely print photos because they can be viewed on screen and distributed to others in various ways by computer.’

So do you think we waste ink and paper by not formatting pages for printing? How could we get around that? And do you really need to print as much as you do?


Price of any commodity should be the cost of manufacture plus a modest profit margin. Too much money flow is distorted by tax surcharges etc. etc. Save paper and ink by reducing unwanted mail advertising. Makers of the printing equipment might enhance profits with reduced advertising.

Nearly every time I turn on the printer, it tells me there are inks out of date.

Think this must mean I am eco-friendly when it comes to printing !!!

What are we trying to save – paper or ink? If you want to save ink and/or cost then use draft mode. Use 3rd party inks. If you want to save paper you can use A5 for many documents. Best use print preview – printing emails can often give several unwanted pages of,say, T&Cs on an order acknowledgement so just print what you need – use “print pages number….” , “print current page” or select the text you want and use “print selection”. Print double sided. All sorts of ways to save.

I prefer to print important documents to file away rather than leave them on the computer – they are easier to read, annotate, refer to quickly and are available if my computer misbehaves. I also print important photos to keep and distribute – so much nicer to look at. I produce 12 copies of an annual calendar for the family – A5 date pages with information on the back, A6 photo page per month – and a sports club fixture list for all members as my main “bulk” printing. Inevitably accompanied by mistakes that I only spot when looking through a draft hard copy. I wouldn’t want to feel restricted by tariffs or contracts.

So make people aware of ways to save, but then let them get on with what they choose.

The reason why inject printers ‘waste’ ink is to help ensure that printheads do not get blocked. I believe that inkjet printers use more ink than is necessary to keep the ink flowing frequently.

If a colour inkjet printer has a problem it’s usually with one of the three or more colours, or black that is affected. The cleaning procedure generally cleans all of them. That can waste a great deal of ink. Why clean all the heads if only one is affected? More profit for the manufacturer of the cartridges, which might also be the printer manufacturer.

Companies are in business to make a profit. Fair enough – they are not non-profit-making charities. Time and time again we see examples of greed, and maybe that applies here.

I leave my printer on all the time and do not seem to use much ink for head-cleaning. Even less of an issue if you use cheap 3rd party inks.

I’ll be interested in how the Epson Ecoprinter behaves with its large, low cost, ink tanks.

My HP wireless printer uses 5W on standby. I leave it on, more for convenience than to save ink.

My HP printer uses 5 separate colour cartridges “for economy” only needing to change each colour when it’s run out. I used to turn off the printer after each use until I went through all 5 of HP’s very expensive colour cartridges without printing a single colour page, due to the “cleaning” operation each time the printer was turned on. I too now leave the printer on permanently and use Internet-Ink’s compatible cartridges which contain much more ink and and are still considerably cheaper than HP’s and I cannot tell the difference in the quality of the photographs. Their printing programs and apps also claim the ink is running out when there is plenty left, even on their own cartridges. The ePrint app regularly asks me to download the SureSupply app which automatically orders new HP cartridges! In their dreams!

I’m using Internet Ink too, Peter, but my printer has only three colour cartridges. The compatible cartridges don’t last any longer than the genuine HP ones in my case. I mentioned that the printer uses 5W on standby, but this eventually drops to 3W. Thankfully my printer is a few years old and knows nothing about ordering new cartridges. 🙂

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duncan. do you print a lot? How long might it take you to use up the ink? I just wonder whether a medium or low user would find the ink lasting if it takes their normal usage several years to 10500 pages.

In earlier Convos, I remember contributor Banjo extolling the virtues of continuous inking systems, where the ink was supplied from separate tanks rather than the ink cartridges we are more familiar with. Banjo said that it was possible to convert some printers to use this system, making them much more economical to run.

The large A0 roll printers found in print shops generally use separate ink tanks.

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Continuous Ink Systems are great moneysavers. I used one on my Epson Stylus Photo R360 for nearly six years and only spent a total of £40 on the system AND nearly 2 litres of ink for the ENTIRE six years including printing a lot of A4 images. I use Microsoft Money to track expenditure so I know the figure is correct. Six month ago I switched to using a set of six cartridges that I can fill myself using a better quality of bulk ink and a set of syringes. This looks like being even cheaper than the continuous systems. Fitting a waste ink tank also saves hassle especially on Epsons with their fake ink pad warnings.

The idea of a tariff on printing when the official ink cost is already ludicrously high seems insane. The full price of the six official cartridges for my Epson is £69.98 (or £12.98 each if you only buy the one). Why would HP, apparently, offer a cheaper option? I don’t believe they have. They have done the sums and the user will still get screwed.

HP must have done some market research to establish that some would pay to use its Instant Ink service. A busy person or couple with a good salary and little spare time might find it useful.

Some pay for their milk and papers to be delivered and others think this is a waste of money.

I have seen so many people accumulate drawers full of spare cartridges and when the printer dies or is replaced, all of the cartridges are usually wasted. I’m not sure why people hoard ink cartridges, but it is not uncommon. If they use the manufacturer’s ink it might work out cheaper to sign up for an ink tariff.

But not for me, thank you.

Darren Stuart says:
13 February 2015

I signed up for HP Instant Ink a few months ago and am really pleased, the scheme works on a per page basis, the lowest cost scheme is £1.99 for 50 pages per month irrespective of whether it is a full page colour A4 photo/glossy flyer print or a page of black text so a full colour A4 page is approx 4p.

The highest priced scheme is £7.99 for 300 pages per month (£96 per year for 3600 prints) so on average ink cost 2.6p per page (total 10p for a A4 photo inc paper). To produce that many full colour photo quality A4 prints per year I’d be looking at approx 2.5 sets of colour cartridges (£54 per set x 2.5 =£135) or 1.5 xl black cartridges £35.

I do a lot of full colour image printing so it is cost effective for me, the printer automatically orders ink when it is getting low and it is delivered by post with a recycling envelope to return the used cartridges in which is all included in the price. I have tried all sorts of ink and while some produce good results I need excellent quality which I have only found with original inks.

It may not be for everyone but I love the convenience and peace of mind of knowing I wont run out of ink.

PeterM says:
27 February 2015

I have printed perhaps 20 pages of A4 in the past 20 years. I am given old printers from time to time by clients, but for my billing, I create web pages which my clients can print if they wish. It saves me time, money (no printing, no posting) and I can also add a “pay now” button to provide a fast and easy way for a client to deal with their bill.

I can see how HP’s quota system may work well for some, particularly if you have regular incoming bills you wish to file, but one infographic I saw the other day suggested printer ink was around $15,000 a gallon and that alone should be of sufficient interest for the majority of people to avoid all printing.

(They won’t, of course, but I’m just saying it is perhaps many tens of times higher than many people expected.)