/ Technology

Is branded printer ink too pricey?

Printer ink

A hundred quid will buy you a decent printer, but when the ink runs dry you could splash out another fifty on new cartridges. A steep sum for four little pots of liquid, so is it worth it?

As a reader recently reminded us by getting in touch, branded printer ink is expensive, there’s no doubt about it.

If you switched to cheaper, non-branded refills you could save up to 70% on the price of the branded stuff.

But making the switch to third party ink is a bit of a gamble. Will the cartridges work? Will they damage the printer? Will the prints look any good?

It’s not just the high price of branded cartridges that’s so alarming. I’ve been tracking the price of these cartridges for the past six months and the price differences between retailers are astounding. I’ve seen some retailers charge twice as much as others for the same cartridge. How can that be? Who’s buying it at that price?

Not only that, but prices change month to month. So the cheapest retailer today may not be the cheapest tomorrow.

The thing is, who (apart from me) is going to spend time checking the price of their particular brand of cartridges on a regular basis? It’s not like shoes – there’s little pleasure to be had from ‘window shopping’ for ink.

And you’re unlikely to buy cartridges every week – thankfully, or you’d probably be bankrupt by now – so what are the chances of the average consumer knowing what a realistic price is for the cartridges their printer uses?

Maybe retailers are playing on this lack of knowledge. Maybe they’re hoping you’ll come running into the shop with an ink emergency and just pay the price.

Or maybe there’s a valid reason printer manufacturers charge so much for their ink and some retailers price it so much higher than their competitors – though I’m struggling to see it.

All I know is, if I need to print out my boarding pass, I’ll be doing it at work.

joseph says:
22 September 2014

I use a Lexmark 730 about 5 years old and I refill it with inks bought from Tesco, £5 for 6 refills. Please mention this as this kit can re-fill for many other makes with instructions.