Cheap Ink! Discount Toner! 100% Guaranteed! 95% Off Retail!
Type “discount printer inks” into Google and you’ll turn up several pages of links to companies offering “huge” discounts on “quality” toner and ink for your printer.
Because consumers who buy printers at great discounts are dismayed at having to pay so much for the ink or toner replacements for these printers, the demand for “aftermarket” ink and toner cartridges has grown rapidly in the past few years. Naturally, printer manufacturers don’t like this. They refer to the aftermarket stuff as pirate ink and toner, and have filed — and won — intellectual property lawsuits against some of the companies that manufacture it.
This buyer’s guide is not going to solve the pirate cartridge controversy, but we can point you to some reputable sources that have investigated the matter. Elsa Wenzel at CNET responds to a reader’s questions about cheap ink refills by suggesting a couple of ways to find more reputable aftermarket ink vendors in “Ask the Editors: Printer Cartridges for Less.”
There are legitimate recycled cartridges that are available from some manufacturers, and these may cost less than the new cartridges — manufacturers will sometimes “drill and fill” cartridges as part of an environmental conservation effort. There are also compatible toner or inkjet cartridges that are made by major printer brands, and you may find some cost savings by looking for these. For example, Xerox might sell toner cartridges that are compatible with HP printers — these cartridges will list the compatible brands and models on their packaging. Look for this option when you’re estimating your total cost of ownership.