Printer Ink Can ‘Cost More Than Champagne’

Manufacturer-branded printer ink can be more expensive than fine champagne or Chanel Nº 5 perfume, a study has found.

Which? research found that consumers could save hundreds of pounds a year by purchasing third-party inks, which perform as well or better than the manufacturers’ own versions.

Manufacturer-branded ink can be 286 percent more expensive than third-party equivalents, the consumer watchdog said.

Users have come to rely much more on home printing for work and education since the pandemic began last year.

Image credit: Chanel

‘Paying over the odds’

Which? said many consumers are “unaware that they are paying over the odds” by purchasing ink from the printer’s manufacturer.

It said Epson ink for the Epson WorkForce WF-7210DTW printer cost £75.49 for a multipack, coming out at £2,410 per litre or £1,369 per pint.

A separate Epson black cartridge, costing £31.99, brings the total cost of a single refill to £107.48.

But restocking from the highest-rated third-party supplier would cost only £10.99.

Just over half, or 56 percent, of respondents in a survey of more than 10,000 consumers said they use manufacturer-branded cartridges every time.

Two in five, or 39 percent, of those who avoid third-party cartridges said they thought they wouldn’t work. Some fifty-four percent said they use their printer at least once a week.

Savings

Which estimated that in an average year, an inkjet printer would require all its cartridges to be replaced three times, costing £1,612 for Epson’s cartridges, compared to £165 for five years’ worth of the cheapest third-party compatible inks.

Using the cheapest inks would save customers £1,447 over the course of five years, more than the cost of a return flight from London to Sydney.

Printer makers such as Brother, Canon and HP were found to charge similarly high prices, while HP also uses “dynamic security” technology that disables the printer when third-party cartridges are detected.

Which? found that 28 of HP’s printers used the technology.

“It is highly concerning that manufacturers are discouraging consumers from using third-party inks – and that some HP printers are actively blocking customers from exerting their right to choose the cheapest ink,” Which? said.

‘Personal choice’

“Printer ink shouldn’t cost more than a bottle of high-end champagne or Chanel Nº 5,” said Which? consumer rights expert Adam French.

He said Which? had found many third-party products outperform their branded counterparts at a fraction of the cost.

“Choosing third-party ink should be a personal choice and not dictated by the make of your printer,” he said.

Matthew Broersma

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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