Ink prices have always been high, but with the economy tanking and many businesses suffering greatly it is more important than ever to look for inexpensive alternatives when you are restocking your supply, whether you use HP, Lexmark, Brother, Dell, or Xerox toner. Use this article to help decide which avenue you would like to utilize when purchasing toner online, as there is a surprisingly large selection of options available to choose from.
First of all, it helps to understand why ink and toner prices need to be as high as they are. Consumer electronics manufacturing companies, like those listed above, are locked in a fiercely competitive war for consumer sales of printers. This battle is so fierce and so demanding that often (especially for lower end household printers) these companies will offer printers under cost. That is, they will either lose money on the sale or come out even. At first sight this appears to be a very bad call, but the same thing happens with a number of industries. Shaving companies sell cheap shavers and make a killing of expensive replacement blades. Video game consoles cost their makers as well, but games are easy to burn up and sell, making long term steady profits that multiply by each cheap console sold. With printers, the profit comes from the ink.
It makes sense. When you sell someone your printer they are locked into a certain type of cartridge (since very few printers use the same cartridge as other printers, and never between different manufacturers). So in effect, once these companies sell a printer they have the consumer at the bottom end of an ink monopoly. Or at least, that’s how the OEM (original equipment manufacturer) would like it to be. The lucrative profits associated with these ink and toner cartridges has created an unexpectedly fierce aftermarket as third parties refill and remanufactured toner cartridges across the world. This means that you can buy high quality, expensive, original Samsung toner Which can make quality an important variable to consider when doing your shopping. You will want to begin your search at the actual website of your printer’s manufacturer, i.e. HP, Dell, Lexmark, Xerox, etc… from there you should be able to do a quick search for your printer and see a menu of the various toner options available. Packs containing more toner or ink (by page count) will be more expensive. Color toner will be much more expensive. If you need guaranteed high quality results, it may be worth it to spend the extra dough and go for these genuine articles. Otherwise, of course, you have more economical options.
The first and probably the best (for a business) are certain large online ink retailers like 247inktoner. These guys are easy to find, simply type in the full search string of what you are after in Google, like toner cartridge, and you should get companies all over your search results offering various cartridges which will work with your printer. The advantage of these large online stores is the competition they face. These sites are established, entrenched. And because there isn’t all that much difference one to another they will do their utmost to keep every buyer that comes through (and if they don’t find someone else who does.) The other nice thing, besides the customer service, is the selection. These sellers offer not only OEM options, but also third party cartridges of various prices and qualities, giving you many more options and someone to complain to if the cartridges don’t work when they show up.
You can find many of these same options at physical stores like Staples and Office Max who have their own lines of remanufactured cartridges as well. This can be good if you need something that day, and it can also be nice as these cartridges tend to be very reliable, sometimes coming out with a higher page count than the OEM packs (although rarely higher quality printing).
Lastly of course, you have your small storefronts on Amazon or eBay listing single packs of toner or ink. While this may be fine for a home computer that rarely needs to be refilled, these companies can be dangerous for businesses looking for large, steady resupply. First of all, many of these packs are of very low quality, having been made overseas and not working or arriving half-dried out already. Secondly, the shipping time for these can be horrendously long. Thirdly, if it’s a relatively new eBay account there is nothing to stop them from selling a bunch of bottom barrel crap and then closing shop. Always go with a seller who has something to lose and who has been around long enough to have reviews in place.
If you are anything like me, one of your least favorite activities in the world is shopping for replacement ink cartridges. Oh sure there are things I can think of that are worse. I mean no one likes a dentist appointment or working late on a Friday night. But within the realm of day to day chores, this is one of my least favorite office jobs. The amount of misinformation out there is huge, and it can be crazy to navigate all the different brands, sites, and deals out there. Luckily I have discovered some ways to save myself time on this chore, and now you can save time too!
First off, I always buy online. If you go to a physical store, even one that specializes in office equipment, chances are you are going to pay a higher price. Remember they have to pay for their building, their employees, their heat and utility bills, etc. That cost is passed on to you the consumer. If you think about it, once you switch to online shopping you can also forget about all those coupon pages and mailers the big stores send you too.
Second once you are online where do you go? People want to start googling around but believe me that is going to take a lot of time. I start off just by reading a review of toner for the machine I am using. This often gives me enough information to choose the brand I want.
These are little habits but they will save you time and, ultimately, money. And who does not want that?
Look online at any large printer and ink manufacturer, say Brother, and you will find the same concept continually reiterated. For brother you will find a line stating that if you don’t get your Brother toner direct from them “it’s not guaranteed Brother quality. Non-Brother supplies may affect hardware performance, copy quality and machine reliability. Safeguard your investment by using only Brother printer supplies for your Brother machine.” There is truth to these claims, but perhaps not all as much truth as they would like you to believe. The fact is that few printers make much profit for their makers. In fact, quite a few models actually lose money for the company selling them—but ink sales are pure profit, as these little devices are relatively simple to spit out and fill with ink or toner. And once a consumer buys a printer, they’re basically locked in to that type of cartridge for the length of their device’s lifespan. So, when you buy ink from the manufacturer (and you’ll need to buy it quick with the size of the introduction packs that come with most printers) expect to spend premium prices. It’s going to hurt in the wallet.
Faced with this challenge, along with an economy that isn’t doing anyone any favors, it can be tempting to visit eBay or Amazon as you search for elusive cheap ink and toner. I confess, I’ve done it too. And so have a lot of people, in fact there are thousands of ink packs that are bought and sold online every day and many many of them are good quality. Because of the ridiculous prices charged by the original makers, third parties ranging from Chinese entrepreneurs to Staples are remanufacturing and refilling ink cartridges which will work in your, say, Dell printer just the same as genuine Dell toner. At least that’s the story. In fact you can find a lot of information that gives reason for caution, my own personal experiences included.
There are some good online sites to purchase your ink and toner. You just need to research the companies. Some sites you can look into are imagetoner.com, databazar and 247inktoner.com. Check out the low prices at this online store!
It’s not all as bad as the writers at Brother have stated, necessarily. In many tests these third party packs are actually found to be overfilled, resulting in more pages available to be printed in the cheap generic stuff. And most of the time these packs will work when you plug them in. But they also do have a point. I some tests third party ink packs have demonstrated a failure rate four times greater than the failure rate of genuine ink packs. Also, even in tests using reputable third party ink, the quality of text and images tends to be lower (resulting in lighter print, striping, on and off fading, etc…) than when using genuine ink and toner (you can look up the PC World Ink and Toner trials for more information). HP, who has done aggressive work pitting their product against imitators, claims that in tests their genuine HP toner never failed whereas a significant amount of third party packs (from online marketplaces, like those I’ve shopped from) were dead at the start twenty five percent of the time.
I don’t have my own company with banks of high quality laser printers, but if I did I suspect that this figure would give me pause before I went out and bought third party inks. I’m a home printer user (or a college user printer, until recently), and I didn’t want to spend forty bucks on an HP ink pack I could get for eight on eBay. During my years with that printer I probably ended up buying five or six replacement ink packs, all from eBay. Here is what I found—ready for this?
You do get what you pay for. The two times I bought the penny ink it took them a month to make the trip over the big water to my college, bearing custom marks in Chinese from the trip. These packs were spotty at best and didn’t last very long (although whenever I moved my ink basically dried out anyway, thanks to the month without use each time). Those that I bought more in the middle range of prices (from the USA) worked very well and very consistently (at least until the end of my printer’s lifespan—when it was basically broken and on the way out).
So I can believe the one forth stat, provided you’re buying from the bottom barrel and neglecting to check user reviews, which I didn’t know to do back when I was getting started. Actually, if you find a good, highly reviewed, US seller with an old established eBay or Amazon storefront you’re probably just as well off as you would be visiting any large online seller—although I would recommend any high quality jobs take you to the maker, and any large orders to someone with a sale or a customer appreciation system.
I know a lot of you out there spend tons of time searching for discounts on the right kind of toner to buy. You probably dig through coupons and websites, but have you ever watched a video on toner?
It may sound weird but a video can actually tell you a lot more than a simple article or ad. If you think about it, what are the things you are looking for when you shop for toner? Obviously, a low price is at the top of the list, but what else? The other big thing on most peoples minds is whether the toner you are looking at is going to work for you. That means two things: is it compatible with your machine and what will the final print quality look like?
Compatibility should be listed on the product page, but when you are looking at different brands than your own machine it can be hard to say. Once you see the cartridge ion the video you will immediate know whether it is the same as your own cartridge.
Print quality is something you cannot tell from a product page however. Every company will say their is the best and they will all have very attractive examples. But in a video you can often see the pages come right off the machine. You can see what real pages look like with the same machine you use and the same toner you are considering purchasing. This is why I always try to see a video before I buy!
There are a whole lot of people out there who are frustrated with buying toner. I know, you are probably one of them, otherwise why would you be reading this article? Toner can be a big hassle. It is expensive, it comes in a million varieties, and the market is crowded with misinformation. Yet it is a necessity for most of us, so let me give you some advice on how I have made my peace with buying toner.
The first thing I have to say is some people way over think this. Yes, there are hundreds of offers out there, and they are always changing. But the truth is you only need to do your research once. When you find a brand or supplier that offers you quality at a discount, stick with them. Sure, their discounts next time may not be the same as last time, and someone else may have a sale going on. But these companies know what a competitive market they are in and they value customer loyalty. Do not be afraid to call them up and tell the sales rep you are a regular customer and need a discount. Chances are they will come through for you.
Second, you know how everyone is worried about buying the wrong brand? Do not be. The generic compatibles are just as good as the brand names. If you find one that saves you money, go for it and do not look back.
Those two things alone will save you hours and hours of searching. That means less frustration, and more time for other things!
The other day I found a website that I had never heard of before, wonderhowto.com. I am surprised more people do not know about it. I mean everyone knows other helpful sites like wikipedia but, personally, I find Wonder How To way more useful.
I do not know about you, but I have always had a hard time learning how to do things online. It is not that I have a learning disability or anything, I am just more of a hands on learner. If I bring home a new tool or appliance I never read the manual, because reading words is just not the same as seeing something firsthand. For that reason I do use Wikipedia on occasion to look something up, but I have a hard time learning practical things from it.
That is why Wonder How To has blown my mind. Imagine an entire website that consists of how-to instructionals. Overwhelming, right? Yeah, they would be if they were all text. Even pictures can be hard to use. But what if every one of those how-to pages was actually a video? That is how Wonder How To works. I love it.
So now when I want to try something, instead of paying big bucks for a class or trying on my own and messing it up, I just look it up and find a video. The videos are pretty good and go step by step. I cannot believe how much I have already learned and I plan to keep going!
Our company recently did some downsizing and one of the positions that got cut was our office manager. That has left me doing the ordering, looking for replacement toner cartridges, bulk paper, card stock, etc. I did not know what I was getting myself into.
Honestly I guess I did not know what our office manager did before she left. I knew she handled the logistics but I always assumed that was a pretty minor thing. I am never happy to see someone laid off, but since our company, like everyone else, is experiencing tough times in the economic downturn, I felt it must have been a call to get rid of some not-so-essential positions. Maybe it was, but I am no longer sure hers was one of them!
Take the toner cartridges for example. I have access to all her old files so I know where she ordered from before, but she seemed to shop around a lot. I had no idea that cartridges came in so many types. We usually do not order from the company that made our copiers and printers, we usually order compatible cartridges that are cheaper. But knowing which ones to get can be tough. And if I spend more on them than she did, it is not going to look good for my own career future!
At first I spent hours shopping for this stuff, but I am starting to get the hang of it. I still hope we will have the budget to add an office manager again soon, but at least I do not feel so lost anymore!
I see so many products around the office from Epson Corp that I started to wonder, exactly how big is this company? And what else do they make besides printers and office supplies? I do not know why I get so curious about these things, but when you see the same logo every day at work eventually I guess you just start to wonder.
Well the answer really surprised me. Apparently Epson got its start as Seiko in the 40s. You know Seiko watches? Yep, that is the same company. They started out doing clock repair and watch making. This was the mainstay of their business for the first few decades of their history.
So how does a company go from clocks and watches to printers and ink? Well think about the technology used in the mid twentieth century. A clock company had to manufacture lots of tiny mechanical parts, not a far cry from what used in typewriters (which were still common) and early printers. This allowed Epson to branch out into the office technology field.
Of course any smart corporation wants to make all the accessories and peripherals that are necessary for its main product. So ink ribbons and, later, toner and ink cartridges were a natural next step for Epson. By the time desktop computers went mainstream, they were entrenched in the industry. This allowed them to lead the way with the spread of inexpensive personal printers like laser printers and ink jets in the 1990s and since.
You know, it is funny. I have been working as an office manager for years and that means I handle a lot of ink. But only recently did I ask what is ink? I do not just just mean whats in pens, I mean toner, ink cartridges, refills, I handle all that stuff. But what exactly is in there?
Well the first thing I found out is that toner and ink are two different things. Toner refers to a dry substance. It comes as a powder and is heat activated to go on the page. Ink is usually a liquid applied directly to the paper, but can also come as a solid in which case it too is heat activated.
However both substances rely on essentially the same ingredients, just in different forms. For most of history, these ingredients were fairly crude. For instance, mixtures of soot, ash, tar, pitch, and even burnt bones were common. Some mineral ingredients such as graphite could also be used. These made simple black inks used for writing for centuries. In more recent times, turpentine and walnut oil have been used for ink for printing presses.
Of course, even though modernization has made ink much more consistent and uniform, it is still a commodity. The process of making it is expensive, and color inks use a large number of pigments derived from different sources all around the world. Both the process and the ingredients are figured into the price we pay for ink and toner.
I work as an office manager. It is not the most glorious job but it does come with a certain amount of job security. After all, I keep everything moving behind the scenes: supplies, toner, stuff like that. That means I am often looking for reviews on toner.
You would think these would be easy enough to find. I mean after all, if you are enough of a geek to write toner reviews, you are probably enough of a geek to do it right, right? Well it turns out that is wishful thinking. I tried googling up toner reviews to see if I could find some solid information on how to stretch our budget, and what I found was all poorly written or vague.
It does not have to be hard. The information needed for a good toner review is relatively simple. What I look for is the cost of the toner, any special rebates or discounts available, the machines it will work with (especially if it is a generic compatible brand), how full the cartridges are (if I am looking for cartridges and not refills) and what the print quality looks like. Of course a link to the product is always helpful too, and any personal experiences or problems that the reviewer had.
Luckily through a lot of hunting I have managed to track down some good sources for reviews (see above), but I am amazed how hard it can be to find. Hopefully we will see more and more quality reviews.