Tuesday, December 18, 2007

$8,000-per-gallon printer ink leads to lawsuit

HP paid Staples $100 million to stop selling third-party ink cartridges, according to a lawsuit from a disgruntled man tired of high printer ink prices. The lawsuit accuses the companies of violating antitrust law to keep third-party cartridges off the shelves at Staples stores.

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My take on this is quite the opposite. I commend HP in particular for participating in just about every single cartridge recycling program out there. All the office stores in the US take back HP inkjet and laser toner cartridges and give you a $3 per cartridge discount. With some HP printers having 5 and even 6 cartridges; this is a strong incentive to recycle.

On the other hand, Lexmark manufacturers cartridges that are notched funny for specific distributors. Some Best Buy and Circuit City exclusive printers have cartridges that can ONLY be purchased at the respective retailer.

* I won't even mention the poor print quality on a Lexmark compared to an HP ;-)

No one recycles Epson or Brother cartridges with an incentive. Only OfficeMax seems to offer an incentive to recycle Canon inkjet cartridges.

Although a print from a wide format Epson is BETTER in my opinion; the cost savings per print on an HP wide format is dramatic. Epson printers clean the printheads each time before you print and when turned on. 75 times turning on an Epson and your cartridge is completely discharged EVEN IF you don't print. Then there's also the fact that you lose money by not being able to obtain a monetary recycling incentive with Epson cartridges.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

HP is hardly creating a monopoly for itself. What they are paying Staples for is not to "not sell third party ink cartridges" but rather to have exclusivity in their particular category. Manufacturers pay retailers all the time for the right to put merchandising and signage in the stores, ads in store circulars, and product displays on endcaps and other special areas of the store. They don't do it just in office stores; this is a common practice in ALL of retail.

HP wants Staples to be more committed to their brand and also to be more conscious of the customer. Very few third party cartridges ever garner much praise beyond "it was cheaper." A lot of the cartridges leak and sometimes even ruin printers to say nothing of print jobs.

If people object to the high price of ink, we can go back to how it used to be: buy a printer for $500 and get the ink for a "reasonable" price. Its no different than paying $40-$60 for a game cartridge / DVD for a gaming console. Don't like paying that much? You can pay $900 for your next Xbox then.

On a different note, HP printers also perform a cleaning routine before use, the difference is that an Epson printer expels quite a bit more ink when it does it, in the neighborhood of 20-30 times more.