Thursday, May 18, 2017

Expensive ink

    You can spend $30 on a printer. You can spend $300. You can spend $3,000.
    Hard to figure out what to do. When my home printer died a few months ago, I knew I didn't want the very lowest end. I knew I couldn't afford the highest end. So I split the difference. A Canon MB2320 was an impressive looking cube. Consumer Reports rated it well. Only $100 at Best Buy. It has two paper feeds, a flatbed scanner. It seemed like it would Do The Job.
    And it does, more or less. Flash forward to a few weeks back. The black ink supply ran out. I thought: need new ink. I phoned Atlas Stationers--my office supplier of choice--and ordered the full set. Figured, might as well, have the cyan, the magenta, the yellow, when they went out too.
     I didn't ask what they cost.
     Atlas phoned. My ink was in. I stopped by the quaint little store on Lake Street. A thick plastic bag with my order was produced. The price was rung up: $103.
    "That's more than the printer itself," I gasped.
    "Yeah," said the clerk. "Sometime, when I run out of ink, I just buy a new printer. It's cheaper."
    That made sense. But there was also something senseless, something terribly wrong about that. I hate to think I've become one of those "This is the problem with society..." writers whenever I come upon something I don't like. But the ink supply shouldn't cost as much as the printer and the ink supply.
     Yes, the drug dealer/Barbie doll paradigm. The first hit is free. Sell the dolls for cheap and make money on the clothes and accessories. Hook your customer first.
     But there is a flaw. Because each new printer comes with ink — it's as if there was a new Barbie included in each stewardess outfit, which you could buy at the same price as the stewardess outfit without Barbie. The Canon is not the best printer. It's slow to actually start printing. Real slow. And the software is balky. As it is, I can print documents on my iMac through the printer, but I can't scan anything onto the iMac. I have to physically insert a thumb drive, copy the image onto that, then stick the thumb drive into the back of the iMac and access the image. It's a pain in the ass.
     And it occurred to me. When the ink runs out, rather than spend $103 on another quartet of Canon printer inks*, I could just take that C-note and buy a different printer made by a different company complete with new ink. That's a plan.
    I did notice one positive thing about really expensive ink. I tend to print less. In the past, I'd go for the printed ticket, somehow worried my phone wouldn't be up to the task, say, displaying a boarding pass. At a hundred bucks for a palmful of ink, I'll take my chances electronically.

      * And yes, I noticed the inks are cheaper online. About $90 on Amazon as little as $23.95 at dubious web sites that may or may not send what was ordered or anything at all.


  1. "However, these budget inkjet printers generally come with 'starter' cartridges, which don't have a full ink tank. This means you'll need to refill them after fewer prints." CR so you don't get the same amount of ink as you do when you simply buy the ink alone. price per print black and white ink jet .06 color .20 laser color .08

  2. I wouldn't throw away the printer that "died." Even if it won't print, it might still be useful as a scanner.


  3. I've never had a problem, at least so far, using discounted generic stuff purchased online: phone batteries, ink cartridges. And there's always Ebay - great stuff at often excellent pricing. You can buy almost anything on Ebay. I got a replacement part for my refrigerator about 15% less than a parts seller. I love Ebay. It's worth taking a look.

  4. Printer ink is an outrageous ripoff, no two ways about it. To me it's a minor lesson in the dangers of unfettered capitalism.


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