There are a lot of alarmist stories circulated about printer ink and toner cartridges. Some of these myths are born out of simple misinformation; achieving the status of an urban legend. Others are deliberately circulated by marketing machineries in order to promote or plug a product. Today we try and separate the fact from the fiction when it comes to printers and printer cartridges:
Myth One – Brand Name Cartridges are manufactured by ‘Original’ manufacturers
The term OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) is sometimes used to describe cartridges manufactured along with the printer manufacturer’s brand name. This is a deliberate ploy to somehow indicate that the toner and ink cartridges which do not bear this term are somehow not ‘original’ or it may not work. There’s really no such thing as ‘original’ and ‘not original’. Cartridges either have the specifications and dimensions required for a given printer model or they don’t. The brand name is irrelevant here.
Myth Two – Compatible Cartridges are inferior in quality
This is quite simply a canard circulated by printer manufacturers and their marketing teams, who want people to buy their more expensive, branded products. This myth is easily debunked by reading user reviews from people who have been using compatible cartridges for their printers happily and without any issues.
There is also the charge – false, as it turns out – that remanufactured or compatible cartridges are made by merely replacing the toner or refilling the ink in the cartridges. The fact is that compatible cartridges are made using the same quality of raw materials, and they conform to the same specifications as brand name cartridges. The results they offer are as good; typically at a far lower price. Remanufactured cartridges are made after thorough quality checks. Damaged or worn parts are removed and replaced, and the rest are thoroughly examined and cleaned before they are reused.
Myth Three – ‘Original’ Cartridges are made in the USA
Several brand names such as Dell, Lexmark and IBM claim to offer products that are ‘Made in the USA’, implying good quality and no worker exploitation. The fact is that more and more manufacturing units are shifted offshore to countries such as China and Korea and that Made in USA tag, turns out to be just so much eyewash.
In fact, many brand name manufacturers don’t even make their own ink and toner cartridges. For instance, HP products are actually made by Canon or Konica. So that Made in USA tag is not just misleading, it’s a misnomer.
Printer manufacturers do this rather clever thing; they make printers inexpensive and they make the cartridges more expensive. The printer is an initial, onetime expense so they can afford to make it cheap and the buyers are attracted by a lower ticket price. However, this commits the buyer to a long term, repeated purchase of ink and toner cartridges. If the buyer wants to use the printer, they have to buy the cartridges. So they cleverly make that repeat purchase more expensive than the initial one.
Myth Five – Using compatible cartridges cause damage and void the manufacturer warranty
Printer manufactures want to sell their cartridges and have to tell the buying public that their product is superior. Why else would you shell out so much extra cash for buying it? So they tell us that compatible cartridges are inferior and that they cause damage to your printer. Not true!
They also manage to let it be known that using compatibles will void the printer warranty. Also not true! In fact, printer manufacturers cannot make it a condition that the warranty is valid only if the buyer uses a specific product. Fair Trade laws prohibit equipment manufactures from voiding a warranty on such specious grounds. By law, the printer manufacturer cannot refuse to honor the warranty saying that ‘original’ cartridges were not used to run the printer. As long as the right cartridge with the correct specs for the printer model has been used, the warranty cannot be voided.
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