Tuesday, February 10, 2009

HP’s newest rip off ‘starter cartridge’

All printer manufactures are stuck with the dilemma of supplying cartridges with a printer. If they don’t supply the cartridge the consumer will see how expensive they are and may not purchase the printer. If they supply a full cartridge with the printer it will take too long a time before the consumer purchases another cartridge. However, the profit is in the cartridges, not the printer.

Enter the ‘starter cartridge’, a low capacity cartridge to get the consumer started and back to the store quickly to purchase cartridges. One problem for the consumer is they often replace the old starter cartridge with another starter cartridge. The printer companies love that.

Typical examples taken from Office Depot’s web for HP include the cartridges for the Laser Jet 4000. The starter 27A rated at 6,000 pages selling for $110.00 or 1.8 cents per page. The 27X is rated at 10,000 pages and sells for $144 or 1.4 cents per page. The Laser Jet 4250 starts with a 42A rated for 10,000 pages selling for $ 167 or 1.7 cents per page. The same printer also takes a 20,000 page 42X costing $248 or 1.2 cents per page.

The cost per page disparity is even more pronounced with the inkjet cartridges. The HP #88 starter cartridge is rated at 820 pages costing $24 or 2.9 cents per page. The full capacity #88XL costs $41 and is rated to print 2350 pages or 1.7 cents per page. That is significant.

The most egregious example is the HP #74 starter cartridge rated at 200 pages costing $15 or a whopping 7.5 cents per page. It can be replaced with the #74XL costing $35 and rated at 750 pages or 4.7 cents per page, which is still not very impressive.

The lesson to all printer purchasers is: “Before buying a printer, check out what the ink will cost”.

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