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Print with champagne and save money

Sven Krumrey
Stuffed toys and tanks

Some business models never cease to amaze me. In Japan, it's possible to book vacation trips for your stuffed animals, vacation photos included. And "Hangover Helpers" in the US will help you get back into shape and clean up your place after a night of partying. And you can rent a tank as taxi in St. Petersburg for maximum side-impact protection. Here's an even crazier idea, why not make cars incredibly cheap and charge premium prices for gasoline? Agreed, that's preposterous, or is it?

The less expensive alternative: fountains of champagne
Appearances may be deceiving

If you've purchased a printer in the last few years you may have been surprised to find decent devices with WLAN support, integrated scanners and software for roughly 80 $. What may sound like a real bargain can quickly turn into a rude awakening once your device runs out of ink. Just like roller coaster owners, electronics stores may want to take photos of their customers especially while they're reading the price tags on ink cartridges. You don't have to be a math wiz to figure it out: 1 liter of ink as provided by the original manufacturer will easily surpass 1000 $! I'd only pay that much for an award-winning whiskey from 1900 delivered by a mounted English nobleman right to my doorstep!

There's a method to their madness

Just so we're on the same page, we're talking about an industrially manufactured fluid and a microchip all housed in tiny bit of plastic! For comparison, you can get a liter of decent Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label champagne for about 60 $. Explanations given by manufacturers for these absurd prices can get quite bizarre. It's all because of intricate technological complexities and vastly improved print quality that prices had to rise sky high. Certainly. I suspect a more mundane business model: Keep printer prices extremely low (profit margins may be minuscule) and charge an arm and a leg for ink! That's why, in some situations, you can get a new printer (cartridges included) for the same price you'd have to pay for a set of cartridges alone. Sheer madness!

Money makes the world go round!
It gets even better

You rarely print you say? I'm afraid that won't save you since modern printers tend to clean their nozzles quite frequently (using up vast amounts of ink in the process). And the chips in many printers (or cartridges) simply count pages not ink consumption and will report empty cartridges long before they're really empty. Manual refills via syringes won't work since, once they're declared empty, these chips will remember that state and prevent any further use. If you take all that into account plus a little bit of math, you'll soon find that each printed page may cost you up to 20 cents. You might as well rely on a copy shop for your printing needs instead.

There's a silver lining

Thankfully, you're not at the mercy of printer manufacturers. If you're smart, you'll use third-party ink cartridges that will work just as well as the original cartridges even if manufacturers may claim otherwise. Whenever I need to purchase a new printer, I not only compare prices and test results but also look for third-party cartridges and their ratings (because you may run into issues with some cheap products), e.g. on Amazon. Unfortunately, not all printers support cheaper third-party cartridges.

A genuine investment for the future
Conclusion

Printer manufacturers have unnecessarily damaged their reputation considerably. Simply making cartridges more expensive while hoping that nobody will take offense just doesn't cut it. Consumers are smart enough to see through this dubious strategy and look for alternatives! And no matter how sophisticated your explanation is, when you can get 17 liters of champagne for the price of 1 liter of ink, something's rotten. I for one have decided not to waste a single cent on original cartridges (and their manufacturers) and look for cheap alternatives instead although I'd love to obtain originals for a fair price! Dear manufacturers, printing is not a luxury so don't try to make it into one.

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