Choosing an Online Printer Ink Vendor

by Rich on December 16, 2008

With the high prices of printer ink, toner, and other peripherals, it’s no wonder millions of customers are clamoring for a discount. It’s difficult to find low-cost printer ink and toner in stores, however and many people look online for affordable cartridges. But not all online vendors are created equally, and it’s important to shop carefully when buying printer ink online. Here are a few tips for choosing an online vendor you can trust.

Know what kind of ink you’re looking for. There are several different options for shoppers looking for discount ink.

Third-party or OEM-compatible cartridges are made new by third-party companies using the original manufacturer’s specifications. This ink tends to be the most expensive of the cheap ink options, but it’s also the most dependable—and it’s still cheaper than an original manufacturer’s cartridge, often by as much as 50%.

Remanufactured or refilled cartridges are original manufacturer’s cartridges that have been refilled with ink made by a third-party company. Remanufactured cartridges tend to be cheaper and more widely available than third-party cartridges, and you may be able to save more money by selling your old cartridges to the company as well.

Home refill kits are the cheapest type of discount ink source. The company sends you a kit including a syringe, a bottle of ink and detailed instructions, and you refill the cartridge yourself. While home refill kits have a reputation for being difficult and messy, they’ve definitely improved over time—companies now make kits tailored to specific manufacturers, making the refill process easier and less time-consuming.

The type of ink that’s right for you depends on what’s available, your budget, and your tolerance for handling the refill process yourself. If you’re willing to, you can save significant money. But most discount ink customers are more comfortable buying refilled or third party cartridges.

Check out their reputation. It’s tough to choose based on the length of time the company has been in business; discount ink is not an old industry, and many reliable vendors have only been in business for a few years. However, the vendor you choose should have accumulated a good track record online. Do a search for the company’s name and look for accounts from other customers. Customers will often post in forums and other websites detailing their complaints and disputes with companies like these, and if you find frequent accounts of unfulfilled orders or low-quality ink damaging print heads, look elsewhere.

Look for testing. While it’s much more rare the major manufacturers would have you believe, it is possible for compatible or remanufactured cartridges to clog your print heads. Look for a third-party company that ensures its ink is safe for use through rigorous testing before it leaves the factory. Most companies that test will advertise this on their website; if the company you’re considering doesn’t, call or email them to ask about their testing process.

Look for the guarantee. Any online company should have a strong guarantee. With discount ink sellers, it’s doubly important that the company stand behind its product. The company you choose should offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee that allows you to return your purchase and get a refund for any reason within a reasonable length of time.

Real contact information. Can you get in touch with a real person if you have a problem? Look for a company with a phone number. This ensures the company is genuine and willing to make itself available to customers, even if there’s a problem. If the only contact option you have is an email address, you risk being ignored if something goes wrong with your order.

Read the fine print. How long will it take their order to ship? Will they deliver to your address? What are the terms of their guarantee? Make sure you read their policies over before ordering so there are no surprises later on.

It’s easy to find discount printer cartridges online. But it’s not always easy to find a vendor that sells high-quality products at a great price, with a guarantee and fine print that work for you. Take your time in choosing an online printer ink vendor, and you’re sure to find one that suits your needs.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 FUGHTEEKJUIGE April 14, 2009 at 7:35 pm

I’ll share it on Twitter.

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