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Ever wonder why printers can be a bargain, but the ink is so expensive? It’s no accident. Printer manufacturers practically give the printers away so they can make more money later by selling you ink. The price of ink is so high that consumers are starting to revolt, however-and many people buy printer ink and toner cartridges manufactured by third-party companies to save money.

This isn’t good for the original manufacturers’ business model-but rather than pricing ink and toner more reasonably, they go out of their way to persuade customers to stick with their own cartridges despite the cost. Here are a few things printer manufacturers will tell you-that you should probably take with a grain of salt. Or an entire handful.

3rd party ink is of lesser quality than original ink. Printer manufacturers often insist that if you use 3rd party ink, you’re almost guaranteed to get a much lesser quality print than if you use the manufacturer’s brand. Multiple consumer tests have shown this isn’t true. Some 3rd-party ink manufacturers use reverse engineering to design their cartridges and ink from the original manufacturers’ specifications-and in many cases the quality is very close to what original manufacturers produce. This is true for black and white, colour and photo printer ink.

3rd-party ink will break your printer. Printer manufacturers claim that they want to dissuade consumers from using 3rd-party printer ink because it’s extremely likely to damage your printer irreparably. They claim this about most 3rd-party printer ink, including that manufactured by national office supply stores. This is absolutely untrue. Millions of people use third-party printer ink every day without breaking their printers-and without breaking their budgets.

If you use 3rd-party printer ink, we’ll void your warranty. Printer manufacturers almost always state in their warranty that they won’t cover damages caused by third-party printer ink-and will often try to twist the issue to let consumers think that if they use third-party ink at all, it will void the entire warranty-regardless of whether the damage was really caused by the third-party ink.

In reality, the Magnusson-Moss Warranty Improvement Act prohibits manufacturers from limiting customers’ choices in printer accessories in this way. However, it’s unlikely that printer manufacturers would be able to legally void a warranty if a customer used third-party printer ink if the damage wasn’t caused by the ink. Still, this is a legal gray area that hasn’t been substantively challenged in court.

Printers are perfectly calibrated to work only with original ink. Printer manufacturers claim that their original ink has been calibrated with great precision to work as well as possible with their specific printers and paper.  Of course, they have a reason to say that-so that you’ll only use their printer ink and their paper with their printers.  In truth, printers can be used with third party ink and off-brand paper with no ill effects, and many consumers save money by buying cheaper paper and other consumables from third-party companies.

Those smart chips are there to help you. Many printer manufacturers have developed printer ink cartridges designed with “smart chips” that will tell you when the cartridge is out of ink. They claim the chips are there to add to customer convenience.

However, those smart chips have often been found to tell consumers that cartridges are out of ink before they’re actually empty-and sometimes they’ll freeze up the printer until they are replaced, forcing consumers to buy more ink too soon. They can also make it more difficult for people to use third-party ink; some printers won’t accept recycled or refilled printer ink cartridges unless the smart chip has been replaced or recalibrated to tell the printer the cartridge is new.

Printer ink manufacturers have an underlying motive for saying third-party printer ink cartridges might break your printer, print low-quality documents, and void your warranty-because they want to keep you buying their own expensive ink. The bottom line is this: the manufacturers aren’t impartial, and the things they say about ink cartridges must sometimes be taken with a grain of salt. Listen to people you know who have had experience using third-party cartridges, or buy your own and try them out-before you let the original manufacturers convince you to spend more money.

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Office copiers can be expensive-and not every company has the cash to purchase a new copier.  If your business needs a copier but you’re not sure you can afford to buy, leasing may be a better option.  However, leasing isn’t always the best deal in the long run-and not every leasing agreement is beneficial to the lessee. Here are a few things to consider before you decide to lease a copier.

Compare pricing on leasing vs. buying. Many companies decide to lease copiers and other expensive office equipment because it makes cash available that would otherwise have to be used for the purchase price.  But leasing isn’t necessarily less expensive than buying. When considering, compare the cost of the purchase price of the copier you’re leasing, its useful life, and its value at the end of that life to the purchase price and value of the equipment at the end of the lease agreement of the leased copier.

Consider the package. Some companies will give you a lease agreement that includes an extended warranty, service contract, and sometimes even toner, paper and other consumables for a single monthly rate. While this might seem like a good deal, it often works out to more than you need to pay-and it makes determining your exact monthly costs for copier consumables and services difficult to do.

Watch out for extra charges. Some companies will charge extra for heavy usage of office equipment. This can be problematic when you’re leasing a copier, as these often undergo very heavy regular use in most offices.  Be sure to read the fine print to make sure you’re not going to get charged extra for using the copier as much as you need to.

Is a buy-out lease right for you? Buy-out leases allow the lessee to own the equipment at the end of the lease period. This may or may not be a good thing for your company. At the end of the lease period, you may be stuck with an older copier that has little resale value-heavy usage shortens the life of copiers, and companies often overestimate how long they’ll use the copier. Your dealer may allow you to trade it in for a new copier, but some dealers will mark up the price of new equipment to compensate for the trade-in discount they’ll give you.

Choose the right dealer. When considering a lease, you’ll be entering into a relatively long-term relationship with a dealer. This makes it essential to choose one that’s known for exceptional service.  Be sure you choose a dealer with a reputation for fast service, as it can be catastrophic for some businesses to have their copier machines out of commission. Discuss what you need with a dealer, and choose one that can customize a lease agreement to fit your needs and your budget.

Get the shortest-term lease you can afford. Short-term leases tend to cost more than long-term leases, and businesses looking to save money will often choose the long-term lease. When you lease a copier, you’re stuck with that copier until your lease expires-you can’t simply sell your copier and buy a new one, although some leasing companies may allow you to “trade up” for an added cost. Still, technology is advancing every day-and you’ll want flexibility when it comes to major equipment like copiers.  To avoid being stuck with an obsolete piece of equipment, get the shortest-term lease your budget allows.

Leasing isn’t the best deal for everyone. But if you’re concerned about having the cash or credit to buy, it’s a good option-especially for start-ups or struggling companies. If you’re considering leasing, be sure to read the fine print on any agreement to ensure you’re not getting charged extra for usage.  Choose a company that won’t leave you hanging when it comes to repair-check references if needed to get unbiased reviews of the company’s service. In addition, talk to your dealer representative to create a lease agreement that works for your company-don’t assume you have to take the package the company offers to you, as these can be changed according to your needs. With the right terms, leasing a copier may be a perfect deal for you.

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Seven Copier Features You Can't Live Without

May 7, 2009

When you’re considering buying a new copier, the wide range of features available can be overwhelming-but worth sorting through, as some copier features can help you save considerable time and money.  Here’s an overview of some of the most useful features out there for office copiers. An automatic feeder. With an automatic document feeder, you [...]

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