Complaining about gas prices is a revered American pastime. As a group, we don’t like feeling we’re being gouged when it comes to key commodities. If that’s the case, then, maybe it’s time we started complaining about the price of ink and toner cartridges, those churning vehicles in our printers that bring our ideas to life.

Why is that? Compare these stats:

  • Gasoline costs an average of four cents an ounce
  • Printer ink costs an average of 50 dollars an ounce

That’s a stunning fact! The next time you hold a printed contract you might think you’re holding a bar of gold.

But why are ink and toner so doggone expensive?

Beyond the intricate technology of toner and cartridges, the truth is that big printer brands follow the razor blade model: sell the handle cheap to lock consumers and then make up the costs by overcharging for razor cartridges.

You can replace “handle” with a “printer” and “razor” cartridges with “printer” cartridges.

By following this model, big printer brands make hefty profits and offices are seemingly snarled in an unfair business cartel. Is there anything that can be done about this?

Beyond complaining about both gas and printer cartridge prices, here are eight key tips to lowering your ink and toner cartridge costs.


Restrict color printing


A page printed in color typically costs five to seven times more than a page printed in black and white (using only black toner). Avoid common color print jobs such as PowerPoint presentations, web pages, and emails, if possible.

If you can, also lean more towards printing on two sides of a paper, instead of one.


Don’t replace toner cartridges right after the “running low” signal flashes


Just like your car, the low indicator on a printer doesn’t mean it’s going to be empty at any second. With most print devices, the indicator will appear when there is approximately 20% toner left in the cartridge. (In case you’re wondering, that’s about a quarter of a tank of gas in the car, so there’s even less of a sense of emergency.)

So, unlike your car, keep riding that cartridge hard until it stops spewing ink/toner.


Order toner proactively – not reactively


As with most products, rushed ordering of printer supplies usually leads to subpar choices. This can also include printer downtime, which hampers productivity in the office. Thus, when you see the low indicator flash on your printer, take time to check your inventory and plan your next order carefully (remember, you still have approximately 20% toner left in the cartridge “tank gas”).


Send large print jobs to the most efficient device


Normally, the more expensive the printer (or multifunction device), the less expensive the cost per page to print. You may want to lean on small desktop inkjet printers —as they are often conveniently located like just outside your office — but they tend to cost 5 to 20 times more than printing the same job on a larger laser device.

Let your big printing guns in the office do the big printing.


Create an office print policy


2016 study found that 90% of offices have no formal print policy in place, while two-thirds don’t track their printing expenses. Printing is like the wild west for most offices. Management modulates utilities and perishables like coffee, so why not printing? You don’t have to come up with a print fleet Magna Carta, mind you. Instead, craft a sensible procedure that addresses issues like when to use color, ordering guidelines, and what “big gun” printers should take all the large collaterals.


Replace inkjet printers with laser devices


We all want the best deal, but as they say, it’s sometimes better to “go big or go home.” When it comes to inkjet printers, replacement cartridges can cost you more than the printer itself! Laser printers tend to be more expensive but operate at a lower cost per page in small and medium-sized business environments.


Leverage print driver default settings to save


Most of today’s printer drivers have nifty default setting options to immediately help you save costs. A popular default setting to save on toner is printing in black and white/draft mode instead of high-quality (and reasonable to do if a document is just for internal use). Setting driver defaults is easy even for newbies.


Don’t buy big brand products and use managed print services


Going back to the razor blade example, we can learn that your office doesn’t have to be trapped in a loaded business model. Companies like Dollar Shave Club arrived at the scene and disrupted the razor industry for the benefit of consumers. They offered low-cost, high-quality alternatives to Gillette or Schtick, as well as sensible subscription services. Legs and faces across the country were shaved just as well, while wallets swelled with money.

It’s the same with printers and printer supplies. And yes, Cartridge World is a prime example, since we offer both low-cost, high-quality printer cartridges and subscription services that make ordering/printer maintenance seamless and cost-effective.


Now it’s time to celebrate


By taking a few or all these steps, your office budget will feel an immediate relief — especially in a time when printer costs are just below that of office utilities, rent, and payroll.

In fact, you might save so much money you’ll be able to buy some champagne to celebrate with coworkers. Just know that even if Dom Perignon costs about eight dollars an ounce, it’s still cheaper than printer ink.

Leave a Reply