27 Jul OEM Cartridges vs. Compatibles –
The Potential Pitfalls of Price-conscious Printing Purchases
We all like to save money, right?
Sometimes, though, there’s a fine line between being penny-wise and penny-pinching. Problems can arise and, far from saving money, you end up wasting your hard-earned cash and causing yourself a whole load of hassle into the bargain.
Ever heard the phrase “buy cheap and you’ll pay twice”? I guess that most of us have been caught out by a bargain that looked amazing and then turned out to be somewhat less than expected. I know I am certainly guilty of it; that’s what buyer’s remorse is all about!
My business sells a huge range of business supplies and, as you would probably expect, that includes a lot of ink and toner for desktop printers.
And guess what? I see more ‘buyer’s remorse’ over ink and toner cartridges than anything else!
Specifically, I am talking about people who live to regret buying ‘non-genuine’ cartridges.
Don’t get me wrong. I have several customers who very happily use ‘own label’ cartridges (described variously as ‘compatibles’ or ‘remanufactured’ cartridges) and they would raise an eyebrow at what I am saying in this blog.
And there are lots of great businesses out there that specialise in doing nothing but ‘compatible’ cartridges, so I recognise there is a market for them, and I am not criticising that in any way … I sell them myself, so it would be a bit hypocritical of me to knock it too hard!
But the reality is that I have far more customers who will only use OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) ‘branded’ cartridges because, to quote one of them, “…once bitten, twice shy”.
I understand why we want to save money on these things. They can represent a significant outlay of money. But if you are thinking about trying out some compatibles in your machine then I would urge you to do so with your eyes open to the potential pitfalls of price-conscious printing.
OEM inks and toners are created by the original manufacturer – the company that developed your printer. So, if you have a Brother printer the OEM cartridges are also developed by Brother, specifically to work in your machine. You can afford to have a high degree of confidence that all OEM cartridges will be consistent in terms of quality and contents, and failure rate is generally very low.
A compatible toner is a generic alternative to the OEM cartridges.
The quality varies a lot between different compatible toners, depending on the remanufacture process and the brand. You don’t have any real guarantee that corners have not been cut somewhere along the line; after all, remanufacturers are making something to be sold at the cheapest possible price.
Compatible toners will be tested in the equipment they are intended to be used in, but they may not function to the same high standards set by the printer manufacturer. You may not get the same quality of print, the print volume per cartridge may vary, and the failure rate is certainly higher than with OEM cartridges.
Remember my customer who said, “once bitten, twice shy”?
He used some compatible toners that ended up covering the inside of his machine with toner powder. The mess was horrendous, and he ended up having to replace the drum and the fuser unit inside his expensive laser printer. He was not very happy, and it turned out to be a very expensive cost-cutting exercise!
I am not saying that you should not use compatibles. Just a word of caution that, if you choose to do so, make sure you are buying from a credible and reputable retailer and be mindful of the potential downsides to using anything other than OEM products. – Matthew Dashper-Hughes