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Printer Ink Refills: Is Generic Ink a Scam?

Joanna Furlong
Joanna Furlong

Third-party ink cartridges can save you money, but are they worth the risk?

If you're a business owner, one of your top priorities is probably saving money. When it comes to cost-cutting strategies, evaluating technology and any supplies for devices like printers and scanners is a typical place to start. Printer ink is a necessity that companies must regularly replace. With it being repurchased so frequently, the costs for ink and other consumables can quickly add up. This has led many companies to look to generic brands as one option for reducing expenses. But are they good enough?

Is generic ink the way to go?

Printer ink may be one of the most expensive liquids on the planet. Generic offerings are often marketed at much lower prices than name-brand inks, and the instant savings could seem very beneficial. But less expensive isn't always the better choice.

Generic printer ink is as widely available as name brands. You can purchase it on third-party sites and at your typical tech retailer and big-box stores. When you're comparing prices, the reward of saving money can seemingly outweigh the cost. Cost savings for generic ink are often in the 50% range, and what makes these options even more appealing is that many generic ink cartridges contain more product than name-brand ones.

However, while generic ink is less expensive, be careful which brands you choose. Some generic brands come at the expense of quality. You'll need to ensure your ink cartridge is compatible with your printer, so it's a good idea to check with the manufacturer if there's any doubt. Also, consider your priorities: If your business is more concerned about the quality of your prints than the cost, then it might be better to stick with the manufacturer's recommendation.

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Myth vs. fact with generic printer ink 

There are many myths surrounding generic versus name-brand ink that make businesses wary of going the cheaper route with their supplies. One of the biggest rumors surrounding generic ink purchases is that using it will void the warranty on your printer. With some printers costing several thousand dollars, this is enough to make any business shy away from generic inks. But this isn't actually the case. As long as the generic ink you purchase is intended for use in your printer, then it won't affect your warranty. [Read related article: How to Choose the Right Copy Machine for Your Business

But the most important thing to keep in mind – with any ink you use, whether it is generic or a name brand – is that it absolutely must state on the packaging that it is intended for use in your specific make and model of printer. Read the fine print. Many users are so enticed by the cost savings that they forget to confirm the ink is for their actual printer.

So no, generic ink isn't always a scam if you purchase it from a reputable source and ensure that the product is intended for your printer. As with any other business purchase, you should be sourcing your ink in the most beneficial way for your business. It all depends on whether you prioritize quality or cost, and whether purchasing cheap ink from third-party sites is worth the risk.

Image Credit: WUTTISAK PROMCHOO / Shutterstock
Joanna Furlong
Joanna Furlong
Business News Daily Contributing Writer
Joanna Furlong is a freelance writer and content strategist based in Southern California. Her background is in digital marketing, but she’s been writing professionally for more than 10 years. She partners with startups, technology companies and small businesses across the U.S. to tell their brand stories through compelling content. And, she loves to report on the intersection where business, management and technology collide.