From $5,000 per gallon ink To Overpriced Usage Plans, Chances Are You’re Losing Lots Of Money And Time. Whether you know it or not – or even if you care to admit it – your office color printers are stealing from you. It may be through exorbitant ink prices or through flimsy re-manufactured cartridge construction, or costly usage plans with your printer provider, your printer is probably robbing you of both money and time.
Printer manufacturers have come up with a few creative ways to drain your wallet through ink and toner cartridge costs. Other printer models just make you waste precious minutes fooling around with complicated menu systems or stupidly designed hardware.
“Customers are constantly amazed when we show them the costs involved with operating an inefficient office color printer,” said Philip John of the Magnum Group, an award-winning provider of multi-functional office equipment systems, as well as a Platinum Level Xerox Office Solutions Provider. “Whether it’s pointing out that fact that printer ink basically averages out to $6,800 per gallon, or that many printer providers charge exorbitant prices for usage, they’re aghast at the money spent necessarily.”
Philip offers five quick ways to tell if you’re printer is cheating you:
1 – If the Office Color Printer Is Cheap, the Ink or the Toner Isn’t
Think you got a great deal on your printer? Think again. It’s a common ploy for printer vendors to sell machines at or below their production cost – and then make their money later on with extremely high ink or toner costs.
So how can you tell?
“Do the math,” said Philip. “Simply take the cost of the cartridge and divide it by the page yield – the number of pages the manufacturer says the cartridge can print.”
Note, however, that most vendors base their page-yield numbers on industry-standard testing that is designed to represent real-world usage. However, the page yields you obtain may vary, depending on what you actually print. Some vendors make their page yield information easy to find online, while others bury it. The cost per page for the printer’s ink or toner does not reflect other printer costs, of course, such as those for an inkjet’s special paper or for a laser’s belts, drums, and other longer-life consumables.
As some benchmarks, here are collected cartridges prices and vendor page yield information for a number of printers. From them, average costs per page for black-and-white and four-color pages for inkjet and laser printers were determined.
Inkjet Printers (at 5% coverage)
Plain black text: 7 cents to 10 cents per page
Simple four-color page: 25 cents to 30 cents per page
Monochrome Laser/LED Printers (at 5% coverage)
Plain black text: 2 cent to 4.5 cents per page
Color Laser/LED Printers (at 5% coverage)
Plain black text: 3 cents to 5 cents per page
Simple four-color page: 15 cents to 35 cents per page
According to Philip, if your printer’s costs fall at or below these averages, that’s good. But if its costs exceed these averages, you should consider looking for a different office color printer. A person who prints two dozen or fewer pages per week, mostly text with a little color, might tolerate a higher cost per page. But with so many good printers out there, why go with one that’s going to soak you?
2 – Lower-Capacity Inks = Higher Cost Per Page
Research has consistently shown that lower-capacity ink and toner cartridges cost you more in the long run.
If you print relatively little, it may not matter much, since the high cost is spread over a longer period of time. But if you print a lot, look for ink cartridges with yields above 250 pages, or toner cartridges with yields above 2000 pages.
Some office color printers offer high-yield consumables that can save you a lot more.
3 – Plain Paper or Bust
If your inkjet printer requires specially coated paper to produce the best-looking output, you’ll end up shelling out a lot for paper over time. Most inkjets can print at least adequately on plain paper, but a few that we’ve tested recently still can’t hack it.
4 – The Waiting Game
A slow printer steals your time. But as important as print speed is, you need to take any printer vendor’s page-per-minute (ppm) speed claims with a grain of salt, as some vendors quote draft-mode speeds, or use other contrivances to make their printers seem faster than they’ll actually be in normal everyday use.
“These are just four very basic mechanical things to look at,” cautioned Philip. “This doesn’t even take into account misleading contract plans you have in place with your vendor.”
Philip points to such options as level billing plans for more efficient budgeting, plans which charge on a per-page basis only (while providing unlimited – and expensive – ink and toner), single-page charges for oversized documents (such as 11×17), and color printing for the cost of black and white, among a handful of considerations.”
“If your provider doesn’t do just that – provide any of these options – it’s time to find a new provider, said Philip.