Printer manufacturers are ripping off consumers by overcharging for printer cartridges, according to a study by the Consumer Association's Which? magazine.
Which? slams the cost of printer ink. A Colour HP cartridge, for example costs £29 or (put another way) 1.70 per millilitre. That's seven times more expensive than the cost of vintage champagne, it points out. A 1985 Dom Perignon costs 23p per millilitre.
Worse still, many printer cartridges give premature warnings that they are running out of ink.
Epson cartridges contain a chip that stop them working when ink runs low. The company says this is a measure to protect consumers from damaging their printer or product sub-standard prints.
But, after bypassing this system a Which? researcher was able to print many more pages at accepted quality before the ink ran dry. In one instance the researcher printed 38 per cent more pages during the tests. The least amount of extra pages he was able to print of on an Epsom printer was 17 per cent.
Last year an Office of Fair Trading investigation ruled that vendors should provide greater information about the cost and yield of replacement ink cartridges. The OFT has recommended that action be taken to develop a benchmark for ink cartridge measurement within the next year.
For its part, the Consumer Association advises consumers to steer clear of brand name printer cartridges and pick cheaper alternatives instead.
And it's not just consumers who are in the dark about the true costs of running a printer.
Forty five per cent of respondents to a survey published today by Kyocera Mita believe that printer vendors provided "very little" information about the running costs of their products, while a further 11 per cent feel that printer vendors "deliberately obscure" the costs of owning their products. Only five per cent of respondents consider that vendors were open about the true costs associated with their products.
Tracey Rawling Church, Head of Marketing at Kyocera Mita, commented: "The results of the survey show that the lack of information on TCO at the point of sale is not just a problem for consumers, but for business users too.
"Purchasers feel that they are being duped by vendors who provide very little information about the true cost impact of their products. With lifetime costs varying between different manufacturers by as much as 60 per cent, businesses can ill afford to make the wrong decision when selecting a printer fleet," she added. ®