Thoughts on Printers

By | February 23, 2019
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Thoughts on Printers

It’s Saturday. It’s a day I use to catch up on things. Today, I’m going to set up a new printer.

The other day, I ordered a printer (free delivery) to replace a 2-year-old printer that says it has ink, but prints illegible things. It’s my 6th or 7th printer. I’ve had so many, I have lost count. Oh, don’t worry, I don’t have 6 or 7 printers sitting around my house waiting for me to issue the print command – I only have one printer.  

Let me back up. I had no working printers at all, until UPS delivered my new printer yesterday – and hopefully when I get it set up today, I’ll have one that works.

The printer I was using (an HP by-the-way) was two-years old. I replaced the ink in it twice, but it was haunted. It was haunted right from the start. My travails started on Wednesday, I needed to print out a bank statement to see why the bank showed I had $61.26 less than what I showed I had – I hate it when that happens. Much to my chagrin when I punched the print button, my printer responded by printing 4 illegible pages that may as well have been Egyptian hieroglyphics.

Yep, I did all the usual stuff you’d guess I’d do. I ran the print-head alignment thing, I did all the “Troubleshooting” things, I ran the HP Doctor. And, of course, I checked the ink levels. The ink levels were low but not empty. I thought I’d try putting in new ink cartridges and see if that would fix things. I hopped in the car and drove to Wally World (Walmart).

Wally World just “modernized” our local store, which means they moved things around -didn’t add anything new or exciting. It took me ten minutes to figure out where they moved the printer ink section.

After sorting though hundreds of different brands and model numbers, I found the correct ink cartridges for my printer. What to my bloodshot eyes should appear – the newer higher prices.  The black and white cartridge was $18 and the color cartridge was $29. In my limited world of math, that equals $47 not including 7.5 % tax. With tax included, even with my limited math skills, I could figure the total cost was going to be slightly more than $50.  For INK?

I  was standing there surrounded by printers. Some of them were selling for LESS than the cost of ink for my cheap HP printer at home.  For instance this Canon Pixma printer for $35…or this HP DeskJet wireless printer for $34.  And they come with ink.

This was not the first time I have tossed a printer because it cost more to replace the ink than it cost to buy a new printer.  Big wheels kept on turning, my mind kept on burning … if I spent $50 for new ink cartridges and then my printer still printed hieroglyphics — I’d be out $50. I don’t have $50 to throw away.

I left Wally World without the ink cartridges.

When I got home I decided to do some online shopping – for a new printer. After searching Best Buy, Amazon, Target, Staples, etc. I ended up ordering an HP printer from Wally World – online – for $54.73 including tax and free shipping. It is a much better model than the cheapie I’m about to toss. For about $4 more than it would have cost to replace the ink for my HP DeskJet 2600 El Cheapo printer, I bought a new HP 5200 series – not-so-El-Cheapo printer – complete with ink.

I removed the El Cheapo and set up my new HP 5200 series printer – which promised easy 1-2-3 setup. Ha!

I finally got it set up — only after I realized that I had to turn down the “Smart Ink” offer that was on my screen, before the printer would actually work.

Instead of spending $50.53 for two ink cartridges for an old, genuine El Cheapo printer, I’m happy to tell you that for $54.73 I have a brand new, not-so-El-Cheapo printer, complete with two full ink cartridges.And it prints pages in English that I can actually read.

Why does ink cost as much or more than a new printer?

Thanks for reading my RANT.



28 thoughts on “Thoughts on Printers

  1. D.

    I know people who have done in the past what you just did for the same reasons. Even a guy at Best Buy told me one time he did that. I’m not sure why ink is so expensive. They are proud of it though.

    1. Norris Kenwright

      I have had a Canon ip3500 for 8 years and I do lots of printing of newsletters. The print head finally gave out so I got a new one on E bay for $35. Two years ago I had to clear the plastic strip (carefully) after the printing became patchy. (No cost). I only buy cheap clone cartridges for NZ$20 for four. Have done so for years. They work fine 99% of the time and if one fails after a while I dump it and have lost couple of dollars . Also it has a fast print option so it saves ink for non important docs. I love Canon

  2. Dennis Hayden

    Ink costs more than the printer because that is where they make their money. The printer is a loss leader, so to speak.

  3. MerryMarjie

    Printers used to print from a ribbon and have slotted paper and you almost always came out with a readable document in one rigid font. Then we decided (or rather the printer companies decided) that it would really be neat-o if we could use dozens of fonts and colors, and thus, the race for profits began, and so was born the ink jet printer. I believe we have similar experiences because I, too, am on the umpteenth unit and am looking for a replacement that doesn’t lose all of the settings every time we have a power outage (which has been frequent, due to construction of a new freeway nearby). I manage to outwit the ink gods by buying highly rated off-brand cartridges on Amazon, and I have not had problems, so that’s not too troubling, but my Canon Pixma (after a series of HP’s) gives conflicting messages, such as “reinstall software” and then says it can’t find the printer. To one and all, Good Luck.

  4. Ron

    The ink cartridge are not full ,please let us know how that works out. …..thanks

  5. Bill

    I have found the same problem,a new printer is cheaper than the ink, according too the salesman, the ink in the new printer doesn’t last long

    1. Bob Palmer

      Whenever I have looked at this problem I have found that the cartridge fitted to the new printer had much less capacity than a replacement cartridge!

  6. Robert F.

    I went through the same thing last month and went to WallyWorld and purchased the same (or close) printer: HP Envy 5052. The printer I replaced was the Canon Pixma.

  7. Sylvia Kendall

    Several months ago I gave up on the interminable merry-go-round of trying to figure out which printer to buy to replace the last super-duper-do-it-all one that had packed up after only two years. Yep, just after the warranty expired – as they all seem to be programmed to do! My Canon that printed wonderful high resolution photos died, and I went online and started researching everything I could find on printers. After what seemed aeons, I decided on an Epson multi-function machine which was fitted with ink tanks and came with extra tanks for topping up, a wonderful guarantee and great phone or online support. It was also freight free which is a huge factor as I live in a very remote location in Australia that attracts astronomical freight charges. It was delivered by courier in less than a week – a miracle when post or parcels routinely take at least a couple of weeks to arrive no matter how much postage you pay. In addition, I had received a phone call from the supplier to ask if it was ok for them to send an upgraded model as the one I had ordered was almost at the end of its production run and they thought the upgrade (at no extra cost) would be much better value. After a nano seconds thought, meaning no time at all, I said yes, yes, yes. Wouldn’t you??? I received another phone call from the supplier a couple of days after it was delivered, just checking to make sure the printer had arrived safely and that everything was ok. Now I call that great service. The ink tanks alone make this purchase worthwhile. They will only need topping up about once a year with normal use and the refills are very inexpensive. Just a fraction of what ink cartridges cost. The purchase price was roughly 2.5 times the price of the much cheaper previous printers I have bought and I have probably had around 8-9 of these over the years. None of which have ever lasted more then two years! I also have a Brother printer, the second in just two years, which is also one of the cheaper models. I only have this one because it does very high speed, good quality printing in black and white mode and prints A3 size which I need quite frequently at present. It’s colour printing capability is very poor so I don’t waste time or ink with that. As my requirement for A3 is now starting to reduce, I probably will never replace it when it packs up – which I am sure it will after a couple of years as did it’s predecessor. I feel pretty strongly about the rort that is being perpetrated on consumers with the hugely inflated prices of printer cartridges. It’s not good enough to say the consumer has free choice as to whether they purchase or not. When prices and availability are structured as they currently are, most consumers don’t have any meaningful choice at all! They either have to take it or leave it. Some choice. Not many people have the means to take advantage of better quality machines. I know perfectly good non-branded ink is available at a much lower price, and I also know that printer manufacturers will tell us that their warranties are invalidated if we don’t use their particular brand of ink cartridges. Whether this is legal or not I really don’t know. I have heard arguments on both sides as to the validity of their assertions. It was a very big budget stretch to obtain my Epson printer but so far, I am really, really happy with this machine. It does all the usual things that a multi-function printer does plus many more fun and useful functions. Too many to go on about here. I’ll just say I love this machine and hope it lasts a long, long time. I’ll let you know if it doesn’t – right after I’ve let the supplier know!

    1. Joe Fardella

      Hi, I use the same printer,bought mine when they were first released 3 years ago,i use mine almost every day,so far i have only had to top up the black but getting near to top the the colours,its most defiantly the best printer i have ever had,Regards

      1. Sylvia Kendall

        Very reassuring to hear you are happy with your printer Joe. I feel pretty confident I will get good value and service from mine as well. Like you, I also use mine almost every day but I may need to top up my colour tanks a bit more often than you do as I use the colour capability very frequently. Probably more than I actually need but there you go – I love colour in my life 🙂

  8. Yvonne

    I have an HP Officejet 4630. Had it a few years now and love it. The ONE thing I can’t stand is running out of ink and having to hunt around for the cheapest price on cartridges at a time when I am not in the mood. I signed up for their Smart Ink program and though I pay monthly, I don’t care! It works for me. The cartridges I receive are larger capacity ones than those in stores and what I love is; they keep track of when you are getting low and send ink before you run out! Best peace of mind I’ve had in decades (ink-wise).

    1. Barb

      Not too crazy about my HP 3830 (jams all the time) except the smart ink program, it is MUCH cheaper for me to pay monthly than to buy new ink cartridges all the time.

  9. Wendy

    I have an HP3525 that I bought around 6 years ago. That purchase was one of the best things I ever made.
    However, when I ran out of ink, I replaced with genuine HP cartridges and had very stressful issues sometimes with the printer refusing to accept a new full cartridge until I had used every trick I knew. I now use generics with no problems at all . They are much cheaper as well.

  10. Maggie

    I have lost track of how many printers I have bought and the cost of ink is outrageous. I have 2 sitting in my closet right now and the one I detest and the other I detest even more. I have always bought HP and I wish they would make a simple printer for “seniors” that is easy to install and use.

  11. Sandy Euglow

    Ha ha ha, boy, if this isn’t a true post Cloudeight. I have bought numerous printers too. And all of them have been cheapos. This time I bought a $249 ET-2650 Epson. It didn’t last any longer then the cheap HPs. The ink isn’t all that expensive cause there is a lot in each bottle. But it keeps saying check ink. It was always full. I did what Cloudeight said he did. Tried cleaning it, changing the ink, flushing, etc. Guess I will go back to buying the cheapies. Sheesh. Printers are evil.

  12. Dawn Campbell

    I love your article. Made me laugh. Exactly what I go thru. My printer was a Xmas gift and never worked from day one.

  13. Beverly Lammert

    Thank you both for all the great info that you so generously pass to us. Can’t imagine the time and thought you put into each and every article to make our lives easier. Kudo’s. I have an HP LaserJet 1200 Series PCL 5 that I bought with my first Desktop computer. I paid $300.00 for it and it still keeps on printing. Yes the ink is ridiculous for sure but for me easier than printer searching like you did. lol. I did encounter an issue though after I had to move it. It will copy after I push the button to copy. Crazy but I won’t complain after it has been so faithful.

  14. Muriel Schlecht

    After much on line research, I went looking specifically for a Canon multipass MP730 printer. Canon had just released their Pixma series and a new MP730 couldn’t be found so I bought a refurbished one on line, in 2001 I think. Several years later, a Canon tech support person trouble shooted a problem with me over the phone which resulted in his selling me a new print head and an offer of assistance if needed after I received it. I replaced the printhead myself easily and have had no problem since.
    After using up the Canon ink cartridges it came with (4 full ones,) I have used 3rd party ink cartridges bought on line at tremendous savings. I don’t have
    such a demanding printer need as I used to, but I still use this printer on a daily basis. I have longed for a wireless (and smaller) printer, bought 4 over the past few years ($100 or less for each), put those 4 in a dumpster after a week or two, and dread the day my old reliable Canon dies.

  15. David Burgess

    FYI re printer cartridges:
    I have an HP Office jet Pro 8600 which I bought new several years ago and once the HP Ink Cartridges needed to be replaced I went searching for replacement ink cartridges which will work in the printer but at a far more reasonable cost than that charged for HP manufactured cartridges. I found cartridges that I have been using with very few issues other than needing to have the printer clean the printer cartridges and the print head bit more often when the colours or ink seem to be flowing in an unusual way. I am using remanufactured printer cartridges of the high output size for all 4 colours my printer requires. They cost me less than 1/2 as much as the HP cartridges for the same size output. I order them from a Canadian source since I am a Canadian and I’ve been very pleased with my results. They carry a wide range of printer cartridges for Inkjet as well as laser printers and for a very broad range of makes and models of printers. You might wish to check them out.
    TC the printer cartridges for the el cheapo printer that you just bought would cost a total of $27.99 CDN for “75XL and 74XL HP Ink cartridges” which would likely work in your HP printer. Below is the link to the web site and the cartridges I mentioned:

    You can search for printer cartridges by entering the make and model of your printer and the site will list and display all cartridges which will function in that printer.

    Take care and Good Luck all!

  16. Jason Miller

    I have my HP Officejet 6500A all in one printer. I’ve had it for about 5 years now and the only thing I had to change on it was the print head. That was because an original HP ink cartridge leaked and clogged it so bad it was ruined. HP did make good on the damage to my surprise. Probably because I still had the sales receipt for the cartridge.
    I’ve been using after market ink cartridges for years now and only had a problem one time. When I got my order, one of the color cartridges had leaked in the shipping box. I sent an email to the company with a photo expecting them to send me another cartridge. I had ordered a few dozen. My printer uses separate black and color tanks. This company replaced the entire order with an apology for my inconveinience. They saw some of the other wrappings had ink from the leakage on them. How’s that for customer service for after market ink? They work great by the way and for 1/3 the price. My printer has survived 2 moves since i bought it and still runs great. No complaints from me.

  17. Linda Kelm

    Before I buy a new printer, I check online to see if there are generic cartridges available for it. I always stick with Epson inkjet printers that print on DVDs and is a photo printer and always find good deals on generic cartridges from ebay. I’ve tried HP but have never been happy with them. They always seem to print crooked on the paper, but they may be better now. The current inkjet printer I have now is an Epson XP-820 and it works amazing and it also does double sided printing. When I find a good deal on a printer I like, I always buy two of them. BTW, I don’t believe you can buy generic cartridges for HP printer because their print heads are on their cartridges, unless that’s changed.

    I decided to try a laser printer. Amazon had a good deal on a Canon Imageclass LBP612CDW printer, so I bought one to try it out and it works wonderfully. I’ve never set up a printer to print from my network but I did set this one up that way because there are 2 computers in our household so we can both use it. I love it. I do believe that a laser printer is better and the toner cartridges print many more pages than an ink jet printer. But, in my case, I also need a inkjet printer to print on DVDs and CDs and I also make my own cards and for that I do use an inkjet printer.

  18. Margaret

    Well! Printers cause a great deal of grief by the responses here. I have never seen so many responses to any of your other posts.
    I have gone through a lot of printers and most of those have gone by the wayside because inks ran out and a new printer was less costly. Then I found Epson 310 and 410 and very good, very inexpensive replacement inks from Ebay. I printed borderless Christmas cards, birthday cards, etc. with background color and loved how they turned out. Sadly, those printers came to their own ends and I couldn’t get any more of them. So, my latest is an Epson 440 and it sure isn’t anywhere near the friendly use nor quality printing of the 310 and 410. No more borderless printing and the colors are so “off”.
    Sad me.

  19. Patty

    As usual learned a lot about printers and ink from TC and all the repliers. The main thing learned was to check out printer cost vs ink cost. Never thought about this. Thanks to TC and all the repliers!

  20. Terry Bell

    Of all the comments listed above, including TC’s, I didn’t see anyone mention the Ink Replacement Service offered by HP. I don’t do a lot of printing s when I joined the service I tool the least expensive plan. That was just over a year ago and I’ve only had one shipment from them. It arrived just before my original supply run out. I’m using an HP OfficeJet Pro 6968 and so far I like it. The first time I’ve had 2-sided printing. Nice feature.
    I wonder why no one mentioned the ink service? Do you not think it’s a good, economical way to replace ink cartridges? Let men know, please.

  21. Diane Gargaro

    I got the HP Instant Ink and it costs about 2.99 a month and they send a new cartridge when the ink is about to run out which seems to be a long time , like about 6 months because there is a lot of ink in those cartridges. And if you use more pages its a $1 for 10 more.

    So that is a lot cheaper for a year because I used to have an Epson that kept running out of ink and the cartridges were about $50 each and there were color and black and white ones.


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