2005-08-05

Consumables (ink, toner, bulbs)

A couple years ago I had wanted to do some printing at home and found that my Canon BJ-30 had bitten the dust. Sad. I never really used the printer much but when I had it always produced crisp pages. The cost of ink really hurt though, which soon found me with alternate brands and refill kits. Seems that a lot of the ink from refills would end up over my fingers. That wasn't too bad because the ink was water soluble. Too bad if you got a couple drops of water on your document; smears and runs.

The problem is that the cost per page for inkjet printing is very high. Fortunately the cost of small laser printers had plummeted. I investigated the various printers in my price range then went out and bought a Lexmark E210. The cost per page is about 5 cents. Compared to the 25 cents per page I was paying for the old Canon. Modern printers are even MORE expensive per page, with colour prints around 75 cents per print for Canon (90+ cents for Kodak, Sony, Olympus, 50 cents for HP and Epson).

The downside to the little laser is that it is all black and white. Which actually is fine by me. If I want a print that bad then I can go to OfficeWorks, BigW or KMart and get one for 20 to 30 cents - and I don't have to buy any hardware.

My laser at 5 cents per page is looking pretty damned fine. Well after about a year and a half the toner ran low. Obviously I don't print that much. So I hunted around for the replacement toner.

When I was purchasing my laser printer I asked for the costs of consumables. The evil Harvey Norman salesman said the toner cartridges cost around $70. When I asked for two he ummmmd and arrrrd and claimed they were out of stock. I thought nothing more of it. But when it came time for me to get a new toner cartridge I find they are priced $110-$150. If I had known at the time that the salesman was lieing then I think I would have punched him in the face and left the store. Well. Maybe not, but sales tactics like this really really suck. I have encountered it before. The place I work for wanted a new data projector, so I purchased a one from a company and they stated that the bulbs would cost $200. One year later the bulbs cost $700. Another salesman told me that this was a standard tactic at the time. Well data projectors were getting popular and we required two more. This time, however, I ordered 4 spare bulbs. The salesman was desperately trying to talk me out of it, saying they would deteriorate over time, the warranty would expire (as if they EVER put warranty on bulbs). I had my way though, got the bulbs and, as it turned out, saved a couple thousand dollars. Of course, NOW they charge full price on the bulbs straight away.

So I hunted around for the best price for a replacement toner cartridge. I also wanted the toner straight away because I wanted to do some printing that evening. So cheap and in stock. I checked EBay for a ball park price and then I phoned about 12 companies. One company, Trendsetta Media, claimed that they made the cartridges themselves, but it would take a day to get it from their warehouse. Apparently everyone uses the same warehouse in Brisbane and nobody wants to carry stock. Bastards. The last two comapnies I checked actually had the cartridge on the shelf; Harvey Norman for $149 and the small place across the road from me - Cartridge World, a remanufactured cartridge for $78. Woohoo! That's 3 cents per page! How freakin' happy was I? Plugged in the toner and now I am printing new crisp pages!

There are a lot of other brand laser printers for under $300. I highly recommend having a look and if you will probably save a bundle.

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