Oh boy, now there’s a loaded question if I ever heard one. I’ve been in this business for just over seven years now and I don’t think a week has gone by that a customer or business client has not asked that question. The impetus for the question usually means one of two things, their printer has finally died or they are having so many problems with their printer that they are ready to commit it to the junk pile or just throw it out the window in despair.
So I’m going to be the guy that tells it like it is and I hope I don’t offend anyone. I have never heard of and I don’t think I will ever hear of anyone that gets up in the morning, jumps out of bed and yells to the world, “Oh boy, today is the day I’m going out to buy my new Printer”! Not going to happen. A printer is a necessity to be sure but choosing the right printer can be mind numbing at best and a completely frustrating experience in general. Customers come to us all the time and tell us of the terrible experience they have had with a printer that a sales clerk at Staples or some other big box store sold them. The problem is no one is asking the customer the right questions. So of course a customer is going to believe the guy on the sales floor because he’s supposed to be the expert, right? Wrong! These guys are not trained for this, they are trained to sell stuff, that’s it. Now don’t get me wrong, a lot of these guys know a lot about the products they sell, but not when it comes to printers. I’ve had enough customers come through my doors with their tales of woe about how the printer they bought at Staples or some other big box store either does not have the features they needed or the printer that was sold to them was overkill.
Buying the Wrong Printer
Case in point and this is a true story, a customer of mine came into the store very excited about the great deal he got on a color laser printer that was on sale at Staples. I started to ask him about the printer so I could look up the specs and see what our re-manufactured toners would cost him. This customer had been buying his printer cartridges from us for a few years and knew that we could save him money, usually around the 30% range on toners. Imagine his shock when I told him that this great deal he got from Staples was going to cost him about $900 to load with a set of new toners! The printer needed four toners, black, cyan, magenta and yellow at a new OEM cost of $225 each. Even at what we could save him using our Eco-Friendly re-manufactured toners at $160 each it would still cost him $640 to load this beast.
This guy was dumb struck to say the least. Here’s what this story is about, not the cost of the consumables but rather that no one at Staples bothered to ask this customer any questions what so ever about the type of printing he would be doing, like what his budget was or if he really needed color or would just a monochrome printer do. The criteria they used was, we have this great color laser printer on sale this week and let me show you all the cool stuff it can do.No one ever once told the poor guy what the replacement toners would cost. After our brief conversation he saw that he could not afford this thing and brought it back for a full refund. We at Ink & Toner Solutions asked him the right questions and recommended a printer that would suit his needs. Did we recommend a printer that we sold? No, because we don’t sell printers, we sell the consumables like the ink and toner cartridges. But what we do offer is a free consultation service helping the customer choose the right printer for the type of printing he will be doing at a price he can afford. What a novel idea, helping the customer by giving him advice!
A new canon color laser printer sits in our downtown retail store that we bought for about 1/2 the price from a customer that found out to late he could not afford to load the machine and again, it was way to much machine for what he needed. Here was a guy that was in business for himself, worked out of his house and only needed a basic printer that he used to print his invoices in black. They sold him a color laser printer with fax, scanner and copier, this thing could do just about everything except brew him a cup of coffee in the morning. What the hell is wrong with these sales people, this guy will never buy another printer from Staples, period. They lost his trust.
Question You Need to Ask
So the first thing you need to know when trying to answer the “What is the best printer to buy” question is to know what the customer is intending to do with it, what type of printing. It’s kind of like a guy going to buy a lawn mower that has a small back yard and no front yard to speak of and walks out of the dealership with a huge commercial riding lawn mower that can mow 5 aces in an hour. Maybe it was on sale, so what, he can’t use it and he sure can’t afford to maintain a piece of equipment like this. No one would do this but scenarios like this happen all the time with printers.
Another customer we had bought a super duper Brother MFC (multi function Center) that was supposed to take care of all of her printing needs. A year and a half later she calls me and tells me she is about to throw this thing out the third floor window. It turned out no matter what kind of toner cartridge she put in this thing, original or re-manufactured she either got terrible prints, the toner would dumb in the machine or the machine would end up eating the toner, really, it stripped the damn gears off of two toners. She is convinced that printers are made in hell and put onto this earth to torture the human race till the end of times.
I could go on forever with story’s like this but I think you get the general idea of where I’m going with this. So what a consumer needs to know when buying a new printer is answers to some really basic questions like how much do you print a week/month. Do you mostly print in black & white or do you need color? If you need color are you printing high end photos or is the color just on some invoices or somewhere in between? Do you need faxing capabilities? Will you need to scan? The list goes on and on. Oh yea, one of the biggest questions you need to answer, what is your budget? You may like to have the biggest baddest printer out there but if you can’t afford to pay for it or load it when the toners go empty it does you absolutely no good.
A Guide is What you Need
What we did at Ink & Toner Solutions is put together a guide to buying a printer to help consumers choose the right tool for the right job. It explains a lot of the terminology used in this industry so when you do go to the store, at least you know what there talking about. Another cool thing about this is it’s easy to understand and to fill out, not only that, you can print it and bring it to the store with you. With this in hand you are holding the cards, now you can ask the sales clerk very specific questions about what you want and more importantly what you don’t want. Imagine this, you go to the store this time with guide in hand, tell the sales clerk what your looking for and when he brings you to whatever is on sale that week you now know from the homework you’ve done whether this printer fits the bill or not. Some sales clerks will not like this, but don’t let that bother you, stick to the knowledge you have learned by filling out the guide. If they don’t have what you are looking for or even worse, if the sales person disregards what your needs are, go some where else. Remember a lot of these clerks are on commission, so in the end they really don’t care if you get what you want, they just want to sell you something. Don’t get left holding the bag like the examples I gave you. Fill out the form, do some research on the different manufactures site to see what fits the bill then go out and kick some tires. Hell if you don’t find what your looking for in the store, buy it on line.
So remember, the next time you are asking that question, “What is the best printer to buy”, download our free guide, print it, read it, fill it out and go printer shopping with confidence!
We would love to hear if this article helped you choose your next printer. If you have any suggestions for us to add to our guide please let us know, you the consumer are the people we listen to.