Before I attempt to answer the question, are re-manufactured printer cartridges good or bad I think it might be in order to define what is meant by “re-manufactured”. Let’s start at the beginning, at some point someone was happily printing away and all of a sudden he was getting blank sheets of paper coming out of his printer. Well, after spending $20 or $30 or more for his ink jet cartridge he thought, why spend all that money again when I could just find some black ink somewhere, drill a hole in this thing, fill it back up for pennies and start printing again. Long story short, someone did this and it worked and so was born the re-manufacturing industry.
Background of the Refilling industry
We need to keep in mind that when people started to fill ink jet cartridges the technology was sophisticated but not to the extend it is now so they could get away with refilling by hand. On some ink jet cartridge’s just drilling a hole in the right spot, pumping black ink in, and resealing the hole would work. It wasn’t to long before people were sharing what they had learned on-line. This was all well and good because people at one time were basically refilling for their own use. Well just like any other new technology someone got the bright idea of selling what they learned to make a profit. Now, when you refill for yourself and something goes wrong it’s no big deal. You can try it again or just throw the cartridge out, go buy another one and when that one runs out, just try the refill procedure again. But when you decide to sell your handy work to some one else, it better work. Then businesses started to pop up that sold the refilling supplies and instruction’s on how to fill certain cartridges. Problem was many times these refilled ink jets did not work at all or not very well to say the least.
This was new ground and many of these early re-fillers saw a way to make a quick buck with very little investment. They truly were flying by the seat of their pants with little or no technical background in ink jet technology. The poor customers that bought some of these refilled cartridges found out that they did not perform like the originals, did not work at all or emptied the ink that was supposed to stay inside the cartridge all over the inside of their printers. This is where our industry got its black eye from.
The Next Step
The next step in this evolution was the refill kits, you know the ones I’m talking about. Buy the kit that had the inks, refilling instructions, and supplies you need to save up to 90% off of the cost of buying new. These turned out to be a disaster. When I first go into this business, the franchise I started out with had us selling these things. It did not take me long to notice how many customers would come back with horror stories about their refilling adventures. Stories like, “I was attempting to refill my cartridge under pressure as the instruction’s showed and it exploded and now I have ink all over my kitchen table, walls and appliances.” Or “I was refilling with the correct amount of ink as per the instructions and next thing I know ink is shooting out of the drilled hole and I got it all over my clothes”. Another story we heard a lot of was “I did everything according to the instructions and when I installed it into my printer I got nothing but blank pages”. Or, “When I installed the cartridge in my printer the ink just leaked out and now I have ink all over my office desk”. I finally got to the point where I would not sell these kits even though I was required to, I could not see the sense of selling something that was going to cause my customers so much grief.
In The Right Direction
After a while it became apparent to some very smart people that consumers were not going to put up with this kind of quality. The guy refilling in his garage is a thing of the past. You don’t see the refill kits any more. You may be able to find someone selling them on-line but not many people are buying into this anymore. What eventually happened is some very intelligent individuals with the proper technical background looked at what was happening in the industry and knew what needed to be done. What was needed was the right equipment and knowledge to produce high quality printer cartridges that would perform as good as the originals. So was born the re-manufacturing industry as we know it today. The great companies that rose to the top spend millions on R&D to ensure that they are staying at the cutting edge of this technology. Some of these businesses have been very successful and some have fallen by the wayside, but we sure have come a long way from those individuals refilling in their garages. Sad to say though, the industry leaders that are producing high quality re-manufactured printer cartridges are still getting a black eye from the re-manufactures that are still cutting corners and producing inferior products in the name of making a buck at the expense of the consumer.
So to answer the question, “Are Re-manufactured Printer Cartridges Good or Bad” we need to be assured that the entity that is doing the manufacturing is a reputable business that has the expertise, equipment and personnel on board to produce a very high quality re-manufactured printer cartridge that will perform as well as the original did. How does a consumer know if they are getting one of these high quality cartridges? In my opinion price is one of the key indicators. The other thing to look for if your buying on-line is the return policy and warranty associated with the product. If your lucky enough to have a local store that sells re manufactured printer cartridges near you, stop in and ask some questions. Again price, warranty and return policy. If the on-line or the local business has a no question asked return policy and has a warranty policy that protects you if something goes wrong you may have found a reputable company that you can trust.
What to Look for
If on the other hand you are looking at a business that the price is 70 to 90% below retail, there is no warranty to speak of and the return policy is so lengthy and hard to figure out, beware. I remember reading a return policy from an on-line vendor that was beyond comprehension. The short version went something like this. If you’re cartridges failed or you believe it is defective fill out our RMA form and send it into us. We will process it and you should hear back from us in 3 to 5 working days. Once you have the RMA, package and ship the defect back to us and you are required to pay the shipping. Once we receive the product it will take 14 to 20 days to process. At that time if we feel the product is in fact defective we will send out a new cartridge to you. The cartridge has to be returned in the original box to receive a replacement! Of course this is not the exact wording but I think you get the idea.
Pricing can also be a good measure to gauge if you will be getting a superior product. Here’s an example of what I mean and this is from an actual customer I had that fell for this price game on-line. I was selling one of our Eco-Friendly HP toners for $54.99, Staples was selling it for $94.99. In an attempt to save the school some money this person went on-line and found the same toner for $19.99, no kidding. Called me to tell me of the great price she found and asked if I could match it which of course I could not. This customer knew very well what our warranty was and our return policy not to mention the fact that if one of our toners damaged a printer, we would send a tech out to fix the damage no questions asked. When I asked this customer what did this business offer along these lines she told me none of the above but the price was great. I always wish them the best and tell them if for some reason the cartridge doesn’t work out for them please keep us in mind next time around. They usually end up back with us after getting burned, great price but lousy quality and no customer service to back up what they sell.
The sad part about all of this is the businesses that are selling these inferior products are giving the rest of the industry a black eye. We have enough problems keeping up with the ever changing technology let alone convincing the consumer that our products really do work. We really have three tiers in this industry, you have the big box stores that are the main supply channel for the OEM’s printer cartridges. The prices here will be the highest of all the outlets. Second you have the retailers like Ink & Toner Solutions that only buy from the top remanufactures in the country and back up all of their products with iron clad warranty and return policy’s aimed at putting the consumers mind at ease. The prices here are on average 30% less than what you will find at the big box stores. Third you have the on-line sellers and here you can find pricing as low as 80% below retail. Now don’t get me wrong, there are lot’s of really fantastic companies on-line that are selling very high quality cartridges but you will notice that the pricing will be in the 30 to 40% below retail. The ones you have to watch out for is the ones that are undercutting everyone else. You have to ask yourself, how can they sell so much cheaper than anyone else. The answer is always the same no matter what industry you’re talking about, they have to cut corners somewhere. Whether it’s in the raw materials they use, the lack of testing, QC control, avoiding importation taxes, the list goes on and on. But you better believe that they are cutting corners somewhere to get prices that low and you the consumer will be the one that’s going to lose in the end.
So in the end properly manufactured ink jet or toner printer cartridges are good, period. It’s just like any other product out there, there are good one’s and there are bad ones. The bottom line is find a reputable business selling high quality tested cartridges that stands behind what they are selling and you can save money and help to reuse recyclable materials. It’s becomes a win win situation all the way around. Ink & Toner Solutions proudly carries and stocks only the highest quality re-manufactured ink and toner printer cartridges we can find. This is how we can sell with confidence and back up our products with some of the best warranty’s in the industry. Give us a try and let us know what you think.